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Dragon Age III: Inquisition Is Announced

Bioware announced the title for the upcoming Dragon Age game, and it’s Dragon Age III: Inquisition.  Further press releases and statements place the game as a late 2013 release, which seems like a long time when they’ve already been working on the game for two years…but we remember the things we didn’t like about Dragon Age II, yes?  So I’d rather they take their time and have a beautiful game with a deep story.

As to what the game will be about, nothing was stated but as Mark Darrah himself mentioned, a lot can be implied from the title.  DA3 will presumably deal with the aftermath of what Anders did and the end of DA2 (Number 4 on my list of potential plots) but as with the previous games, there will be a lot more than just that.  I can’t imagine we’ve seen the last of Flemeth, and the whole Morrigan thing is just too interesting to ignore for very long.

This is a game I’ll be keeping a close eye on, and I think I will kill some time by playing through the DA series beginning to end…

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Dragon Age 3 Speculation, Part 3

Part 1Part 2

Part 3 of my look at what might come to pass for Dragon Age 3 is a look at what characters may return.  Both Awakening and DA2 had some appearances and references to previous characters, in fact they were thick on the ground for me at one point in DA2, and with the plots from the previous games building up to a potential climax in DA3, one has to think there will be quite a few appearances of your favorite characters.  I’ll list characters below and whether I think they’ll appear, and perhaps speculate in what capacity.  Feel welcome to join in!

Help control the pigeon population in Orlais, bring back Shale!

From Origins:

  • Alistair – He’s one of the tough ones.  It’s not yet certain that our saves from the previous games will be imported, so they may have to established a canonical outcome for him.  I think I banished him in my game that ended up being imported to DA2, but he could be King, or dead too.  Tough to imagine he’ll be heavily involved if the saves get imported because of that.  Don’t think many will be looking for him anyway.
  • Morrigan – Now we’re getting somewhere.  There is a MAJOR plot involving Morrigan left unresolved, with the baby.  I think she’s pretty likely to appear in some capacity.
  • Flemeth – A character this powerful, who has already appeared in two games?  Pretty likely to me.
  • Dog – Wishful thinking on my part, heh.  How long do Mabari live?
  • Wynne – I can see Wynne involved, as the Templar vs. Mages stuff will still need to be resolved.
  • Leliana – A favorite of mine, and should be involved as with Wynne above.  We see her at the end of DA2, and appears to be the Seeker’s (Cassandra) boss.  Would fit with the Templar/Mages stuff, as well as Warden related stuff thanks to her association with THE Warden.
  • Sten – A dark horse candidate.  We saw a lot more from the Qunari in DA2, especially with the inclusion of Mark of the Assassin.  Might be covered in a DLC or expansion though.
  • Zevran – Seems unlikely to me.
  • Ohgren – He grew on me throughout DA:O and Awakening.  Doesn’t seem needed though, and if the game focuses on Orlais as is implied, he probably won’t be there.
  • Shale – I’d love for Shale to appear, but also seems unlikely as she is not really that involved in the leftover plots.
  • Loghain – Another one that’s tough to call, for the same reasons as Alistair.  Could be with you right to the end, dead, etc.

Awakening:

  • Anders/Justice – No.  I killed him/them in DA2, and I think most did.
  • Nathaniel Howe – Unlikely, again due to the whole Orlais thing.  Seems to me like he’ll stay in Ferelden.
  • Sigrun – Unlikely.  I imagine she’ll be in the Deep Roads.
  • Velanna – I didn’t even remember who this was.  I think I stuck with Anders in Awakening just for Ser Pounce-a-lot.

There are other companions from some of the DLC, but they seem to be mostly unimportant.  Nobody would be lookinf for them, anyway.

Dragon Age 2:

  • Aveline – No, I imagine she stays in Kirkwall.
  • Bethany/Carver – Another one where it depends a lot on whether or not saves get imported and how involved Hawke is, if at all.  Unlikely.
  • Fenris – Interesting choice, with the Templar/Mage trouble.  Might be a cameo.
  • Isabela – A pirate captain could travel anywhere, so could be a likely choice.
  • Merrill – Another with something to offer in the Templar/Mage trouble.  But doesn’t feel like someone I’d bring back.
  • Sebastian – Chantry brother, so could be possible.
  • Varric – He’d be a likely one to at least make an appearance, to me.  I doubt the frame the story as being told by him again, but it’s always nice to have a knowledge dump character people don’t mind listening to.
  • Tallis – Another dark horse, depending on what if anything happens with the Qunari.

I think that covers the companions.  Did I miss someone?  Is there a minor player that you think becomes a major one in the new game?

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Continuing Game Review: Dragon Age 2

Note:  Continuing means I will revisit this as I get farther in.

Of course I couldn’t avoid Dragon Age 2 for very long, considering how much I loved Dragon Age: Originsand all the related DLC/expansion content.  So here I am, almost through with Kirkwall (pre-Deep Roads expedition), and enjoying it quite a bit.  I’ll put the rest after the jump as there may be SPOILERS.

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Dragon Age 3 Speculation, Part 2

Part 1 of this series looked at the story of Dragon Age 3, and what potential plot hooks are available for the next game in the series.  Part 2, here, will deal with other aspects of the new game, such as technical or gameplay changes.

Combat changed in feel quite a bit between the two games, and (other than the blatant re-use of dungeon maps) remains the biggest differentiator between Origins and 2 for me.  Most battles in DA2 look better, more frenetic, but they don’t need a lot of planning or micromanaging.  The ones that do are forced that way by having the ‘boss’ enemy become unhittable for a stretch to put you up against another wave of enemies.  One battle like that is fun, but there are a few too many like that.  It’s a cheap way to make a fight seem ‘epic’ by making it longer, especially if the mechanic doesn’t feel right for the character you are fighting.

Origins, on the other hand, had slower, more measured combat that was less exciting but required a bit more thinking.  I still think back to fighting the High Dragon as one of the high points of the series.  Overconfidently blowing the horn, the dragon swoops in…and just annihilates us.  The second try, with careful positioning and use of the proper salves and buffs, made the fight actually epic.  My hope is that combat ends up somewhere in the middle, taking the best of both worlds.

The art style between the two games was another difference.  DA:O was a bunch of grays and browns, and monsters that were mostly forgettable.  DA2 updated things quite a bit, added a bunch of color, but went a bit too far off from what Origins started.  I did like the almost comic bookish nature of the interstitial art, but if that wasn’t there, I would get over it.

Character customization was another difference, specifically the armor and appearance for your cohorts.  In DA:O, you had full control over the arms and armor used by all characters.  In DA2, you could control the weapons of your companions, but the armor was set.  You could find improvements that could be applied to them, but not actually change it out.  Nice for making sure cinematics and other talky bits look normal, but lots of us really enjoy tweaking things like that.  More useful in games with a real challenge as mentioned above though, as there were times where I’d tweak my front-line fighters’ gear to defend against the types of attacks we’d be facing (such as protecting against dragon breath).

My ideal version of Dragon Age 3 basically takes DA:O, gives it a graphical lift in the DA2 style, puts back fully customizable characters (perhaps with a ‘use best gear’ button or something similar for the more casual players), and tells a coherent story that’s good from beginning to end.  Not too much to ask, right?

Part 3 of this series will look at what characters might make an appearance in DA3.

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Trying Again – Mass Effect 2

I’ve had my troubles getting into the original Mass Effect, most specifically the inventory management interface being sucktactular, among other things.  I read about the differences (which many didn’t like) between ME1 and ME2, and I decided these differences might actually make this a better game for me.  So, I’m starting with Mass Effect 2.  I played for a few hours yesterday, and it seems to be rolling along for me better than ME1.

I went with the default redhead FemShep, and I’m sure I’ll be maxing Paragon out as I’m pretty typically a good guy.  Now excuse me while Shepard and Chambers have sexy time.

Seriously, how could Chambers resist?
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Dragon Age 3 Speculation, Part 1

So Dragon Age 3 is happening, while future content for DA2 is shelved.  Bioware is looking for feedback on the future of the Dragon Age franchise, and the first thing I thought of is, where can the story go?  There are a ton of plot hooks out there, and any number of them could make up a worthy Dragon Age game.  Here are the ones I can think of:

  • The Warden and Morrigan – Morrigan leaves with the child that may or may not have the soul of one of the Tevinter’s old Gods.
  • Corypheus – Speaking of, it’s strongly hinted that he has possessed the body of whichever Warden party was still alive after Legacy.
  • Qunari – Especially this, in light of their importance in Act 2 of DA2 and Mark of the Assassin.  They have spies everywhere, and nobody really KNOWS what they want.
  • Mages VS Templar smackdown – I like this one, as it can involve folks like Wynne again, perhaps as leader of an ‘anti-resistance’ of mages that just want to get things back the way they were, and don’t want to resort to blood magic.
  • Flemeth – Still around and causing trouble, implied to be even more powerful than we’ve seen.  How do you kill something that seems to just pop right back up again?
  • Dalish Elves – A wild card in all this.  Could try to establish yet another homeland, though this might not be ‘epic’ enough to drive forward a whole game.  Maybe DLC or expansion material.
  • Tevinter Madness – We’ve so far only seen bits of these crazy mages so far, with Fenris and such.  Lots of evil possibilities here.
  • Something Else – Thedas is massive, and the little corner we’ve seen only scratches the surface.  Many all-new adventures could happen, and might make sense since there is unconfirmed (to me at least) talk that our save games won’t be imported into the next game.

I’m sure I’m missing an obvious future plot hook, so if you know one, comment it up.  I’ll add it to the post.  What would you like to see, plot-wise?  I’ll look at game mechanics in a later post.

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Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition – What We Know

The site is getting hammered, but here’s what’s been gleaned from various sources (most notably Trent Oster’s Twitter account) about the now-official Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition (BGEE):

  • Both BG1 and BG2 will be getting the ‘Enhanced’ treatment – though what that is exactly hasn’t been laid out.  Improved graphics, bug fixes, and Trent says it will be staying 2D isometric.
  • The official expansions are included.
  • There will be new content also.
  • Much like playing Baldur’s Gate 1 via Tutu, all of the games will be using the latest Infinity Engine as a base (so all of the added classes/kits from BG2 will be available from the start).
  • They want to support mods, but note that the original code wasn’t really designed for it the way Neverwinter Nights or newer games were.
  • Oddly, this is NOT the game that is coming to Steam, so apparently a release there of the original game is still happening.
  • ‘Summer 2012’ is the date of release so far, subject to change, I’m sure.

That’s what we know so far.  I’ll add more as it becomes known.

edit:  In response to a question about multiplayer improvements, Trent replied “We’re going to fix the broken bits”.

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On Sequels

Reading some of the reviews and discussions out there on Dragon Age 2 got me to thinking – Did Bioware do a disservice to themselves by declaring this game a sequel?  They call it a sequel on the game’s official site, and they put a ‘2’ after it, but it may have damaged the perception of the game a bit to do so.  Even the CNN review says it “isn’t exactly a sequel” and I agree with them.  A sequel, to use the wiki definition as an example, is:

a narrative, documental, or other work of literature, film, theatre, or music that continues the story of or expands upon issues presented in some previous work. In the common context of a narrative work of fiction, a sequel portrays events set in the same fictional universe as a previous work, usually chronologically following the events of that work.

Let’s examine DA2 in this context.  It *is* in the same fictional universe, though DA2 starts during DA:O, not after.  You’ve got a bit of character overlap but not much, but the most important character from Origins is not directly present, the Warden.  The new game is set in the same world, but all new locations.  The DA2 story has some elements you came up against in the first game, which I won’t spoil, but still, to me, doesn’t seem like all this adds up to clearcut sequel status.  It became clearest to me when someone mentioned Baldur’s Gate:  Dark Alliance, a game my wife and I very much enjoyed, but played quite a bit different from other BG games.  DA2 doesn’t stray THAT far away, but it did move.

That isn’t a bad thing, though.  The problem is not with the game, but how it was sold to the consumer.  When I hear ‘sequel’, I’m thinking of games like Diablo 2, Warcraft 2 and the like.  Games that are bigger/better/MORE of what came before.  Yes, there are new features, graphical upgrades, but you see the progression.  You don’t see that so much with DA2.  There’s enough things that are different (some would say downgraded) and enough gameplay has changed that it really feels more like a spinoff than a true sequel.  Instead of slapping a ‘2’ after the name and calling it a day, Bioware should’ve titled it something like “Dragon Age:  The Champion of Kirkwall” while simultaneously announcing development of a true sequel 2-3 years down the road, closer to the Elder Scrolls dev cycle.  Those playing the Kirkwall game wouldn’t necessarily be expecting ‘more of the same’ as DA:O, and a real high fantasy epic world-spanning adventure ‘true sequel’ would still be very welcome.  Everyone is happy, and we can be done with the whiners complaining about not having all the origin stories in the game NOT named Origins.