I love Dragon Age 2. I’m an old school CRPG boy and naturally dug how Origins harkened back to those classic isometric days, but the story was typical fantasy fare, with a narrative structure that we’ve seen in nearly every RPG over the last few decades. The sequel was bolder and weirder and, yes, very rough around the edges. It remains a tragedy that BioWare didn’t continue down this path, because there’s a spark there that simply hasn’t been present in any of its games since. 

The other Dragon Age’s are all centred around specific crises that engulf almost everything. Origins is all about ending the latest Blight and fulfilling the destiny of the Grey Wardens, while Inquisition is all about building up your militant organisation and closing the Breach. Dragon Age 2 is a biography. There are crises, sure, and darkspawn, and the conflict between the Chantry and mages, but really it’s all about Hawke. 

Hawke is BioWare’s most defined player character. There are still plenty of directions for you to take them in, but once you’re on your chosen path, it feels like you’re playing a tangible, flawed person rather than just a reflection of a bunch of arbitrary choices. They’re closer to Geralt than the Grey Warden, the Inquisitor or even Commander Shepard. This is emphasised by the fact that everything you do is actually being relayed after the fact by Varric, Dragon Age’s weirdly sexy literary giant (and dwarf). 

(Image credit: EA)

Varric is an excellent narrator, even if he’s not to be trusted. He’s a bit unreliable, especially when it comes to his own exploits, which makes Dragon Age 2 feel even more like an authentic biography. And through Varric we see years of Hawke’s life, their changing status, the fortunes and misfortunes of their friends, and how they grow from a nobody into a pivotal player in the fate of Kirkwall. The character progression, both in terms of Hawke and their companions, is second to none in BioWare’s oeuvre.



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