Review: Dragon Age 2

Criticized by many and made in haste, Dragon Age 2 may not be the best in the saga but it shines in character development and its protagonist.

We talked a lot about Dragon Age Origins, the first game in a franchise from the acclaimed Bioware that took players to a dark and hopeless world plagued by terrifying creatures and a hero who saved an entire continent with the help of a group of unforgettable characters full of charisma, personality and complexity that even today are revered by those who had the courage to face the challenge.

But in the midst of this epic journey of assembling a huge army, worthy of a book like The Lord of the Rings, it's easy to lose sight of the little stories of common people who also fought the darkspawn to survive, whether in the army or running away from monsters. And this story begins in exactly one of the first locations that your group of Gray Guardians passes through. The village of Lothering.

When we arrived at this place in Dragon Age Origins, after leaving Flemeth's hut, we found a village full of refugees and with no hope of surviving an attack. Waiting for the army to pass there to defend them. We found Qunari Sten in a cage, Leliana in the tavern, we helped some villagers with their requests, like some poison or some traps, as they thought it could defend their houses from monsters' attack.

When we leave Lothering to continue our journey, the city is attacked and destroyed and, if out of curiosity, we go back there, we discover what happened to the people and the fate of a destroyed land that may never recover from rot. Some managed to escape, while others were not so lucky. And among those families is the Hawke family. And your first decision is: Which of your brothers will die.

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Only when you fall do you learn if you can fly


The game starts with your character and one of your brothers as companions facing various darkspawns. If you choose a mage, your battle companion will be your younger brother, Carver. If you choose a warrior or rogue, the mate will be your younger sister, Bethany.

In either case, the fight is a tutorial that will introduce you to the maximum powers of your class, like a great darkspawn destroyer, still opening a chance for your brother/sister to demonstrate incredible powers by defeating several monsters at the same time, as a way to teach how the wheel of choices and decisions works and how they impact on their peers. Then the battle gets tougher and there's a giant ogre and thousands of darkspawns surrounding you, until a dragon comes up spitting flames and… none of that happened.

It was all a story invented by the dwarf bard Varric Thedas while he was being interrogated by Cassandra Pentaghast, a Seeker of Truth. Cassandra wants to know the whereabouts of the Krikwall Champion, who disappeared after a serious problem that caused an upheaval around the world and only he could solve it. Varric says that Cassandra had asked him to tell the story, but hadn't said anything he couldn't embellish a little.

Cassandra stabs the book he wrote himself and tells him that he must tell her everything that happened because the safety of the world depends on her finding the Champion. Varric says he doesn't know where Hawke is and Cassandra says he should tell him what he knows. So Varric begins his story.

“There are men who fight against fate… and only reach their grave;
There are men who flee fate… only to be swallowed by it;
And there are men who embrace fate… And don't fear it;
These are the ones that change the world forever.”

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Flemeth

Hawke (the default name for the male character is Garret and for the female is Marian). Unlike the previous game, you can only play with one human character. This time there are no dwarfs, elves and no other species. After choosing a wizard, fighter or rogue, you can customize your character.

Customizing your character will also change your family, but it won't be too much and some might get really weird. The limitations of game customization won't help you make a better-than-default character model either, so I don't even know if it's worth modifying your own or your Hawke's default face. Modified or not, the adventure begins with Varric reminiscing about the events in Lothering and we are introduced to the Hawke family.

Hawke and Bethany
leave it as it is

The Escape from Lothering

The mother, Leandra; the eldest Garret/Marian, who can be a warrior, mage or rogue (and henceforth will be called Hawke); Carver, the middle child who is a warrior; and Bethany, the youngest, who is an apostate (a mage who is not under Chantria's supervision and trains her magic alone. Which, in the Dragon Age world, is extremely dangerous, as mages can end up possessed by demons of the Immaterial). They are being chased by darkspawns, and when Leandra gets tired of running, Carver, Hawke and Bethany have to fight to protect her mother.

They have nowhere to run and running through the Korcari wastes will get them nowhere. Leandra remembers that in her hometown of Kirkwall, her family, the Amell (which happens to be the same last name as the human wizard in Dragon Age Origins, which makes it possible for Hawke and Ferendel's Hero to be related), own a mansion and the Blight won't make it there, because of the sea that separates the continents of Ferelden and Free Marches.

Along the way, they meet the warrior Aveline and her husband, a sick templar named Wesley. Despite the disagreements between Wesley and the Hawke family over Bethany, they follow together the rest of the way, until they encounter a large horde of Darkspawns that forces them to fight with all their strength. Wesley is dying of Rot (a contagious disease of Darkspawns), Aveline takes her husband's sword and shield to fight and the ogre rushes in all its fury on her brother/sister and kills him (there is no way to save him no way). At that point, it only remains for the rest of the group to continue the fight.

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His brother/sister is dead, Wesley can't resist Rot and more darkspawns keep spawning. Just when you thought all was lost, a dragon appears and hurls its flames at the monsters, saving you against all odds. This dragon is Flemeth (the Forest Witch of Korcari you met in the previous game with Morrigan) who appears to you with a proposal: Give an amulet to the leader of a clan of Dalish elves (elves who live in nomadic tribes) and she will escort you safely to the port, where you can board a ship for Free Marches. With no better options, you accept the witch's offer.

Flemeth
Flemeth in DA2 is very different

However, upon arriving in Free Marches and the oppressive city of Kirkwall, The City of Chains, built atop the base of stone buildings that housed slaves and wizards oppressed by the Templars, is getting no one else. Many fugitives from Ferelden have arrived at its port and the city is no longer suitable for outsiders. No one who does not have a relative or a place to settle in Kirkwall can enter and will have to return to Ferelden or go anywhere else. Leandra urges the soldiers to find her brother, Gamlen, who has a mansion in town.

However, after some problems you face, the guard decides to help you and goes in search of Gamlen, who only after hours decides to show up and offer Leandra and her family the only help he can. Gamlen lost the Hawke mansion and now lives in a shack in the lower town and the only way for Hawke and his family to enter the town is for them to work for a year with a gang of smugglers or drug dealers operating in the town. You have to choose which one to act with.

A year has passed and the rumor is running through the city that the dwarf Bartrand Tethras is organizing an expedition to the Deep Roads of the Free Marches dwarves, abandoned for centuries. The promise of treasures and riches is Hawke's best chance for his family to lift themselves out of misery after working a year for free just to get into town. But Bartrand is not interested in another mercenary and refuses their help. Until, in the middle of town, you his brother Varric, who tells you the way to convince Bartrand to take you on the expedition: The dwarf needs a partner.

Unforgettable Companions

Now, it's up to you to gather the necessary money to join Bartrand's entourage, but that's just the beginning of the story, as what happens will change the whole world and open the door to an even more important event that will take place in Dragon Age Inquisition . On your journey you will meet your companions who will accompany you on your adventures:

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Companions
Fenris, Isabella, Varric (and Bianca), Aveline, Hawke, Carver, Merrill, Anders, Bethany and Sebastian
  • Aveline: After entering the city, Aveline joined the Free Marches guard and is now a soldier and will be her main source of work at first. Aveline is a powerful tanker and able to withstand tons of damage;
  • Carver: Your brother and you have a certain rivalry that goes back to childhood (the friendship meter starts with him in the red). If he survived the encounter with the ogre, he is a two-handed sword user and can be a good DPS with area damage abilities. Depending on your choices, Carver can die (yes, there is another risk of death), become a Gray Guardian, or become a Templar;
  • Bethany: If she survives, Bethany is a powerful elementalist mage. Your younger sister has had a good relationship with you from the start (friendship bar starts in blue). Depending on your choices Bethany can die (yes, there is another risk of death), become a Gray Guardian or become a Chantry Mage;
  • Varric: Varric is the narrator of the story and a rogue dwarf and bard. He is a writer and has some books published in Kirkwall. His main weapon is his crossbow called Bianca (he doesn't equip another weapon during the game);
  • Merrill: A Dalish elf and spiritualist mage. She uses nature to her advantage and also uses blood magic (a big taboo among mages in the AD world). Merrill is quite innocent and naive and wants to restore the magic of an ancient elven mirror, even though she doesn't know exactly what the mirror is, its powers and the danger it can pose.
  • Isabella: What Merrill is innocent of, Isabella is perverted. A free-spirited and rogue pirate captain who specializes in the use of daggers. She is the center of many in-game events and, during a visit to a brothel in Dragon Age Origins, players can invite her to a "menage".
  • Different: Ex-Grey Guardian and magician specializing in healing. Ander first appeared in the DLC Dragon Age Origins: Awakening. He is possessed by the spirit of Justice, who was also one of the DLC characters and he is at the center of the game's third act events.
  • Fenris: A fugitive elf from the elf-slaving nation of Tevinter. He uses a two-handed sword and is a berserk-type warrior.
  • Sebastian: He appears in the DLC Exile Prince and is a human archer seeking revenge for the death of his family.
  • Tallis: An elf rogue who is part of the Qun (the discipline/religion of the Qunari), so her name is actually her function! “Tallis” means “Resolve” in the Qunari language. Tallis only appears during the main DLC mission Mark of Assassin and is based on actress Felicia Day (star, screenwriter and producer of the original web series The Guild). She starred in a webserie in the Dragon Age 2 universe and her character was incorporated into the game.

Among the romance options, you can have an affair with Fenris, Isabella, Ander, and Merrill regardless of your character's gender. Everyone is bisexual, except Sebastian, who is heterosexual. At the end of Tallis' quest, you can kiss her, regardless of your Hawke's gender and even if you're in a romance with one of the characters. If you flirt with Tallis in front of your partner, there will be a line indicating jealousy, but that's it.

System Requirements for Dragon Age 2

As it's a 2011 game it won't be demanding on your computer and can even be run by PCs with built-in GPUs today. It won't be difficult for you to get to play it.

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR PC

Operational system: Windows 7
Processor: Intel Core 2 (or equivalent) at 1.8 GHz or higher. AMD Athlon 64 X2 (or equivalent) at 1.8 GHz or higher
RAM memory: 1.024 MB (1.536 MB for Vista and Windows 7)
Hard drive: At least 7GB of free space
Video card: 2600MB Radeon HD 256 Pro and 7900MB NVIDIA GeForce 256 GS cards
Sound: DirectX 9.0c Compatible Sound Card
Controls: Keyboard and Mouse

RECOMMENDED REQUIREMENTS FOR PC

Operational system: Windows 7
Processor: 2GHz Intel Core 2.4 Quad processor or equivalent. AMD Phenom 2 X3 2.8GHz Triple Core or equivalent
RAM memory: 2GB (4GB for Vista and Windows 7)
Hard drive: At least 7GB of free space
Video card: ATI 5850 or higher; NVIDIA 460 or higher
Sound: DirectX 9.0c Compatible Sound Card
Controls: Keyboard and Mouse

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR MAC

Operational system: This game will only work on macOS versions that support 32-bit applications.
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 1,86 GHz or higher
RAM memory: 2GB or higher
Hard drive: ATI HD2600, NVIDIA 9400 or higher with at least 256MB of dedicated video RAM
Unsupported Video Card: 9 GB of free disk space
Sound: Intel GMA, Nvidia 7×00, AMD 1×00 and AMD 2400 series
Controls: Keyboard and Mouse

save the world or save yourself

I love Dragon Age 2. I like it a lot more than Origins and Inquisition, even with all the problems and repetitions of the game, Dragon Age 2 is, for me, the best of the 3 games! I'm an old-school RPG player and naturally found in Origins the same passion from those days of rolling dice at the table, with a typical fantasy story, with a narrative structure that we've seen in almost every RPG in recent decades. The sequence was more daring and strange and, yes, it lacked a lot of polish.

It's a real tragedy that BioWare hasn't continued down this path and surrendered to the multiplayers and lootboxing that EA shoves into every game, because there's a spark here that simply hasn't been present in any of their games since.

In other Dragon Age's the stories are centered around world crises that always involve the total destruction of life and etc etc… Origins is all about ending the last Rot and fulfilling the fate of the Gray Guardians, while Inquisition is all about ending with building his military organization and closing the Breach that opened up in heaven. Dragon Age 2 is a biography. There are crises, to be sure, and darkspawns, and the conflict between the Chapel and the mages, but really, it's all about Hawke.

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Hawke is BioWare's most defined player character. There are still many paths for you to follow, but once you're on the chosen path, it feels like you're playing a tangible, imperfect person rather than just a reflection of a bunch of arbitrary choices. Hawke is a person and not a "symbol". He is not O Gray Guardian or O Inquisitor or O Hero of Ferelden or O Chosen by Andraste! He has a name. He is closer to Geralt than he is to the Gray Guardian, the Inquisitor or even Commander Shepard. This is emphasized by the fact that everything you do is actually the story that happened as narrated by Varric.

Varric is an excellent narrator, even if he is unreliable. He's unreliable, especially when it comes to his own exploits, which makes Dragon Age 2 seem even more like an authentic biography. And through Varric we see Hawke's years of life, his change in status, the fortunes and misfortunes of his friends, and how they grew from a nobody to a pivotal piece in Kirkwall's fate. The character progression, both in terms of Hawke and his companions, is unparalleled in BioWare's oeuvre.

Combat
Combat in Dragon Age 2 is faster and more action-packed

Friends. no devotees

Time is critical to Dragon Age 2, and its passing brings with it significant changes. Some of your comrades will get jobs, find new loves, and the city around you will shake and change as you grapple with all sorts of problems, from mage rebellions to intimidating Qunari. Like Hawke, you get involved in all of this, but the world doesn't orbit you. That, perhaps, is what I love the most about Dragon Age 2. You are important, to be sure, but you are often helpless. And from this lack of control, his world and his characters gain much more importance.

Anders is often considered a low point. He was featured in DAO: Awakening, the Origins expansion, and in Dragon Age 2 he's a rabid madman who causes a lot of trouble. He's not as friendly as he used to be, and no matter what you do, he's going to screw it up. Besides him, depending on his actions, characters can betray him at the most important moment in the game, showing that they have their own convictions.

BioWare's games rely heavily on charming friends with a lot of play, but in Dragon Age 2 it stokes the fire of rivalry by giving teammates more personal motivation and not being followers who put their lives aside to go after you blindly and recognize that friendships can be very complicated and tense.

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Like Anders, we also feel Aveline as a character who is making her own way. She's the first mate you can get, but she has her own life. In Kirkwall, she joins the Guards, and if you're a criminal, you're going to hit her head a lot with her. You'll see a lot of her sighing exasperatedly when you do something outlawed, and if there's one thing that might change your mind, it's Aveline's disappointed look. And you'll want her to like you, to the point of helping her seduce a fellow guard she's in love with.

So she has a career and romance totally separate from adventure, which sometimes causes complications. And there's a little bit of that in everyone. Your teammates aren't just waiting for you to call them, and they aren't subservient. In Inquisition, on the other hand, even the toughest and most stubborn characters like Cassandra feel like its servants.

The Problem of Development

Dragon Age 2's biggest weakness is its scenario repetition. There just aren't enough distinct locations for a game of this size. Dungeons, for example, are often recycled, so you'll struggle hard to make your way through the same caves, with differences at the end of where you start and where you end – it's just not enough and that's a problem with the game's difficult development. The flashy but not especially tactical combat is one of my favorite things about the game. Here the combat feels like an anime, fast, agile and busy, unlike the sluggish and tedious combat in Origins.

The epic and sweeping quests still have some appeal, but that's rarely what people want to talk about when they finish an RPG. It's the people we meet in these searches that end up being imprinted on our minds and the character we form at the end of them. And Dragon Age 2 will leave you with a lot imprinted in your memory. Mainly things related to Hawke and his family. Too bad, then, that DA2 has become the disappointing middle child for its rushed development (only one year of game production).

Inquisition has many memorable characters, greatly improved combat and a world filled with diverse locations, but it is also totally indebted to the design of fashionable open-world games. It's ambitious in scale, but downright conservative when it comes to most of the rest. You are once again the most important person in the world, you can sleep with almost anyone you recruit and suck the prominence from everyone. It's pure power fantasy, down to that critical betrayal you'll never see if you don't play the latest DLC. I played this gigantic game twice, so obviously I'm a fan, but it contains no surprises. It's very safe. Everything Dragon Age 2 was not.

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Two interesting facts about the game are that:

  • The original story planned for Dragon Age 2 is the same story that was introduced in Dragon Age Inquisition, with the characters trying to close a gigantic breach in the sky from which demons rained;
  • Originally, Hawke would be an NPC, a wizard named Garret Von Hawke, who would become a fellow party and uses his spells to draw power from his blood, explaining why he has that bloody mark on his nose;
Brand
Hawke's brand is cool, but left unexplained

After all, is it good or not?

Yes it's very good! Dragon Age 2 is, for me, the best game in the franchise. Not only because it was the first game I played (I got it as a birthday present from my fiancee), but also because it's what you can best connect to the protagonist because of its much more “personal” than “epic” story. You are not saving the world. You just want to save your family and rebuild your life after losing everything. How many refugees want just that?

Also, it greatly improves the combat of Dragon Age Origins, which I found slow and tiring. Of course I'm an exception in the fanbase, which loves tactical-focused combat in the game, but I prefer the action and speed of the second game. The big problem is the excessive repetition of scenarios and dungeons that are just the same map with different paths that the first time you pass were blocked and the second are open, the captivating story with moments to take the player from heaven to hell, it pays to go through repeated dungeons a few times.

Where to buy?

Steam website: R$ 59,00
Origin website: R$ 59,00
Nuuvem's website: R$ 74,99

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Dragon age 2
Dragon Age 2

Dragon Age 2

Graphics
Music
Gameplay
Fun

About us

Developer: Bioware
Distributor: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Mac OS, Mac OS Classic

Pros:
A story focused on saving the people you love and not an epic journey to save the world;
Well-developed and relatable protagonist;
Companions who have a life of their own and are not there to die for you alone;
Songs, as always, excellent and atmospheric;

Cons:
The game lacked polish due to the short development time;
Absurd repetition of scenarios;
The hands are horrible!!

4.6

Now, leave it in the comments: Do you like the Dragon Age series? Did you play Dragon Age 2? Templars or wizards? Enjoy and read more reviews on our website.

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Paulo Fabris is a journalist, writer, RPG player, gamer, cosplayer, nerd and fan of anime since the time of TV Manchete.