Monday, December 21, 2015

Let's Play Dragon Age II: Part 3

Act 3 is a long Act in Dragon Age: II. I honestly thought I was nearing the end of the game when a slew of new quests began popping up on my radar once I began to work through the main story.

But let me roll back a bit - back to the beginning of Act 3. I've felt my game play slow down drastically since the first two Act's as I tip-toe my way through these new quests. So many of the activities involve the mage/templar divide, that I'm now overthinking every time I have to put a party together. It's not about choosing a team that can keep me alive, but creating a group that won't get pissed off at me for my choices.

Right now I'm playing the field and favoring both sides until I have to make that ultimate choice to pick one or the other. And it's blatantly obvious that you need to do this eventually. Since mid-Act 2 it likes to throw your face into it. Constantly. Until then, I need to build up reputation points with my companions and ensure they don't get too pissy at me for picking whatever side I decide upon.

Here's my problem: unlike my experiences with Origins and Inquisition, number II has me on the fence as to which side I should saddle up with. Because they are making mage's looks like major dicks. Typically I'm very sympathetic towards their cause. They are locked up and jailed, essentially, for their lives simply because they can cast magic. The conditions in most Circles (the nice way of saying "prison" where the mages stay) are deplorable, downright horrid if Kirkwall is any example of that. A mage looks at your the wrong way and he can be made Tranquil (think of it like being turned into a Borg on Star Trek - all of your emotions, your memories, your self-worth are stripped away to prevent you from using magic ever again). Mages get the short end of the stick. And I like to fight for the little people, even though it's fun to play as the bad guy now and again.

But in DA2, they're really pushing my buttons. A number of the mages that you meet along the way are either too self-righteous, too eager to use blood magic (which is a big no-no in my book. Do you want demon's to possess you that badly? Damn), or have no regard for the safety of people around them and just do...whatever they damn well please. Between the blood magic, the kidnappings, and random violence, these mages are making the templars look like freekin' saints. And I know that Knight-Captain  Meredith is bonkers. She needs to be kicked out. Even her brand of insanity seems more sane then what some of these mages are pulling.

So thanks Bioware. You turned my easy decision into a headache that I'm now juggling party members to ensure they're happy with my chat choices before I make my final selection on who to side.

It'll still probably be the mages because templars suck. But I can appreciate the fact that a the story is prompting me to rethink my choices. Enough that I want to go through a second game to see what happens when I change my decisions.

So let's see, what have I done so far. I've gone through another companion quest or two to get them even more on my "good" side. I think my digital relationship with Fenris is solidified? I have no idea anymore. That elf confuses me. "I want to be with you, but I can't because my old Master is holding me back. But he's dead now, and I still don't know." Dude. It's been 3 years. Make up your mind already.

Also that whole "3 year gap between Acts" thing is old. Little tired of it. It makes the likely-hood of my companions sticking around for so long even less plausible.

I've also noticed that the scaling mobs issue is apparently a long-time Dragon Age staple. I discussed it in my review of Inquisition and made mention of it in the first game, but I was hoping it wouldn't rear it's head again in number 2. Guess I was wrong. It's interesting how I can kill a dragon at level 20 and be successful at it, but I can have half of my team die at level 21 against 2 rebel mages within 10 seconds of a battle beginning. I mean...what? Really? I'm on Casual mode, so this shouldn't be an issue. And yet it is. Not too happy about it. Even with the ass-end unusually difficult fight at the end of Act 2 against the Qunari, I had some hope that the scaling would still maintain it's pace. Guess not!

The quests are also very repetitive at this point. I can see where some of the linearity can feel tiring since we're re-visiting the same areas. Off to the coast, then the mountain, then the mines, and then into the underbelly of Kirkwall where we go to the same 4 storage rooms every quest cycle. Lot's of fetching and finding people. Woohoo. Picking up all of those Qunari swords better be worth it on the final turn-in. I dropped 10 gold on three of them, and only received 30-50 silver a piece!

So not much has happened other then I think I've officially romanced Fenris, I'm doing a ton of fetch quests, and I'm taking way too long creating my party so as not to piss them off with my mage/templar dialogue choices.

What I've figured out in Act 3 so far is that I'm going to play this game again as a warrior (and hate myself the entire time) and choose completely different options for the story. I don't think my Hawke is snarky enough to be running around Kirkwall as she is right now, and I want the game to be more of a mental challenge for me - less of a physical one. Which apparently as a mage, that puts me in the best position for insta-death with my squishyness. Meh. At least I have my cool Hawke armor now!

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