The Second First Time

Unlike DAO, which I bought a good 6 months after its release, I was eagerly anticipating Dragon Age 2. I spent a lot of time on the BioWare forums in the run-up to the release and went into it almost completely spoiled. That said the game still threw up plenty of surprises – for one thing I spent most of the first act trying to figure out where Sebastian had gone and why he wouldn’t join my party!

My first Hawke used the default character model sans bloodstreak (because I baulk at playing a character who doesn’t wash their face for 10 years), was a rogue, and gloried in the ambiguous name Tristan. Although I knew a lot about the game, I didn’t overthink role playing the character so she pretty much just swanned around being sarcastic and making decisions on the fly. This endeared her to Isabela and Varric, but I otherwise managed unerringly to bring the companions most likely to be pissed off by my decisions on EVERY quest. I also couldn’t resist that dialogue-heart and both Fenris and Anders took the flirting seriously – it did not end well.

Annoyed with how my inconsistent decisions were alienating everyone, and worried I’d be fighting the end battle with just Varric for company, I gave up part way into Act 3 and started over with Elayne Hawke, a Mage.

Despite all the flak it takes, I genuinely loved DA2. Yes, the caves are repetitive, yes, the wording for the dialogue wheel can be vague, and yes, it’s annoying that the ending forces a choice on you that basically just changes the route to the final battle. I have less sympathy with complaints over the combat (hey, I’m a console gamer – what do I know?) or the Act structure, which I thought was a nice way of handling the timescale of the game. I also enjoyed the cameos: “Oh look there’s Cullen. Alistair’s here and he ate too much cheese! And Leliana, what a surprise! Bodhan and Sandal have moved in with me, you say?!” It was nice to spend time with old friends and see how my decisions had shaped their lives.

Hawkes’ story is less replayable than the wardens’ stories so I have far fewer Hawkes than I do wardens, but I am looking forward to seeing them again in DAI.