Dragon Age 2

Sorry for not updating for ages! I have a bunch of half written articles waiting to go up… and be finished… Anyway…

Recently, I’ve been playing DA2, I’m not usually one for CRPGs… I find them too complex. But, I got a new computer, and heard DA2 was more streamlined, and had really fun combat, so i gave it a go.

It’s really good. But as nearly everything has commented, it’s not the same as the first. With many changes that are obviously for console users, like the dialogue wheel or the lack of higher up camera angle. However, many of these changes do something that’s really important for me, and that’s streamlining the cRPG genre. I’ve tried many, many times to dabble with cRPGs, tinkering with neverwinter, icewind dale, diablo and many others, and to most of them, I’ve given up rather early and gone ‘it’s not for me.’ These games all seemed a little to complex for me and i hadn’t already learned how to play them, something, making their tutorials more a head ache than a help as there was just too much information to really deal with.

‘But surely you like complexity’

Yes, i do, I love it in fact. But there need to be stepping stones in all genres… And unlike JRPGs where there are several high quality ‘starter’ ones, and the FFs in a constant loop of being reprinted most older cRPGs are so antiquated that they are of no help in starting up with the genre due to some very outdated design choices. In other words, there is no way to get into cRPGs if you aren’t already in them and not prepared for a really tough learning curve. This is where Dragon Age 2 comes in, it’s quick, easy, but with a lot of the type of depth you’ll find in other cRPGs. This makes the easy to get into DA2 an excellent stepping stone to the better parts of the genre. DA2 starts to get you thinking in terms of skill trees, level ups, stat allocation, weapon choices in the ways more unique to cRPGs than JRPGs (in which weapons pretty much always just go up one path, always one right choice, cRPGs often present you with more equally good but in different way situations). And whats more, it’s getting you to do all that in a ‘safe’ environment. Given the small skill trees in DA2, it’s nearly impossible to screw your character up for more than a few levels without a lot of hard work.

Admittedly, these are the same reasons many people will find annoyance with DA2, it’s a simpler game that’s harder to do badly in. But, it’s playable by more people who’ll be able to move on to the more complex and interesting without being bombarded, and they’ll also know why it’s fun, what kind of decisions they are actually making and so on…

DA2 is a great stepping stone RPG, and while it might not be a great sequel to DA:O it’s one I think the genre really needed, and needed a big name attached to.

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