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    Before we continue I should make something clear: My perspective on DAO is very different from that of most players for two reasons:

    1. I played DAO totally blind, going in knowing absolutely nothing about it. This doesn't sound like such a big deal but when I read pre-release material on the game it feels like it's describing a completely different game entirely. Many of the complaints leveled at DAO (not necessarily yours) seem to stem from mismatched expectations.

    For example, I'd have never called DAO "dark" in a million years until I saw this was how Bioware themselves referred to their own project, and I never really felt like it was merely trying to be dark but failing. It felt, as I was playing it, like it was trying to be a silly adventure story that takes a few stabs at de- and re- constructing its own genre along the way. This is why I find things like, say, the Mage-Templar thing to be effective rather than simply juvenile. The situation isn't complex because mages turn into abominations, it's interesting because Knight Commander Gregoir is a perfectly reasonable human being who 100% believes that what the templars do is right. That fact alone speaks volumes about the real sociopolitical issues at work in the setting than any amount of "BWAR HAR HAR DEMONIC POSSESSION AND RAPE IT'S ALL SO DARK OOOOOOH!!!" could ever accomplish. This, by the way, is why Dragon Age 2 ruined the whole damned thing.

    2. Most of my interest in the setting (and thus, the Interesting Bits you're shuffled along to on your quest to destroy Sauron Urthemiel) comes from subtext rather than the things that are explicitly said; Subtext the authors may have never intended. To be honest, Thedas in my head is probably much cooler and more interesting than the "canon" of the official conception in the heads of the folks at Bioware. I don't really think this is a problem: Death of the author and all that, and it's a sign of the quality of the work that it was able to provide this subtext at all. Besides, puzzling out the mysteries for yourself is fun! Much more fun than sitting down and being told things. However, not everyone feels the same way as I do about subtext being able to provide a replacement for concrete lore and dialogue writing, and even those who do may find subtext entirely different from mine, due to how these things are necessarily dependent on personal interpretation.

    In short, if aren't the kind of gamer who likes to sit up half the night wondering about what the Black City really is, we're not going to see eye to eye on this, and that's that.

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    Hint: The Chantry's account is demonstrably proven false in a DA2 DLC.


    Quote Originally Posted by warty goblin View Post
    So wait, your entire plot being about an ancient god trying to conquer the world with an army of corrupted creatures, while warping the minds of any who have contact with said god is Tolkien satire? What's it look like if you play Tolkien straight?
    I was referring more to the whole Men/Elves/Dwarves/Orcs Darkspawn thing (which to be honest is more accurately a satire of cheap Tolkien ripoffs moreso than Tolkien himself), and it should also be noted by "satire" I meant the non-comedic type. Did you ever go to Orzammar?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aux-Ash View Post
    DAO ... The mechanics suffer a bit from artifacts from older games, so depending on how high tolerance you have for such systems that can alter your perceptions.
    Of course the major criticism against DA2 is that it DIDN't incorporate these things. The reason for DA:O success was that it promised to be the spiritual successor of the Baldur's Gate games, something it also delivered on. To say that DA:O suffered from being like an old fashioned game is like saying that XCOM: Enemy Unknown suffers from being turn-based.

    In fact I dare say that this is why the sales of DA2 plumeted and never recovered after all the prebooked and early hype games were delivered (if you compare the sales curves between the two games it is clear that DA:O sold mainly because of word of mouth, while DA2 hit rock bottom two weeks after launch and only sold as much as it did due to pre-orders from DA:O fans).
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  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craft (Cheese) View Post
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    Hint: The Chantry's account is demonstrably proven false in a DA2 DLC.
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    No, it ain't. The Magisters still travelled to the Fade and were still transformed into the first darkspawn. The only point called into question was whether there was ever a Golden City; Corypheus says it was black when he got there.
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    I wouldn't have minded the story. It was nothing new, but it was told competently. It was the combat that was so dull that I just couldn't go on.
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    There's a mod that speeds up combat in DA:O. It basically increases the speed of every weapon by a large margin. I ran an entire playthrough using it and it was interesting. Combat was quicker and more dynamic. I can't say I didn't have any doubts about balance, though - it seemed as though enemies using "natural" weapons like dragons and ogres were less challenging. But maybe it was just because I'd beaten the game before and knew that I was doing. It certainly gave warriors and rogues an advantage over mages, but that's a good thing.
    As for the story:
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    Corypheus does put some things into question. On the one hand, it means the Chant of Light is partially true - the Magisters did step into the Golden City and the Old Gods convinced them to do it. On the other hand, the City was already black when they got there...

    All in all, I'd enjoy DA2 a lot more than DA:O, if it had been handled better. I enjoyed the structure of the story, and there was actually some moral ambiguity to the central conflict, something I would never have expected from BioWare. But it all lacked polish. So the games are mostly tied for me. While I enjoy Baldur's Gate immensely, I really don't think modern games should imitate it.
    Last edited by Morty; 2012-11-07 at 09:08 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    While I enjoy Baldur's Gate immensely, I really don't think modern games should imitate it.
    No, they should really be following Planescape: Torment's example... (As hopefully Project Eternity will do.)

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    And when you think about it, Torment was similar to "modern" (using that term veeery losely) RPGs in one way - it presented us with a defined protagonist. Well, alright, he was a complete blank slate but nonetheless he was clearly defined as such - an amnesiac male human covered in scars who woke up on a slab in the Mortuary.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Avilan the Grey View Post
    Of course the major criticism against DA2 is that it DIDN't incorporate these things. The reason for DA:O success was that it promised to be the spiritual successor of the Baldur's Gate games, something it also delivered on. To say that DA:O suffered from being like an old fashioned game is like saying that XCOM: Enemy Unknown suffers from being turn-based.

    In fact I dare say that this is why the sales of DA2 plumeted and never recovered after all the prebooked and early hype games were delivered (if you compare the sales curves between the two games it is clear that DA:O sold mainly because of word of mouth, while DA2 hit rock bottom two weeks after launch and only sold as much as it did due to pre-orders from DA:O fans).
    I don't see how that's possible. DA2's combat system is just DA:O's sped up and with a rebalanced talent/spell system, plus a couple of odd additions (cross-class combos) and subtractions (spell combinations). The base mechanics are the same, the real-time-with-pause type of system seen in KotOR but without turns running in the background.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Avilan the Grey View Post
    Of course the major criticism against DA2 is that it DIDN't incorporate these things. The reason for DA:O success was that it promised to be the spiritual successor of the Baldur's Gate games, something it also delivered on. To say that DA:O suffered from being like an old fashioned game is like saying that XCOM: Enemy Unknown suffers from being turn-based.

    In fact I dare say that this is why the sales of DA2 plumeted and never recovered after all the prebooked and early hype games were delivered (if you compare the sales curves between the two games it is clear that DA:O sold mainly because of word of mouth, while DA2 hit rock bottom two weeks after launch and only sold as much as it did due to pre-orders from DA:O fans).
    Why is it that you think the things DAO suffered from and the things that people (or you?) felt were missing in DA2 are one and the same? These were not the only things that were changed, after all.

    DAO's issues was not that it was old fashioned (it was in fact not), but that certain systems fit very poorly to the game they had made. The skill system for example; the idea of a skill system is not bad, but DAO's skills were rather poorly fitted into the system. It actually held you back if you wished to invest in things other than combat (which is like 90 % of the gamecontent). It provides you with plenty of options, but has a skill that is required to invest in higher ability levels. This could have been a very interesting balancing mechanic... had most of the skills been useful outside of a few select moments/tasks.

    Wether it was right to completely remove the skills rather than improve them in DA2 is a discussion that is best left for another topic. But, to me anyways, the skills in DAO came across of having been added for the sake of having skills. Not them actually adding benefit to the game as such. Which is what I meant with artifacts of older games.

    Using old mechanics is fine (I wouldn't ask them to get rid of hit points for example, even if I personally don't like hit points as a system much) as long as it makes the game better. Otherwise it will detract from the experience (but that might be tolerable if the rest of the game is enjoyable).

    I hope that clarifies might statement somewhat.

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    Haven't played DA2, but I did run through DA:O. It was okay. I found the soundtrack interminably boring so I had to swap it out for my own, (A mixture of Diablo music, Hellraiser themes and other atmospheric stuff). Helped a lot.

    Also Mages were hilariously overpowered. Running through as a really short elven Richard O'Brian mage through the game certainly made the often cringeworthy romance interludes more hilarious.

    But mostly my over-riding memories of the game can be summed up in my two unnofficial tag lines for the game.
    Dragon Age Origins: And I for one will not explain it to you.
    Dragon Age Origins: And then you are covered in blood.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    There's a mod that speeds up combat in DA:O. It basically increases the speed of every weapon by a large margin.
    I must say I was slightly disappointed in the speed too. It was a little too fast in DA:O compared to Baldur's Gate. Plus, much fewer options for setting autopausing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zevox View Post
    I don't see how that's possible. DA2's combat system is just DA:O's sped up and with a rebalanced talent/spell system, plus a couple of odd additions (cross-class combos) and subtractions (spell combinations). The base mechanics are the same, the real-time-with-pause type of system seen in KotOR but without turns running in the background.

    Zevox
    On paper, maybe. But the FEELING was completely different. Especially the higher speed, the much worse camera (no overhead view) and the hillarious overkill violence (cutting a grown man in half using DAGGERS???). But even without those specific things, as I said, the feeling of the gameplay is just... off.

    Regarding skills: I don't feel there is anythingwrong with the skills in DA:O. They are no more combat oriented than in BG1 or 2.
    Last edited by Avilan the Grey; 2012-11-07 at 03:47 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Avilan the Grey View Post
    ... and the hillarious overkill violence (cutting a grown man in half using DAGGERS???).
    To be fair... that was actually a bug.

    Re: skills: Oh they were certainly not. Except combat training... which sits there as a point sink you have to spend your skill points in as a warrior or rogue if you wish to pick higher tiered abilities.
    So you have to take the skills -at the expense- of combat ability. Which would be fine if the rest of the game mechanics took that into account. But they do not.
    Last edited by Aux-Ash; 2012-11-07 at 04:28 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Avilan the Grey View Post
    On paper, maybe. But the FEELING was completely different. Especially the higher speed, the much worse camera (no overhead view) and the hillarious overkill violence (cutting a grown man in half using DAGGERS???). But even without those specific things, as I said, the feeling of the gameplay is just... off.
    Which are all completely aesthetic things, not mechanical ones, which are what the post you were originally responding to was talking about.

    And personally, I didn't think it "felt" any different, aside from faster, which was an improvement in my book.

    The overkill violence is silly and distracting, I agree with you there. But Origins has a lot of that as well, with the buckets of blood you can get smeared all over you. That's just something they went with for the series as a whole for some reason.

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    People often refer to enemies exploding when hit by a dagger, but I hardly ever see it on Normal or above difficulty. Once in a blue moon, when some low-HP schlub has been hit by a particularly effective cross-class combo, I will see his body parts fly in multiple directions. But beyond that, the only time enemies explode with any degree of reliability is during the exaggerated bits, like when Varric does his Tony Montana impression.
    Last edited by Candle Jack; 2012-11-08 at 02:26 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craft (Cheese) View Post
    DAO's plot was more of a roadtrip story than a heroic epic, even though it tried to sell itself as the latter (not the least of its marketing mistakes, so I hear). It's a set of Interesting Things for the audience to marvel at while the plot serves as little more than a device to shuffle the audience (in this case, the player) from one Interesting Thing to the next.
    But the problem is that there's a noticeable dearth of Interesting Things. Leaving aside that Thedas is one of the most derivative, uninteresting settings I've seen in a fantasy game, (something which the art design does nothing to alleviate, by the way) the fact of the matter is that the central conflict of the story undermines any real investment to the game world. All the places you go to are just boxes you have to check on a to-do list to stop the Darkspawn and in almost all of them (or just all of them if you're a human noble or dalish elf) the player is the outsider who has to go in and fix everyone else's problems. If you didn't play as a dwarf you won't exactly find yourself being particularly bothered about who succeeds the dwarven throne because all that matters to you is that somebody does and note that we're talking about one of the few instances where the game isn't just going for a straight 'good or evil/bad' choice.
    The fact that the outcomes of these choices can so dramatically effect the game world just makes things even worse. There's no sense of permanence or persistence to these conflicts because you fix most of them, usually within a few hours of having been introduced to them. It just demonstrates that Ferelden pretty much revolves around whatever the Warden decides and that gives the impression that you aren't exploring a world, you're just cleaning up someone else's mess.

    Think of it like The Odyssey, or Alice in Wonderland, or The Wizard of Oz: The plot in all three of these is simply that the main characters want to go home, but keep getting caught into obstacles that prevent them from doing so. It's not the process of overcoming these obstacles that makes these stories interesting, but rather what the obstacles themselves have to show us.
    But again, the thing is these aren't obstacles so much as they are check-boxes on a to-do list. You don't have to deal with the werwolves to get through the forest to continue your quest, you have to do it because you can't do your mission without crossing off 'go off to the woods to sort out the dalish elves' on your checklist. That's not a roadtrip, that's spring cleaning and this goes on for most of the story.

    Personally though, the world of Thedas was enough to keep me playing. There's plenty of interesting stuff there beneath the obvious Tolkien influences (which, really, are mostly satirical) if you take out the time to look.
    The thing is, most of this 'interesting stuff' is just cribbing from slightly different sources. The mage situation is nearly a straight copy of Warhammer Fantasy (minus the actual chaos stuff, which have been replaced by the fade when the games bother to remember it exists) and most of the decidedly half-arsed attempts to inject some kind of racial themes read like a watered down attempt at something like the Witcher. The only vaguely noteworthy thing about the setting's cosmology is that it's agnostic and essentially nothing has been done with that so far. The Fade had potential but has so far only ever shown up as a gimmick dungeon once per game. The only other thing it could potentially have going for it is the Qunari and they were barely present until DA2.

    Also, one other point: this 'non-comedic satire' thing. I'm not entirely sure how you draw the distinction between that and just playing it straight and I'd be interested in seeing where you draw the distinction here.

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    Hm. That just makes me think how much I would love a real "Roadtrip RPG". No main quest, just a gigantic map full of Interesting Things (tm), short quests and interesting NPCs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Hm. That just makes me think how much I would love a real "Roadtrip RPG". No main quest, just a gigantic map full of Interesting Things (tm), short quests and interesting NPCs.
    Legend of Mana on the PS1 kind of had a similar thing going. It was in many ways a very strange game, but essentially it was entirely made of up sidequests and random interludes concerning the people you met as you uh, put the world back together. Some of the quests chained together into several larger narratives and there was a final boss of sorts too, but it was otherwise refreshingly free of main-quest-narrative stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Hm. That just makes me think how much I would love a real "Roadtrip RPG". No main quest, just a gigantic map full of Interesting Things (tm), short quests and interesting NPCs.
    Drakensang: The River of Time has a main quest, but it's essentially a roadtrip. Well, river trip really. It mostly is an excuse to go interesting places and do stuff. Since the main quest is considerably lower key that saving the whole world everywhere it gives the game a very different feel.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Hm. That just makes me think how much I would love a real "Roadtrip RPG". No main quest, just a gigantic map full of Interesting Things (tm), short quests and interesting NPCs.
    That... could actually work. Heck, if you were willing to hybridise genres a bit there's a good potential for a sci-fi game with elements of the old 'space trade sim' genre (that doesn't get enough presence these days). Or just actual boats if you wanted a more fantasy approach, you don't see many oceanic settings after all.

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    Which now just sounds like an excuse for an Earthsea game.
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    Almost everything original or unique about Dragon Age comes from Jade Empire.

    Still, I like the games. Combat is fun in both if a bit repetitive.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xondoure View Post
    Almost everything original or unique about Dragon Age comes from Jade Empire.
    How is Dragon Age like Jade Empire at all? Outside of the generic similarities in Bioware's game design (i.e. structure of the main quest), that is.

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    Last edited by Zevox; 2012-11-09 at 03:07 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zevox View Post
    How is Dragon Age like Jade Empire at all? Outside of the generic similarities in Bioware's game design (i.e. structure of the main quest), that is.

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    Heavenly spirits in another dimension which can turn into demons, and giant automatons of war created by sacrificing living beings. Not to mention the main character is the last of an ancient order tasked with restoring balance to the world.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xondoure View Post
    Heavenly spirits in another dimension which can turn into demons, and giant automatons of war created by sacrificing living beings. Not to mention the main character is the last of an ancient order tasked with restoring balance to the world.
    That's a pretty broad basis for comparison; I bet their are probably half-a-dozen JRPGs (or anime/manga) which could arguably fit that definition (or at least very, very close to it).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aotrs Commander View Post
    That's a pretty broad basis for comparison; I bet their are probably half-a-dozen JRPGs (or anime/manga) which could arguably fit that definition (or at least very, very close to it).
    *shrugs* When both games are made by the same company it's hard not to draw comparisons. And while yes, protagonists being the last of an ancient order is a done to death trope, golems (being powered by transplanted souls) and demons as corrupted spirits are less so. Especially when there's Wild Flower with her whole possession thing going on pretty closely matching Wynne and Anders. Yes, none of these are exactly the same in either form, but I think it's fair to say Bioware wasn't done telling these stories.
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    Default Re: Dragon Age

    The Warden wasn't the last of his/her Order; Alistair was also a Warden. And there were Grey Wardens in other countries.
    Last edited by Candle Jack; 2012-11-09 at 05:54 PM.
    "Justice is a blade that draws blood from the innocent and wicked alike. And raised high, it can lead a charge that changes the world forever."

    This avatar of Anders from Dragon Age 2 was provided by Dorian Soth. I didn't do it.

  27. - Top - End - #57
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    Default Re: Dragon Age

    Quote Originally Posted by Xondoure View Post
    *shrugs* When both games are made by the same company it's hard not to draw comparisons.
    Why stop with just those comparisons though? I mean both have a lot of humans in them, some of whom can use magic to cast spells. They have earth-like gravity and climate, with similar length solar days too. And years of an earth-like length with four distinct seasons.

  28. - Top - End - #58
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    Default Re: Dragon Age

    Quote Originally Posted by Candle Jack View Post
    The Warden wasn't the last of his/her Order; Alistair was also a Warden. And there were Grey Wardens in other countries.
    Yes, but you know what I meant.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xondoure View Post
    Heavenly spirits in another dimension which can turn into demons,
    Neither game has that. The closest that anything comes to that description is Justice becoming warped by merging with Anders in DA2. In both cases otherwise there's a difference between good spirits and demons. Which is a very generic fantasy thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xondoure View Post
    and giant automatons of war created by sacrificing living beings.
    The Golems in Dragon Age play a minor role in the backstory of the problems of Orzamar. Their method of creation may bear some resemblance (though not a perfect one) to those in Jade Empire, but the role and importance of them in each game is quite different.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xondoure View Post
    Not to mention the main character is the last of an ancient order tasked with restoring balance to the world.
    Which is another typical fantasy thing.

    Also, I was going to point out the thing about the Warden not being the last anything, but I see Candle Jack has done it for me.

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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Dragon Age

    Quote Originally Posted by Aux-Ash View Post
    DAO is fairly typical for a Bioware rpg. If you've liked most of them, chances are it will entertain you to some degree at least. The world is fairly well crafted, the companions fair, the plotline decent (if not very original) and as a whole knitted together quite well. It's not a work of art by any stretch of imagination, but it's a quite well made game.
    The mechanics suffer a bit from artifacts from older games, so depending on how high tolerance you have for such systems that can alter your perceptions. The origins themselves were fresh and interesting, but not nearly as well utilised as they could have been sadly.

    DA2 is bolder, but suffers a lot from execution. It's the first time in a long time Bioware moved away from their "standard plot model". It's still unmistakingly a bioware game, and if that is not your cup of tea then I doubt the plot will excite you much. The protagoniost is much less of a blank slate though, which has the benefit of actually being able to interact with the plot but may result in a percieved loss of agency.
    The mechanics are largely the same, but with a few crucial changes to creation, encounters and pacing. It's much faster than DAO.
    The companions are quirky and provides less setting exposition than in DAO, but are very involved in the plotlines and have their own story-archs through their multiple companion quests.
    Sadly, the game suffers a lot from a short development cycle and perhaps from a poor decision or two. The DLC adventures shows significant improvement in these regards, but if you didn't like the original then it's no point in acquring them.

    A key difference is that DAO is fundamentally an epic, it's about heroics and adventuring and in the end of the day triumphing but perhaps with a bittersweet note.
    DA2 is not. It's more of a drama or a tragedy.It's not about adventures, it's not about saving the world. It's about you and being dragged along in a series of events.

    I personally liked DA2 more than DAO (but I love that game too), but that's neither here nor there.
    Nah. Hawke has far too little agency for DA2 to qualify as a tragedy. That is to say, bad things happen to Hawke regardless of what Hawke does.

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