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What Dragon Age 3 Needs
From the first real preview I was hooked on Dragon Age: Origins. We had been teased with this epic adventure for a long time before BioWare opened the can and showed off a kind of spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate. Complete with its own custom lore, world, characters, and intellectual property it was looking from the start that Dragon Age would be the game for me. As a long time fan of Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, and Neverwinter Nights I was anxious to get this game in my hands. I had pre-ordered the collector’s edition, collector’s guide, did what I could to amass all the DLC I could and finally sat down In November of 2009 to play.
I wasn’t disappointed. The graphics and texture quality may have been a bit lower than expected and the glitches were apparent but beside that I consider Dragon Age: Origins one fantastic ride. I never became obsessed with finding all I could and replaying the game with different options selected. At the end of the day, though, I had my personal perfect save: I played as a Human male Rogue. I specialized in dual wielding. I romanced Morrigan as it seemed like the best choice story-wise and I found her character to be the most interesting. I sided with the Mages at the Circle who then helped me save Conner at Redcliffe. I sided with the Werewolves in the forest. I refused Kolgrim and preserved the Sacred Ashes. Caridin laid down his life and I appointed Bhelen as King of Orzammar. Loghain was executed as Alistair became King while still remaining a Grey Warden. I performed the ritual with Morrigan and promptly killed the Archdemon. I then helped the Elves and gave them their own land. I won’t go into the download content but I didn’t kill the Architect and I followed Morrigan.
As you can see, I did everything I wanted to do in Dragon Age: Origins. I invested a ton of time to do it, as well. Like I said, I kind of became obsessed with the game during my playthrough(s). I had read every codex and even scoured the info at the end of the Collector’s guide. I came up with all these scenarios that could play out with my Warden and what was next. What could BioWare have up its sleeve for these characters now that Ferelden was saved? Well according to a leaflet in the Awakenings box, I’d find out soon enough.
I’m gong to disappoint you here and tell you that I won’t be bad mouthing Dragon Age 2. I liked Dragon Age 2. Sure, it has its problems and plenty of design flaws but the game itself was something I really enjoyed. The part I didn’t enjoy was its announcement and everything we heard up to its release. I was devastated to find out that my Warden would be no where in the game. None of the characters would show up and instead I was following some supposed “Champion” of Kirkwall. Excuse me but what happens to all those decisions I made? Oh. I can import the “world” and have some of my choices talked about. Yeah, I got like 3 sentences about what my Warden did all game. That pissed me off. It had nothing to do with the changing of the gameplay or Hawke himself. No, I was pissed that BioWare threw this awesome, amazing game at me and that after I sunk so much time into Origins it was naught. Don’t even get me started on Witch Hunt. My goodness, don’t even get me started on it.
Whew. Now, anyways, so Dragon Age 2 releases and I buy it like the tool consumer I am even after bashing it during all the previews. I imported all my hard work knowing that it wouldn’t really matter much. However, I found myself quickly forgetting about the problems and enjoying myself. Dragon Age 2 was obviously rushed. You can tell so easily thanks to the walled gardens of Kirkwall and its hills that you are confined to all game and its very similar in-door maps. Aside from that, I had no problem being stuck inside Kirkwall. I became very familiar with its areas and roads. The map became as easy to navigate as the back of my own hand. This is what BioWare wanted. They wanted you to become a piece of Kirkwall. The more you did for the city, the more you were rewarded, and the decisions you had that effected it were supposed to weigh down on you as a player as you’d feel like a citizen with the fate of your house and home in your hands. To this, I say BioWare succeeded.
The gameplay was changed but it felt more streamlined. Battles were faster but they still had the dramatic pinch from the first one. The skill moves had more impact and I really don’t see how you can deny that mages played so much better than in Origins. The skill trees were better laid out and definitely felt more powerful as the game went on. All-in-all, I had a lot of fun in Dragon Age 2. The story was gripping and my decisions felt very important. Maybe not as important as what I did in Ferelden but the overall feel of what I did feels more universal. The actions of my Hawke in Dragon Age 2 will be felt world over.
Now that it is nearly time for us to begin hearing about Dragon Age 3, I have compiled a list of things that I wish to see in this next game. Whether it be the final game or just another step in the road, that remains to be seen. To be honest, depending on what happens I can’t really see Dragon Age 3 being the finale.
I don’t want another new character. Give me back the guy I invested so much time into, this time. Hawke was likable character- male or female. The fact that I had a voice and felt like I was shaping this person’s life was cool. Almost like… oh yeah! Almost felt like a medieval Commander Shepard! If I don’t play as Hawke or the Warden in Dragon Age 3 I will be severely pissed off. Stop introducing more main characters in a story that fans are investing this much time in. You succeeded with Hawke but don’t tempt fate a second time.
2. Chantry War
At the end of Dragon Age 2 I saw the Chantry of Kirkwall destroyed and the Knight-Commander attacked after becoming completely corrupted by the lyrium idol she stole and melted down into a sword. Awesome fight. Now the Chantry is in shambles and mages all around Thedas are revolting for their freedom. I want to see this! The war between the Templars and mages was something we all saw coming and now that it is everywhere, this needs to be the central plot point of Dragon Age 3.
3. Tevinter Imperium
The long lost empire that ruled over Thedas with a magical iron fist. So much happened thanks to Tevinter. We had the Darkspawn created, the connection to the Maker severed, blights started, Archdemons existing, and the whole hatred for magic come into play. This place must be so depressing. Imagine going on vacation from the Imperium to, say, Ferelden. “Oh, you’re from Tevinter? I hate that place…” Awkward! I’d like to see the Imperium as I’m sure the ruling houses there would have much to comment on about the Chantry’s open war with the mages.
So Flemeth may be the most important character in the game series. She obviously knows what is going to happen. She saw the Warden and knew that he was important and did what she could for him. She did the same thing for Hawke. Thanks to what you do in Dragon Age 2, we know that our great fight against her for Morrigan’s gain meant nothing. Flemeth is alive and well. Good. Flemeth’s tale isn’t over and I can see this playing out in many ways. If we follow Hawke in Dragon Age 3, Flemeth may be our greatest ally. If we follow the Warden, things may get a bit complicated. We tried to kill her after she was so nice to us and Morrigan is still around somewhere. Either way, Flemeth needs to be prominently shown off in Dragon Age 3. Possible even a party member???? *nudge nudge* C’mon, BioWare! Make it happen!
What a fun sounding place! It’s like the Louisiana of Thedas. Something always going down and parties in the streets. After hearing the stories from Zevran in Origins, I want to visit this festive (and deadly) place. The intrigue and backstabbing the quests there would have would be splendid! Plus, we may get to see the witty Zevran again.
4. No More Deep Roads
I swear to all that is holy, if I have to venture in that place one more time I may break my controller. I hate the Deep Roads. It is a boring, one dimensional place. Tight hallways with random open rooms filled with dirt, rock, ruin, and oh yeah tons of Darkspawn. I like the Darkspawn and their story but the Deep Roads are just agonizing to go through. BioWare got rid of the Fade from Origins but left in the Deep Roads. Now just keep both out of the third installment and I’ll thank you so much for it. We have no reason to journey back into the Deep Roads. The focus is now on the surface with the Chantry and the mages.
3. More Qunari
The lead up and eventual fight with the Arishok in Dragon Age 2 was possibly the best part of the game. Hawke acts like the ambassador between the Qunari who have out welcomed their stay and the Viscount of Kirkwall. The increasingly bad situation got worse as the Qunari eventually had enough and attacked. They seized parts of the city and began establishing footholds. When Hawke and company eventually make it to the Arishok, no attempt of calming would quell this massive warrior. The fight against the Arishok was indeed the best fight in the game and prevailing over him felt like a feat. Seeing more of the Qunari somewhere in the game would represent a tough enemy and a presence that was definitely felt in the past two games. I would like more of the game to feel more impressive and make me feel as strong as I did back when I took the Arishok down.
2. The Warden
At the end of Dragon Age 2 we see Leliana as an agent for the Chantry. She brings up that only Hawke or the Warden can stop this war. Even if we do follow Hawke in Dragon Age 3, the Warden needs to make an appearance. Taken from our own imported save, every decision we made from Origins and DA2 will finally come full circle as both of our main characters reunite. I feel that it would make more sense having our Warden be the main character as he/she is more customizable whereas Hawke is a defined character that we helped grow. I’d like it more if we continue our journey with the Warden (and Morrigan?) and meet up with Hawke during the game. Imagine having two characters you’ve built up being in the game party. Freakin’. Awesome.
1. More Open
I said I didn’t mind staying in Kirkwall for all of DA2 and I didn’t. However, there was reason for it. For Dragon Age 3, with how the war is going on, I feel that we need more travel and map like in Origins. That is why I listed Tevinter and Antiva as points I want in the game. Let us travel more of Thedas. The lore is written and we’ve read it already. These places in Thedas have so much to them that it would almost be a crime not to see them before Dragon Age concludes. We still haven’t been to Orlais, either. Which was very important to Ferelden history, which we helped saved back in Origins. So much to cover!
So give all that, BioWare has a massive undertaking at hand with Dragon Age 3. With so much backlash from Dragon Age 2, which has some rights and wrong, it will be interesting to see what they with the third installment. All I can say is that this time I won’t get mad until I play it. I was extremely talkative about Dragon Age 2 before it came out so this time I’ll be content until the game is in my hand. Dragon Age 2 surprised me and although I could have used more land to cover and my prior decisions in Origins more important, I am hoping this is all rectified. I trust BioWare. They make great games and they love their franchises. I doubt we’ll see Dragon Age 3 come out in 2012, though. With all the hubb-lubb going on about Mass Effect 3 and the fact that they still have a ton of stuff for that to come out, I’m sure they are focusing on space and not swords and shields. Either way, I am excited for the eventual third part of the Dragon Age series.