Dragon Age 2 starts outside of Lothering after it is destroyed. Though you won’t recognize the landscape from Origins. It’s more of a barren rocky area that resembles the terrain that Frodo and Samwise had to navigate in Lord of the Rings. Graphics are a bit artsy compared to Origins, but once you travel to Kirkwall you adjust. The UI is also quite different, but nice. Effects are in my opinion excellent.
Your class choices are: warrior, mage and rogue. When the game starts you have access to multiple abilities to get a feel for the class. Then after a few scenes you start from scratch with one ability. From there you further customize your class by how you assign abilities. For example: if you’re a warrior you decide whether to be a tank or two hand DPS by the abilities that you pick. As with any RPG you should decide in the beginning how you want to roll your character. Familiarize yourself with abilities available to you and decide the path that you want to take. This is especially important if you chose a hard difficulty level. Stats are also much easier to understand compared to Origins. In Origins it was confusing and stats actually didn’t work exactly as they were supposed to.
“Crowds are always up for the slaughter.”
While most of the game is not difficult on casual or normal, some bosses can be extremely difficult at first. On casual you can easily get away with little strategy most of the time. On normal crowds can get difficult from time to time when dealing with an elite or two. Crowds are always up for the slaughter – at least those without elites mixed in. Anything above normal does require a little planning and you will need to pause frequently, manage skills and move companions around manually.
I’ve read in some reviews that players felt that there is no real tank role in the game. I do and don’t share that opinion. There are plenty of situations where a tank with high fortitude is very useful. Especially against bosses. Two taunts that I had available to me didn’t seem to work at all. That alone may be enough to render the shield bearing class pointless, but I still feel it has it’s place. I just wouldn’t recommend rolling your character as one. You’re better off as a two hand DPS warrior.
Two hand warrior was kind of boring in Origins and not all that powerful. That is not the case anymore. They absolutely destroy and rip through multiple enemies, throwing them around like paper dolls in Dragon Age 2. If you’re not planning on playing a rogue (more of a single target DPS) then I recommend DPS warrior. As in Origins, you’re free to play any class. Companions are available to fill any role.
The rumor about healers: you don’t need them. I don’t agree with that. Unless you’re playing on casual, you will want a healer available to you. Why? Potions have cool downs. Having a healer saves potions. What happens when a potion is on cool down and you can’t heal? You die. I can’t imagine that anyone can beat a boss in this game on hard difficulty without one. Not without pulling their hair out.
“Yes, there is a high dragon.”
Elites and bosses range from normal sized humanoids to massive rock wraiths and yes, there is a high dragon. It’s large but I think it should be bigger. I know some are wondering where the high dragon is – it’s in the bone yard and you’ll cross it’s path at a certain time.
You just kind of stumble on set pieces here and there as you level and loot. Chests require cunning to open, but generally the loot from a chest is junk.
Armor choices suck. Sort of. Companions have their own armor and you can’t change it (except for belts, rings, etc). Their armor can be upgraded with runes and attachments which is nice. A lot of upgrades and loot is bound to your character and can’t be used on companions.
Most loot is junk and not worth much. The good thing is junk is easy to manage and sell. You’ll want to loot everything or you might miss something important like a plot item or set piece. When you return to an area there is usually new loot to pick up and new chests to unlock. You’ll be returning to areas a lot. If you’ve heard about that; it’s true. New paths do open up in areas though and it’s easy to find your way around no matter where you go. I guess that can be good and bad. It all depends on what you personally enjoy.
There are no shortage of quests. If you do the companion quests and side quests the game is long. Just when I thought the game was about to end: it was only the beginning.
“Dragon Age 2 is still fun.”
I’m happy with Dragon Age 2. Origins story flowed better and made more sense but Dragon Age 2 improves on a lot of things and is still fun. Probably most importantly: class effectiveness (minus tanking), stats and abilities. Classes are more fun to play and the abilities you have generally do their job better. You can feel your character raping the battlefield. Origins felt more “epic” and interesting, but Dragon Age 2 is enough to keep your interest if you’re a fan.