Warning: This post may contain minor spoilers for the first hour-ish of Dragon Age II.
I called Dragon Age Origins a game Sunday after finishing the last little side objective I made for myself – play all of the Grey Warden intros. I’ll likely be continuing my progress babbling series before throwing together my unqualified review. That was the best $7 I ever spent! Anyway, as soon as I beat Origins, I jumped into my fourth playthrough of Dragon Age II, or what I like to consider the Final Fantasy XIII of the Dragon Age universe. Haters gonna hate, but I still love the game! I last played it many years ago (pre-FFXIII) so it feels like a mostly new experience (memory = terrible). I imported my Origins adventure too so I’m excited to see how that changes things.
Ellen Hawke the Fourth is Born!
I’m not kidding – my memory really is terrible. To start the game, you pick a pre-created Warrior, Mage, or Rogue Hawke (the protagonist), instead of creating one from scratch. This left me confused since I remembered a more in-depth character creation option was a thing…? Anyway, I went Female Warrior (of course) and the tutorial happened. It starts out with a big cutscene where an unfortunate dwarf, Varric, is being interrogated by the Seeker of the Chantry, Cassandra Pentaghast (I’m pretty sure she will be a companion in Inquisition when I get there). So basically, the whole game is being narrated by the dwarf, and the action takes off with an overpowered Hawke gloriously battling through a horde of darkspawn.
While I bashed in lots of skulls with OP default Hawke, the game kind of explained what the hell to do. It also encouraged me to experiment with my moves, which I thought was nice. The tutorial ends as a mighty dragon swoops in, bringing the player back to the narrator dwarf… then I remembered it was Varric over-telling Hawke’s story (aka the Champion) to Cassandra. The Seeker is not very impressed, to say the least, and she encourages Varric to tell the actual more factual story. So off to the character creation screen proper!
Unlike Origins, you’re stuck with a shemlen, I mean, human character as your only choice. Since I rolled as a boring ol’ human in Origins, this didn’t bother me one bit. I can see how this would feel limiting to others though. You can choose hairstyles, face tattoos, nose length, etc. BUT pink hair was STILL not an option. This was my biggest complaint with Origins and I’m disappointed the issue is still present in DA II (I didn’t know any pink haired sheroes when I played this back in the day so it wasn’t really a problem for me then). Pink face tattoos ARE a welcome addition in DAII though, so that definitely happened to Ellen Hawke! Here is where you also have the option to import your save from Origins. It seems Grey Warden Ellen’s decisions may have an impact on Ellen Hawke’s journey. I’m excited to see how this plays out for me down the line!
A Jarring Transition
I literally started this game within an hour of finishing up Origins so it was quite the shift. This game is very different from Origins – the graphics are more polished, the battles are much quicker (but follow the same overall style), the protagonist talks, it’s a more linear story-focused experience, the dialog choices are simplified (I love, love, love the sarcastic response option!!), and the relationship system boils down to a friendship vs rivalry scale. I honestly don’t remember much about the relastionship system, but if the option to ask someone their opinion pops up, take it and they usually love you for it. I’ll remember more when I get further I’m sure.
The Story Thus Far…
The game starts out at around the same time as Origins is taking place. Now that I’ve actually played Origins, I can really appreciate all the references! It starts off with Ellen Hawke and her family fleeing Lothering for their dear lives. It’s me, my warrior bro, Carver, and my apostate mage sister, Bethany, protecting our mom against waves of darkspawn. Along the way we run into a Templar, Wesley, and his warrior wife, Aveline, who could definitely use some help.
My family and I help out, and then the injured Wesley has the nerve to go all Templar on my sister. Aveline tells him to drop it and he sees reason. Clearly the darkspawn are a bigger threat than the mage who just helped save your ass, eh buddy? Anyway, we fight to the top of the cliffs and the real version of Varric’s intro story happens. When the big Ogre appears, Carver decides to go solo it and…
Ellen Hawke fells the bro bashing beast and mom rushes to her dead son’s side. So yeah, my bro got squashed by an Ogre, and my mom is devastated… one of the rare times I won’t be choosing the sarcastic response option, that’s for sure. The Templar says a prayer for him, and then my group suddenly becomes overwhelmed by more damn darkspawn. Thankfully, Varric wasn’t making up the dragon part! A huge fire-breathing friend descends from the sky and toasts the darkspawn. Guess what?? The dragon isn’t really a dragon either… it’s Captain Janeway, I mean, Flemeth!
Flemeth LOVES my Hawke’s sarcastic nature (almost as much as I do) and agrees to help my family get to a ship that can take us to the city of Kirkwall. Unfortunately, our Templar buddy is succumbing to the darkspawn taint (I’m kinda wondering why only he is though… um, everyone was covered in darkspawn blood after that battle?). In a tragic scene, I tell Aveline to do what she thinks is best, and she has to help her husband kill himself to avoid becoming a darkspawn… wow.
Back to the dragon lady’s offer, nothing in life is free so her help comes with strings attached – I have to deliver something to a clan of Dalish elves near Kirkwall for her. Deal! Let’s get the hell away from Ferelden now, please!! The game cuts back to Varric and Cassandra as the dwarf explains Hawke’s journey to Kirkwall: crammed on a boat full of other refugees and dropped on the doorstep of a city that is essentially a Templar-controlled prison for mages…
Due to the fact I have played this game before, and it is pretty linear (even if I don’t remember a whole lot), I’m hoping to breeze through my fourth playthrough by early December. Then I can jump into Inquisition, a whole new expansive Dragon Age game that will likely take me well into next year. After that, I intend to give The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild another serious shot before moving on to the Mass Effect universe. I will continue to pick away at shorter games on the side (Super Mario Odyssey, RiME, Horizon Zero Dawn Frozen Wilds DLC).
Disclaimer: My gaming goals are subject to change at any time, based on current level of moodiness.
Wannabe Writer’s Notes:
-It really doesn’t take me long to forget most of a game… that’s why I love this blogging thing! Babbling about my virtual adventures helps me remember them. I unfortunately do remember a few horrifying events that happen to Hawke though.
-If it were socially acceptable, real life Ellen would totally get the same pink coloured face tattoos as Ellen Hawke… probably.
⚡Thanks for reading!⚡