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[personal profile] phdfan asked for my favorite and least favorite aspects of the Dragon Age games, possibly inspired by the similar post I just wrote about the Final Fantasy series. The first part of the question will be much easier for me than the second, since I'm still fairly well in love with this series, but that doesn't mean there aren't things to criticize.

Note that there will be minor spoilers within, although probably nothing that anyone who's ever played an epic fantasy RPG can't guess. I will try to keep it vague because I know some of you out there are still planning to play. :)

So my favorite aspect of the Dragon Age series is, without question, the characters. Almost every single NPC in these games has a backstory, personal motivations, and the potential for character development -- sometimes, in ways that change depending on player decisions. Not every player will see every character's complete arc, but you still get the sense that the arc is there. The world of Thedas as a whole, as well, with each country having its own history, and personalities that grow out of that history. Some of the characters and nations are more well rounded than others, of course, but even when a character is mostly a sketch you can see the bones of depth there. There are very few true throw-away characters in the Dragon Age universe, and I really appreciate that. I especially feel this way about the main party characters of Dragon Age 2.

I also love the stories, particularly the epic and shifting nature of the story of Origins. I also enjoyed the unfolding of Hawke's tale in Dragon Age 2 -- and I appreciate how that game was trying to do something different than most epic fantasy games -- but it doesn't thrill my soul on quite the same level as Origins. One other thing I want to call out is how many different stories you can experience while playing a single game. Even if the basic structure of the stories don't change based on player choice (a Warden will always undergo the Joining, always gather the armies, always defeat the Archdemon), there are so many different ways of getting there, and (to my surprise) I've discovered I really like that.

My least favorite aspects of the games pretty much all come down to development issues. Dragon Age: Origins suffers from this much less, but I can still feel the ways in which the developers paid more attention to some story possibilities than others. It's a much clearer problem with Dragon Age 2. The reused environments, of course, but that bothers me much less than the rushed pace of the storytelling, especially in Act Three, and a certain endgame battle (veteran players will know the one I mean) the ways in which Sebastian isn't entirely integrated into the story. It's frustrating, because I can see the seeds of brilliance there -- Act Two is some of the most brilliant game storytelling ever, and I can only imagine what Act Three could have been if they hadn't been pushed to release the game six months to a year early.

Finally, I will never stop being sad over the cancellation of Exalted March. I understand some of that content is working its way into DA:I, which is good, but still. It's not going to be the same, and I'll always wonder what would have been in there.

This entry is also posted at http://owlmoose.dreamwidth.org/661917.html. There are currently comment count unavailable comments on DW.

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