I got spoiled for the destruction of the Chantry some weeks ago, but it was still pretty startling, awe-inspiring, horrifying. That wasn't how I pictured things going down at all, but on the other hand, terrorists with specific changes in mind do tend to take responsibility for their work. Anders made a big statement there, all right: blowing up the Chantry in front of Meredith, Orsino, and Hawke, and then telling them exactly why he had done it. And it seems he got what he wanted. I had a debate with E last night regarding whether the war between the mages and templars was inevitable, whether the game should have allowed Hawke to make bolder moves to stop it, but once Anders made that move, the time for diplomacy was clearly done.
We sided with the mages, spared Anders, and followed him into exile. I think these choices followed logically from the way we played the game, since for the most part we supported mages whenever we could, mostly out of loyalty for Bethany and then Anders. Within reason: we didn't aid blood mages if we could help it, and we tried our best to work with reasonable templars like Thrask. If I could have done anything I wanted, I probably would have encourages Thrask to pull a coup against Meredith with Hawke's help. When Grace murdered Thrask during "Best Served Cold", my resolve to work with the mages was sorely tested, and our final decision was harder than I expected it to be. Both sides are right, neither side is right; mages are dangerous, the templars force them to extremes; the Chantry needs to take a stand, the Chantry cannot afford to take a stand. It all goes back to that moral ambiguity piece that I like so much in these games.
The final sequence of battles was surprisingly easy. The only one we had to fight more than once was the blood mage and pride demon at the entrance to the docks; that one was both difficult and frustrating, and it took a lot of micromanaging to get through. But we got both Orsino and Meredith on the first try, which is good, but a little disconcerting, especially when I think about how many hours of slogging and trial and error and just plain luck it took us to kill the archdemon.
I was a little sad not to get snippets of people's future stories in the epilogue, but maybe BioWare has learned its lesson about not revealing what happened to characters so as not to have to retcon in sequels and DLC. Legit shocking: surprise!Leliana at the end. The wiki suggests that Leliana has joined the Seekers because she's looking for the Warden, which makes sense on reflection. Interesting that in this universe, seven years or more on from the events of DA:O, the Warden has disappeared, no matter where you left them at the end of the game.
So I think my initial impressions -- fun game, a lot of good and thought-provoking things here, definitely worth at least a couple of replays to see how things play out as a mage and as a man, with other friendships and rivalries and romances, but not as compelling as Origins -- have held. And my status as a DA fan is firmly cemented. I wonder what direction DA3 will take.
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