Dragon Age II

Posted on March 20, 2011

REVIEW: Its streamlined mechanics and more action-oriented combat should appeal to console players, but hardcore fans of PC RPGs may feel slighted.
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Dragon Age 2 review

Posted on March 20, 2011

To make Origins, BioWare dredged up buckets of backstory from the minds of their best writers. A new land was invented, branded with religious intolerance and inherent racism. Then, once the continent of Thedas was concrete, BioWare forgot they’d invented all that engaging stuff and slapped a typical ‘kill the big bad thing’ fantasy plotline on top. For all its size and wonder, Origins didn’t make full use of its fascinating world.

Dragon Age 2 does it right. It’s still an RPG epic, it still takes upwards of 50 hours to finish. It’s still got a deep, complex combat system, and it’s still got a well-defined supporting cast. But it’s also an RPG that wears its mythology proudly, confident in its goal of charting the rise of a complete and utter badass. You.

We expect our RPG heroes to experience a gradual learning process, gaining skill and abilities as they discover that, ahh, the pointy end of the sword is best inserted into an enemy. But the first time I controlled Hawke, I had access to top-tier combat skills. Surrounded by Darkspawn on a hillside, I murdered with wild abandon.

Hawke got an itchy back at the worst time.

 

DA2’s combat is spring-loaded. Cooldown periods and time penalties are just as integral as they were in Origins, but this time they happen at end of lightning fast moves. I played a rogue. My backstab started with Hawke hurling an exploding flask to the floor, before reappearing behind an enemy and driving his main blade into their spine. The whole move took a second to execute, and impacted flesh with a shudder-inducing squelch. Another move catapulted me out of battle with an instant backflip, letting me escape from an imminent battering.

I could happily list all my skills and the ways they eviscerated people for the rest of this review, but I have a word count. Last one. My favourite skill was called ‘Annihilation.’ An upgrade of the high-level ‘Assassination’ move, it made Hawke simply jab two blades into the face of the foe standing nearest to him – at which point, they’d usually burst into a fine scarlet mist. For every class, every combat skill kills something in a new and exciting way.

Have beard, will slay

Hawke’s ties to the first game are explicit. He or she (your choice) starts Dragon Age 2 as a refugee from Lothering. Lothering, for those of you unfamiliar with the first game, was twatted square-on by the Blight of the Darkspawn (read as: ‘pseudoorcs’, fantasy noobs). Hawke (I’ll use the male pronoun here purely because I played as a dude) managed to escape, with family and fantastically trimmed beard in tow. At the time of the hillside combat just described, he was making his way to the city of Kirkwall.

You alright, mate?

 

I killed the final Darkspawn, and the camera yanked out and away to a darkened room, and a dwarf with a hairy chest. It’s ten years later.

The fight was a flashback. The dwarf is being forced to tell Hawke’s story by a mysterious woman dressed in the robes and symbols of Thedas’ hyper-religious Chantry. This is Dragon Age 2’s big conceit, and part of the reason the game hangs together so well. The dwarf is Varric, and he’s telling the story all wrong. Varric is a companion and potential party member, and knows more than most about his bearded buddy’s motivations – but he’s also an inveterate story-embellisher.

The woman explains the situation: the world is on the brink of war and Hawke – the ‘Champion of Kirkwall’ – can help. There are only two certainties: the first, that Hawke arrived in Kirkwall. The second, that ten years later he somehow became the city’s champion. She wants to fill in the blanks.

Actually, there are three certainties. The third is unwritten, but simple: any way you play Hawke, he remains one suave bastard. His tone sits firmly on the plummy side of ‘commanding’, but very few of the dialogue options have him come across as anything less than mildly awesome.

Spiders! Why did it have to be spiders?

 

The game’s developers have nicked Mass Effect’s conversation wheel and split most interactions into a threetiered system: saintly, aggressive, and – most fun – cheeky.

Only very occasionally did I feel neutered by my choice. I’ve typically approached BioWare games as the reincarnation of some major saint, waiving rewards and helping puppies save their lost kittens. I’d resigned myself to selecting the goody-twoboots option throughout Dragon Age 2, and cringing as I politely thanked the man who tried to stab my kidneys out. Instead, nice-o-Hawke is just as judgemental as his chums loloHawke and HAWKE-SMASH – he merely phrases things with a touch more tact.

Chat roulette

I found myself flipping between responses depending on the situation – actually using the full dialogue spectrum. The lack of an arbitrary karma system meant I could do so without fear of being pigeonholed. Guy trying to extort money from the dragon-infested mine I own half a stake in? You shall feel my tongue-wrath! Cower as I shout! Lovely elf stabbed by her deranged husband? Best be nice to her as she splutters her lifeblood all over the floor. Soz, elfy!

Rub up against one of the game’s Serious Moral Choices™ and your once-neat conversation wheel goes all muddled. In my first year, I rescued a mage from the dictatorial control of the Templars. Three years later, I faced his mother who explained he’d crossed into the Fade – Dragon Age’s strange netherworld – and ran the risk of becoming someone who could melt other peoples’ brains by coughing wrong. Launching into the wibbly half-light of that realm, I had to make a genuine choice: destroy the magicusing faculties of this kid’s mind, or let him become a danger to society. I put my mouse down, stood up, and paced around my room. It’s a rare feat when a game encourages walking, yet Dragon Age 2 does it all the time.

It would be the last time he washed whites and colours.

 

The world of Thedas is one of racism and fascism: only in the second game have BioWare really come to terms with this and brought up some genuinely dark questlines.

The ten-year-long story arc adds to the burden of your choices. In another game, I’d have spared the mage boy, tootled off to another town and forgotten all about him. And saved the world next week sometime. But here, with ten years to play with, you have to consider the long game. Letting a danger loose in an earlier year can see it come back to bite you in the arse later, like a timetravelling dog who loves biting arses.

Worse, the people you’ve wronged won’t necessarily target you. You’re all right, you’ve got knives as big as your arm and a pocket full of potions. Your mum, on the other hand, lives alone in a house in town. You’re off adventuring, and you can’t always be there to protect her. Wouldn’t it be safer just to stove this upstart’s face in now?

Looks like they had some SHOCKING news. Haha! *dies*

 

In the end, I had to sever the unfortunate boy’s connection to the Fade, and leave him a few intellectual steps above a carrot in the process. He now hangs around the Viscount’s Keep, talking in a quiet monotone and making me feel bad.

Dragon Age 2’s story is driven by these moments of tension and forced choice. They always feel organic and truly contextual.

Small world

Outside of a few trips to the Deep Roads and a saunter to a Dalish camp, everything in Dragon Age 2 happens in Kirkwall. At first, I felt a little let down by the lack of escape from that single city, but ten years in the same place also breeds a welcome familiarity. There are benefits to knowing a city backwards: it let me get a complete grasp on the game’s complicated political situation.

Farting on a downed man is just cruel.

 

Hightown is home to the rich and idle, Darktown is a disused mine full of beggars and brigands. Out by the docks, there’s a Qunari compound. These giants have been redefined since Origins’ Sten – taller, broader and more muscular than a man as well as growing a snazzy set of horns, they practise a societal fundamentalism that gnaws at the authority of the establishment. There’s a constant back-and-forth between the conflicting views, and your Hawke is free to come down on either side of the scrap. That’s underpinned by a deeper struggle between the mages and the templars. The latter believe the former need to be controlled with an iron fist, and the former say they want to live free, and maybe go a little bit mad and kill loads of people. Make your allegiances clear and you’ll change the course of the whole game.

Who’s (had) who

So many games promise real choice but fail to deliver. Dragon Age 2 is the most impressive attempt I’ve seen to make the decisions players make in a game mean something. I can’t wait until everyone else in the office has played it, so they can tell me what would’ve happened if I’d only killed person X in my sixth year in the city.

Areas are revisited repeatedly.

 

I also want to know who they slept with. DA2’s romantic options are near-unconstrained. You meet a party member, chances are you can bone them (your sibling is one fortunate exception). Male, female, amalgamation of human and spiritual manifestation of justice: all are fair game. Personally, I developed a mild obsession with sexy lady pirate captain Isabela, despite (because of?) her terrifically impractical adventuring gear of a shirt and no trousers. She talked a good talk, too. Dragon Age 2’s incidental conversations are splendid: ruder, funnier, and just plain better than Origins’ “SO WHAT DO YOU DO THEN?” platitudes. Wandering around town, Isabela treated me to tales of orgies and hit on my friends. I was in love. Still, despite her repeatedly stated desire to defrock anyone standing within two feet of her, her wooing became a decade-long process. Eventually, our relationship matured from friends-with-sexy-benefits to live-in lovers.

But I was spoilt for choice. Most of DA2’s companions are excellent; the only dud is Hawke’s sibling (sister in my male playthrough), who lacks in personality. Varric is a smart-mouth dwarf, Merrill a delightfully Welsh Dalish elf, Fenris a lanky ex-slave, tattooed with veins of pure, magicgiving lyrium, and clutching a broadsword as long as his body.

You’ll spend most of the game in Kirkwall.

 

My companions were more than just willing conversational partners. Dragon Age 2’s combat system is rapid and satisfying, but it’s also more intricate than Origins’. Each companion has their own set class, but from there, specialisation is largely up to you. I made sure to take at least one warrior with my party at all times. That meant I was rolling with ginger guardslady Aveline, or brooding elf Fenris. Both had access to a broadly similar skill tree, but couldn’t be further apart in battle technique. I specced Aveline as a tank, pumping her skill points into her constitution and cunning to bolster her defence, buying and equipping her with the best armour and a gigantic shield. She screamed taunts over the din of battle to attract attention from foes, before settling into a defensive stance. Fenris went the other way. I funnelled points into his strength and trained him up with two-handed weapons. In a stand-up slugfest he was flimsy, but he rarely let it get to that: his speed and reach on the battlefield meant most enemies were on their backsides with a caved-in face before they could ready any truly devastating attacks.

Party people

Both had their place by my side, depending on the situation and my mood. I found myself rotating my party regularly – sacrilege in a lot of RPGs that demand a standard party setup to succeed, but sensible here when everyone’s abilities are just so much fun. Even when I was pushed into taking a companion, their unique skill tree gave me room to choose. Anders – returning from Origins’ add-on pack Awakenings – was my party’s de facto healer. But as I invested more into his personal set of abilities, I unlocked two activated modes. One allowed access to more powerful healing spells, but the other turned off his capability to fix his friends in favour of upping his damage potential.

Enchantment?
Enchantment.

 

Origins’ free battlefield camera is gone, but a mousewheel scroll gives the zoom you need to see the full field of play. Pausing, issuing a set of orders, then sitting back and watching the chaos unfold is a joy that never gets old. Which is lucky, because the streets of Kirkwall are filled with an improbable amount of nefarious types who want you dead.

Dragon Age 2 is not what you expect. Hell, even during preview sessions, I hadn’t anticipated it being this much of a traditional sequel. But by locking down the context – the world and the politics – BioWare were free to fill their creation with more character and vitality than any title in recent memory. The best RPG of this decade? Nine more years will tell, but for now, yes.


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Reviews: Dragon Age II Review Supplement

Posted on March 10, 2011

The Escapist reviews Dragon Age II.

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Go to Source (The Escapist – EscapistMagazine.com)

Dragon Age II Review

Posted on March 10, 2011

Kirkwall, where everybody knows your name.

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Go to Source (The Escapist – EscapistMagazine.com)

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Another Dragon Age 2 Unlockable Goes Up For Grabs

Posted on March 03, 2011

BioWare has put yet another Dragon Age 2 unlockable on the table and this one might actually be a little tough to achieve.

View Article (The Escapist – EscapistMagazine.com)

Dragon Age 2 Demo — Video Shows Gameplay, Dragons And The Champion

Posted on February 24, 2011

Dragon Age 2‘s demo is now available for download on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. The demo is the prologue of the game, minus the option to customize your character. Completing the demo earns gamers Hayder’s Razor, a dwarven blase, to use when the actual game comes out in two weeks. If the demo accumulates one million downloads BioWare will reward gamers with two in-game items. Haven’t played the demo yet? Watch the video below to see for yourself.

The demo gives gamers a taste of what to expect when Dragon Age 2 is released on March 8 for the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.

Do you think Dragon Age 2 will be an improvement from Dragon Age: Origins ?

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New Dragon Age II Champion Trailer.

Posted on February 10, 2011

March 8th is the date when Bioware’s kick-ass Dragon Age II is scheduled to hit your favorite gaming retail outlet but to me that is an eternal wait to get my paws on this RPG goodness.

Fortunately Bioware was kind enough to release a new Dragon Age II trailer that highlights the three character classes you get to choose for Hawke in his quest to wreck havoc and revenge.

read more (Shogun Gamer)

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Trailers: Dragon Age II Champion Trailer

Posted on February 10, 2011

Choose your champion’s class in Dragon Age II. Will you fight as the mighty warrior, cunning mage or the nimble rogue.


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Go to Source (The Escapist – EscapistMagazine.com)

Dragon Age II -Mike Laidlaw Interview

Posted on February 10, 2011

Mike Laidlaw talks about talent trees and how character gameplay has improved in this Dragon Age II interview.


Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot


Dragon Age II -Mike Laidlaw Interview” was posted by JimM on Tue, 08 Feb 2011 15:33:39 -0800

GameSpot LIVE: Blood, Bullets, Blades

Posted on January 25, 2011


GameSpot AU invited 400+ of its readers to the Oxford Art Factory in Sydney to get hands on with Dead Space 2, Crysis 2, Dragon Age 2 and Bulletstorm, as well as have a live Q&A with Dead Space 2 producer Shereif Fattouh! Check out the highlights!

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot


GameSpot LIVE: Blood, Bullets, Blades” was posted by edmondt on Mon, 24 Jan 2011 21:34:07 -0800

PC Gamer’s Big 10 of 2011

Posted on January 22, 2011

A good year brings a handful of bold, even revolutionary games to the PC. A great year, as 2011 is shaping up to be, brings so many that we spend weeks trying to whittle the list down to just 10. In the following pages we report on those 10 games, what makes them so special, and why 2011 is going to be a spectacular year for PC gamers.

Dragon Age 2

  • Release Date: March 8, 2011 – Developer: BioWare – Publisher: EA
    URL: http://dragonage.bioware.com/da2

Combat’s got the same depth, with a lot more excitement.

Why it’s a winner? An epic tale gets personal

I’ve put more hours into Dragon Age: Origins than anyone I know. I’ve played every origin at least twice, absorbed the majority of the story on 10-plus characters and completed it fully on three separate occasions. To say that I was skeptical of BioWare’s plans to change the gameplay in the sequel to the all-consuming RPG that won my heart (and our 2009 Game of the Year award) is an understatement. I was legitimately terrified.

But that was before I played it. Now that I’ve had my mitts on Dragon Age 2, it’s clear that the improvements BioWare is making are just that—improvements. The key mechanics that made DA:O great, like pausing combat to micro-manage your party members’ skills for a tactical advantage and the engaging storytelling, are returning intact—and almost always with noticeable improvements. Abilities in DA2 combine across classes for much better results. For example, a Rogue’s Backstab does bonus damage against an enemy that’s knocked off balance by a Warrior’s Shield Bash.

Although we can’t see quite as much of the battlefield (zooming out has been reined in slightly), what we can see looks much better—filled with fast action and gorgeous visuals. Instead of watching a Rogue clunkily waddle behind a target to deliver a Backstab, in DA2 they ninja-teleport into position, and casually drop-kick smoking clay pots around the battlefield to stun groups of enemies. The tested concepts of DA:O’s class designs (Warriors control the battle and stand firm on the front lines while Mages blast large groups of enemies and Rogues shred single targets mercilessly) are realized with these flashy and fun new abilities, like Backflip, which lets Rogues avoid spells and swinging axes with the grace of a trapeze artist.

The storytelling is also changing in both its style and sweep. Lead designer Mike Laidlaw explained the shift to me this way: “What Origins was, at it’s heart, was an introduction. It’s very big, it’s very deep…It brought together a world that was seethingly rich and let you get perspective on [the different societies of that world] very quickly, very early.” He continued, “Moving to DA2 lets us say, ’OK, all that lore you know is important—it’s crucial to what’s happening—but this is a world that can be about more than the Grey Wardens, about saving the world.’ It can be about an age of time: the events that shaped the world in this 100-year period.” This explanation echoes the reason so many of us loved Origins—the open process of discovering its world bit-by-bit—while suggesting a more intimate, personal narrative approach. I’m sure we’ll return to the Grey Wardens’ story someday, but for now, I’m looking forward to finding out all about the other key figures in Dragon Age’s dazzling fantasy world, beginning with Hawke. JA

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

  • Release Date: April 2011 – Developer: Square Enix – Publisher: Square Enix
    URL: www.deusex.com

They can’t see Adam Jenson coming – but we do.

Why it’s a winner? Cyber noir!

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is like Blade Runner, in that it’s a dark, gritty science fiction mystery set in the not-too-distant future—except that it has actual blades that extend from your wrists to impale shadowy conspirators. Square Enix promises loyalty to the blend of action, stealth and deep intrigue that won our cyber-augmented hearts and minds in Ion Storm’s 2000 original, and what cinematic glimpses of DXHR’s story we’ve caught make it our most-anticipated mystery. DS

Dawn of War II: Retribution

  • Release Date: March 1, 2011 – Developer: Relic Entertainment – Publisher: THQ
    URL: www.dawnofwar2.com

I wonder what this was?

Why it’s a winner? Six flavors of blood

More than a simple standalone expansion, Retribution (see our full hands-on preview on page 36) is gearing up to reinvent the entire Dawn of War II experience next year. The blood-soaked battlefields of Sub-Sector Aurelia are about to become more crowded with the addition of the armor-heavy Imperial Guard, raising the total number of over-the-top armies to six (including the Space Marines, Orks, Chaos, Eldar and Tyranids), and each side gets a super-unit on the scale of the Eldar Avatar. Combined with the option to massively increase the number of troops on the field in single-player by leaving some of your heroes at home, this PC-exclusive RTS will be the biggest, bloodiest version yet. DS

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Dragon Age 2 ‘Ser Isaac of Clarke’ Armour Set Comes Free with Dead Space 2

Posted on January 21, 2011


The huge heap of Dragon Age 2 in-game items you can acquire before BioWare’s RPG even comes out has grown larger still. Publisher EA has announced that you’ll receive the Dead Space 2-inspired Ser Isaac of Clarke’s Armor if you buy Visceral Games’ sci-fi horror.

A single-use code for Ser Isaac of Clarke’s Armor will be included with the PC and Xbox 360 editions of Dead Space 2, while the PlayStation 3 version will use some other, yet-unrevealed method.

A similar promotion ran for the original Dragon …

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Go to Source (ShackNews)

Dragon Age II Preview

Posted on January 16, 2011

Dragon Age: Origins, for all its virtues, wasn’t a pretty game. Its world was grubby and brown, its menus utilitarian and ugly. Good news for the aesthetes out there, then, that I found myself cycling through Dragon Age II’s spangly new skill tree for five solid minutes, cooing to myself at the crisp presentation. I’m easily pleased.

The skill trees have evolved since the previous game, letting players shape a character that fits the way they want to play while still staying useful in a scrap. Main character Hawke can be one of three classes – rogue, wizard, warrior – but can split hairs further down the chain.

The Rogue Workout DVD: 2011 Edition.

On a recent playthrough, I got to test out Hawke as a rogue, the class having been reworked since its toothless outing in Origins. Dipping into the skill tree, I noticed my Hawke’s ability with dual shortswords was buffed, conforming to a super-nimble, superstabby damage-dealing archetype. If you find an ability you come to love in Dragon Age II, you won’t need to skip over it in an inexorable march to the top of the skillpile. Attribute points can be put into powers you’ve already unlocked, turning their effectiveness up and keeping them relevant throughout the game. The skill tree is set out in clumps, skills that favour a style of play sat next to each other in the same section. I hovered over the ‘archer’ abilities, looking longingly at the powers a bow-wielding Hawke could use in battle.

I ended up being happy with StabbyHawke. Dragon Age II’s backstab move is ludicrously satisfying: starting with Hawke hurling a smoke bomb, he darts forward at warp speed and somehow gets behind his foe, whereupon he injects a few inches of cold steel into their kidneys. The first time he did it, I made an involuntary grab for my own innards. The second time, I started grinning. I began playing this Hawke as he was meant to be played. Hawke and friends are a lot more mobile this time around – indeed, combat as a whole is fresher, faster, and closer to an action game than in Origins.

Chest hair so manly it splits your shirt.

Immediacy is BioWare’s adopted mantra for Dragon Age II. Now dressed up in Mass Effect armour, DA2’s dialogue adopts its stablemate’s mannerisms: a conversation wheel anchors discussions and small blobs of text provide an inkling of what your fully voiced Hawke will say without spelling it out. Best of all, I was able to use my party’s abilities mid-chat to shut up unruly backchatters. Bethany, Hawke’s sister, has access to a fireball. Against a stream of Darkspawn, she and Hawke could stand and discuss the ways they were about to be eaten, or – with a conversation option – she could launch a pre-emptive conflagration and crisp half the incoming force.

Already, Dragon Age II feels more connected and vital than its predecessor, and far less stodgy.

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Go to Source (PC Gamer)

Game Scoop! Podcast: Free Copies of Dragon Age 2

Posted on January 08, 2011

We can get you one. Also, we call bull$#!! on these Kinect sales numbers.





Go to Source (IGN.com)

The Future of RPGs: Looking Forward At Diablo 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Mass Effect 3 And More

Posted on January 01, 2011

The Future of RPGs: Looking Forward At Diablo 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Mass Effect 3 And More

We looked to the future as part of Epictober back in, er … October, but suffice it to say, we’re still looking forward to 2011. We’ve updated these posts with the games that were announced since then, and here’s what you can start looking forward to in 2011 and beyond. Just as a friendly reminder, 2011 starts in less than a week. So start your anticipating right now.

As we look ahead to what lies in store for lovers of quests, booty, dialogue trees, and dozens upon dozens of hours of character progression and inventory management, the forecast for the future of role-playing games is whatever the video game equivalent of 72 degrees and sunny is.

Obviously, you have your heavy hitters like BioWare and Blizzard, who will be delivering some of the most highly sought after games of this generation (Mass Effect 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Diablo 3, etc.). However, for as much innovation as these developers are trying to cram into these titles, there is still something relatively “old-school” about them; especially when you consider what the folks at inXile entertainment are doing with their co-op focused Hunted: The Demon’s Forge, or the lengths to which Eidos is going with Deus Ex: Human Revolution to create the kind of RPG-shooter experience that fans of the franchise have been dreaming about for many years.

Still, whether you’re talking about traditional RPGs or RPG hybrids, the future has never been brighter for this time-intensive yet deeply rewarding genre. And on that note, we present to you our list of the top eight RPGs on the horizon that have us +45 excited.

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

Release Date: 11/11/11

We don’t know much about The Elder Scrolls 5, except that it’s finally actually coming out, and will arrive on 11/11/11. Perhaps the best news of all around the announcement of the game was the fact that it would be using an entirely new engine, rather than the beginning-to-show-its-age Gamebryo engine. Plus, when you have Max von Sydow narrating your game trailer, you don’t really need that many details about your game.

We’re sure that more information will be forthcoming in the new year, but we do know that the game will feature Dragonborne characters. The name Skyrim refers to the northernmost provence in Tamriel, which is snowy and mountainous. Five of the world’s highest peaks are located here, and it’s been the site of many previous battles. It’s not new to the Elder Scrolls universe of course, but it sounds like the conflict that’s brewing there will be, dare we say, epic? Snow, mountains, dragons …. new engine? Count us in.

Mass Effect 3

Release Date: TBA Q4 2011

The second BioWare offering on the list carries some added weight because it will (likely) be the first title in the developer’s critically acclaimed sci-fi RPG franchise to launch on the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. We honestly couldn’t be happier that PS3 owners will finally have the chance to experience the brilliance that is Mass Effect 2 when the game makes its way to Sony’s console in January, and having everyone able to share the love on day one for the highly awaited trilogy-ender would be a harmonious conclusion indeed (even if the narrative’s conclusion ends up being anything but).

We finally have to wonder about Mass Effect 3 no longer, as the recent debut trailer gave us some insight, like the fact that Shepard will be watching London burn at some point. Plus BioWare’s on site had this blurb:

Earth is burning. Striking from beyond known space, a race of terrifying machines have begun their destruction of the human race. As Commander Shepard, an Alliance Marine, your only hope for saving mankind is to rally the civilizations of the galaxy and launch one final mission to take back the Earth.

We also know that players can expect an even deeper character/save file transfer system, more sophisticated enemies and combat, and, sadly, more mining, albeit via a more streamlined version of it. While it will most likely be a little less than a year before ME3 hits our disc trays, BioWare will be bridging the gap between ME2 and ME3 through DLC. The recently released Lair of the Shadowbroker was the first of an unknown number of DLC packs in the works, so ME fans will have plenty to keep them busy until Commander Shepard’s epic journey comes to an end.

Defining Feature: Seeing how player choices from the first Mass Effect influence events in the final chapter will represent a true milestone for the genre.

Watch Larger Version | Watch HD Version

Diablo 3

Release Date: TBA 2011

No one knows how to jerk around with PC gamers’ emotions like Blizzard, and now that StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty is out, and World of Warcraft: Cataclysm is coming in December, all eyes, ears, and index fingers are focused entirely on the uber-awaited threequel Diablo 3. This year’s BlizzCon is expected to the “biggest yet” in terms of Diablo 3 news, which leads me to believe we’ll finally hear a release date and the last class will be revealed. Fingers crossed. When they aren’t clicking the left mouse button.

Until then though, visions of the game’s countless new features including the Artisan system, which gives you access to traveling craftsmen (blacksmith, mystic, or a jeweler), or the new Skill Runes system, which lets you fundamentally change skills in a variety of ways depending on the rune you use (i.e. acid-spewing poison Hydra heads vs. chain lighting powered Hydra heads). In short, Diablo fans are in for an experience that should feel simultaneously familiar yet fresh and exciting. If you know a better combination, I’d love to hear it.

Defining Feature: The Artisan system adds logical depth to character development and class management, and means more time spent battling and less time traveling to towns.

Guild Wars 2

Release Date: TBA 2011

ArenaNet has every intention of giving fans of its hit MMORPG franchise everything they’ve come to expect from the series (an expansive, co-op focused, subscription-less, graphically impressive MMO experience ) while also providing many compelling reasons for newcomers to the genre to finally take the plunge. Consider the Mad Libs-inspired character creation system, which lets players not only select a race for their character but also establish a rich back story that factors into the events of the game. It’s a lot more intimate than just rolling up a Fighter with a blank slate.

Or the fact that the events in the game unfold dynamically based on your actions in the world. You’ll still encounter NPCs who will provide you with quests, but the system is designed to make the process feel much more natural than in typical RPGs. Players can also, like some of the other games on this list, mix and match class attributes to make the hero that fits your personal style. Want to be a run and gunner, or a ranged attacker? You can combine talents and attributes to make that work. And really, in the end, isn’t that what a great RPG should be all about?

Defining Feature: Character bios that influence the narrative and dynamic event chains create unique experiences for every player.

Dragon Age 2

Release Date: March 8, 2011

BioWare came right out and asked gamers, “What didn’t work?” in Dragon Age: Origins when it started development on Dragon Age II, and the feedback the team received from this question directly influenced how they approached every aspect of the sequel. For starters, the game sports an improved graphics engine and art style that will give the game a much grittier tone. The controls for consoles have been reworked to take full advantage of the controller. Combat will be more fluid and put a premium on thinking tactically during battles.

Your character is fully voiced this time around as well, which will help to flesh out the new 10-year timeframe that serves as the backdrop for the overall narrative. Toss in a Mass Effect-inspired dialogue system just for good measure, and you have a recipe for one meaty sequel that should provide PC and console players alike with a fantasy RPG experience that’s shaping up to be second to none.

Defining Feature: Setting the narrative over 10 years means player actions and decisions will have far reaching implications over the course of the game.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Release Date: TBA 2011

A fully-voiced MMORPG is something that might have seemed damn near impossible a few years back, but leave it up to BioWare to actually make this absurdly ambitious prospect a reality. This also happens to be the first Star Wars-based title from the developer since it unleashed one of the greatest games of all time, RPG or otherwise, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, so it has that going for it, which is nice.

Throw in branching storylines for each character and the fact that you get your own spacecraft (which can then be used to blast space fools out of their space-fool rides), and it’s easy to understand why gamers are chomping at their bantha bits to get their hands on this game. Also, as we recently learned, Smugglers get their own personal Wookie, which just sounds so badass. Guard your arm sockets, suckers. Me and my Wookie don’t take no guff.

Defining Feature: I’ll say it again: the first fully voiced MMORPG. The script is estimated to be as long as 40+ novels. Simply. Ridiculous.

Hunted: The Demon’s Forge

Release Date: TBA 2011

The “Gears of WarCraft” descriptor that the developers at inXile Entertainmnet have applied to their fantasy RPG makes much more sense when you see the game in action. The two-player co-op-centric gameplay lets players assume the role of two distinct characters: the brutish, hack-n-slasher Caddoc, and the impulsive, bow-toting vixen of violence E’lara. Not only does the game support jump in/jump out co-op, but players can switch between both characters in single-player as well, just in case you want to mix things up.

And while you’d expect a fantasy RPG to feature spells, what has us particularly excited is to see how each character and their spells interact with each other on the battlefield, as there are going to be various ways for players to combine their skills to create devastating attacks. There will also be a fair bit of exploration and puzzle solving thrown in to vary things up even more and lead you to bigger and better weapons. Again, it’s the way the two characters combine their abilities to solve problems that has us most looking forward to seeing more of what Hunted has to offer.

Defining Feature: Co-op spell casting and combat abilities will reward teamwork and add a distinct depth to the gameplay.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Release Date: February 2011

Eidos’ cyber-punky, Blade Runner-ish techno-thriller brings the acclaimed RPG-shooter series to the next generation with a visual style perfectly suited for its exploration of a world in which bionic augmentation is threatening to tear humanity apart. The Deus Ex franchise has always been known for offering players tremendous freedom in the way they played the game (focusing on stealth, action, hacking, etc.). Human Revolution takes this philosophy even further by ensuring that, not only are all playstyles supported, but those playstyles can be mixed and matched freely throughout the game.

Want to go guns blazing for a little and then do some stealth? Go for it. Hack a little here, convince someone to share a password there. It’s up to you. This kind of freedom will ultimately create an experience that is different every time, which has quickly become a staple of modern RPGs. How Human Revolution will differentiate itself in this regards remains to be seen, but you can bet we’re going to be there to find out when the game releases early next year.

Defining Feature: Being able to mix and match playstyles on the fly means every moment is a chance to experience something new gameplay-wise.

CD Projekt’s long-awaited sequel has us excited for a couple of reasons. For one, beneath the painfully long load screens and somewhat unsatisfying combat of the original game was an expansive and rewarding RPG that, among other things, taught us just how sleazy fantasy realms can be (should a developer decide to populate the world with an endless array of fast and loose damsels in undress). For the sequel, the developers have focused a lot of attention on the non-linearity of the experience by giving players an absurd number of ways to progress through the game. For expample, one jailbreak sequence has over 600 possible variations!

The game’s combat has also been ramped up and is now bloodier and more visceral than ever. And if you thought the first game was massive, you’ll want to start getting into shape, because the game world is expected to be absurdly huge. As far as adult RPGs go, The Witcher 2 proudly asserts itself as one of the leading contenders, and we, as adults, can’t wait to embark on this dark and mature adventure.

Defining Feature: An ever branching adventure that should satisfy our craving for a mature fantasy experience.

Looking Beyond…To The Future!

No list of this kind would be complete without some mention of the titles that we expect are in development but that have yet to be officially announced. You just know BioWare has at least a couple new epic franchises in the works, and their aspirations on the MMO front suggest many more happy years for RPG fans ahead. And if pencil and paper RPGs are more your speed, Wizards of the Coast just re-released the classic Dungeons & Dragons Red Box, giving you a completely packaged D&D experience, ready for some hot, D20-rolling action.

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Go to Source (G4TV.com)

New Dragon Age 2 character revealed

Posted on November 27, 2010

Bioware have unveiled the first images and details on Aveline Vallen, a sword and shield wielding warrior devoted to defending her home city of Kirkwall. Read on for more details and the first screens of the latest addition to the Dragon Age 2 roster.

The daughter of a knight, Aveline was trained in the art of “chivalrous combat”, but never took up her father’s profession because she was “raised in the shadow of a lost life and will not lose another for the sake of honor”. You’ll find more details on Aveline on the Dragon Age 2 site. You’ll find the first shots of Aveline below.

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Go to Source (PC Gamer)

Crosshairs–Call of Duty: Black Ops, Dragon Age 2, de Blob 2, MUBI, Gran Turismo 5

Posted on November 12, 2010

It’s another jam-packed episode of Crosshairs, where Call of Duty: Black Ops’ military advisor Hank Keirsey takes us through an intense army workout, we speak to the minds behind Dragon Age 2, de Blob 2 and the PS3’s new arthouse film service MUBI, as well as take Gran Turismo 5 for a spin at the Sydney Motor Show!


Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot


Crosshairs–Call of Duty: Black Ops, Dragon Age 2, de Blob 2, MUBI, Gran Turismo 5” was posted by edmondt on Thu, 11 Nov 2010 20:25:40 -0800

Dragon Age 2 'Rise to Power' trailer makes it big

Posted on October 27, 2010

The Dragon Age 2 trailer posted below follows the ascension of Hawke, who goes from refugee to “Champion” over the course of the game — but we’re still unsure about what’s he’s champion of, exactly. Romance? Beards? Not cutting himself with double-swords? Slow motion jump-cutting?


Continue reading Dragon Age 2 ‘Rise to Power’ trailer makes it big

JoystiqDragon Age 2 ‘Rise to Power’ trailer makes it big originally appeared on Joystiq on Tue, 26 Oct 2010 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Dragon Age 2 will import 'the world' from Dragon Age: Origins save

Posted on October 06, 2010

You can still import an older save file into BioWare’s upcoming fantasy RPG, Dragon Age 2, like you could with Mass Effect 2 — but since you don’t have a persistent character this time (whoever your Warden was in the first game is replaced by “Hawke” in the sequel), it hasn’t been as clear what the save file would change in the new game.

Speaking to NowGamer, lead designer Mike Laidlaw revealed that while you don’t get to import your character, you’re “importing the world” as it was in your game of Origins. “Who’s in charge of Ferelden, what happened with the Dwarves, who’s running Orzammar?” Laidlaw said. “All of these things are reflected and accounted for in Dragon Age 2.” So if you hate the way you left affairs in Origins, consider a fresh save in Dragon Age 2. Then again, maybe you like fixer-uppers.

JoystiqDragon Age 2 will import ‘the world’ from Dragon Age: Origins save originally appeared on Joystiq on Wed, 06 Oct 2010 11:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Go to Source (Joystiq.com)

BioWare working on 'unannounced handheld game'

Posted on September 13, 2010

LinkedIn profile of QA lead at EA’s flagship RPG studio says new portable title in the works; earlier reports point to Dragon Age II.

Earlier this year, Electronic Arts released a release schedule that appeared to reveal a handheld version of Dragon Age II. However, EA reps dismissed the report, saying that the listing was likely for an iPhone/iPad tie-in to the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 title.

Over the weekend, further evidence surfaced that the Dragon Age II developer is working on a full-fledged portable title. According to the LinkedIn profile of one of the Canadian developer’s QA leads, the company is currently hard at work on an “unannounced handheld game.”

No further details were given about the title, and EA reps did not respond to requests for comment. However, the LinkedIn profile reveals that it shares at least one of the same development team members as BioWare’s first handheld game, Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. Published by Sega in 2008–after EA bought BioWare–the DS game garnered only lukewarm reviews.

Unlike the first Dragon Age, which let players choose from several characters, Dragon Age II casts players as a human warrior named Hawke. His exploits are recounted by a dwarven storyteller named Varick, a fellow with a penchant for exaggeration. The game will see Hawke continue the fight against the Darkspawn, as well as assorted new foes, with a variety of companions.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot


BioWare working on ‘unannounced handheld game’was posted by Tor Thorsen on Mon, 13 Sep 2010 09:47:27 -0700


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