No one likes loose ends. They’re messy, inconclusive, and – in some cases – can potentially lead to the birth of morally questionable god babies. Fortunately, BioWare’s latest double-helping of downloadable content takes some major loose ends and ties them tight in both Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2.
First up, Dragon Age is going on a Witch Hunt, which also happens to be the last we’ll see of Ferelden until Dragon Age 2 comes out. Without spoiling too much, let’s just say that a certain witchy woman’s back in the picture, and she’s up to no good. Remember that thing at the end of Origins? This might just have something to do with that.
Meanwhile, over in Mass Effect land, the Shadow Broker – who’s been a professional jerkwad and certified pain in Shepard’s ass since Mass Effect 1 – is finally (hopefully) going down in Lair of the Shadow Broker. If nothing else, though, you’ll definitely get to trash his house and continue your relationship with Liara, so we’re definitely not complaining.
Witch Hunt will run you $7.00, while Lair of the Shadow Broker comes in a bit heavier at $10.00. Both are out now, so what are you waiting for? Outer Space and Fantasy Land need saving from [SPOILERS] and [SPOILERS]! Now go [SPOILERS]!
We absolutely loved Dragon Age: Origins. And for that exact reason, we're standing a good few feet away from Dragon Age 2 and gently prodding it with our trepidation stick. See, on one hand, it could turn out to be a prettier, more streamlined take on Origins' sublime balance of strategic depth and chatty role-playing. On the other hand, however, BioWare seems bound and determined to shepherd it down the same path as Mass Effect 2 – which was a fantastic game, yeah, but not exactly the peanut butter to Dragon Age's chocolate.
Fortunately, BioWare's streamlining effort – despite an earlier report – won't snip the edges off the features us PC gamers hold near and dear: namely, an isometric, mouse-friendly camera and mod support.
"I can confirm that we will not be doing a tactical view on consoles, though we are looking into some expanded party control that I think will make console players quite happy," Dragon Age 2 lead designer Mike Laidlaw said. "On the PC, however, we are still working with the camera to keep the key elements of the tactical experience there."
"While we likely won't pull as far up as we did in DA:O, I have always felt that the key to tactical play was actually freeing your camera from the character you're controlling to issue precise orders, which is what we're tuning now. So, this means you can still maneuver the camera around the battlefield and issue orders from a remote location, just as you could in Origins."
So Laidlaw laid our fears to rest there, but mod support, as it turns out, is a bit of a stickier subject. Apparently, this stems from the fact that the creation tools for DA2 are more or less identical to the ones from Origins, so a new release won't be necessary.
"While we won't be releasing a toolset update in tandem with Dragon Age 2, we ARE investigating what it would take to update the community toolset to match ours, along with providing DA2 content in the future," Laidlaw explained.
Bottom line: once again, PC gamers win because we're smarter and more mature. Now let's go stick our tongues out at console gamers, make fart noises, and tell rude jokes about their mothers.
Hey, rest of the videogame industry, you might as well pack it in -- or at least stop making passes at the fantasy genre buffet and loading your plates up with clichés. Why? Because Dragon Age is officially a franchise now, and unless BioWare suffers a huge sophomore slump, your efforts are going to look silly by comparison. So, what’s on the table for Dragon Age 2? Well, here’s what we know so far:
First up, BioWare’s ready to unfurl one of its trademark 60-hour yarns, but this time, the role-playing powerhouse is breaking free from its usual mold. Dragon Age 2 tells the decade-spanning story of Hawke, “a penniless refugee who rises to power to become the single most important character in the world of Dragon Age.” Obviously, rags-to-riches has been done before, but we’re more interested in what BioWare’s going to do with a game world that’s actually affected by the passage of time.
On top of that, Dragon Age’s roughest edge, its graphical style – which was actually so rough that its nearest living genetic relative is a piece of sandpaper – is getting a complete overhaul. Or at least, that’s what we’re expecting from BioWare’s proclamation of a “new visual style.” Combat, meanwhile, is seemingly taking a turn for the visceral, with “dynamic new combat mechanics that put you right in the heart of battle.”
For now, we’re gonna have to take BioWare’s Executive VP of Press Release Writing’s word for it, but with a big blowout scheduled for next month’s Gamescom gaming convention, we won’t have to wait too long to judge for ourselves.
The game’s slated for a March 2011 release date. Odds are, after we’re done playing it, we’ll be able to identify with Hawke quite well, seeing as – if it’s anything like Origins -- we’ll probably lose our jobs, friends, and social lives to it and become penniless. That “most important character in the world” bit, though? Not so much.
In our experience, DLC usually serves as the thin mint after a fulfilling game experience. Problem: At our current rate of progress, we’re on track to finish Dragon Age by next holiday season. But, for those of you who haven’t been diagnosed with chronic slowpoke syndrome, BioWare’s putting a fresh helping of content on your already stacked holiday gaming plate.
The new mini-arc “summons players to a new quest in which they will return to the fateful battleground in Ostagar where the Grey Wardens were nearly wiped out. Players will discover King Cailan’s top-secret political agenda and go behind enemy lines to revisit a place that many feared had been lost to history.”
It’s going for 400 BioWare Points, or $5.00. For now, BioWare’s keeping mum on release specifics, only saying to expect the DLC “this holiday season.”
Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re actually off to go fight the Blight at Ostagar right now. Oh man, that King Cailan is so dreamy. We sure hope nothing bad happens to him!
If your strict 2009 gaming schedule absolutely required that you give Sims 3 a day-one download and light tiny people on fire until Dragon Age: Origins’ “early 2009” release date, prepare to cancel that fake encounter with mononucleosis (followed by a string of extra long-lasting colds due to your “weakened immune system”), because the two games have run away together into the latter part of 2009.
“The June launch combined with the break-through game the team is building gives us the perfect runway to create awareness for The Sims 3,” said EA marketing boss Russell Arons.
Meanwhile, Dragon Age: Origins, as with any good BioWare game (the only non-delayed BioWare game, for reference) slipped big time and will be bed-ridden until EA’s third quarter, which runs from October 1 to December 31. Apparently, the delay will allow EA to more properly market to the Baldur’s Gate-esque RPG’s PC version alongside its console cousins.
"I'm really proud of our team, who are working very hard to make Dragon Age: Origins the biggest and most exciting BioWare game yet, and we will work to ensure it not only meets, but exceeds the expectations of our loyal audience," said CEO Ray Muzyka.
Kinda rubbing salt in the wound, aren’t you there, Muzyka? Something tells us this won’t be an easy wait.
Mods, oodles of control configurations, switches and sliders for unholy graphical settings even God was unaware existed – these are the things that allegedly make PC gaming special. Clothesline inexperienced gamers with this taught branch of options, however, and they’ll see their first Game Over before even glimpsing the start screen. BioWare CEO Ray Muzyka’s solution? Er, it’s kinda vague.
“I think there are more people playing PC games and more dollars being spent on the PC space than ever before, but it’s taking a different form,” the good doctor told CVG.
“We can still make deep rich experiences but we have to make them easy to access, you have make the control system really easy to use, and you have to make people feel like they’re playing an experience that they can play how they want to play it, whether that is long sessions or short sessions.”
How does BioWare intend to make space for graduates of the PopCap Academy without giving core gamers the boot, though? Your comment section dialogue options are as follows:
“[Persuasion] Why even bother with casual gamers? They’ve only spurned your advances in the past.”
“Wait a minute, Muzyka! Sounds like you’re talking about console games to me!”
“Well, BioWare, you’ve never failed me in the past, so why should I doubt you now? I’m exceptionally level-headed and uninteresting.” (Click here for light side points.)