Okay, some of the stuff here could probably go in the previous post, but I want to be really careful not to spoil various game elements for people. So. First I guess I'll go a bit more into some of the things I mentioned there...
Okay, the design changes. Flemeth looked cool, and that didn't throw me as much, since part of it was wardrobe change, plus she's a shapechanger, damnit. The elves... I'm on the fence about, but a) I don't mind it as much since it's not a huuuge change, but b) I don't think I really like what WAS changed. The qunari just threw me - in and of itself the design is cool enough, but damnit, it's also really makes it harder to consider the events of the previous game and the ones of this one to be in the same world and so on, when the very basic look of entire races changes pretty drastically. (And as a side note, damn, talk about making Sten from the first game seem fucking optimistic and a malleable bit of putty!)
While we're on disconnects from the first story... grrr, I am not much enjoying how they decided to just throw in so many characters from the first game, EVEN IF they had other things they should have been doing. Like Zevran? What the fuck are you doing over in the Free Marches, away from your Warden? It was bad enough your being away during Awakenings! And WHY are you flirting with my Champion? *sigh* (And man, he did NOT make the shift to the new elf look very well. Sigh.) I can see them wanting to at least throw fans of some of the characters a bone, getting to see them again.... but not when it screws with the story I already created, you know? I mean, now how can I look at THIS story and figure "okay, that's how things will *remain* ended"? Hell, especially when they include an unreliable narrator in the mix.
Okay, the framework. I guess I could have probably talked about the unreliable narrator, the fact that you skip entire years at a time, etc., in the previous section. But I wanted to be safe rather than sorry, since the way you encounter those probably colors how you enjoy the game as a whole (or not), if that makes sense.
Anyhow: the unreliable in itself is neat, and it's different to see it in a game, but at the same time I don't like it much as a choice, at least not in a story-driven RPG. I mean, I want to be immersed in the story, and feel like whatever choices I'm making, what I'm doing, that's what happens. Not "okay, that's MAYBE what happens, if the goddamn dwarf isn't lying his ass off." (And if EA doesn't decide to fucking just change it again for the next game.)
Likewise, I'm not very fond of multiple time-skips of THREE DAMN YEARS, because I want to be in the story, feel like I'm directing the character's life, and orchestrating her rise to power so to speak. Not just pick her up here and there in small chunks! Not to mention that partly I think because of the time jumps and so on, I noticed there's not even really one unifying goal driving the game. Or not even a goal that shifts on you. It's just kinda "I'll go around and rise to power in Kirkwall and affect things until the game decides I'm done."
The characters, and the character system are... better than I thought at first. I still miss the general lack of gifts (and trying to figure out who to give what), and I really miss the discussions you could have with them, either out in the field, or back at camp. I almost feel like Hawke was writing down in her day-planner: "Have heart-to-heart discussion with Fenris at his mansion." But even the stuffy characters like Aveline grew on me after a while, and the friendship-rivalry thing was interesting, especially when it turns out you can still have a romance with someone that's completely your rival. I guess the main idea was that whatever you do, you should do it wholeheartedly... or not. I don't know!
But still, would it have killed them to let us have a tank other than Aveline? Or a healer other than Anders, once Bethany's out of the picture? Like, letting us maybe at least give Fenris some tanking ability? Or give Merril a few meager healing spells? And on that note, I'm not sure Bioware gets the idea of "specializations," when they only have three available, and you get access to two of them....
Anyhow, the big thing that really grabbed me (and that I approved of) is that your decisions definitely have consequences, and not always along a standard "I was good so good things happen, I was evil so there is death and destruction" axis. I mean often your possible choices aren't bound to good/evil anyhow, and as for the long-term consequences... well, my character was generally good, a mage sympathizer, and tended to try to mediate before going in swinging. And yet the final toll: Brother dead, mother dead. Isabella betraying her and vanishing. Anders still being alive, but being a complete schmuck who just... augh. Sebastian going off in a snit, possibly coming back with an army to attack Kirkwall. The Viscount dead. The Viscount-in-training dead. The Arishok dead. The Dalish Keeper dead. All her clan dead, except for Merril. The Grand Cleric dead. The Templar Knight-Commander dead. The First Enchanter dead. Tons of other mages/templars dead, along with probably a ton or so of innocent bystanders. The Chantry blown up. (Did I mention Anders is a schmuck?) I mean, bloody HELL.
Now I want to play through again with different choices, to see different things I could avert (or cause), and see other ways things can pan out. But I don't know if I want to play through as a warrior next (since that'll be the non-mage-sympathizer, which is probably going to change the most overall), or play the slightly nastier mage I have in mind, which will change a lot of the more incidental things. Hrm.
Bits and pieces: I miss the origins from the first game, and even if they didn't want to repeat those, I disliked not getting to really customize your character with background/race/etc. I guess they wanted to give us a more concrete protagonist this time, "Hawke," and obviously you wouldn't have all the family-connected storyline driving thingies if you could be, say, an Elf, but still. (I do love the fem-Hawke voice, though!)
I also wish there was more of the previous game's decisions that really came across in this game. I mean you occasionally get a mention here or there, but as mentioned the endings you got with various characters doesn't seem to have "stuck" so to speak, and it's only just a very brief mention here and there. Pretty sad, honestly. With so many damn things you could affect in Ferelden and so many ways to play the first game, it's a bit depressing that almost none of them carry over here.
I do like the fact that you can flirt with so many different people though, even if (from what I gather) they're not actually a romance option. I mean, it makes sense. In life, you flirt with people, but that doesn't mean they'll be interested in return. They may not even be the proper orientation. I do wonder if some of them might have been romance options that I just didn't completely pursue, though. (Like Sebastian, or Aveline.)
I DISLIKE the fact that the ending is so.. abrupt. I mean, obviously you see a lot of the consequences of your choices in action, but I'd at least like to learn some more of the after-effects, as in the first game and its expansion. Not just "oh, and we ended up vanishing and all going our separate ways, except for the Champion and insert-love-interest."
Did I mention that I really really really dislike the lazy-assed approach to areas in this game? Because I really really dislike them. Just in case you didn't know that. REALLY really really really.
And our merchant dwarf friends are going into service in Orlais next, eh? So, anyone care to take some bets on where the next game in the series is going to take place?
Hopefully, I'll eventually get some discussion on this as people finish the game. ;) Also, if anyone wants to compare choices and consequences, also fun!