So, is blood really thicker than water? And where do your loyalties lie?
Along gaming’s March of Progress, every game leaves a unique footprint. Only an impression eventually remains, the many nuances of a game’s passage being eroded over time, as genres transform and move on. How will gaming collectively remember Dragon Age II? Although far from the truth, perhaps as “the game everyone hated.” Or, if you liked it, “the game everyone hated, except for me.”
Reception, in the Online Age, is increasingly relevant to the formation of a lasting impression and, in the case of Dragon Age II, a small horde of gamers came out to stomp in the dirt. The message, at its heart, is entirely relevant. Ideas like “role playing traditions are worth preserving” and “detailed worlds make for immersive experiences,” are something passionate RPG fans should defend. (With a mace +2 and wearing mismatched armour pieces.)
For those concerned with promoting gamers as a mature, intelligent and, ideally, powerful audience, how feedback is delivered may be equally as significant. Following a large volume of silly, or downright vitriolic, criticism online, Dragon Age’s next move was always going to be interesting. What approach would be taken to creating additional content? Would the satisfied portion of the audience be targeted with more of the same, or would the franchise attempt to re-woo detractors?
In Legacy, BioWare demonstrates surprising skill at sorting through, and implementing, genuinely useful feedback, without alienating the many players who did enjoy the base game. It’s a DLC, add-in expansion, in which subtle changes thoroughly impact the overall experience, and for the better. (And this is coming from someone who appreciates, both a more traditional model of RPG, as well as adoring Dragon Age II, ugly elf townies and all.)
Playable at any point after Hawke reaches Kirkwall, including from a post-game save, a party of your choice is taken through Vimmark Chasm and to a Grey Warden prison which, incidentally, some may find pleasantly reminiscent of Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal’s Watcher’s Keep. The story provides insight into the one member of the Hawke family who was conspicuously absent from the base game, and alights on overarching lore, related to the Grey Wardens.
Without spoilers, Hawke’s sibling is likely available as a party member, and is a good choice for his or her additional dialogue, as are Varric, and a couple of others. And, if you like fresh banter, be prepared to replay this with every possible permutation of everyone. Most interestingly, the events of Legacy do resolve a little differently, depending upon in which Act you begin, and it is expected that plot flags will carry into future Dragon Age add-ins.