Top 10 Tuesday is back! And with its return comes new kinds of lists. Each week’s list is going to be a lot more current than in the past. You can still expect best of, worst of, and this year in gaming to be featured regularly, but there are also going to be a good deal of lists that focus on current events in the game industry and new releases. With the recent release of concept art for Dragon Age III: Inquisition, now seems like a good time to examine the series and count down what I feel will be key improvements that need to be made over the disappointing Dragon Age II if Dragon Age III is to be a success. As always, these are my opinions, and if you want the game to be just like Dragon Age II in every way, you’re free to feel that way.
10. Longer Play Time
Out of everything on this list, this is the one that I feel is definitely least important. Long games are always a plus in my book, and indeed the 30-40 hours it takes for a 100% completion in Dragon Age II was very disappointing compared to the 70 hours or more it could take in Dragon Age Origins. However, I want to stress that I value quality over artificial length. I would much prefer a tight and polished 30 hour experience over a repetitive and grind heavy 70 hours, though an awesome game that also happens to be 50+ hours is the ideal scenario for Dragon Age III.
9. Better choices
Both of the first two games were filled with choices, but Dragon Age II didn’t have much choice variety. The entire game was centered around the Templar/Mage conflict, which I actually liked since the Mage situation is one of the most interesting aspects of Dragon Age fiction, but the problem arose when almost every major choice in the game could be boiled down do “Hey, who do you want to side with, the Templars or the Mages?” I know for myself, early on I chose a side, so there was little real choice to be made going through the game as I just continued to side with the faction I chose from the beginning. It would be nice if there was some room for actual role playing in the choices in Dragon Age III. Ideally, not all the choices will have a clear moral or faction alignment, requiring the player to actually think about their decisions. Remember, when doing moral choices in games, morally gray situations are always more interesting than the typical “cure cancer and solve world hunger or slaughter 500 puppies and burn this orphanage to the ground.”
8. A More Cohesive Story
Out of all the problems I had with Dragon Age II, the story was near the bottom of my list, but it wasn’t without its issues. I actually enjoyed most of the plot and character work, like I said I enjoy the Mage/Templar conflict, but the story did wind up feeling very disjointed. The game was split into three very distinct parts sets years apart from each other, and oftentimes it felt like there were three completely different stories with very limited connection between each other. The game really felt more like a history lesson in ten years of Kirkwall than cohesive story with a beginning, middle, and end. Hopefully Dragon Age III can manage to tell a less disjointed story than DA2.
7. Better Side Quests
Dragon Age II was a game that was clearly rushed through development much too quickly, and this is evident in many aspects of the game, including the quest design. In my mind, side quests in grand RPGs should feel like little mini stories unto themselves, but the side quests in Dragon Age II felt more like MMO busy work than I would have liked. The majority of the side quests were fetch quests or kill missions. This isn’t inherently bad and is to be expected, I mean, this is an RPG, what else are you going to do? The problem lies in the execution. Most of the time you wind up finding the quest item or killing the enemy before you even receive the quest, so you have a quest marker on your map leading to a questgiver you’ve never met to turn in the quest you never actually received. If side quests are to be worth doing, they need to either have a slightly interesting story to go along with them or take you to an interesting location, which is hopefully something they can improve upon in DA3.
6. More Customization
Dragon Age II really dumbed down the customization options in comparison to the original. In DA2, you could no longer outfit your party members with armor because the developers were more concerned with maintaining a characters “iconic look” than giving the player proper equipment options. Even though the player was still free to customize all aspects of the main character’s armor and weapons, there definitely seemed to be far less available in terms of loot drops. There was basically one set of armor per section of the game for each class for a grand total of three major unique armor sets you could equip in one playthrough. If DA3 wants to win back the loot junkies, this will have to be improved upon.