Dragon Age II designer addresses criticisms, drops DLC hints

Developer forums have a habit of mutating into echo chambers for fan resentment, bitter accusations and poorly organized mutinies, but on the rare occasion they can also evolve into a venue for mature, enlightened discussions between game makers and the players they aim to please. Such is the case in BioWare's forum, where Dragon Age II's lead designer Mike Laidlaw recently posted a rather honest missive to Dragon Age lovers and haters addressing complaints about the sequel and teasing future DLC plans.

“While I haven't been posting, we have been listening,” wrote Laidlaw. “I am absolutely aware of the concerns voiced here. Issues like level re-use, the implementation of wave combat, concerns about the narrative and significance of choice and so on have all been not only noted, but examined, inspected and even aided me (and many, many others on the team) in formulating future plans. Further, I'm not only aware of the concerns, but I agree that there are aspects of DA II that not only can but must be improved in future installments. And that is precisely our intent.”

Although he admitted Dragon Age II had its hits and misses, Laidlaw emphasized he was nonetheless proud of the work BioWare's team did on the game overall, and that he believed the sequel did a fine job of both widening Dragon Age's audience and moving the franchise into a space with more potential, noting, “Hawke's story was a departure from the usual tale, and in crafting it and the game around it we learned a lot. Some from what worked, but even more from what didn't. Such is always the way.”

Laidlaw capped his post with hints that future DLC would see players exploring areas outside of Kirkwall, adding the following teaser images to back up his claim:

Dragon Age II was one of the more polarizing games of 2010, with the majority of fans and critics either gushing about its focused narrative and streamlined gameplay, or hacking the fantasy RPG to bits over its repetitive design and limited scope. Us? We actually liked what BioWare did with the series, but understand there's always room for improvement. Let us know what changes you'd like to see in the next (inevetiable) sequel. Who knows, BioWare could be listening...

[Source: BioWare forum]

May 27, 2011

Dragon Age II review
You got your Mass Effect in my Dragon Age!

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  • Bawheidbob - May 29, 2011 7:56 a.m.

    Only way to make Dragon Age II better is to delete Dragon Age Origins from my mind. They ruined this games series at the first attempt and i doubt there is any going back.
  • CitizenThom - May 29, 2011 5:26 a.m.

    I enjoyed DA2, I think a lot of the fan outrage could have been avoided if they'd titled the game differently as much as anything else. DA2 was certianly a different kind of game than DA:Origins, but it was a fun game in it's own right. If people's expectations of direct sequel weren't there, I think the game would've had a better reception from those who've spent multiple threads complaining about the game. That being said, I do hope that Bioware will be making improvements based on the critiques from the Bioware Forums, because most of those improvements can be made without removing the good things that were done in DA2. I hope DA3, or whatever the game ends up being titled, can be even more polished than DA2 when it's released. DA2 saw progress if not perfection in that regard (less bugs and crashes than DA:Origins).
  • Bercilak - May 29, 2011 3:01 a.m.

    DA II was an incredible disappointment and an excellent example of pushing a story well beyond its limits. Remember those books, "Han Solo at Star's End" and "Han Solo's Revenge"? Exactly.
  • kingdom - May 28, 2011 4:48 a.m.

    Well I have been sold on it for ages, no use in me going on about it, you like it or you don't. I still think it should be judged on its own to some degree, they tried new things, which I think did make it the sequel many claimed it wasn't. Biggest thing though in my opinion is that any developer sticking their neck out there to make changes and try new things should NEVER be punished. Recently we have finally had some new FPS variety some many games have practically just been a re-texture and re-name of something another company did. Trying new things allows them to see what does and what doesn't work and I will be shocked if Bioware doesn't go from here and keep the good, toss the bad, adapt some, invent some, etc.
  • zachbob - May 28, 2011 12:03 a.m.

    DA2 was for me worse than Origins, but not all that bad, the one boss fight against the rock monster and the 2 final bosses I really liked but the way it told the story was inconsistent and the whole story could use improvement.
  • Spybreak8 - May 27, 2011 11:58 p.m.

    Nice, if it's one thing Bioware does really well, aside from story, is learning from the community about their previous games.
  • ZigzMagoo - May 27, 2011 11:55 p.m.

    Honestly, i think that both Dragon's Ages have been mediocre. Not even close to as good as the Elder Scrolls.
  • pr0tostar - May 27, 2011 11:44 p.m.

    Typo near the end of the article (which has me excited no doubt!) *One of the more polarizing games of 2011.
  • russelldahl - May 27, 2011 10:44 p.m.

    I want DLC!!!
  • Redeater - May 27, 2011 10:42 p.m.

    I think the enviroment re-use was pretty terrible but an even bigger problem was the bugs! I'm suprised more people haven't mentioned more of this! From glitched achievements to quests you can't finish they were all annoying as shit. As for the story I actually liked the smaller scaled down feel of it. God forbid we play an RPG where we don't have to save the world.
  • babyhenchy1 - May 27, 2011 8:43 p.m.

    @SideOfBeef Oh well to each his own. The streamlining was minor compared to how rushed it felt. I still enjoyed it quite a bit. Just not as good as Origins.
  • Dragonflame - May 27, 2011 8:03 p.m.

    DAII was a fine game, not Biowares best though. It had alot of good concepts and was very different in its story presentation. I found it refreshing Bioware was willing to try something new in that department with a less epic focused story.
  • Jedipimp0712 - May 27, 2011 7:54 p.m.

    the problem with DA2 is that they DID change things...
  • SideOfBeef - May 27, 2011 7:46 p.m.

    What's that? The people who poured years of their lives into making this game actually care about it? Perish the thought. @babyhenchy1 I'd disagree about the streamlining of the game. The only part that actually seems to have been cut down was part of the companion armor system, which I'm glad they did for the exact reasons they removed it. Everything else was just given a fresh coat of UI.
  • Crofto - May 27, 2011 7:45 p.m.

    " Us? We actually liked what BioWare did with the series" Of course you liked it, like you "like" every other triple A game backed by big publishers, and that's part of the problem. If the media didn't spunk over overrated big-named games so much, the community would feel less inclined to hate on the developers so much, since then they would at least know that the developers would see the reviews and *know* where improvements are needed. With "reviewers" slapping silly words and scores on games like DA2, it ends up being the actual gamers who need to highlight to the developers where they're fucking up. That's exactly what has happened here to a massive extent (check the user Metacritic scores for example), and now the developers are finally getting it. It's just a shame that it takes an internet forum filled with -- mostly -- hate and insults to show a developer what's wrong with their games. Kudos to Mike for having the balls to go up against the community, I know I certainly wouldn't have.
  • PimplesInYourAsstista - May 27, 2011 7:39 p.m.

    I enjoyed DA2 myself, but damn, level reuse was a pain in the ass. As already noted, it was also dumbed down far too much...Bioware should learn from The Witcher 2 and see how an open-ended RPG should be done.
  • Clovin64 - May 27, 2011 7:39 p.m.

    I quite enjoyed DAII (I've beaten it 3 times with each class), but there was definitley some pretty glaring flaws that I'd love to see adressed in DAIII.
  • babyhenchy1 - May 27, 2011 7:18 p.m.

    Okay my thoughts on DAII: the story was awesome. I thought it was definitely superior to Origins in that regard and it's one of my favorite fantasy stories (in video games and out) in recent years. The problems were these. First excessive streamlining. I didn't mind Mass Effect's streamlining because at the end of the day it made a tighter game (though I would love some old stuff to be improved and brought back). In the case of DAII, the streamlining didn't really make anything much better. The big problem though was how rushed it was. I expect more from BioWare on that. Recycled dungeons and BUGGED UP THE ASS! I had to restart my second playthrough because I hit that goddamn Isabela bug. Take your time BioWare. That said, I still enjoyed it. The story and characters won me over. It's probably BioWare's weakest game (haven't played Sonic Chronicles or ME: Galaxy) but I expect a company of their caliber (my favorite developer) to learn from their mistakes. Please do so BioWare and I look forward to finishing Hawke's story. She has some unfinished business.
  • IcePotato - May 27, 2011 6:51 p.m.

    I'm just glad Hamburger Helper did not get her wet yaoi fantasies all over this game...oh wait....nevermind.
  • Not Snake - May 27, 2011 6:49 p.m.

    Dragon Age 2 was pretty awesome, different than Origins, but not necesarily in a bad way. I'd like to see what the next one will be like.

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