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Dragon Age II - hands-on

“The engine is redesigned from the ground up to basically work better with consoles. So if you played it on the Xbox or PS3 [version], you see that it looks much better. But that doesn’t mean that the PC can’t play to its own strengths – it just means that we understand how the engine works better. For the most part, we wanted to reach a parity, in terms of design,” explains Laidlaw as he boots up an early build of the PC version of Dragon Age II.



He zooms in and out to demonstrate how certain camera angles with the old system could complicate matters for some of the encounters featured in Dragon Age II. “So we basically said, ‘Okay. That is a problem.’ I don’t want to end up playing a game where I could not know there are archers shooting me because I’m looking the wrong way. So the camera doesn’t do quite the same thing it did, but still what’s very, very important, is that element of being able to maneuver around the battlefield,” says Laidlaw.

Laidlaw pauses the battle he booted up and pulls the camera back. Way back. The camera is no longer locked to a unit on the battle, so we didn’t see any panning about in this build, but all the functionality of the old camera system remains intact. You can pause and resume battle at will, queuing orders as you sweep across the battlefield as you did in the original. 

Then Laidlaw starts adjusting the height of the camera as he floats across the battlefield. From what we saw, the only significant difference with the new camera system for the PC version is that it no longer snaps to that extreme top-down view, that made the game look like an RTS. It also doesn’t let you angle your camera upward as sharply for those extreme views from the ground. “It’s not only identical, but it actually gives me a better view of what’s happening,” adds Laidlaw.

“I understand why people are like, ‘Oh my god! It’s going to be simpler and dumb!’ But the tactical camera is just changing. It’s still there and I think it’s very effective. I totally get why there would be concerns, but we’re still working on it,” explains Laidlaw.

Dragon Age II is scheduled to release on March 8, 2011 in North America and on March 11 in the UK and Europe. Expect more news as Dragon Age II’s release date draws nearer. In the meantime, check out the latest teaser for the game.


Above: A teaser for Dragon Age II

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21 comments

  • Numbnumb - September 1, 2010 7:48 p.m.

    So far I am seeing a game that is evolving away from DA:O and more toward the 'Witcher' type of game. I really love DA:O and am still playing it, including Awakening. But. I love the 4 party concept as it gives you more possibilities. I am still reserving judgment on this but the thought that keeps popping into my head is that if I want to play a 'Witcher' style game then I'll just play 'Witcher'. There were so many possibilities developed at the end of DA:O but Bioware seems to have regulated them to the DLC status.
  • brian003 - August 23, 2010 7:42 p.m.

    Soooo all the work I put in sleeping with all females characters means nothing. The badges, the armor the choices. Those DLC's are way too dinky too tie up any loose ends. And that Ilieana one so anticlimactic. So I gotta spend another five bucks to essentially tell me to buy more as they stretch it out any sense of completion. If I didn't like DA so much I'd really complain.
  • CoktorBloktopus - August 20, 2010 5:07 p.m.

    this is one of the games that i am sad that i have not finished I started it but never could find the time to finish it. Balls to me i say balls to me.
  • foamguy - August 20, 2010 4:19 p.m.

    Admit it that sounds like Flemeth narrating the trailer
  • gman64 - August 19, 2010 10:02 p.m.

    this game is so cool
  • The_Tingler - August 19, 2010 2:47 a.m.

    I'm still worried about the very quick development time - I mean, Dragon Age Origins isn't even a year old yet! Can they really make an epic, POLISHED RPG in only 6 months? Even if the gameplay and graphics were identical to Origins, and with no DLC or Awakening expansion this would be still dubious, and with those packs and all the major changes they're making, I don't know if they can pull it off. Still be buying it though. Hey, it's Bioware!
  • JohnnyAppleSperm - August 18, 2010 9:23 p.m.

    Now that is some new shit.
  • Bawheidbob - August 18, 2010 7:39 p.m.

    I like Dragon Age but i am a PC player and i love the way the camera works as it is. The snapping back and 'playing like an rts' is one of the main reasons i like the game. I will have to see what the change is like for myself i think.
  • Fiirestorm21 - August 18, 2010 5:43 p.m.

    Still skeptical, and I never cared for the Mass Effect dialog system (it's a tacky way of slopping "choice" onto an on-rails cinematic instead of true role-playing) but it sounds like it's not as bad as it could have been. Although BioWare needs to get their PR stuff together with this game, because I'm still not completely sure what exactly they're doing with the battle system, especially the PC version, and their saying one thing then trying to back-pedal and clumsily clarify tactics aren't helping. (Then again, they also thought the best way to tell everyone about the first game was with Marilyn Manson.)
  • Mamudo - August 18, 2010 4:56 p.m.

    visually, I like it. I know the story, character, and dialog will be excellent. But I still am a little iffy about the new combat. I really did love the previous game's combat. It's a big leap and I want to be convinced that's it's a step in the right direction.
  • wesser22 - August 18, 2010 4:53 p.m.

    Sweet, I'll get to be the champion of my actuall hometown (Kirkwall)!
  • Doctalen - August 18, 2010 3:14 p.m.

    Was that the new Qunari or was the a darkspawn that Hawke was fighting?
  • Wriggly - August 18, 2010 2:53 p.m.

    I'm genuinely excited, I rented the 360 version of the original game first and thought it was horrible because of the pseudo-PC game play, after a while I picked up the PC version and loved it, a great difference a keyboard makes. The game play just didn't work on a controller, the radial took too much time to go through to just perform one simple attack, whereas on the PC i'd just press a single button. Designing it around the controller should work out well in the end.
  • CountZero - August 18, 2010 2:42 p.m.

    Awesome preview. Put to rest a lot of the concerns I had about DA2. It's sounding pretty badass, looking forward to it!
  • drewbian - August 18, 2010 2:27 p.m.

    ahhhh so excited. have completed dragon age twice now each time spending upwards of 40 hours, such an awesome game. glad theyve improved the graphics, when you compare dragon age to mass effect there was no excuse for the graphics being that poor. thankfully the story was fuckin excellent though. will definitely be picking this up, cant wait for the new characters and this decade long story arc sounds epic
  • FenrirKar - August 18, 2010 2:24 p.m.

    Phew, I had heard in passing that they were removing the tactical camera, and was pretty ticked off. I loved that about the PC version. Now that they're just changing it a bit, though, I'm really stoked. Also, utterly epic trailer.
  • rynmls - August 18, 2010 2:16 p.m.

    WTF!!!
  • db1331 - August 18, 2010 2:01 p.m.

    Now THAT is how you make a trailer. I still never played DA:O. I'm a cheap bastard, so I'm waiting for it to hit $10 or $15 on the Steam holiday sale this year. That doesn't mean I can't already be excited for the sequel though.
  • Redeater - August 18, 2010 12:16 p.m.

    I can't wait. Mass Effect 2 was such an improvement over 1 I can only assume that that this will be the same.
  • Crabhand - August 18, 2010 8:54 a.m.

    I'm beyond pleased with the information presented at this point. A stronger experience on console is definitely going to be great, and the changes to the dialogue scenes sounds like a perfect fit (And I can finally play as the snarky dick hero!) What most excites me is the way the story is being told, it seems to add a more dynamic element to the gameplay. Ugh, I can't wait until March -_-

Showing 1-20 of 21 comments

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