“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.
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