So, I finished my DA2 replay …

… so expect a detailed discussion of the game in line with what I’ve talked about before in the next couple of weeks. Here, I’m going to talk about a couple of minor thing I noted while playing it.

I found that I really, really enjoyed the game this time around despite being relatively unimpressed with it the last time around. I think that part of it was that replaying it after watching Chuck’s very negative comments and reminding myself of my rather blah view of the game I didn’t expect that much from it, and so was pleasantly surprised. I also think that part of it was because I was trying to experience the plot in detail, I paid far more attention to it and so was able to notice a few things that I didn’t notice the first time around, and so was more involved in the plot and the game, which I think is important for DA2. I also think that playing it after playing DAO’s ending sequence three times in a row gave me an appreciation for what it did itself and less of an impression that DAO was, say, less grindy a game. But whatever the reason, I really enjoyed myself this time out.

I also found that DA2, for all its faults, really did manage to do emotional and personally emotional scenes really well, while DAO didn’t seem to have very many OF those sorts of scenes at all. The scene where your mother died is heartbreaking, and can play into the entire third act. And while Carver’s and Wesley’s deaths can seem like they rely on assumed empathy, they are crafted well, it is clear that the people involved care about them — your mother and sister for the former, Aveline for the latter — and their deaths are used later to drive the plot and add emotional weight. Like it or not, the game really is far more personal than DAO was, and that allows for various scenes to have much more weight.

I had decided that I was going to try to romance Merrill in this game, after romancing Isabella in the previous one. Playing as a rogue, I therefore didn’t keep Isabella in my party very much, and so she deserted me in the second act. But the odd thing was that I had the hardest time making friends with Merrill, so much so that I was tempted to try to go full Rivalry with her. But that wasn’t working so well, either. Then I did her specific mission, ended up killing her Keeper and an entire village of Dalish Elves, which improved her opinion of me. A quick flirt with her, and we were in a romance and she moved in with me. As a friend of mine commented when I mentioned it to him “I guess nothing woos a girl’s heart like a little massacre…?”. She also seemed to change her outfit at the same time to a white one that I quite liked.

I liked the companions a lot this time around … except for Anders. One of the best things about them is that if you are good enough friends with them they tend to be pretty reasonable. The first time around, I chose to side with the Templars, and Merrill disagreed. I was able to convince her to go along because there was going to be a violent response and at least with me running it it would be organized and at least potentially merciful. This time, I sided with the mages, which upset Fenris and had him go to side with the Templars. But in the end I convinced him that he had to support the freedom for mages that he wanted for himself, and he stood with me. Avelline was not happy with defying the Templars, but sided with me anyway. So, in general, the companions were reasonable … and their conversations were often quite entertaining.

Except for Anders. I think I killed him both times, but this time he talked about being a martyr for others to follow and I almost regretted the decision, but decided, in the end, that him and Justice together produced a combination of fanaticism and power that couldn’t be allowed to go free, and what he had done didn’t deserve any mercy … especially since he refused to trust me with his plan but tried to guilt and manipulate me into helping him with it. He was too unscrupulous to be allowed to manipulate others that way.

Again, look for my comments aiming at Chuck Sonnenberg’s analysis of the game starting after next week.

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