Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

Dragon Age II follows the story of Hawke, a refugee from the Fifth Blight, and their rise to power, a journey spanning over a decade. After fleeing Ferelden, Hawke and their family have to build a new life in the city of Kirkwall. Though life as a refugee is hard enough, Hawke soon discovers that Kirkwall has problems of its own. The tensions between mages and templars are running high, and the presence of an army of Qunari also comes with some inevitable difficulties.


Dragon Age 2 is often seen as the lesser of this series but don’t let that deter you from playing it. First of all, you’re gonna want to play it to get the full story for when you move on to Dragon Age: Inquisition. But I think Dragon Age 2’s real problem is that the other two games are just too good.

This is, and I think many would agree with me, the funniest game in the series. You play as Hawke, and at each dialogue option, you are given the choice between a diplomatic, humorous and aggressive option. A word of advice: the humorous options are the best. This game features some quite dark themes, but Hawke is definitely the funniest protagonist of the series and the humour balances out the darkness quite well. That is, if you choose the funny dialogue options. I also very much recommend playing as female Hawke because her voice acting is phenomenal and to this day the only impression I can actually do.

This game features some great characters, as well as some characters I like a little less. Look, I usually love the generic white male love interests Bioware throws at me, but both Anders and Fenris are the worst and I hate them. I ended up romancing Isabela, who is also the worst but great, and I would have romanced Varric except Bioware hates me and won’t make that an option.

One of the things the game gets the most flak for is the environments. While Kirkwall is well designed, you never leave the city during the game. This might have been fine, if it weren’t for the fact that environments get constantly reused, so that at a certain point you’ve been in the same underground harbour about four times for different quests. People joke about how the game is told from Varric’s perspective, and he doesn’t care too much for the details, explaining why all levels look the same. The game even features one scene that is very clearly told by an unreliable narrator, which does support this idea. Still, it can detract a little from the experience.

If you’ve played Dragon Age: Origins and/or Dragon Age: Inquisition, you simply must play this game as well. I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

Although this game was heavily criticized (not entirely unjustified), I think it deserves much more love than it has actually gotten. The fact I give it 4,5 stars instead of 5 has purely to do with some clumsy game elements, such as the many reused maps and the random spawning of enemies (though I have to say Inquisition has provided an entertaining in-game explanation for both, relating to Varric’s unreliable narration).

As for the plot, I actually think DA2 has the best writing of all the Dragon Age  games to date. Instead of the more classic ‘zero to hero fights evil’ narrative, Hawke’s story explores themes of a more realistic gray-and-gray morality and the challenges of choices that don’t have a clear cut answer. Most of the time, Hawke feels more like a protagonist that just tries their best (or not), than a real traditional hero. I felt like this was a very refreshing and interesting perspective. The rest of the cast is similarly complex. It should be noted, however, that the game never becomes too grim despite these elements, partly due to varied and well-applied humor. Another unique aspect is the division of the story in three acts, separated by significant time jumps. This allows for consequences to choices you wouldn’t otherwise have encountered.

I’ve replayed Dragon Age 2 several times, and expect to replay it again in the future. Even when I’m not playing, I at times find myself thinking of its themes and characters. That’s a good thing.

For those who are planning to play Dragon Age 2 for the first time, with the intention to play Dragon Age Inquisition thereafter, I would advise to at least buy and play the Legacy DLC, as it lays a foundation for some of the events in Inquisition.

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