BioWare’s Mike Laidlaw, lead developer for Dragon Age II, gave an interview this week with NowGamer. As one might hope, several interesting pieces of information were revealed about the player-character Hawke, gameplay changes from Origins, and the ever-malleable world of Dragon Age. Bullet points behind the cut:
- A technique dubbed “Framed Narrative” is employed to tell the story of Hawke’s development over a full in-game decade. This narrative is “being told by characters that exist at the end of the timeline,” and essentially is a series of questions about defining moments in Hawke’s life. Hawke is revealed early on as the Champion of Kirkwall, and a major thrust of the game is to examine how s/he got there.
- Examining reviews of Origins revealed three key areas of development for the sequel: giving the character a voice; making combat more responsive; and creating a distinct visual style.
- Decisions made throughout Origins can be imported into Dragon Age II, altering the ruler of Ferelden, the fate of non-human races, and so on.
- The basic ‘fighter, mage, thief’ classes remain intact, although skill trees have become less linear and individual skills can be upgraded further. Additionally, character types will have unique physical maneuvers and finishing blows in battle; rogues can flip and tumble into combat, and the spell Hawke casts at the end of the duel trailer was an example of a mage finisher.
- Combat is faster and more fluid; characters will more plausibly interact with enemies upon getting in striking range, rather than moving, lining up, and then attacking. Spellcasting will also be quicker.
- PC and console skill activation remains unchanged; PCs will have hotkeys, consoles will use the radial menu.
- A rivalry system was mentioned in a discussion about in-game morality; players will have the option to outright challenge someone’s moral compass over time, resulting in interacting rather than the other character simply disengaging.
- Morrigan, even after the Witch Hunt DLC, is “not done with this world by any stretch of the imagination.” Whether she would have a role in Dragon Age II was not stated.
- The Fade will be making an appearance and will be tied to a few critical moments, though it was not specified how central to the story it would be.
The interview in its entirety can be read here. Dragon Age II will be out on March 8 for all platforms in North America, with a European release due on March 11.