Dragon Age 2 - Catch All

Scratched wrote:

It's difficult to talk about the reliability of the review of DA2 specifically as it's not out for the great unwashed yet, for all I know it could be spot on. To a certain extent you could come back to whether the demo, which is all the public have at the moment, is meant to be a good representation or just a marketing expense to get people to part with their money.

On a more general note, I think there is cause to be a bit concerned and suspicious of reviews of big budget games. Part of that big budget is marketing, which can meet or exceed the development budget, and as has been anecdotally reported many times, reviewers or the companies reviewers work for do get pressured by representatives of the companies selling the games. Not to say that all reviews are useless, but it poisons the well.

I also think PC Gamer has a vested interest in reviewing big budget PC games well for its own survival. If PC Gamer told people that they might as well play DA2 on console, that could mean less PC gamers and less people buying PC Gamer. They definitely have a financial interest in keeping the "PC Gaming is AWESOME, and we're here to tell you why!" train going.

I find Rock-Paper-Shotgun much more intellectually honest, and with better writing to boot. Oh, and they also do scoreless reviews, scratched!

LarryC wrote:

The fact that they didn't even know the bug existed is exactly why it's such a bad bug. If they knew it existed when it shipped, they could have warned the public and started working on the solution immediately. It's not like there's a gazillion PS3 configurations out there. It's a pretty closed system.

Where are you going with this?

Scratched:

It's only to substantiate my stance of Bioware historically releasing very buggy games - and not just annoying buggy - unplayable buggy. The only really notable company worse than they was Troika and Troika's out of business. Granted, Troika's worse, but that doesn't mean that reviewers should be giving buggy Bioware games a pass on quality coding, especially when they so mercilessly hammer on bugs when the games are less personally attractive (see: many Wii games).

This is to substantiate my statement that praise in the region of "94%!" is either probably unwarranted, or probably biased (a total joke). As you say, I can't tell right now for sure. Maybe DA2's as silky smooth as WoW, but I rather doubt it.

I haven't had a significant issue with a Bioware game in the last 10 years (PC or console), I guess I must be lucky if they are the second worst company for bugs.

I've played 2 Bioware games on PS3 in excess of several hundred hours, and can count crippling bugs that forced some sort of reboot on one hand. These were typically at the cost of 1 to 10 minutes of playtime. That doesn't hold a candle to my Fallout experience. Your insistence that they release buggy messes has been hammered by you so hard, and is so far out of my experience, I'm forced now to call it Bullsh*t. As you say, it's not like there are a lot of PS3 configurations, so the problem must be you.

EvilDead wrote:

I haven't had a significant issue with a Bioware game in the last 10 years (PC or console), I guess I must be lucky if they are the second worst company for bugs.

Same. I have never had any technical issues with bioware games and played them on a few different rigs. I was even able to run the demo in DX11 w/o any big issues and only had some loading/stuttering when going into dialogue cutscenes.

Scratched wrote:
LarryC wrote:

The fact that they didn't even know the bug existed is exactly why it's such a bad bug. If they knew it existed when it shipped, they could have warned the public and started working on the solution immediately. It's not like there's a gazillion PS3 configurations out there. It's a pretty closed system.

Where are you going with this?

Internet petition?

EvilDead wrote:

I haven't had a significant issue with a Bioware game in the last 10 years (PC or console), I guess I must be lucky if they are the second worst company for bugs.

It depends on what's significant to you, but also on the prevalence of serious bugs. You don't need to be especially lucky to have avoided most bugs. Most shipped games are playable, but it's still below industry standard.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:

I've played 2 Bioware games on PS3 in excess of several hundred hours, and can count crippling bugs that forced some sort of reboot on one hand. These were typically at the cost of 1 to 10 minutes of playtime. That doesn't hold a candle to my Fallout experience. Your insistence that they release buggy messes has been hammered by you so hard, and is so far out of my experience, I'm forced now to call it Bullsh*t.

I'm not aware that I've hammered at it hard at all. People asked for substantiation and challenged the claim, so I substantiated it and provided examples. Read again and you'll clearly see that that is what has occurred. If more people had simply acquiesced and acknowledged the presence of these well known issues, then I would not have had to dwell on them so much.

Bioware's own forums contains a healthy number of these bugs occurring, and several bugs that render (for instance) ME1 uninstallable for many buyers has still not been solved (and is unlikely to be solved at this point). Anyone can check the official forums for confirmation of these issues.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to buy buggy games, and let out a big sigh for every Magicka or Fallout New Vegas that comes out with a colony of bugs and sells like hotcakes regardless.

What I was getting at was that sometimes a bug does slip by, sometimes they won't know about everything. Consoles have always had different hardware revisions and variations, and different software versions for different languages, etc. Practically you can never get 100% coverage on all factors that will produce errors. What you can do is have the processes in a company to minimise the impact to your company (fixing things has a cost) and your customers, and improve things for the future. That's what I want to see in a company, rather than shrug and carry on regardless which seems to be the Obsidian way, and why I'm giving Dungeon Siege 3 a wide berth on release.

Blind_Evil wrote:

Barbie Horse Adventures' marketing team insisted it was the best thing since hoop and stick as well, we know to ignore that kind of thing.

Clearly you haven't played Barbie Horse Adventures. It's a revelation

The entire point is not about bugs but in support of my disbelief that DA2 could deserve praise as high as "94%!" or really, any review that fails to mention the faults that it obviously has - just like DAO. I mean, DAO's graphics were pretty darned bad close up, but I don't recall graphics being rated bad for that game. They could have done better by going for a more stylized approach - like Borderlands or Bulletstorm.

In just the opening sequence and in the cutscenes, the hands looked really well into Uncanny Valley, the clipping was ubiquitous, and you could see flat textures and jaggies everywhere. Muramasa was nowhere near as demanding, and required less art assets, but it looked better because it respected the limitations of the system and worked with the material. DA seems hell bent on not looking good (and on not looking good in the bad way). That's got to hurt an honest review.

I believe that posterity will shed a kinder eye on my commentary here. As much as I loved DAO and as much as I played it for hundreds of hours, I'm not blind to its faults and I can see many of them carrying on in DA2.

I'm completely mystified at what's going on here. All this back and forth sounds absolutely bizarre! (except for Scratched). From my point of view this is what's happening:

Me: DA2 getting 94% sounds like a total joke. Bioware games are generally too buggy to warrant such praise (among other probable failings of DA2).

Counter 1: Bioware games are not buggy because I've personally never been inconvenienced by more bugs than were tolerable to me.

Counter 2: Blizzard games have bugs, too.

Counter 3: You're sounding like an Xbox fanboy.

Counter 4: Stop playing Bioware games.

There is a logical disconnect between what I said and nearly all direct responses to it so far. Did everyone else get a memo that I missed?

EDIT: Nevermind. It's not worth it.

MannishBoy:

I'd recommend editing your post to say something about DA2. It is the DA2 thread. What you say doesn't have to relate to what I said.

LarryC wrote:

MannishBoy:

I'd recommend editing your post to say something about DA2. It is the DA2 thread. What you say doesn't have to relate to what I said.

I'd recommend you not recommend what I do.

First off, most of what you are describing Larry, aren't bugs, they're stylistic choices which you apparently don't agree with. That's fine. But you speak of them as Universal Truths, and they're not. And you've reacted so violently against the style, I'd say yes, not playing them is the solution, because they will never be the game you want.

Second, to me, the hyperbolic parody conversation has been this:

Not Me: Every Bioware game is festooned with crippling bugs at every turn, making their games utterly unplayable to completion. They have a history of bugs that reduce consoles to slag and cause TVs to explode.

Me: That's not my experience at all. My console remains unslagged, and TV undetonated.

Not Me: Every Bioware game is festooned with crippling bugs at every turn, making their games utterly unplayable to completion. They have a history of bugs that reduce consoles to slag and cause TVs to explode.

Me: Dude, that guy had the save game problem, and it sucks, but...

Not Me: Every Bioware game is festooned with crippling bugs at every turn, making their games utterly unplayable to completion. They have a history of bugs that reduce consoles to slag and cause TVs to explode.

Me: ...

/slow clap

/head shake

In an effort to maybe get us back on topic and move away from the LarryC show for a moment, can anyone tell me what they found enjoyable in the combat? I tried the mage and the 2h warrior and was simply bored to tears by the whole process. It felt like WoW only less complex, I was waiting for cooldowns to finish and then spamming abilities as they came up. You could say the same thing about DAO, I suppose but DA2 just didn't feel as meaty.

I can't subjectively agree with "less meaty." It felt to me like DA:O but less clunky. I enjoy the increased player agency, being able to dodge, change my position or target faster. I play on 360 so I may grow tired of pressing the attack button.

I can't speak for the expansions but I think this compares favorably to vanilla WoW combat. We can't judge the higher level combat, but apples to apples I don't see much difference (take say a level 10 WoW rogue fighting groups of even level mobs with an elite in the middle and another at the end).

I'm fine with the style, SpacePPoliceman, just not the execution. Having your character models clipping through each other and within the model itself doesn't sound to me like an artistic style. Having flat textures is not a style. Having poor detail is not a style. If they were going for a retro feel and everything was universally jaggy and badly detailed in a historically correct manner, that would be a style.

oilypenguin wrote:

I was waiting for cooldowns to finish and then spamming abilities as they came up. You could say the same thing about DAO, I suppose but DA2 just didn't feel as meaty.

Honestly, I didn't adore combat in DA:O, either. I mostly played DA:O waiting for cooldowns, particularly early on when there aren't a lot of options. DA2 felt the same, just with flashier animations. Combat was very much secondary to wandering the world, finding the little details, and chatting up NPCs, so I'm likely not the best judge of it.

I guess, counter query: why does the (presumably) first 30 minutes of DA2 feel less meaty than the first 30 minutes of DA:O?

oilypenguin wrote:

can anyone tell me what they found enjoyable in the combat?

Teleporting rogues. I've seen a lot of awesome things lately (screaming magic in a dragon's face, tanks with BUNKERS ON TOP, Dante beating the snot out of Captain America), but this definitely tops them all. Well, maybe not screaming magic in a dragon's face, but it's pretty damn close.

To cement this more in gameplay, I found the rogue to be a lot more rewarding in this than in DA:O, and I have a direct comparison since I just finished Orzammar last night with my Rogue Warden. It's not an effectiveness issue, it's just a feedback issue. The rogue in DA:O is brutal, mine can tear enemies to shreds in seconds, but it just lacks the cool factor. She slowly strides up to them (possibly eating a few spells while doing so), then saunters around behind them, and then starts repeatedly backstabbing with an animation that looks marginally different from her normal attack. Compare that with the DA2 rogue which is like a flipping ninja, teleporting behind enemies, throwing out stunning toxin bottles (with a roundhouse kick no less), and stabbing with literally explosive force. It's just so much more awesome.

Re: cooldowns - I am having the same experience as SpacePPoliceman. My party in DA:O enters combat, blows literally all their cooldowns, wipes out half the enemy force, then takes 2 minutes to mop up the rest with standard attacks because all their abilities have 60+ second cooldowns, which is just boring. And god help me if I have to use Vessel of the Spirit on Wynne, flipping 300 second cooldown. Sure it makes her into a living font of healing, but watching that timer tick down is painful at times.

oilypenguin wrote:

I tried the mage and the 2h warrior and was simply bored to tears by the whole process. It felt like WoW only less complex, I was waiting for cooldowns to finish and then spamming abilities as they came up. You could say the same thing about DAO, I suppose but DA2 just didn't feel as meaty.

It felt much easier to me. Autoattacks (or attack button mashes?) seem to make up a bigger part of combat early. The simplified trees mean that there is less ability diversity till late game, and thus there is going to be a lot less management of stamina/mana. I know that my 2hand warrior in DAO was almost always out of stamina during the midpoint of long battles throughout the entire gameplay. With the DA2 demo, I never had to worry about this. I'm hoping that this is only indicative of the demo being purposely made more accessable than what the actual product is going to be like. If not, combat is going to be fairly dull till we get near the end and have our action bar filled up with abilities.

You could say the same thing about DAO, I suppose but DA2 just didn't feel as meaty.

On the console, there was a big difference -- it played much more like an action game than the Xbox version of DAO.

On the PC, which seems to be what most of us care about, to me it felt like DAO, but faster and and more fun to watch. Command inputs were carried out more quickly and the new animations made it feel like I was controlling a scene of actual combat rather than moving around miniatures on a board and seeing them swing swords aimlessly at each other.

As for the waiting for cooldowns thing, yeah, when you don't have a lot of abilities to work with, that's the case (as it is the case in DAO, and in WoW, and in any other game with a similar combat model). As you can see at the very start of the demo and towards the end, once you have a few more abilities that starts to change, just as it does in any other game with this style of combat. Even there, though, you only barely had enough abilities to start to see the complexity that is promised if you read through the ability trees. As your characters develop, there will be a lot more planning about timing, positioning, etc, as you have to plan for ability synergy, crowd control, aggro management, and (on the hardest difficulty) managing friendly fire on AOE abilities.

Or more simply, as SpacePPoliceman said

I guess, counter query: why does the (presumably) first 30 minutes of DA2 feel less meaty than the first 30 minutes of DA:O?

but really you could substitute in any number other games with this style of combat, including WoW for the first, oh, 40 or 50 levels.

EDIT:

Oh and this:

To cement this more in gameplay, I found the rogue to be a lot more rewarding in this than in DA:O, and I have a direct comparison since I just finished Orzammar last night with my Rogue Warden.

But I already posted extensive thoughts on this a few pages back. Suffice to say, rogues (even as archers) are night and day more interesting to control than in DAO, and thats with the limited amount of abilities you have to play with in the demo compared to a fully leveled rogue in DAO.

On waiting for cooldowns, it seems like there's two approaches:
1) As a limit to how fast you can damage something.
2) As a valuable ability to use in the right situation.

The DA2 demo seemed more like 1, what I remember of DA:O would be 2 where you need to stun someone who's a great danger to you.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:

I guess, counter query: why does the (presumably) first 30 minutes of DA2 feel less meaty than the first 30 minutes of DA:O?

Rose tinted glasses from completing the first one twice? =)

It's a fair question. I guess it may all be a matter of perception. During the first part of the demo where you're slaughtering hordes left and right, I was bored because there was nothing tactical about it. I waited until they got close, used an ability that hit them all at once, showered in gore, rinse, repeat (minus the rinsing). Then it transitioned into having only a single ability and slowly leveling up? *yawn* It simply wasn't fun.

This might be where the rose-tinted glasses come in but once I learned how methodical I needed to be to win battles on DAO I never worried about cooldowns because I was hopping from character to character trying to get them to do what I wanted. I didn't have to sit and watch cooldowns tick so I could use them.

@Coldtouched: Maybe my problem is that it was too easy?

@Ahrez: I will try a rogue this weekend, thanks.

ahrezmendi wrote:

The Truth

This. I've played the demo a few times now and rogue is just fun. I found myself pausing more in combat to coordinate each of my rogue's move. It was like playing Nightcrawler, lol. I'm also playing through DA:O right now (cementing my final game import, I wanted to make sure that I had a 3some with Isabela And Leilianna and see if that gets addressed in DA2 :)) and the combat in DA2, from what I've seen, is just so much more fun. I'm looking forward to raising the difficulty and really seeing what it's like when it comes out.

ahrezmendi wrote:

Teleporting rogues. I've seen a lot of awesome things lately (screaming magic in a dragon's face, tanks with BUNKERS ON TOP, Dante beating the snot out of Captain America), but this definitely tops them all. Well, maybe not screaming magic in a dragon's face, but it's pretty damn close.

Screaming magic in a dragon's face = Skyrim

Dante pwning Captain America = MvC3

Tanks with bunkers on top = ?

Also, I wholeheartedly agree that these things are awesome.

Coldtouch wrote:
oilypenguin wrote:

I tried the mage and the 2h warrior and was simply bored to tears by the whole process. It felt like WoW only less complex, I was waiting for cooldowns to finish and then spamming abilities as they came up. You could say the same thing about DAO, I suppose but DA2 just didn't feel as meaty.

It felt much easier to me. Autoattacks (or attack button mashes?) seem to make up a bigger part of combat early. The simplified trees mean that there is less ability diversity till late game, and thus there is going to be a lot less management of stamina/mana. I know that my 2hand warrior in DAO was almost always out of stamina during the midpoint of long battles throughout the entire gameplay. With the DA2 demo, I never had to worry about this. I'm hoping that this is only indicative of the demo being purposely made more accessable than what the actual product is going to be like. If not, combat is going to be fairly dull till we get near the end and have our action bar filled up with abilities.

I'v always wondered about the dual limitations of cooldown and stamina. By and large, abilities already have to be balanced in terms of gross impact using the cooldown timer. As far as I can tell, the only useful function the spellpoint and stamina bar served was to give you action penalties in terms of gulping down the various potions, which were invariably dead easy to produce en masse.

In games like D&D where the convention comes from, spellpoints were used to limit usage of abilities across multiple encounters, but since that's not happening in DA2, it seems to me that the original and most pressing use of the mechanic has up and flown away. With regenerating mana and stamina, the only thing delayed recovery does between encounters is to kill the game's pacing.

A 2Handed Warrior without Stamina in DAO was essentially an attacking machine with just his basic attack going for him. There's not really a lot of game to be had out of him at that point.

Scratched wrote:

On waiting for cooldowns, it seems like there's two approaches:
1) As a limit to how fast you can damage something.
2) As a valuable ability to use in the right situation.

The DA2 demo seemed more like 1, what I remember of DA:O would be 2 where you need to stun someone who's a great danger to you.

Agreed, exactly the reason why Vessel of the Spirit has a 300 second cooldown.

So far my take away from the demo is that I'm going to enjoy DA2 for different reasons than I enjoy DA:O, which makes me happy. I would like to enjoy playing DA:O a few more times, try out different routes and characters, and it's emphasis on tactics and planning are perfect for that. Even if it lacks the wow factor, it's extremely gratifying to spend 10 minutes working out the perfect set of custom rules for my party, send them into battle, and see my plan unfold. On the DA2 front, it's also extremely gratifying to see my rogue fly around like a ninja on speed, ripping things to shreds, it's just satisfying in a Bayonetta sort of way, and not a Baldur's Gate sort of way.

Speaking of custom rules, I need to respect my entire party. My warden has at least 3 tactics slots that are unusable, Wynne has 2, Alistair has 2 or 3, and Shale has 4 or 5. I could get Poison Making and see how these acid vials actually work, 'cause they sure don't sell for much.

EDIT:

BNice wrote:

Tanks with bunkers on top = ?

C&C Generals, the Chinese ultimate tank can upgrade itself to have bunkers on top of it, which you can then load with rocket troops and get a tank which can slaughter both ground and air. Game. Over.

oilypenguin wrote:

@Coldtouched: Maybe my problem is that it was too easy?

Well, to say the demo is easy is an understatement. We fight a lot of simple enemies that seem to only shoot arrows or autoattack. You can AA grind them all down without any real fear. All enemies can be solo killed (if needed). It's not like there is a anti-magic ballbuster (like a revenant) and 4 adds that are too tough to solo. The enemy casters were incredibly frail and the enemy archers can't seem to figure out to switch to melee if needed. The first ogre fight is exaggerated for cinematic effect and the second is easy to tank&spank/kite.

As a free demo, I would expect low difficulty to allow a cursory feel of the game to transfer to the new player. The problem is that a lot of people who played DAO are tainted by their expectation of difficulty, and I admit to being guilty of this as well. The first ogre fight in DAO can be tough depending on your main character class. Just imagine if the game threw that at a new player so early. They might say "this is way too difficult" or "too time consuming to master the mechanics" and never attempt to go further down the rabbit hole.

The difficulty of combat has obviously been rebalanced so that normal is much easier. I believe the intention is that on normal the player is expected to only control their own character for the most part and play it as an action RPG. On higher difficulty levels it will be more important to control the entire party, but of course on normal it means that an experienced player controlling the entire party at all times will find the combat quite easy. Also the demo shows you early parts of the game which are supposed to be relatively easy anyway.

Now as for playing it as a single character action RPG, I have mixed feelings about it. First of all I found that support builds were indeed quite boring to play and definitely suffered from long cooldowns and nothing to do. I think the most fun abilities for a single character are AoEs like the warrior's Scythe or the mage's Fireball, because there you have to think a little bit about lining it up and placement. But the nice thing about having a party is that if you blow all your cooldowns you can just switch to another character and play with them. In Origins for the easier fights I often found myself initially controlling my character, a rogue, at the beginning of a fight and then switching to a mage when there wasn't much to do.

Here's a question: Based on the demo, how would you describe DA2 to a newcomer?

I'm trying to get my head straight with expectations management. It's all well comparing it to DAO, but how does it stand up by itself.