Friday, August 5, 2011
Back to the Free Marches
Hey Dragon Age II fans, there is more Dragon Age II out there for you to make out with! That's right, the game's latest DLC, "Legacy", is here. What's it all about? What do I get out of it? Is it worth the hefty 800 point pricetag? Are these jeans "cool", as the kids say? I'm sure all of these questions and more are burning up your brain, so let me give you some answers. I'm even going to save the spoilers for the comments section!
First, let's get this answer out of the way: no, your jeans are not cool. Only Bugle Boy jeans are cool. Now...on to "Legacy"!
It doesn't matter where in the campaign your character is situated in order to trigger the content- Hawke can be scrambling for coin in Act I or standing listlessly in his/her estate after the game's end. Conveniently, "Legacy" begins when you interact with a statue that appears in Hawke's current home- it leads to a cutscene between Varric and Cassandra Pentaghast, wherein she inquires about an adventure he's neglected to mention...and so the adventure begins.
I will say this: while you are able to play "Legacy" at any point, after one playthrough you'll see that certain minor occurrences in the DLC are effected by Hawke's...err, family situation. Meaning, if you play with a post-campaign character, it will be evident that there will be certain benefits to playing again with a Hawke mired in Act I or early Act II. Likewise, there will be little bonuses to bringing along certain party members- story bonuses, really, if you care about that sort of thing. Which...why wouldn't you? I mean, what kind of person are you?
The gist is this: the Carta, that wacky gang of dwarven criminals, has been attacking your home and family. Varric traces them to a camp in the Vimmark Mountains, and this is where the action begins. As Hawke tries to discover the motive behind the attack, she's drawn into her family history, Grey Warden history, darkspawn history...hell, even the history of Thedas, the Chantry, and beyond. Much of the story concerns Malcolm, Hawke's father, and I loved the fleshing out of the family. I like my Hawke a lot, and I'd like to see her story continue; whether it will in Dragon Age III is a bit impossible to predict, but at least BioWare seems intent on providing some damn beefy DLC to satisfy.
And pretty beefy "Legacy" is- it's a few hours' worth of content, no doubt. Why, I even heard tale of one player who took 8 hours to complete it on the HARD setting (by "heard tale", I mean "read online"). There are bosses to battle, sidequests to complete, decisions to make (speculation in the comments!), puzzles to solve, and lots of loot to grab. Many of the gameplay gripes folks had after playing DA II have been resolved here: repeating dungeons? None to be found. All of the areas are brand-spanking new- from the desolate surface in the mountains to the murky, partially-submerged Deep Roads, none of this has been seen before, and none of it repeats.
Enemies are much tougher here than in the game proper, and the predictable "wave" attacks have been abolished. Combat requires more strategy, and I definitely got my ass kicked plenty. Genlocks (both regular and alpha) finally make an appearance, as do alpha hurlocks- both have been redesigned to fit the DA II aesthetic, and both bring the pain. Having a healer in your party is absolutely essential, and while you do pick up some potions along the way, it's a good idea to stock up on whatever you need before beginning "Legacy" as there are no shops throughout and you only get one chance to return to Kirkwall during the quest.
One of the best things about "Legacy" is also one of the smallest: that it's fully-voiced, every character. It's kind of a drag to play DLC and in the cutscenes, party members simply stare blankly because no new dialogue has been recorded. In "Legacy", however, there's all-new dialogue and party banter. New party banter! It's a highlight of the Dragon Age series, and "Legacy" doesn't disappoint at all.
In fact, overall it doesn't disappoint at all. While it's not essential content for a Dragon Age II experience, fans will certainly find plenty to love in both story and gameplay...and I can't help but think that the stage is being subtly set for Dragon Age III. Or maybe I should just say that they've got me speculating about it. I should also say that I'm pretty bad at speculating, so maybe none of this will have to do with Dragon Age III. I should also say that I unapologetically love Dragon Age, but then you probably already knew that.