Dragon Age 2
Gamescom 2010: Dragon Age II Preview - Dungeons and Dragons
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Fiddling with a proven successful franchise formula can often be risky business, but as Ray Muzyka, BioWare CEO, said himself when talking with us at Gamescom, if you don’t change and innovate, a franchise can run the risk of becoming stale. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario if ever there was one. For the sequel of the popular Dragon Age: Origins though, it seems as if overhaul is possibly a more appropriate term for the sequel than update, although, with that being said, underneath it all, still beats the heart of the original franchise that captured the masses last year.

David Silverman, BioWare’s Dragon Age Brand Manager, explained to the masses at Gamescom that they really had three distinct, key areas that they were looking to improve in the sequel: the visuals, making the game distinctly unique; the combat, making it more involved; and finally, the story-telling.

Dragon Age 2 opts to use a framed-narrative story device to tell its story - essentially meaning, it uses a story to tell another story, as seen in such iconic pieces of cinema as The Usual Suspects and The Princess Bride. This not only allows BioWare to track 10 years of Hawke’s life, jumping around to key moments and cutting out all of the filler, but according to Greg Zeschuk, BioWare co-founder, it allows them to put you in a position where you can change the past depending on your actions.

The framed narrative story telling device also allows BioWare to show the long reaching aspects of your choice making in the now, rather than having to wait 30 hours till you’ve completed the game to see the effects. Yes, choice will still play a major part and in the short gameplay demonstration alone, BioWare were tasked with numerous choices: “Should you let Bethany - Hawke’s sister - lead the charge?” and “What should Hawke do about the downed ally?”
The combat, as Silverman said, is more refined and more involved this time around, but that doesn’t mean it’s now a hack n’ slash title, oh no. “We wanted people to think like a general and fight like a Spartan,” said Silverman, pointing out that not only could you use the tactical view and same kind of pause and play mechanics from the original, but you could now play it as a more of an action RPG. 

The gameplay aspect of the demonstration took place on the peak of an unknown hill, as Hawke and Bethany take on the forces of evil as they get ambushed from all angles. After slicing their way through the waves of foes and getting the huge hulking ogre close to the doors of death, Silverman highlighted that mages can now do the elaborate finishing moves on the higher level bosses this time too. Right on cue, our mage uses the all new Magic Death Blow known as “Crushing Prison” to rip the ogre in half. Brutal!

“Bullshit! That’s not what really happened!” said a female character, as the game switched back to the now, showing off the potential of the framed narrative device. “I’m not interested in legends, I’m here to find out the truth!” she shrieked as the exchange between “The Seeker” and some portly gentlemen reveals the overarching plot of Dragon Age 2. It’s common knowledge that Hawke becomes the Champion of Kirkwall, but mapping out how he became it and why he’s needed so desperately now is what will define Dragon Age 2’s experience.

“You just saw the legend of your character,” noted Silverman, stating that the exaggerated truth that we just saw may not have been entirely accurate. So then, it’s time for the truth and as the gentlemen telling the original story begins to delve deeper into the truth of the actual events of what happened that day, the action switches back to the battlefield.

This time we notice that there are more allies here, including Hawke’s brother, his mother and a couple more that Hawke met along the way, and so the exaggeration of the previous story starts to become apparent.

Getting a glimpse at the abilities section before we switch back to the action, Silverman points out the main difference between this and the original. “Rather than giving you an entire Excel spreadsheet, we now have a tree system that is easier to navigate and understand,” said Silverman, “The really cool thing is that when you get to mid to high level, you can actually customise and upgrade certain abilities that you really like,” meaning you can upgrade the power and area of effect of the Inferno spell for instance.

Flicking back to the action, we notice the exaggeration play out even more, with it taking more hits to kill the foes and this time, a white haired beastie with red horns arrives on the scene. After pulverising one of our party members into the ground, Flemeth, the “Witch of the Wilds,” comes to the rescue and we get a chance to check out the dialogue system in all its glory. 

The dialogue system in the sequel has seen a much needed revamp. Gone are the reams of text and the silent protagonist - which felt so 1985 - and in comes a system that’s like Mass Effect’s… but better. Uh oh, yes, I did just say that. So what makes it better? Well, as BioWare pointed out, it’s impossible to tell sometimes from a piece of text, just what the character’s tone will be. Enter the new “Emotion Wheel,” which is like Mass Effect’s  dialogue wheel, but instead of just using text, it uses emoticons to portray what the character will say as well. On this occasion, “peaceful,” “sarcastic” and “aggressive” were indicated next to the text; three of many, according to Silverman.

“Something even as simple as choosing dialogue options with the emotion wheel will now affect how your character behaves by default,” said Silverman. “If I choose, say, a lot of sarcastic options and that’s always my go to, to be sarcastic, you’ll see Hawke starting to be sarcastic in his own right. When I go into battle, he’ll use sarcastic expressions when he starts fighting; or when I meet new characters for the first time, during the introduction, he’ll start being a little more sarcastic because that’s how you’ve shaped Hawke.”

And so, after a brief exchange with Flemeth and Hawke’s band of merry men, and a tough choice, the sequence comes to a close.

While still maintaining the charm of the original with its choices, its combat and its rich game world lore, Dragon Age 2 has ripped up the Dragon Age rulebook and stuck pages of Mass Effect in it. With a singular pivotal entity now leading the things, a Mass Effecty dialogue system - which is a big improvement if you ask us - and a brand new way to tell the story, this RPG sequel is not only looking to please new fans, but draw in an entirely new crowd by improving its core. It is still Dragon Age as we all know and love it, but the new systems implemented look to bring the dated aspects of the original into the 21st century.

Dragon Age II is scheduled for a March 8th and March 11th release in North America and Europe respectively.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #1 by Bell 2d
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 02:19:50 PM
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This Game looks quite amazing, Gonna have to pick this up when released on March 11th and complete the previous Dragon Age

Forum Posts: 68
Comment #2 by Kaifory
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 02:21:18 PM
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A few typos in there.

Forum Posts: 7114
Comment #3 by Opiate42
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 02:25:21 PM
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Forum Posts: 13
Comment #5 by Vryolaka
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 02:38:16 PM
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Can't wait for this one!!

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #6 by HooolaHovito
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 03:03:31 PM
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@4 you're a douche. With that said, I agree with #1 I still need to finish the first one and this will def. be a day one for me.

Forum Posts: 2488
Comment #7 by ponypo2001
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 03:05:33 PM
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#4 is more than a douche. I hope he's a banned douche. Stupid idiot. Back on topic, I'm really looking forward to this. Just hope the combat feels a little better this time. It didn't cross over to the 360 as smoothly as I think it should.

Forum Posts: 678
Comment #8 by Tomscfc
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 03:06:01 PM
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cannot wait, i have completed the first one soo many times march cant come fast enough.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #9 by Mecha Aizen
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 03:13:17 PM
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Forum Posts: 1
Comment #10 by AcousticKestrel
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 03:47:07 PM
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Isnt crushing prison already a spell?

Forum Posts: 813
Comment #11 by XxStuartxX 1990
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 03:49:28 PM
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@4 WTF

OT: graphics look better but thats not saying much

Forum Posts: 14
Comment #12 by juanchu77
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 03:55:46 PM
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I gues the next DLC have a lot of explaning to do....

Forum Posts: 584
Comment #13 by Captain Urahara
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 04:13:10 PM
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@4 Enjoy getting banned

@10 Yeah, Crushing Prison is already a spell in DA. I guess it can be used as a finishing move now too. Kinda cool =)

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #14 by CheesyToast111
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 04:29:11 PM
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Im just glad your character speaks in this one! His bland emotionless face in the first really creeped me out.

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #15 by oliver244
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 04:32:09 PM
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Sounds alot better than the original and thats crazy because DAO was amazing.

Forum Posts: 292
Comment #16 by ViNyLek
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 04:37:03 PM
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Sounds like an improvement! But you did not really explain a whole much about how new fighting system will work other than mentioning old tactical circles and new view will come into play.... Still defo collector's edition day one buy just like with previous^^

Forum Posts: 769
Comment #17 by The Elite Elite
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 04:38:12 PM
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"The dialogue system in the sequel has seen a much needed revamp."

Um, not that I hate the Mass Effect dialogue system, but what was so bad about DA's system? I had no problem with it in KOTOR and I have no problem with it in DA:O. At least with that system I know right away exactly what I'm going to say. With ME's system, sometimes I've picked an option and what comes out of Shep's mouth was nothing like what I imagined was going to be said. (Didn't happen often but it did happen)

Now, the only problem with DA to me was the combat system. My choice of a combat system is shooter, but that obviously won't work with a game like DA. So I'd accept something similar to Oblivion's system. Outside of that I had no real complaints about DA. Fortunately the change of dialogue systems is a small thing to me. So overall cannot wait for DA2. (Even more excited for that than I am for ME3)

Forum Posts: 170
Comment #18 by joshflip1989
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 04:40:18 PM
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Can't wait for this.

Forum Posts: 170
Comment #19 by joshflip1989
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 04:44:17 PM
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Also at #4, Delete that comment someone.

Forum Posts: 63
Comment #20 by SoulReaver626
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 04:55:07 PM
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Loved the first one,but there's no doubt that there's a LOT of room for improvement.I'll be very upset if this one has outdated graphics like the first.The screenshots I've seen are either form cutscenes or aren't good enough to tell.Either way-this is a buy for me.

Forum Posts: 57
Comment #21 by LostPatriot
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 05:00:14 PM
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Just got hooked one the first game and can't wait for the second.

Forum Posts: 141
Comment #22 by Rastaman20
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 05:17:47 PM
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yea sumone needs to delete comment 4

and yes looks good

Forum Posts: 224
Comment #23 by Balamatrix
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 05:38:04 PM
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still havent touched a single add on from the first.i think ima stop bsin and go buy the first one instead of renting it and get all the add ons and get it completed before 2 comes out.this is a great series and this next installment looks very good

Forum Posts: 206
Comment #24 by MetalMudkip
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 05:58:58 PM
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Oh, more Bioware games with more talking than actual game play, awesome.

Forum Posts: 759
Comment #25 by PANIC ATTACK 10
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 06:07:46 PM
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didnt really care for the 1st one. still need to beat it & the dlc. i'm more of a sacred2 fan, so not enough here to hold my interest.

story driven rpgs suffer from lack of customisation & exploration,which you find in sacred2.

Forum Posts: 3
Comment #26 by Kakushu
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 06:18:43 PM
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Looking good. Glad theres finally a voice for the speech options you pick now like Mass Effect. It was annoying being a warden that could destroy everything but couldn't bring himself to talk? xD

Forum Posts: 4
Comment #27 by Warsquatch
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 06:28:41 PM
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A day 1 buy for me. Im a huge fan.

Forum Posts: 755
Comment #28 by l.maciver
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 08:23:18 PM
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please remove the 4th comment, its just as bad possble worse than 1st.

I still have to emurse myself in the first dragon age. waiting for the full package on a disc before i do.

Forum Posts: 662
Comment #29 by Pieville
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 08:30:11 PM
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This is starting to look really good, I enjoyed the first one though I need to still buy some DLC.
I wonder how Flemeth survived me sticking my Starfang straight into her Dragonic head!

Forum Posts: 17
Comment #31 by FuriousAli007
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 09:14:50 PM
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Ok it's time to get moderators for the comment section.

Forum Posts: 110
Comment #32 by daniz3pic
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 09:26:04 PM
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@2 Dan was just really excited.

Forum Posts: 125
Comment #33 by BuckfastNI
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 09:39:05 PM
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Looking and sounding good. There's definately a change in the visual style. I am pleased with the more action RPG description. The best RPG ever made, Demon's Souls for PS3 gets the balance just perfect. Let's hope Bioware can pull it off. I hope so. Also, look what the more combat focused style did for Mass Effect.

Forum Posts: 2333
Comment #34 by KNIGHTOFSERA
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 11:00:57 PM
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I hope this isnt just a medieval mass effect, I thought Dragon age was way better than mass effect 1 and 2....and I really dont care to import any of their features really (except maybe graphical quality)

Forum Posts: 443
Comment #35 by indoorblakininja
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 11:27:22 PM
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what did 4 say??? do you think this game can get rater E for everyone XD

Forum Posts: 63
Comment #36 by SoulReaver626
Friday, September 03, 2010 @ 11:35:22 PM
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@35.No 4 was about a mile long and 99% blank space and pretty much said nothing.You had to scroll and scroll to get past it.Immature kid.

Forum Posts: 105
Comment #37 by Ninjamonkey6493
Saturday, September 04, 2010 @ 12:02:40 AM
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What did #4 post? it was removed and im curious because i wanna gang up on him too!

Forum Posts: 1885
Comment #38 by TriRock
Saturday, September 04, 2010 @ 12:33:40 AM
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Yet another Bioware first day buy for me. :)

Forum Posts: 10
Comment #39 by DEAD 3Y3 TBONE
Saturday, September 04, 2010 @ 12:34:02 AM
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Mean, this game gets released right before my bday. Love Bioware

Forum Posts: 359
Comment #40 by mejimmeh45
Saturday, September 04, 2010 @ 04:14:14 AM
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i still cant decide on getting number 1 because of the combat system. is it still good becuase it sounds like a great game but the combat looks not very fun. should i get it?

Forum Posts: 126
Comment #41 by I Redbush I
Saturday, September 04, 2010 @ 05:18:52 AM
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@29 im sure ive read that this starts with Hawke escaping Lothering before it is taken by darkspawn, so im sure Flemeth meets up with him before she is killed in the timeline of the first

as far as the article is concerned, loved everything i read. was already a day one buy anyways, but this just reassured that even more. im hoping that being BioWare, they will have a CE for this like the first, if not no biggie....just a thought

Forum Posts: 144
Comment #42 by gerowniko
Saturday, September 04, 2010 @ 06:02:13 AM
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@#40 Dragon Age: Origins is one of the best games available on xbox 360. So yes, you should definitely get it, unless you absolutely hate RPG's.

Forum Posts: 566
Comment #43 by IVIR BLOBBY
Saturday, September 04, 2010 @ 06:53:00 AM
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no.2 Wow who cares Christ, its good news dont nitpick your not big because you can spot a few errors. hate the internet forums for people like you

cant wait for this

Forum Posts: 126
Comment #44 by I Redbush I
Saturday, September 04, 2010 @ 07:01:44 AM
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@#40 i certainly agree with #42, one of my favorite games i have played for 360. ive done 2or3 playthroughs of the main game and 1 of Awakening and im currently doing another of each, so should most definitely pick this game up, completely worth it

Forum Posts: 20
Comment #45 by Wils
Saturday, September 04, 2010 @ 09:46:03 AM
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is DA1 any good? it always sounded interesting in theory to me but I saw my brother playing it on PS3 and good god, it had some of the ugliest most outdated looking last gen graphics I've ever seen on a current gen console, which kinda put me off trying it out to be honest, and yes, I know gameplay is the key ingredient, but still, graphics do play an important part in the formula too, especially in a game you're gonna be looking at for around 100 hours minimum

Forum Posts: 544
Comment #46 by SteamboatWi11y
Saturday, September 04, 2010 @ 10:33:26 AM
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Still finishing up the first DA and the DLC. Been loving the ME series from Bioware also so this is gonna be a must buy for me. Seems like march will be a big month with this and From Dust also supposed to be releasing.

Forum Posts: 545
Comment #47 by lizard9979
Tuesday, September 07, 2010 @ 08:56:58 AM
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@24 - It is called a ROLE PLAYING game. Not action. there is a reason games are delineated by genre.

@45 - Yes. The graphics are the weakest point of the game, but do not let that get in the way of one of the best stories ever made for a video game. Pick it up my friend. You will not be disappointed.

Cannot wait for II. I still need to finish the 1st and actually play the DLC's that I bought some time ago.

Forum Posts: 522
Comment #48 by PrinceOfThralls
Tuesday, September 07, 2010 @ 05:56:18 PM
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I hate it not to be able to read what #4 posted.

Anyway, I'm still thinking about getting the first one and now the second is on its way...

Forum Posts: 6
Comment #49 by Rewave Acid
Tuesday, September 07, 2010 @ 08:33:23 PM
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@47 dude, as much as i agree with your rating of dragon age, there are no grounds whatsoever for saying the story is good. the predictability and generic tone made me so disappointed, especially at how it's the same story as mass effect 2 in all but name, and that its little side stories were nowhere near as good as the peak of kotor and mass effect 1. A good 'story' is bioshock standard- riveting, twisting, turning.

Forum Posts: 330
Comment #50 by Dragon83uk
Wednesday, September 08, 2010 @ 05:25:47 AM
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I really wanna pick this up, although considering the missus is pregnant with twins that are due on it's the release day I really doubt I'll be getting it! :p

Forum Posts: 330
Comment #51 by Dragon83uk
Wednesday, September 08, 2010 @ 05:29:35 AM
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@#48, from what #36 is saying, #4 was just some idiot posting a page of blank space.

Forum Posts: 62
Comment #52 by ArcticNinja0418
Wednesday, September 08, 2010 @ 06:19:41 PM
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Going to pick this up, i still have to finish the first one with the DLC's..

I gave my Dragon Age up in goozex so i can hopefully buy Dragon Age game next month that comes with all the DLC's. Hopefully Gamestop didn't lie about that part

Forum Posts: 88
Comment #53 by Nesher Lavan
Thursday, September 09, 2010 @ 12:57:58 AM
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@48 yeah, I've been *thinking* about DA:O for some time; just never been fully convinced. But so far I like the published changes for DA 2 so I might skip the first and just go for the second.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #54 by Flukay
Thursday, September 09, 2010 @ 03:11:40 AM
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I cannot wait for this kriffin game.

Forum Posts: 662
Comment #55 by Pieville
Thursday, September 09, 2010 @ 04:28:30 AM
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@45 I didn't think the graphics weren't that bad, they could've been better but IMO it kind of suited the game.

Forum Posts: 25
Comment #56 by kaworuchan
Friday, September 10, 2010 @ 08:57:58 AM
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This looks absolutely lovely.

Let's hope that combat is easier to control than it was in the first one.

Let's also hope they add a couple of bisexuals you can romance, like they did in the first one. I'm a gay gamer, so I always love it when content like that makes it into mainstream video games, but that is just me. :-)

Forum Posts: 466
Comment #57 by Bubble Supreme
Friday, September 10, 2010 @ 11:49:43 AM
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I want this already!!! :D

Forum Posts: 10
Comment #58 by Or!on
Friday, September 10, 2010 @ 12:50:50 PM
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Its gonna be good to have full dialog, but I would rather have another Origins where i can make my own character from scratch. Nevermind.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #59 by Gradientterror
Wednesday, September 29, 2010 @ 09:31:33 PM
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Forum Posts: 6
Comment #60 by Benzboysl500
Tuesday, October 12, 2010 @ 11:26:23 AM
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I can't wait!

Forum Posts: 56
Comment #61 by Virus2Die
Sunday, October 24, 2010 @ 10:34:34 PM
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I hope the story will be good as the 1st one , the graphics could be a bit more sharper and more details ;)

Forum Posts: 12
Comment #62 by Xemnas
Tuesday, November 16, 2010 @ 02:16:10 AM
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Dragon Age 2 FOR THE WIN!!!!!!!

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Game Info
Electronic Arts


US March 08, 2011
Europe March 11, 2011

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