In Dragon Age 2, fighting can be handled one of two ways, either as a fast and fluid action RPG or as a stop-and-start strategical RPG.
To illustrate the difference, BioWare videoed the same fight within the PC version of Dragon Age 2 approached, one after the other, in both ways.
Dragon Age 2 lead designer Mike Laidlaw presents the footage.
He picks Hawke to be a Rogue for the first, action playthrough. He charges into a pack of baddies and flips and vanishes his way around them, slashing and stabbing with his dual-wielded short swords. Half-way through the battle he switches to the supporting party members to conjure covering spells and arrow fire. Hawke comes close to death, but after a quick and bloody battle he prevails. "The Rogue really shines here," comments Laidlaw.
Hawke remains a Rogue for the second, strategical playthrough. This time the game is paused before tackling the oncoming pack. The warrior in the party opts to taunt the onrushing enemies, the mage sets a Glyph of Paralysis trap and the archer and rogue prepare stun bombs for the two opposing sets of archers. The fight takes longer and is a jerkier, stop-start experience. Strangely, hero Hawke manages to come even closer to death this time around; what should have been an organised slaughter turns out to be no more effective than the first reckless, action RPG romp.
"So there you have it," Laidlaw concludes. "Dragon Age 2 can be played with the smooth responsive controls of an action RPG or more tactically, pausing and controlling your actions that way. Or of course, any combination of the two."
Also worth pointing out are the new graphics, new animations and the new user interface. Do you like them?