BioWare has moved to calm concern that it has dumbed down the Dragon Age experience with the second game in the series, insisting combat is more tactical this time around than it was in the first game.
"There's always a danger of alienating the hardcore when you change anything – they wouldn't be the hardcore if they didn't truly love what was already there, lead designer Mike Laidlaw told The Guardian.
"But we wanted to make sure that we held onto the elements that made Dragon Age: Origins strong – party-based, tactical – even going so far as to replace spell-combos with cross-class combos so that now, when a mage freezes someone, a mage can't blow up that guy like you could in Origins; now a warrior or rogue has to get involved.
"So the whole party becomes part of this concert of death, which makes the game even more tactical.
"But the fact that now, you charge into combat and swing, rather than shuffling awkwardly into position, to me takes care of a convention we could do without."
Sprawling fantasy role-player Dragon Age II follows Hawke, a human hero. Mass Effect's dialogue wheel makes an appearance, and combat is more action-oriented.
All this has caused some fans to cry fowl, but BioWare is confident its design philosophy is sound.
"There was even some initial backlash," Laidlaw said, "with people asking: 'What, have you made it an action game?' The answer is, frankly, action games have been stealing from RPGs for the past five years – levelling up, and getting a badge so that you can get a new weapon, that's an RPG mechanic.
"So it's time that we, as a genre, took a look at some of those elements that action games have done exceptionally well and asked what we can learn from them."
Still not convinced? A Dragon Age II demo is out now.
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