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How Legacy hints at Dragon Age's future

BioWare discusses "hot-button items".

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Image credit: Eurogamer

The Dragon Age 2 Legacy DLC shows BioWare is listening to fan feedback, the developer has said.

Fantasy role-playing game Dragon Age 2, which launched earlier this year, polarized fans, and was seen as a move away from the more tactical, old school RPG trappings of the first game.

Legacy, though, "goes a long way towards demonstrating that we are listening, that we are aware of the weaknesses of DA2, and that we will continue to address them," lead designer Mike Laidlaw wrote on the BioWare forum in a thread titled: "Dragon Age 2 reception and community discussed."

"Pause is given as people wonder if, just maybe, Legacy is a hint that Dragon Age is not trying to be Call of Duty, or Devil May Cry or whatever other franchise people have prognosticated in dire tones and with furious shaking of head will be the future of DA," he continued.

"And that's a great development; and one that I think required us to both put up and shut up. Saying we were listening would always be less effective than releasing something that demonstrates it."

In a later post, Laidlaw revealed "it will be a bit" before he is ready to discuss game design for Dragon Age 3, which BioWare is hiring staff for.

But he did delve into four "hot-button items" sparked by Dragon Age 2 feedback: area re-use, wave combats, impact of choice and follower customisation. With each of these, Laidlaw hopes to improve matters for DA3.

"There's more issues out there, for sure, but those are some that I'm comfortable talking about at this point," he said.

Later in the same thread, cinematic designer John Epler said Legacy's encounters provide insight into how they will work in future DA games.

"I think there's certainly an understanding among the team that the encounters in the base game felt a little too - well, gamey," he said. "Quite aside from the parachuting Templars, there were opportunities for encounters to feel a little bit better tied into the narrative that we weren't able to capitalize on, and I feel that in a game like either of the Dragon Age games, you need to have the narrative in mind.

"Therefore, while I can't comment with the authority of Mike (as I am but a cinematic designer), I feel that Legacy would be far more in line than Dragon Age 2's base campaign with how encounters are going to be looked at, going forward."

Some more tidbits of information from Laidlaw:

"Loot needs some loving overall. I'm leaning towards 'less, but more special,' but we'll see what develops."

"If I'm going to piss you guys off, it's going to be because I still firmly believe that RPGs do need to be more accessible to new players. Not dumbed down, not 'consolized' (whatever that means. There are insanely complex games on the console), not diminished, but made less imposing and less terrifying to new players. In part because I want more people to play Dragon Age, and in part because there have been a lot of improvements in gameplay and UI design in the past 15 years, and we can learn from them.

"So on that point, I'm sure we can all agree to disagree, so long as the end product is more choice-driven, offers more 'twiddle' to the player's experience in terms of equipment, offers satisfying, constructed encounters and a deep story. DAII clearly didn't deliver on all fronts for you guys. For some it did, but I'm truly, deeply cognizant of the parts that are weak, and while we're not going to agree on everything, there's a game out there that's better than both Origins and DAII, and I'll be damned if the talented folks of the DA team can't find it."

"DA II is not a 'simple' game when held up in comparison to the current crop of games out there. It is, however, more simple than Origins, and I understand why people are upset about that. It doesn't mean the solution is to just revert to Origins, however."

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