Corpse Camping the Dragon – Discontent and Whiny

In case you weren’t aware, this is the place where I rant about Dragon Age 2 and write humorous posts about my playthrough. I’m very good at the former and very bad at the latter. But that doesn’t stop me from trudging on, so stay a while and listen.

Merrill explaining why she likes about the alienage.

At this point in the game I have quite firmly settled on renaming DA2 into Side Quest 2, because that seems to be the primary focus of the game. This may be because side quests are so brilliantly done and narratively superior, or because the main story just simply sucks (well, they do have a better storyline, at least). For one thing, side quests do their job. They are supposed to be small pieces of the story that take your focus off the main quest and occupy you for just a little while, so you don’t get bored too quickly. Continuation isn’t important, but DA2 does a good job with it (how you complete side quests influences other side quests later on).

The main quest though…

Warning: The following post is very likely to contain Dragon Age 2 (and possible Dragon Age: Origins) spoilers. Continue at your own risk.

I’ve ranted quite a bit about the story before and I want to save some for the last post in the series, but I have to make a few remarks here. The main story in an RPG is supposed to be something on an epic, monumental scale. Something that makes you feel like a hero. The story in Dragon Age 2 doesn’t do that, it makes you feel like the local law-enforcement officer. It seems intent on portraying your story as something that happened during the events of the original game, but had no bearing on them. No bearing on anything really. Expectedly, such a narrative doesn’t work too well in an RPG setting.

But let’s put that huge, game-destroying flaw aside and focus on what you’re here for. You are here to find out what happened in the game, right? Oh, funny pictures? Well, I guess those are here too…

The viscount's replacement being gloomy.

I'd make a joke about feeling the same way when I play DA2, but I think we're past that point.

Continuing with the side quests, there was a particular one I thought I might enjoy. Mainly because I like the Deep Roads and this one promised a foray into them, but also because, well I like the Deep Roads.

On a side note, I realised exactly why I like those forsaken dwarven tunnels. Because it’s one of the rare moments in the game (the original one too) where the map layout and the levels actually make sense. BioWare, or really any modern RPG developer, seem to be cutting production costs by creating maps that are about the tenth of the size of the ones found in ye olde RPGs. And because they are so tiny, usually elongated to be able to advance the game, the developers have to find ways to make them seem bigger. Most of the time this is done by masking artificial barriers (the map’s edges) as natural ones. A pile of rocks, a collapsed mine shaft, a cliff, a pond, or the rotting carcass of a giraffe. Some of these attempts are more successful than others, but the matter of fact is that the smaller the map and the more artificial barriers you have, the less likely a player is to be fooled by the natural obstacles. Which in turn makes the game feel claustrophobic and cheap. But in the Deep Roads this doesn’t come into play nearly as much, as they are supposed to be suffocating and claustrophobic.

Note to developers: if you’re planning on skimping on level and environment development, have lots of dungeons and underground areas. It works, just look at Dungeon Siege 3. Now, where were we? Oh my, look at the time…

I was sent to Deep Roads on a simple extraction mission. Get the friendly and get out. Arriving there, it turned into a search and rescue mission, as we were informed of more friendlies in unknown locations. Upon scouting the area it became clear that the targets have expired and that this turned into a search and destroy mission. The tango’s dispatched, we successfully extracted the target and gone back for our reward. With it we bought two beers and shared them (there wasn’t enough for everyone) while exclaiming “Hooah!”.

Mucking about in the Deep Roads.

Side note: this side quest was a complete disappointment. Too much fluff, no substance.

Talking about side quest continuation, remember that idol we brought back from the first Deep Roads expedition and how it drove Varric’s brother mad until he was hospitalized via a swift kick in the rear? Now Varric wants to sell the estate which has become, quite expectedly, haunted. It seems I’m not only the local policeman, janitor and cleaning lady, but also the local ghost buster. Which is probably also the best job of the four.

So we go in, guns blazing, but it turns out guns don’t hurt ghosts. Until they materialise into a golem, that is. Though admittedly he took almost no damage at all. So I resorted to the old, tried and true tactic of running around and screaming like a little girl. But that doesn’t work very well when you’re the only one alive in your party and are a warrior with exactly zero ranged capability. I managed though, wearing heavy armor gave me just enough time to be able to chain-chug potions until the thing got tired of being poked with a dulled sword and collapsed. Varric found a piece of the idol in the pile of gravel and asked me if he could keep it. I told him that he can keep it as long as he promises to feed it, walk it and clean after it every day. We’ll see how he manages.

Fighting the evil golem spirit.

Helping Varric meant that I needed to give other companions a hand with their daily chores as well. Aveline (or the tanky bitch if you prefer) was accused of being soft on the guardsmen, so she took me on a patrol and proved that she isn’t by making me do the guard’s dirty work (because apparently I’m the judge on this one, not being biased and all). A bit of sniffing around and it turns out the old guard captain, who we had arrested for drug dealing and other shady business, was out and about, spreading lies and inciting a revolt against the guard. Being the nice guy I am I stood up for Aveline and told the guy that he can get bent. He didn’t want to, so we bent him by hand, after which I got scolded by the stern guard captain for not letting her deal with it. Now how am I supposed to care about anyone when the characters do stupid things like this.

Aveline scolding Hawke.

I guess she doesn't realise that I could have her fired at any moment. I am the champion after all. Oh wait, the Dragon Age simulator doesn't allow that command. Bleh...

And then there was Merrill, who urgently needed help with repairing the mirror she dragged straight out of DA:O. Being the evil guy that I am, I told her to go ahead and repair the mirror that sucked out the souls of countless people before her and make a deal with a demon, while she was at it. But we needed to travel to Sundermount for that. Oh well.

A quick trek over to the cave near the summit and we discovered that the Dalish keeper had imprisoned the demon we need inside her. Apparently, that was the only way she could keep it away from Merrill. Because imprisoning it inside a mountain wasn’t enough, yes. Naturally, the demon gets pissed, appears in it’s all demonic splendor and we are forced to slay it. Because it’s bound to the keeper, Merrill stabs her as well, just to be sure. You don’t want demons knocking on your door at 3 am, trust me.

Because I’ve replayed this part with my other character I knew that when facing the rest of the clan outside the cave you need to tread carefully, unless you want to kill the whole lot of them. I didn’t want to lose the vendor at Sundermount (that’s the only reason, I swear) so I wiggled my way out of getting attacked and successfully returned to Kirkwall. There will be consequences, no doubt. I just hope that it’s not in the form of demons knocking on my door at 3 am.

Merrill crushed after the Keeper's death.

That’s the full breadth of side questing for today. Since, I’ve already pissed off the proofreader tool, I’ll have to wrap up. More DA2 “fun” in the future posts.

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