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Posts in "All News" channel about:
Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening + Prima Official Strategy Guide
Feb 8, 2013
Everyone expects the Dragon Age 3: Inquisition, mostly because it's already been announced and therefore doubting it would be very silly. We know it'll be based on the Frostbite 2 engine, and thus has no excuse not to offer a rather bigger, more attractive world than Dragon Age 2's deserted city of chains. Everything else though, from story to design, is still under wraps. That's not going to stop us making a few wishes though, so here are some of the things we want to see...
Fix The Dragon Age 2 Problems, Obviously. You know the list. The re-used areas, the spider jump-scares, the empty streets of Kirkwall... Dragon Age 2's problems aren't exactly a secret, and while many of them can be put down to it feeling like a very rushed game, nobody wants to see them appearing again. Dragon Age 3 has no such excuse, with its development starting around two years ago according to the announcement letter, and no release date or even a single screenshot yet to be revealed.
Warning: Melee fighters in the first three rows may get wet.
A Song Of Guts And Maturity. For a series that supposedly owes such a creative debt to A Song Of Ice And Fire, the Dragon Age series - while not necessarily playing it safe - has always felt like a pretty sterile, unsurprising world. The first game established itself as something of a cliche storm when Loghain and his thunderface walked on to be the villain. Dragon Age 2, as much as it wanted to explore darker themes, often struggled by resorting to fantasy horror archetypes rather than anything with punch, with its attempts to do more - Hawke's mother for instance - often just coming across as silly.
In the wake of The Witcher 2, that's just not good enough. It's not a question of making Dragon Age a dark universe so much as actually living up to the darkness already written into it, instead of just claiming to be for adults and then cutting away to people having sex in their underpants or mistaking big gory combat hits for impactful violence. Geralt's controversy-shrugging adventures make it look like a cartoon in comparison, and without coming across as gratuitous. Well, mostly anyway.
The Inquisition title gives this sequel the perfect chance to really sink in deep with the demons and whatever we've already seen, but also tell dark, more relatable human stories of sin, corruption and consequence that put the player into tough moral places throughout. Speaking of which:
No Light/Dark Side Counter. Childish. Boring. Any system where you can commit atrocities and make up for it by handing over a few presents is a system in sore need of being ripped out and replaced with something more effective where deeds rather than integers are what counts.
'What's wron-' 'Morrigan just said she approved of my decision. I'm a terrible person!'
A Fresh And Motivating Story. Well, yes, obviously. However, specifically, more of a hybrid between Dragon Age 1 and 2 in terms of approach. Dragon Age 1 nailed the motivation, but the individual stories it told were fairly stock fantasy stuff. Dragon Age 2 braved new territory, but all too often gave little reason for the characters to be involved or even particularly care. Dragon Age 3 needs to do both.
Story And Game Integration. It also needs to actually play by its own rules. To pick one element, the Circle of Mages is an interesting idea in lore-terms, but one that the game routinely breaks over its knee by filling the world with blood mages on the grounds that mages are fun to fight, by having guards completely ignore you wandering around in a mage's robe and holding a mage's staff and having fireball battles in the streets of Kirkwall, and by the game simply not having the guts to instil spellcasting with the risk it's supposed to have. Mages can be taken over by demons from the Fade at any point? Yeah, right. Not if they're the player character of a 20+ hour RPG, they can't.
This kind of thing simply breaks the fiction, and even if you can find some "But Elves Are Nymphomaniac Nudists In The Lore!" type justification, makes the world far less interesting than if Bioware had actually changed things. Some things can obviously be handwaved. Making the entire plot of Dragon Age 2 unsupported by Dragon Age 2 can't. Dragon Age 3 needs to be built around the rules as established so far, rather than taking the easy road and hoping we just don't notice.
A mage? Who, me? Pffffffft....
Open World, Open Heart. The idea of setting an RPG in a city or other small, densely packed area isn't inherently a bad one. It doesn't however fit Dragon Age, with its more old-school, epic sweep. Let's see a map bursting with possibilities and secrets, that rewards exploration and puts new area types and cool things to discover around every corner. Oh, with one caveat:
No More Deep Roads. Dullest. Location. Ever.
Leaving Ferelden. Yes, yes, Kirkwall was in the Free Marches rather than Ferelden itself. The differences weren't exactly huge though, and this time it would be good to spread a bit further to some of the locations we've only heard of so far - chasing a heretic through the Tervinter Imperium for instance, or taking a trip to the corrupt court of Orlais. Provided that Bioware can find actors whose Orlesian accents aren't like nails down a chalkboard, of course. (This is far from guaranteed.)
Character Customisation. Commander Shepard was a great character, and there's no reason that she couldn't have a fantasy equivalent. Dragon Age isn't the game to do that in though, and Hawke added nothing to the game except for a bad British accent, some forgettable family members, and even less reason to care about what was going on in Kirkwall if you weren't (sssh!) a mage.
To get that "meh" though cost so much. Outright origin chapters aren't really needed, but race and similar choices were sorely missed - especially in such a fractured world. The nature of the story will obviously determine how much freedom there can be - creating a Qunari for instance for instance would mean immediate difficulties with the name field, never mind finding helmets that fit - and dwarves are tricky for a few reasons. Elves at least should be an easy enough alternate race to play as, and one with plenty of scope for extra political drama due to their poor social status in Thedas.
No more giant spiders. Say that Flemeth got rid of them. I don't care. Just ban them.
No Main Character Voice. For the above reasons, really. A fixed character having a voice is one thing - it would be silly for instance if Geralt didn't. When it's your own creation, the immersion lost by having them be a heroic mime is more than made up for by them not sounding like a complete cock/cockette. Once again, Hawke, looking at you. Over a whole RPG though, you soon get used to silence.
Party Customisation. Personally, and this is somewhat heretical, I prefer characters to retain and develop a unique look over the course of a game rather than everyone just ending up in plate armour by the half-way point. Still, as the head of the party, you should feel like you're in command.
Jobs For The Boys And Girls. As part of that, these slackers shouldn't be spending ten years sitting in a pub, hanging around at the campsite, or sitting in some mysterious void when they're not in the party. Let's send them out on missions, a bit like in Star Wars: The Old Republic, to earn their keep, practice their skills, and find more goodies and secrets. Ideally that wouldn't be purely random missions though, adding some of the tactical element of Mass Effect 2's suicide mission throughout the game and giving you a reason to switch around your team if your regular sword-and-board guy is elsewhere.
NPCs Responding To You Showing Up In Your Pants. It just bugs me when they don't. Anyone else always take a moment to check when playing a new RPG? Oh. Well, moving on...
Action/RPG Choices. Ignoring the dreadful waves mechanic, I didn't mind the more active combat of Dragon Age 2. With Bioware's resources though, it would be good to see a choice between classic, hardcore RPG combat and something faster that can be either more exciting, or simply skip to the next bit of the story a la Mass Effect 3's Narrative Mode. Bioware already made the (arguably bad) decision to split its audience between the two styles. Neither can really be left out of the next game.
STILL TOTALLY NOT A MAGE BY THE WAY.
Return Of The God Baby. Morrigan's son really needs to play some part in this story - even if it's only a side-quest that can be cut out depending on imported saves. That decision was far too important in Dragon Age Origins to be just thrown aside or consigned to a crappy bit of DLC that nobody played. While we're on the subject, David Bowie's plans from Dragon Age: Awakening really need to be addressed as well - a quick "Oh, yeah," line of dialogue doesn't count. In both of these cases, and the political chaos at the end of Dragon Age 2, it's not simply about tying off old plot threads - it's about conveying the idea that these stories mattered, so that Inquisition feels like it does too.
No More Starmap Design. Compartmentalised design (where the quest is secretly split up into intro/outro, four isolated zones and the ending run) is obviously easier on the designers than integrating everything. It's also really hard to ignore these days. The different parts of Dragon Age 3 should really mesh together to feel like a world, where some quests are isolated, but others draw in elements from around the world. At the very least, it would be good to see Dragon Age 3 blur the edges.
Fluid Politics. A good start would be a proper politics system, where tough decisions can actually follow you around and kick back at unexpected moments. Get a reputation as a liar? Good luck getting anyone to help the next time you shout "Wolf!" Alpha Protocol exists. Steal from it.
You look distracted. Is it my werewolves? It's my werewolves, right?
Separated Multiplayer. Multiplayer is inevitable, not least because Mass Effect 3's was so popular. That's fine. It shouldn't however have any impact on the single-player game, beyond - at most - minor cosmetic stuff. Certainly, no War Assets type system to try and force everyone into it. If it's fun, we'll play it. If not, we don't want to be coerced by the threat of getting the crap ending.
Built For PC. Consoles can play too, but for a Western RPG experience and all the trimmings, you're looking at the PC. The Witcher 2 raised the bar, and it's unlikely that The Witcher 3 will be any less. If Dragon Age 3 is targeted for current-gen console systems, it'll never be able to match up Even the initial batch of next-gen games it might be part of won't come close to what our machines can do.
It's not just raw tech of course, but better interfaces and desktop play vs. sofas.
DLC That Actually Feels Like It Was Designed To Integrate Into The Game In A Satisfying Way Yet Not Just A Chunk That The Core Game Is Lesser For Lacking. That.
And More Specifically? It's a very difficult line to draw, but there are possibilities. Instead of trying to give the main character more adventure for instance, fleshing out the stories of the party members. If they're not interesting enough for that, they're probably not interesting to be on the team.
Character Vault. Finally, a really small one, but a necessary one. Bioware has long talked up the benefit of keeping your saves. With Origin (and Steam, but I think we all know how likely DA3 is to benefit from that), the game itself should keep characters on file for use in future games. Dragon Age 3 should offer the chance to at least upload the gamestate for the next one and the DLC. The first two games should also offer some way of storing characters safely, rather than expecting everyone to back them up. This is something that should have been standard as of the Cerberus Network in Mass Effect 2.
And those are our ideas. What others can you think of?
Jul 21, 2011
We recently learned that it's possible to activate a selection of EA games bought on Steam on Origin. We've successfully redeemed keys for Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect 2, Dead Space 2, Alice: Madness Returns and Dragon Age 2. There may be more.
In the case of Dragon Age 2, once the product key key had been validated on Origin, it was possible to launch the Steam version of the game from the Origin client, complete with Steam overlay and chat functions.
Not all of the keys we tried worked. Origin didn't recognise product code for Mass Effect, for example, but most of the recently released EA titles we tried could be redeemed successfully. The result is that it's possible to export a portion of your EA games from Steam into EA's new system.
The Origin client already tries to auto-detect EA games installed on the user's PC, it'll be interesting to see if future updates will allow it to recognise EA titles in your Steam library. The fact that Origin can launch the Steam version of Dragon Age 2 suggests that it's already able to reach into Steam's directories.
It's an interesting quirk of synergy in a period of strained relations between Valve and EA. Crysis 2 was removed from Steam earlier this year over negotiations around a DLC exclusivity deal, and current indications suggest that Battlefield 3 won't be available on Valve's service when it comes out on October 25.
May 20, 2011
A tweet from senior creative director Alistair McNally confirms that Bioware are working on Dragon Age 3. According to McNally's message, spotted by Eurogamer, Bioware are recruiting for the sequel now: "I'm looking for exceptional environment artists to join me at #BioWare Edmonton, Canada to work on #DragonAge3 #gamejobs #jobs #3D #artists."
It's hardly a surprise that Bioware are making a third Dragon Age game, but knowing that it's in development suddenly raises a lot of questions. Will it follow on from Dragon Age 2, or be a separate adventure set in a different part of Ferelden? Will we get to meet up with the Champion of Kirkwall again, and what about that sneaky witch/dragon lady, Flemeth? What's her game?
Bioware have launched a charity auction to raise money to help the victims of the recent earthquake in Japan. Posting on the Bioware forums, community co-ordinator Chris Priestly announced that a number of items signed by Bioware's founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk would be hitting ebay, with all proceeds to be donated to the Japanese Red Cross. The auction is live now. Items for sale include some custom painted consoles, signed Bioware hoodies, and signed copies of Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect. The items have raised more than $5000 already.
Just saying. We'll have our review up on the site at 9AM PST, 5PM GMT. Beware: our Dragon Age 2 review contains significant enthusiasm.
Dragon Age 2 can look a lot prettier on PC, and here's the first step. Developers Bioware have posted a one gigabyte extended texture pack that should upgrade the "level art" in the game. You can download it from the Bioware patch database. As soon as we've got it installed, we'll pop some screens online. If you've got the game running, do link us your screens in the comments.
Our Dragon Age 2 review is in, and we've given it a score worthy of an Editor's Choice award, calling it "darkier, sexier, better." You can read the full review in the latest issues of PC Gamer UK and US, which subscribers should receive shortly (if they haven't already) and will be hitting store shelves on February 16 (UK) and March 1 (US).
Satisfying, lightning-fast combat and spectacular spacial moves helped Dragon Age 2 to take the PC Gamer Editor's Choice award, but the game excelled in other areas, too. A conversation system that doesn't restrict you with an arbitrary morality meter and the huge, evolving city of Kirkwall help to fill Dragon Age 2 with "more character and vitality than any title in recent memory".
Dragon Age 2 is out on March 8 in the US and March 11 in Europe. A demo is expected on Feb 22. Check out the latest Dragon Age 2 trailer for a look at the game's updated combat, or have a read of our Dragon Age 2 preview.
Bioware have updated the Dragon Age 2 FAQ to reveal the full minimum and recommended system specs for the game. They've also released details on the first batch of Dragon Age 2 DLC. You'll find the system requirements and detailed of The Exiled Prince below.
The details have appeared on an updated version of the FAQ on the official Dragon Age 2 site, and read as follows:
OS: Windows XP with SP3
OS: Windows Vista with SP2
OS: Windows 7
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo (or equivalent) running at 1.8 GHz or greater
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 (or equivalent) running at 1.8 GHz or greater
RAM: 1 GB (1.5 GB Vista and Windows 7)
Video: Radeon HD 2600 Pro 256 MB
Video: NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GS 256 MB cards
Disc Drive: DVD ROM drive required
Hard Drive: 7 GB
Sound: Direct X 9.0c Compatible Sound Card Windows Experience Index: 4.5
CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad 2.4 GHz Processor or equivalent
CPU: AMD Phenom II X3 Triple core 2.8 GHz or equivalent
RAM: 2GB (4 GB Vista and Windows 7)
Video: ATI 3850 512 MB or greater
Video: NVIDIA 8800GTS 512 MB or greater
DirectX 11: ATI 5850 or greater
DirectX 11: NVIDIA 460 or greater
Bioware have also announced that the first batch of DLC, called the Exiled Prince, will be released shortly after Dragon Age 2, and will contain all of the bonuses that come with the signature edition of the game, which can be pre-ordered for another four days. The Exiled Prince will contain a series of special in-game weapons and items including a bow, a magic blade, a shield and a mage's staff. The pack will also contain an extra playable character with his own missions, who is revealed in the Exiled Prince trailer to be an archer called Sebastian, out to avenge the death of his family.
There's only one thing better than a huge bundle of great games, and that's a free bundle of great games. You know what's even better than that? Five free bundles of great games. By stunning coincidence that's exactly the number of EA Store game bundles we have to give away today. There's more than £1700 worth of games up for grabs, so read on for a chance to get your hands on Battlefield: Bad Company 2, the Dragon Age 2 Digital Deluxe Edition, both Mass Effect games, Crysis, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and more.
Five lucky winners will scoop a copy of each of the following games, courtesy of the EA Store.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Digital Deluxe Edition
The huge, destructible battlefields of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 play host to some of the most frantic and explosive multiplayer scraps on the PC. As well as a wide range of tanks, helicopters and attack drones, there are tons of unlockable weapons for each of the game's four classes, so you can customise your load out every time you go to war. You'll also get a copy of the recently released Vietnam expansion which adds four new maps and a collection of new weapons and vehicles to fight with.
Dead Space is a third person survival horror set on board a spaceship infested with aliens. The key to taking these creepy beasties out lies with Dead Space's arsenal of surgical weapons that let you clip the limbs off your foes one by one until all that's left is a wobbling torso. Disgusting? Yes. Satisfying? Even more so.
Dragon Age: Origins Digital Deluxe Edition
Whether you start out begging for scraps in the Elven slums or fighting rebellion in your castle as a human noble, in Dragon Age: Origins you're ultimately destined to become a hero of Ferelden, one of the Grey Wardens responsible for putting down the menace of the Darkspawn uprising. You'll also get Dragon Age: Awakenings, an expansion set after the events of the main adventure of the first game, and a copy of the Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition which comes with all of the game's nine content packs, adding extra armour and quests to the game.
If you've ever wanted to command your own spaceship and save the universe, Mass Effect will let you do exactly that. There are few better lead characters than the charismatic and occasionally violent Commander Shephard. Spend your career through the universe punching out reporters and shooting suspects, or play it cool and become the saintly saviour of the cosmos.
Mass Effect 2
Commander Shephard returns to once more take on the galaxy's greatest foes. Mass Effect 2 builds on almost every aspect of the first game, adding even more characters, more spectacular locations and a brace of satisfying new combat abilities.
It's been out for more than three years now, but Crysis is still one of the best looking games you can buy. The sandy beaches of the game's massive island are a beautiful setting for the game's superhuman firefights. Your character's nanosuit lets you tear up your enemies with invisibility, super strength and super speed.
Crysis: Warhead explores the emotional range of Psycho, one of the background characters from the first game. He even sheds a tear at one point. Then he pulls himself together, leaps onto a gatling gun and mows down an alien invasion singlehandedly.
The Sims 3
The best soap opera sim in the world, The Sims 3 lets you create your own family and control every aspect of their lives. Help them find a better job, true love and happiness, or just trap them all in a windowless room and watch the fireworks. You'll also get three expansion packs. The Sims 3: World Adventures lets you take your sim adventuring abroad and hunt for treasure among famous monuments. Ambitions lets you control your sim on the job, letting them become a firefighter, private investigator, doctor and even a ghost hunter. The Sims 3: Late Night takes the game to the nightclubs, letting you take charge of your sim's big nights out.
FIFA Manager 11
Take command of your favourite football team and lead them to victory in FIFA Manager 11. You'll have to manage every aspect of your team, from their finances to player signings, to your tactics on the pitch if you want to have a chance of taking home football's finest silverware.
If you'd rather be scoring goals than managing your strikers, you won't find a footballing sim better than Fifa 11. The revamped engine means even more realistic ball control than ever before, and a sublime animation system adds extra crunch to every tackle.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
In Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit it doesn't matter if you're a crook or a cop, you'll always be behind the wheel of a steaming supercar. As a cop you'll be enforcing the law at 200 miles per hour, ramming boy racers off the highways of Seacrest County. As a criminal your job is to beat your fellow racers while evading capture, earning rep and buying new cars as you go.
If you fancy entering, there are a few terms and conditions. The offer is valid in the UK on www.eastore.co.uk, and is valid for PC Download only, and that no pre-orders, points packs or time cards are included and that offer can not be redeemed in conjunction with any other offer.
The best thing about the space-borne survival horror, Dead Space is the array of ridiculous weapons you can use to cut up your alien enemies. To win, post in the comments below with a weapon capable of dicing the toughest monster. Tell us what it is, what it does, and give it a name. You must live in the UK to enter. The five entries that make us laugh the most will take home a bundle.
Come back tomorrow for another great giveaway. The gift giving will continue all the way up to Christmas day.
I will get in touch with the instructions on how to claim your lovely prizes. Huzzah!
Dec 9, 2010
A new developer diary for Dragon Age 2 delves into the origins of the new ideas behind the game. We get to see clips of an initial animation the team put together to test ideas for the game, and the developers themselves give us some insight into the reasons behind the changes they're making for the sequel. The video is embedded below.
For more on the game, head over to the official Dragon Age 2 site. Alternatively, check out our preview, and our first look at the Rogue pirate captain Isabella. The game's due out on March 8th 2011 in the US and March 11th in Europe.