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.
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.
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 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.
Mass Effect 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 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.
FIFA 11 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!
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.
Cassandra, a tall warrior from Orlais, is shouting at a dwarven king. She wants answers. “Don’t lie to me! You knew him before he became the champion!” She wants to know about you. You’re Hawke, the Hero of Kirkwall, and she wants to know if she can trust you, if you’re a good fit for what she has in mind.
In Dragon Age 2, you’re not trying to save the world and be back in time for tea – you’re re-enacting the story of how your world-saving resumé got to be so impressive to begin with. But you never know: it might turn out to have a surprise “go on, save the world” ending after all. But before you get to the end, you’ve got a world to explore, and bit by bit, BioWare are revealing what it’ll be like. In issue 217 we knew you were the Hero of Kirkwall. Now we know what Kirkwall is: it’s a port city that controls sea traffic with a giant chain net it can pull up over the mouth of the port, strung between two gigantic statues. It lets the city’s ruling body nickel and dime the living daylights out of ship captains. As a result, Kirkwall’s rulers are overthrown, bought out, or outright murdered regularly so that a new fat-cat can wrest control of this lucrative business for himself.
It’s still not clear what Hawke does to become the champion of Kirkwall, though. We asked Dragon Age 2’s creative director Mike Laidlaw why Cassandra is after Hawke, and he was artfully vague.“War is about to erupt and something has happened to the Chantry . What we’ve learned really early on is that Hawke was there at very key moments of the events that have led to this state of the world. Cassandra is trying to find and understand the Champion of Kirkwall so that she can glean what she can from the events that led to her world state. I’ve likened it to if Hawke was there at the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, which is in lot of ways what people consider a catalyst moment for World War I. Cassandra is like the historian trying to understand all of the events that led up to that, in the hopes of either fixing it, or having history not repeat itself.”
If you’re new to the series, the Chantry have these evil towers where they imprison all mages from a young age, force them to fight demons, magically lobotomise the stupid ones, and keep the guards addicted to a magical drug so that they don’t go on strike or side with the prisoners. It’s no wonder some Orlesian badass lady needs to interrogate a King to find out why the Chantry is in peril – I’d send Sherlock Holmes.
Speaking of the Tower of Magi, your sister, Bethany Hawke, is an escapee from there – an Apostate mage. The early section of the game details your flight from Ferelden to the Free Marches, andBethany will be with you, making fun of you, criticising your decisions, and magically freezing your beard even though Mum said to stop it.
From Dragon Age: Origins, you might remember a lady called Isabella. She played a card game with you and taught you how to be a duellist if you were quick enough to catch her cheating. Now she’s a pirate captain and will join your crew as a romanceable rogue with twin daggers.
And rogues, by the way, are looking much more fun. Whereas a rogue walled in by Darkspawn in Origins would be screwed, someone like Isabela can just backflip out of there. With the right abilities, she could even drop a smoke bomb as she does so. Voila! A tight cluster of stunned Darkspawn, just waiting for a perfectly placed fireball or twelve.
Adeline is another of your new companions. “It’s been a while since we’ve had a female, tough-as-nails warrior,” Mike claims. She’s from Ferelden too, flees with you and your sister in the opening section, and eventually becomes a member of the city guard in Kirkwall.
And that’s one of the most exciting parts of Dragon Age 2: your followers have their own lives. Cassandra, the Orlesian who’s interrogating the narrating King Varic, just wants the important details. It means you’ll be skipping the boring periods, like “and then he spent a year working out and styling his hair.” After these sabbaticals, you’ll find that the world has changed. This way, you can see how your actions have impacted the world around you without waiting for the end cinematic.
They’re also ditching the approval system. You won’t be trying to lobby your companions by saving kittens in front of them; now they’ll agree with you completely, or just stick around as a ‘rival’. A rival respects your power and the role you play in the world, but thinks you’re kind of a dick. As a side effect of that, you can’t have an outright evil champion. You’ll have to settle for being ruthless in the pursuit of your ideals.
Dragon Age 2 is looking over Mass Effect’s shoulder and taking some serious notes. That’s definitely a good thing.