Strategic Pause

April 15, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Posted in Dragon Age, rpg | 6 Comments
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I don’t know what most people say about the combat in Dragon Age 2. I try not to pay attention to it. I do know there is a wide variety of opinions and that they range from good to bad. For me, the combat in Dragon Age 2 is just an evolution of Bioware fights from games past, and in some ways I’m happy with that, and in some ways I’m not.

Spoilers towards the end.

I’ve always been a solid supporter of the ability to pause the combat, think through my options, micro-manage the fight, and insure total domination. A lot of people don’t like this, choosing to play through the fights with their companion AI set up specifically to their tastes. I border on control freak.

Overall I’d say the AI works fine on its own, but in intense fights is not up to par. That’s to be expected, an intense fight means a good challenge. Yet for those who want to let their companions fight for themselves, you’re out of luck.

Particularly if you’re up against one of the best parts of the game, the complex boss fights. For instance there is this really well designed boss in the deep roads, a rock wraith I think it was called. It had the ability to roll around and crush people, send out a cross shaped beam in 4 directions for an extended amount of time, suck people into a vortex towards it as it damaged you, and other abilities. Perhaps one of the most complex bosses I’ve ever fought in a Bioware game.

Or maybe I just don't remember any good bosses from other Bioware games

Yet controlling my companions was quite annoying. They wandered consistently into the cross shaped beam, whether told to hold and stay still or not. They didn’t run away from the vortex, they walked towards it. They consistently stood in the fire.

It was a fun battle once I got the hang of it, and a challenge I enjoyed. There were more bosses like this than I remember being in other Bioware games, they had interesting mechanics or required constant attention. An early boss had a devastating attack that ripped through my characters, until I discovered it was very easy to just dodge it by moving aside. It was a facepalm moment, since I’d lost the first encounter, but it was fun to discover his weakness and take him down.

Unfortunately there is still plenty of the Bioware idea of “just throw more enemies at them”. Every game they make has scenarios where the challenge isn’t about difficulty but about the number of enemies you face. Sure it can be hard to take on 30 criminals instead of 15, or 6 waves of bad guys instead of 5, but there is something too monotonous and too lazy about it. The complex bosses means they’re thinking about it, and improving, but they’re still a little far and few between.

I thought one thing they tried out for Dragon Age 2 was amazing. In origins they tried to make small moments more iconic. When you kill an ogre, you jump on its face and stab his head, when you kill the Archdemon you get yourself a nice little end animation. In Dragon Age 2 it seems to be more about iconic fights as a whole. Whether you’re dueling the Arishok or taking on Orsino, or the dragon in the bone pits. They all seem like they’re designed to be different, and bigger than life. Real old school epic battles.

In particular I can’t compliment the final battle enough. Truly surprising elements, some iconic imagery, a great villain. I couldn’t ask for more. The combat in Dragon Age 2 is an improvement on Dragon Age: Origins, that I can say with confidence. It is fun, where Origins could often be too structured or too stiff.

I think I’ll go over the story a bit in my next post.


  1. I didn’t think the boss fights were too bad, hard but achievable but of course I’m playing casual super easy in difficulty. The secret is just have Anders group heal and rez.

    My daughter who plays in Nightmare setting is another story. Its click click click clik clik unpause pause clik click click click unpause pause (you get the drift) Everything must be perfectly orchestrated for those fights. Takes forever.

    I too loved the animations after the fights. I love my screenshots of impaling Asharok with blood squirting in the air. In fact just before I read this post I was admiring my screenshot folder.
    I love this game so much I’m still eager for my fourth play through. By changing up my party each time I find so many new little stories and script changes each time. Enough to keep me interested still.

    • I’m not playing nightmare but i am playing hard so it does play into my control freak status.

      It took me forever to play through because I exhausted all my companions at the same time, i don’t pick one party and go, i just change up often and run them all at the same time.

  2. I played throught he game on nightmare till the deep roads boss where i discovered that his minions stunlocked my mages repeatedly… I gave up after six hours and dropped the difficulty to hard… on nightmare it was essentialy a WOW dance fight.

    • Yeah for me nightmare isn’t an exercise in fun. I like a challenge but I like challenges I easily overcome.

  3. Yes, a HUGE range in difficulty and strategy involved in Dragon Age 2 battles. Mainly depends on your group make up, I find. When I know a big battle’s coming up, I may try to plan for it…but usually, I just take my favorite companions with me whenever I go, regardless of their roles.

    Then I was ambushed by that dragon at the mines. HELLO! You said there was trouble, no one said anything about a motherfucking dragon boss! Yeah, it was unexpected…but also a fun challenge.

    • hahaha, i know right? I knew the quest was called mine massacre but i didn’t think i was the one about to get massacred. I had to level up, find better weapons, bring tons of potions, all kinds of stuff.

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