This is the third part of a series of posts about Dragon Age II, in which I elaborate upon the combat system the game utilizes. As a few of the characters' skill sets draw naming and inspiration from their background stories, I have included a spoiler warning as usual. You have been warned.
|Note the simple interface, doing a|
good job of keeping things plain.
Said combat system works remarkably better than it's predecessor's, with a much more frantic pace, an easy to learn (and thankfully, minimal) interface, a combo function which promotes teamwork, intelligently designed skill sets with no (apparent) game-breaking abilities, and some of the best battle flow I've seen in a recent game. Unfortunately, it seems that even in this area, BioWare has obscured some otherwise excellent ideas beneath run-of-the-mill techniques designed to pad out the game experience far longer than they should.
|Battlemaster skill group.|
|A "brittle" enemy, identified|
by an overhead icon.
The actual battles themselves are also quite enjoyable for the most part, with attack combinations smoothly meshing with one another, flowing animations that (usually) convey the intensity of the moment accurately and, for the most part, a visceral feeling as your characters hack, slash and maim their way to victory. The combo system itself is simple, yet efficient: each class has a special type of status it can inflict on an enemy - warriors can "stagger" an opponent, rogues can "disorient" and mages can render a foe "brittle". While these effects are in themselves beneficial to an attacker (a "staggered" foe, for example, suffers reduced attack and defense scores), they really come into play as cross-class combinations; for example, a warrior can inflict up to 300% of their base damage with certain abilities when using them on "brittle" targets. This lends the battles a slight depth, as often (again, especially on higher difficulties), you are required to take advantage of as many factors as possible to emerge victorious in combat.
|Screenshot with a good example of |
player-to-enemy ratios in the game.
As for the diversity of the foes encountered, while it is by no means limited, there seems to be an inexplicable focus on the more "human" adversaries (which, again, may just be a side-effect of the game's insistence in large groups of enemies), which strikes me as odd in a game set and marketed as fantasy.
Ultimately, the combat system is functional and in places feels refined and well-thought out (achieving at points the "easy to learn, hard to master" design creed); sadly it is obscured often by what I can only assume to be a weak attempt to escalate the game's scope - overusing enemy encounters, inappropriately used on most occasions at best, deliberately attempting to lengthen game play at worst.
The final post will attempt to give insights into the party members' characterization, along with some minor thoughts on the game's audio - mainly character dialogues and soundtrack.
As a point of interest, I played as a male warrior Hawke that favoured Diplomatic/Helpful dialogue options, romanced Isabela (and defended her in a duel with the Qunari Arishok), sided with the mages in the finale, tried to complete as many side missions as possible and spared Anders after his betrayal.