The History of Dragon Age 2

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Few investments in the video game industry are as safe as sequels. Not only are they an easy sell to fans and publishers alike, but as direct continuations of pre-existing games, their developments are free of a lot of the heavy-lifting original concepts need to deal with; most of their core mechanics have been previously tested, the amount of assets they can use off the bat are numerous, and their creators already have plenty of feedback on how to improve both. Even if they don’t manage to eclipse their predecessors in terms of popularity, sequels are still all but guaranteed to keep their series’ spirit ablaze, and feature plenty of innovations their developers hadn’t been able to implement before.

Awakening, Dragon Age: Origins’ first and only expansion, managed to do all of this and more. Dragon Age 2, which was marketed as Origins’ actual sequel, did not. Rather than feature a sprawling adventure that thrust players in Thedas’ farthest corners, the second entry in Bioware’s acclaimed role-playing series took place entirely inside a single city, following a lowly immigrant’s rise to glory within its walls over the course of a decade. While this change, and many, many others that Dragon Age 2 made to its predecessor’s core design proved popular to some, they failed to resonate with fans on a broader level, resulting in the wayward sequel gaining an infamous reputation.

And yet, when one examines the circumstances in which the game was made, it’s hard not to feel a tinge of empathy for Bioware. For unlike Dragon Age’s first entry, which benefited from a development cycle that lasted nearly a decade, its second was forced to come together in just over a year, as a result of shifting circumstances within the studio and its Texan subsidiary. Viewed through this lens, it’s impressive that it got released at all – even if it isn’t exactly what one wanted out of a sequel to Origins.

This is the history of Dragon Age 2.

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