With Zack Snyder getting the backing to create his “original vision” of Justice League, folks in various media are having similar conversations about what that even looks like for other projects. David Gaider, ex-Bioware and current Summerfall Studios writer, wondered aloud on Twitter what Dragon Age II might look like if the studio got the chance to spend more time on the famously rushed game. And while it’ll never happen, some of these ideas do leave me longing.
Some of the ideas Gaider threw out into the world were changes that would restore some of Bioware’s original vision for the game. Including re-integrating changes to Dragon Age II’s setting of Kirkwall, the city in which the game takes place. The story of Hawke, the Champion of Kirkwall, takes place across several years, and early drafts of the game included changes to the city that would show the passage of time. However, Gaider also says that once those changes to the scenery were left on the cutting room floor, the game’s timeline should have probably been changed to reflect that, as well. Admittedly, Dragon Age II’s story doesn’t really benefit from taking place over several years, especially when it comes to character relationships that seemingly froze in time before each time skip.
There was also apparently a plotline in an early draft that would have Hawke struggling with a demon attempting to possess them if they were a mage. This would result in the Champion nearly becoming an abomination. As Gaider points out, Hawke is the only mage in Kirkwall who doesn’t really struggle with this side of the mage/templar war the game’s final act is centered around. So it’s always been a weird omission, but it seems it wasn’t something Bioware didn’t consider. It just never made its way into the final game.
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Several other hypothetical changes would have done wonders for the game’s third act, which, having recently replayed Dragon Age II, is easily the game’s weakest section. This includes: changes to the game’s final bosses that would have been more in keeping with those characters’ story, a chance to interrogate Anders’ actions more concretely, and maybe even a third choice in the game’s final binary decision to side with one of two warring factions.
On a list of characters who might have gotten a little bit more screen time and attention in these changes, Varric, the storytelling dwarf and party member, could have seen a romantic storyline with Hawke, and maybe gotten a chance to exaggerate his stories a bit more.
Despite Dragon Age II being largely considered on the lower end of the rankings for the series (Dragon Age: Origins deserves that honor), it did have some really interesting ideas. Some of which were adapted into later Bioware games, like dialogue options being labeled to indicate tone and intention. Bioware is in the midst of developing a fourth entry in the series, and it looks like it’s continuing some of the series’ biggest problems even after just two cinematic trailers.