RPG gamers have a lot to anticipate as three big sequels in the genre are all set to be released this year. Dragon Age 2, The Witcher 2 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim are all ready and set to be released on their respective release dates, and RPG fans alike can’t wait to get their hands on them. Let’s have a look at what these 3 games have to offer and what impressions they have given so far.
The majority of the time it is the story which determines the quality of a role playing game. Glad to say that all three of these games have a great tale to tell. Let’s examine the story of these games individually.
Dragon Age 2: In Dragon Age 2 we play as Hawke, a young human forced to flee from the player characters hometown of Lothering, rising to become a person in the game-world’s history known as the ‘Champion of Kirkwall’. The story of Hawke is told in narrative-style by a Dwarf named Varric, who occasionally exaggerates the events while narrating. The game’s overall storyline has a span of 10 years, so that’s a very interesting change that gives its characters personalities time to change.
Like its predecessor, the moral actions of the player determine the historical outcomes in the game. Thankfully, the player can direct the story through conversation choices and we think that will help the storyline quite a bit (in-terms of interest at least) as compared to the almost-mute Dragon Age: Origins hero.
The Witcher 2: Story of The Witcher 2 is a continuation of the ending of its predecessor. The Order of the Flaming robe is almost annihilated and only La Valette Baroness Fortress is undefeated. The king asks Geralt to help restore peace in the area.
Meanwhile Geralt is chiefly interested in the assassins who attempted to kill the king, and that’s where the majority of the storyline focuses on. There are, of course, many subplots that are tied to Geralt’s past and shall hopefully reveal quite a few interesting details about the game-world’s history.
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim: The Elder Scroll 5: Skyrim’s story isn’t a direct continuation of Oblivion but instead is a new chapter in the Elder Scroll series. As in the previous Elder Scroll games, the player takes on the role of an unknown prisoner. Eventually learning that the Skyrim civil war is one of the last of a series of events told by the prophetic Elder Scrolls warning of the return of Nordic Alduin, the great god of destruction.
In a form of a gigantic dragon, Alduin is prophesized to destroy the entire world. The player thus takes the role of Dovahkiin, a dragon hunter embrocated by the gods to fight against Alduin. The main-quests are said to take around 20 hours of play, with additional sub-plots and side-quests also available across the game-world.
The gameplay of these three games is completely different from one another, yet each one of them offers something exciting and new. We’ll have a look at the game-world, character development system and combat system in this section.
Dragon Age 2: Instead of being confined only to Ferelden, the game-world is expanded to include the Free Marches, Antiva and other distant locations, while still remaining in the continent of Theda. The Free Marches contain Kirkwall, the power-house of the protagonist Hawke. It is not yet known whether or not travel to neighboring countries such as the Tevinter Imperium and Antiva is possible.
The character development in Dragon Age 2 is different from the one in Origins. For starters, it’s simplified. The spells and talents have been reduced in number, which is a good thing, since unnecessary talents are no longer a barrier to better and meaner talents/spells. The system resembles that of World of Warcraft instead of the standard Origins style.
The combat system of Dragon Age doesn’t change drastically from that of Origins, but flows more smoothly. However, the individuality of enemies is significantly reduced, so the combat is usually 3 (or maybe 4) against 20, the usual that is. That is sort of a bad thing since enemies feel like just like obstacles in your path and the fighting becomes somewhat like that of God of War.
The fights are faster though, with hack and slash styled combat. Whether that is good or bad solely depends on the player’s preference. Switching between characters and pausing during combat (like in Origins) is still a vital part of the combat system.
The Witcher 2: In The Witcher 2 players travel between Temeria, the home-ground of the game, Kaedwen and Aedrin. That brings with it hope that unique and more varied scenery will be given to us, as we expect Kaedwen to be filled with mountains.
The Witcher 2’s players can choose to develop Geralt in three main directions: As a Sword Master, Mage or Alchemist. All versions can be enhanced with additional abilities and bonuses. Defensive spells are also introduced in the list and health and defense no longer depends on martial skills. As in the first game Alchemy is still a vital part of survival.
The combat style will be much more dynamic than its predecessor. We no longer have those predefined fighting styles, so combining magic, alchemy and melee allows players to finish enemies quicker and with more style. The quick-time ridicule is no longer included, so players can take a breather and play an RPG the way it should be played.
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim: Skyrim is a mountainous region, so rocks and snow will be a good part of the game world. The game is still set in the world of Tamriel (obviously). Expect lots of rocky and snowy scenery, but thankfully there are some beautiful sites to view from the mountains above into valleys below. Waterfalls and greenery surround many locations which the player can choose to travel to. But much of the time the conditions will be cold, frosty and hostile.
The character development in Skyrim will remind players of Fallout 3. There are no pre-assembled classes to choose from, so thankfully everyone gets to choose from the same set initially. Perks, similar to those in Fallout 3, play a vital role in the passive abilities of the players.
Moreover, the speed with which you unlock the next ability in a series is determined by how often you choose to use the ones that you already have in that series, so players who choose to pursue multiple playing styles would take longer to level up.
The combat system in Skyrim adopts a dual-wielding concept. You can wield two daggers or two swords, one in each hand, or you could also choose to use a sword in one hand and magic spells in the other. Similarly, you could also try an all-magic combination, or even use the same spell on both hands to significantly enhance its effect. The third-person view is also claimed to be more fluid and better than in the previous Elder Scrolls games, so hopefully switching to third-person won’t make it feel uncomfortable as it did in the previous games or in Fallout 3.
Dragon Age 2: Of the three games, Dragon Age 2 is the one with probably the largest fan-community. The real question, which everyone will be asking, is whether or not it can be at least as convincing as its fantastic and highly acclaimed prequel. Have the major changes and experimentation gone all wrong or are they for the better, making it an experience more memorable than Origins. That is the question we await an answer for.
I feel Bioware’s reputation precedes anything we say about the game and gives us confidence and hope that the sequel will truly be at least as good as Origins, despite the drastic changes in the game-play and battle.
The Witcher 2: Every fan will be hoping that CD Projekt RED has learnt from its past mistakes and can exclude all the unneeded and unnecessary elements that were present in the prequel. More importantly, players will be hoping for a more intriguing story-line that can be accompanied with fantastic game-play and great visuals. Success in the visuals is almost certain, as even the prequel was quite a looker, but can CD Projekt RED satisfy us to the extent that we can claim The Witcher 2 was truly one of the best games of 2011?
The Elder Scrolls 5: Oblivion was good, very good, but what made it questionable at times was the fact that it was rather filled with unsuccessful elements. We certainly hope that these elements have been rectified and the gameplay will be improved. From the looks of it, a more vibrant world, a stronger story, a better battle-system and an improved third-person view are coming. Let’s hope that they are enough to blow our minds (in a good manner).