Gamers have lashed out at the release of Dragon Age 2, giving it a series of low user review scores that has brought the average for the game down to less than 4 on all three platforms the game has been released on. That’s less than half of the average given to the game by professional games journalists.
Apart from the obvious troubles (See Dragon Age 2 Errors, Crashes, Freezes and Fixes), the issue most commonly cited is an over-simplifying of the game, particularly the combat which is faster. It has also become apparent that the lead designer for Dragon Age Origins had chosen to take a back seat role for the sequel as his views on where it should go didn’t match with Bioware.
Personally, I felt the combat in the original Dragon Age was missing something, it frequently felt repetitive due to fighting the same types of opponents for the majority of the game (either Darkspawn, or humanoids, usually falling into the three archetypes of warrior, rogue and mage, using the same abilities, etc.). As a result, I didn’t make it to the end of the game. The combat in the demo for Dragon Age 2 definitely seems faster, but a great deal of the content was locked off, including the inventory screen.
Ultimately, this demonstrates the risk of changing the direction of a sequel in a game series. As fans who don’t perceive a sufficiently good reason for the changes will reject the game and won’t go quietly. Gamers continue to be more and more vocal about games they like or dislike and developers should be wary of this at all times.
Some might perceive this as gamers feeling entitled to have a say in how a sequel should be when they have neither the experience or the understanding of how to design and make games. Maybe that’s true, regardless it is a perfect demonstration of how gamers know when they don’t like something. Frankly, I think it’s easier to change a game, than to change the opinions of thousands of passionate gamers.
We should be careful though, not to let this get out of hand. Just because a game isn’t designed specifically for us does not necessarily mean it is bad, but rather a matter of taste. It’s unlikely that I’ll buy the sequel, but many will, at least some of them will enjoy their time with the game.
The rest of us, meanwhile, have to find something else to play.