Closer look: Dragon Age 2: Legacy
Legacy is the first significant piece of DLC for the not great but somehow still awesome Dragon Age 2, from RPG gods Bioware. The original game had me conflicted and confused, as I saw a lot of flaws in the game, yet was absolutely consumed by it regardless.
With this in mind, it was with quite a bit of interest and excitement that I jumped back into the boots of Nate Hawke, my very own champion of Kirkwall.
As far as I can tell, Legacy picks up some time before the start of act 3 in the original game, as it’s after (SPOLER ALERT!) his mother dies, but before the s*** hits the fan with the Templars and mages.
After installing the DLC you can access it by approaching a new statue in the Hawke estate. I’m not sure if it only becomes available after a certain event in the game or not, since I loaded up my character that I beat the game with.
I started out in the Hawke estate, wearing my comfy rich man’s robes, and for some reason sporting a blood-splattered face that Hawke apparently neglected to wash off after killing Meredith in the Hollows. After a short time getting re-acquainted with the Hawke estate, I found a large statue up by the master bedroom. After approaching it, I was prompted to begin the Legacy DLC.
Legacy begins with Varric being questioned by the Seeker Cassandra about an event he seems to have neglected to mention as he told the story of the Champion of Kirkwall. Varric responds that it was just a minor event, and she would never have believed him anyway. After some prodding, Varric agrees to spill the beans.
I forgot what a good character Varric is, he’s always hugely enjoyable when he’s on screen.
Varric’s tale leads in to the gameplay, which starts with Hawke and your chosen companions arriving at a Carta base in the desert after the Carta had apparently tried to kill Hawke and his sister. At first I was a little bit confused as to what was going on, but some friendly banter with the Carta dwarves, which leads to some good old fashioned asskicking, filled me in with the basics. Apparently the Carta needs the Hawke’s blood in order to free someone called Corypheus.
This fairly simple set-up leads to an interesting story that touches on both Hawke’s father, the Grey Wardens’ past, and the origin of the Darkspawn. If you bring your sister/brother along as well, you’ll get some good character development and interactions with your sibling as you discover things about your family’s past.
The story in Legacy is the DLC’s strong point, as it weaves quite an interesting tale that reveals some genuinely meaningful information about the world of Dragon Age.
A major complaint about Dragon Age 2 was the recycled environments in the game. Not just the fact that you spend almost the entire game in a city that doesn’t change over time, even though there were big opportunities to change things up in-between the different acts, but that the dungeons kept recycling the same 3-4 settings throughout the entire game.
Legacy immediately remedies this by starting you in brand new environments created specifically for this dungeon crawling quest. The environments are quite varied as well, ranging from deserts to a fortress, to dungeons, to swampy caverns. There is an impressive sense of scope in these new surroundings, with large caverns and vistas that make you feel like you’re traversing a massive environment, as opposed to the smaller, more cramped corridors of DA2.
There are some new enemies as well, like the Genlock Alpha, a solid and stocky Darkspawn bastard with a huge shield who charges you. There are some impressive demon models as well, and the Corypheus model is just pretty darn badass. As a character artist, I saw some very interesting designs that made me think.
The voice acting was excellent as always, highlighted by my old favourites Varric and Isabela (because that’s who I brought along, obviously).
There are no immediate changes to the old DA2 gameplay in Legacy. It only took me about 30 seconds to get back into the combat system and kick ass without feeling awkward and fiddly, which speaks highly of how streamlined and easy to use the DA2 combat system is.
During Legacy you’ll gain a few levels, but there are no new skills to pick up, aside from what you have left in your talent trees. You’ll get a new class specific weapon, that you are able to tailor with specific abilities of your choosing, which is nice.
There are a few side quests available during the course of Legacy, but they are not hard and don’t require you to go out of your way at all. As long as you check all the rooms as you move through the dungeon, you’ll complete all the side quests without really trying.
In fact, I’m not sure if it’s because my characters were relatively high level, but Legacy was a very easy dungeon crawl. I didn’t die once. I was never even in any real trouble, and only had companions fall during the final boss fight.
The final boss fight in itself is very well done. Boss fights in DA2 would usually devolve into just bashing the boss until it fell down. The final fight in Legacy however, has different stages, and requires you to move around and figure out the boss’ attack pattern.
Legacy is fairly short, I finished it in about three and a half hours. And that was with checking every nook and cranny of the dungeon. It’s a solid 3 to 4 hours though, with entertaining combat and interesting story, so at least it’s there’s no filler content here.
Through a solid 3-4 hours of entertainment, Dragon Age 2 Legacy provides a very good story that elaborates on the history of the Hawke’s, the Grey Wardens and the Darkspawn, which for a Dragon Age fan is probably worth the price of admission by itself.
Legacy also fixes one of the major issues with DA2, which was the recycled environments, by providing brand new environments with a great sense of scale. But in terms of gameplay, it doesn’t provide anything new, it’s just more Dragon Age 2.
Personally, I was very happy to get back to one of the most interesting games I’ve played this year. I feel like a lot of the complaints I had about the original really didn’t come into play this time around. The combat system is still quite button mashy, but for 3-4 hours of gameplay, it was fine. Legacy is simply short enough that DA2 flaws that were so grating in the original simply doesn’t have time to annoy me. It didn’t get nearly as repetitive as when playing through a 30+ hour game. The environments were new and fresh, I really enjoyed the story, and it was nice to get reacquainted with my old wise-ass buddies Varric and Isabela.
In the end, Dragon Age 2 Legacy comes down to this: If you liked Dragon Age 2, you’ll enjoy Legacy. If DA2 just didn’t do it for you, there’s nothing here that’s going to change your mind.