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Dragon Age 2 lead writer reveals new details about the surprising content cuts to the game

Worn Out Gaming
Original Article on Worn Out Gaming.

Oh, Dragon Age. We have come so far, haven’t we? Fans are awaiting any piece of information about BioWare’s Dragon Age 4. We are certainly getting closer to understand what it’s about. However, Dragon Age 2 is back under the spotlight due to David Gaider, the lead writer of DA2, revealing several things about the game. Not only does he go into what happened, but what he would do if he were allowed to change DA2, Zack Snyder style. After sifting through the details, I’m ready to head to Twitter with a new hashtag. #RestoretheGaiderCut

“DA2 was the project where my writing team was firing on all cylinders, and they wrote like the wind- because they had to! Second draft? Pfft. Plot reviews? Pfft. I was so proud of what we all accomplished in such a brief time. I didn’t think it was possible,” he said, reinforcing the idea that EA rushed Dragon Age 2 and didn’t care to give the team time to provide it with the necessary polish.

What Dragon Age 2 could have been

On Twitter, David Gaider used his thread to detail a list of changes he would make to the game. It’s a real eye-opener and shows that a lot was cut from the game, as fans once speculated. It’s worse than we thought, though. David details that Dragon Age 2’s central city, Kirkwall, would change progressively over several in-game years. That approach to Kirkwall changed during development, and that led to some pacing issues. So, that would be his first change:

“First, either restore the progressive changes to Kirkwall we’d planned over the passing of in-game years or reduce the time between acts to months instead of years… which, in hindsight, probably should have been done as soon as the progressive stuff was cut,” he tweeted.

Dragon Age 2
Dragon Age 2 – Credit: BioWare

Kirkwall was meant to feel alive and crowded, like an actual bustling city. Its people would change with the region, acting more realistic. How? Gaider hoped to include NPC dialogue where certain characters forgot specific details about you over time. “I’d want to restore all those alternate lines we cut, meaning people forget they’d met you. Or that they knew you were a mage. Or, oh god, that maybe they’d romanced you in [Dragon Age: Origins],” he stated. 

I wonder if he’s talking about a Warden romance from DA: O, not a romance with Hawke, who debuted in DA2. Either way, the game would fully immerse fans in the world if NPCs interacted with us in that manner.

Hawke would have struggled with a Mage’s worst fear

Throughout Dragon Age, Mages are discriminated against and feared to the point where some become ‘tranquil.’ They lose their connection to the fade and lose their magical abilities and emotions. People fear the mages because of their potential to be possessed by demons and fall into Blood Magic’s twisted nature. Honestly, I’d always chose blood magic.

Dragon Age 2 - Female Hawke
Hawke (Female) – Credit: BioWare

Players choosing to play Mage Hawke would have experienced a storyline centered on her/him struggling against demonic possession. “I’d want to restore the plot where a mage Hawke came THIS close to becoming an abomination. An entire story spent trapped in one’s own head while trapped on the edge of possession,” Gaider tweeted. “Why? Because Hawke is the only mage who apparently never struggles with this. It was a hard cut.”

RELATED POST: The new Dragon Age is still happening!

The Mage/Templar conflict in Dragon Age 2 would have had layers

The conflict between the mages and templars has been rising in the Dragon Age world. It becomes its most volatile in the second game. However, in the final product, that conflict escalated too quickly. The team had more plots for the 3rd act built up to the clash, but BioWare cut it. The lead Templar Meredith would not have suddenly found an idol and become super-powered and crazy through red lyrium. The Dragon Age universe is morally gray, but DA2’s third act painted Meredith in only one light – insane evil that the player must put down.

Dragon Age 2 - Anders
Anders in his Darktown Clinic, DA2 – Credit: BioWare

Speaking of morally gray, a party member named Anders decides to break bad. Gaider would restore the chance to question Anders after he nonchalantly chooses to perform an act of terrorism that pushes us to the violent climax. If we sided with the Templars after Ander’s nonsense, we would have fought against Orsino and the mages. Finally, in the spirit of questioning both Mages and Templars’ actions, we would have been able to choose to side with neither faction. Would that have left the two to tear into each other? 

What happened to Dragon Age 2 is answered

BioWare cut content due to time restraints, leaving fans with a bare-bones game. It paled in comparison to Dragon Age: Origins and, yes, Dragon Age: Inquisition (In my opinion). There was content changed that is no longer fresh in my memory and a romance option with the dwarven storyteller, Varric. Some may find relief because a cut Exalted March expansion would end with Varric’s death. We would have missed his presence in Inquisition.

Varric - Dragon Age 2
Varric in DA: Inquisition – Credit: BioWare

So, why did all of this happen? Here’s the very telling statement from Gaider that hit a nerve: 

Further, in that same Twitter thread, he goes on to conclude that “It [Dragon Age 2] was either going to be an over-scoped expansion or an under-scoped sequel. If it had stayed an expansion, it might never have received the resources/push it DID get.” 

After reading that, I don’t want to read anything else about the sequel that could have been. Dragon Age 2 continues to be the most disappointing entry in the series, and these new details won’t change that view. Fortunately, many fans still appreciate what DA2 is. As unfavorable as I sound about the game, I remember enjoying my time with it. The bad never outweighed the good. 

Dragon Age: Origins set the bar high, and the sequel did not rise to the same level of quality.

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