Reviewed: April 14, 2011
Released: March 8, 2011
DLC Requires Dragon Age II
Dragon Age II: Legacy, the first major piece of downloadable content for Dragon Age II, is a bit of a hard game to review. While it addresses some of the major complaints about the core game, namely the repetitive combat and recycled areas, combat and dungeon exploration are nearly all the expansion has to offer, though a side of companion interactions adds some levity to a dry story. With excellent dungeon crawling weighed down by a weak story, poorly-done branching, and a remarkably frustrating puzzle, players who wanted better combat and more varied in the areas might come away satisfied, but those who enjoyed the plot of Dragon Age II won't find much here, outside of some quips between party members. |
The expansion begins in media res, where Hawke and his party arrive in a mountain range where the dwarven crime syndicate known as the Carta has been hiding out. Hawke and his family have endured attacks by the Carta, and Hawke's come to track them down. Things quickly get strange, however, when Hawke finds himself embroiled in a conflict between factions of the Gray Wardens over an imprisoned darkspawn able to speak and reason, and discovering how the dungeon he finds himself in is tied to his family history.
While the plot doesn't go much further than that, it serves as an excellent setup for the new dungeons. A mountain pass leads to an abandoned mine, leading to an ancient arcane prison, each full of enemies, some of them new to the expansion, such as darkspawn with massive shields that need to be flanked to fought effectively and encounter areas full of traps the trigger can player. While there's no easy way to use them well, they certainly add color and more options to the encounter.
One of the major stumbling blocks of the expansion comes when it's time to choose between factions of the Gray Wardens. Each faction has a different approach to the final floor of the prison, with one taking a more direct path through the floor, warded off by a relatively simple and sane mirror puzzle, the other takes the most circuitous path possible, and messes around with color-locked doors in a nightmare puzzle that I banged away at for nearly an hour before giving up on seeing the other route. However, both routes converge in an ending that's effectively identical either way, making the only meaningful choice how obnoxious you want the expansion's major puzzle to be.
One of the biggest draws of the expansion, at least according to its bullet points, is a Hawke-exclusive weapon that you upgrade as you progress through the dungeon. However, its scaling to your level means that it might quickly become irrelevant if you do Legacy early in your campaign. Additionally, the upgrades have wildly varying effectiveness between classes, so whether you want frost or lightning damage really depends on whether you're a mage or rogue, for instance. It's kind of a confusing letdown, and a major oversight on Bioware's part.
For the price, it's not a bad addition, but as a fan of the game's narrative and someone who followed the 'press A until you're done' method of combat, there wasn't much for me. Fans of dungeons and battles will, of course, vary, so whether Legacy is worth your dollar depends very much on what parts of the game you enjoyed.