A couple of interesting new things happened on my gaming front yesterday. First of all EQ2 released it's seventh expansion, Destiny of Velious. Most of the content will be locked to me as I do not have the expansion (I still have four other expansions to get through first!), but the new update does include some new graphical improvements and some new combat mechanics that I'm interested in trying out. Unfortunately, as is ever the way with major MMO patches, the servers were down for the majority of the night and I didn't get to play. Adurj managed to get an hour or two in however, and you can find his initial impressions over at Le Bard Connection.
The second thing was that whilst waiting for the EQ2 servers to come back up I gave in and downloaded the new Dragon Age 2 demo (PC version) that was released yesterday, two weeks before the game's official launch. In a way I'm glad I grabbed it, because playing it has removed some of the concerns that I had about the game. The problem is I'm now going to find it very hard to wait for the full game to come out next month!
So, the first thing that really got my attention with the demo (other than the astounding graphical improvements) was that the game really felt very similar to Dragon Age: Origins. From all the pre-release info I had expected a slightly dumbed-down version, but I was pleasantly surprised that the game stuck to the combat model from the original.
It is true that the graphics and animations have been massively amped up, and combat is a bloody mess of action and gore (in a good way). You press a button and the consequent attacks are smooth, immediate and often astounding to watch. The combat seems just as tactical as before (I found myself maneuvering to get the best impact of my cone and area spells for example), and the option to link different class abilities for synergistic effects looks interesting.
The character progression looks deep and meaningful, with the new options to upgrade different skills and specialise in different areas. Tactics, an important part of DA:O, remain in the game as well, which was good to see.
The story and roleplay sections look fantastic, and the new dialogue options seem natural and well done, at least as good as Mass Effect 2. The idea of telling the story as a history of a character that has already happened works really well and even in the relatively short demo (it took about 40 minutes to complete) this structure is used to good effect, throwing up a couple of unexpected curve-balls (including the unexpected return of a great character from DA:O).
The demo does lock out quite a few options that you can preview but not actually use (such as the character creation, inventory management, higher difficulty levels and so on). I think I'll be upping the difficulty setting when I get the full game, as the demo was pretty easy to complete, and I want to activate friendly fire so that I can't just fireball everything!
Anyway, the demo did it's job. I'm looking forwards to the game more than ever!
You can grab the demo here if you want to give it a try.
Right, lets celebrate with a couple of vids. First up the launch trailer for DoV, followed by the new demo trailer for DA2.
GW2 Super Adventure Festival coming March 30
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