Since the release of the infamous Justice League ‘Snyder Cut’ last month, it’s been fun having a think about what games should get a big indulgent revamp, and what those hypothetical revamps would look like. Former Dragon Age lead writer David Gaider has been pondering exactly that on Twitter, revealing a load of things he would’ve liked to change in the most polarising game in the series, Dragon Age 2. Unfortunately, none of his ideas involve fewer spiders.
I call Dragon Age 2 polarising because I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t consider the game either the best or worst in the series. Admittedly, I think it is the worst, for a lot the reasons Gaider talks about in his Twitter thread. Weird pacing, plot points that make no sense, and a said-to-be bustling city that in reality felt rather empty (I also thought the combat was a bit rubbish, but that’s a separate point entirely).
“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,” Gaider posted. Dragon Age 2 came out just 16 months after Origins.
“DA2 is, however, also where the goal posts kept moving. Things kept getting cut, even while we worked,” he adds. “I had to write that dialogue where Orsinio turned even if you sided with him, because his boss battle had been cut and there was no time to fix the plot. A real WTF moment.”
Orsino is the boss of the mages in DA2, and he turns into a giant blob-monster at the end of the game even if you tell him, “Hey I don’t want to murder and imprison mages, that’s a dick move”. It was a massive disappointment when I first played DA2. Reaching that point and learning there was nothing I could’ve done differently to change the outcome was baffling, especially coming from BioWare’s space romp Mass Effect, which let you talk down a final boss to avoid a part of his fight entirely.
Along with changing Orsino’s fate, Gaider mentions a few other plots he would’ve liked to fix and add in too. He’d want an end to Templar boss Meredith that didn’t involve her slurping up the evil red lyrium, as well as adding plots to the game’s third act that “would have made the buildup to the mage/templar clash less sudden.”
“Heck, maybe an end decision where you sided with neither the mages nor the templars,” he adds. “Because it certainly ended up feeling like you could brand both sides as batshit pretty legitimately, no?” And honestly, I think this sort of option would’ve been pretty nice in Dragon Age: Inquisition as well.
Other highlights from the thread include shortening the length of time between DA2’s acts from years to months, making mage Hawke fit in a little more with the other mages, and “maybe an option to go ‘umm, Anders… what are you DOING?'” – you know, when you’re casually helping him build a chantry-levelling bomb.
Dragon Age 2 had flaws beyond this sort of thing. One that players frequently bring up is the reused rooms and locations, Gaider says he doesn’t really care about all of that: “All I wanted was for Kirkwall to feel like a bigger city. Way more crowded. More alive! Fewer blood mages.”
One thing that I’ll admit Dragon Age 2 does have going for it is its characters, and a “Gaider Cut” would also involve seeing a little more of them. He’d expand the game’s opening so you could actually spend some time with Hawke’s brother and sister, Carver and Bethany before, uh, death occurs. And last, but certainly not least, he’d want a Varric romance. Let us kiss the Dwarf, BioWare.
This is all hypothetical, of course: “The most hypothetical of hypotheticals. It’s never gonna happen,” Gaider says. But as I said before, it’s fun to think about.
Are there any more bits of DA2 you think you’d change? I’d quite like the combat to either be more like Origins’ or Inquisition’s, I think. Though, I reckon Origins could use a Snyder Cut itself – but mostly just to take out both the Deeps Roads and the Fade levels and throw them into the sun.