The Champion of Kirkwall: Dragon Age II Part One: Introduction

Dragon Age II

Developer: BioWare

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Released: March 8th, 2011

Purchased: July 1th, 2011

Started: July 20th, 2011

System: Xbox 360

Right off the bat, this VGJ is a bit different. The original idea after 2010 when I started doing omnibus journals was that “epic” games would get their own devoted VGJs. But I eventually decided to just put them all in the omnibuses.

DAII was the last recipient of a standalone VGJ. For some reason, I must have felt like some changes were necessary, because this VGJ… doesn’t have any dates, until the very end of the game, which I finished off in an omnibus.

So how to format this VGJ? I will attempt to assemble it into parts, which I’ve done with my LPs for years now anyway. Sorry for any confusion. ;-;

Men cry not for themselves, but for their comrades.”

-Tagline for LOVELESS, Compilation of Final Fantasy VII

Part One: Introduction

The opening of the game is very impressive. The graphics are incredible in terms of clarity, detail, and lighting. It looks better than Mass Effect 2, and frankly, it should.

Unlike Dragon Age: Origins, DAII has a framing device. The game is told in flashback. Varric Tethras, a friend of a person known as Hawke, the Champion of Kirkwall, is caught by the Seekers, an offshoot of the Templars.

Dragon-Age-2-Varric-620x
Varric

The Seekers want to know how Hawke started a war between the Templars and the mages.

The Seeker in charge of Varric’s interrogation: Cassandra Pentaghast of Nevarra.

CassandraPentaghast
Cassandra

Varric opened his tale of the Champion of Kirkwall with a battle between her and Darkspawn. Her brother, a powerful warrior named Carver, stood by her side.

Carver-DA2
Carver

Basically, this is a combat tutorial. Combat is a LOT faster this time, and perhaps even gorier.

One difference between this game and how both its predecessor and successor handle combat is how it handles mages’ basic attacks. In Origins, it was handled like auto-fire, but in DAII, you have to continually mash the button. Feels a bit weird, but I like the sense of power imparted by the animations.

The Champion and her brother slew countless Hurlocks, an Ogre, an possibly an Archdemon.

But Cassandra cut Varric off there. The tale was too tall to believe.

So he started over at the beginning…

Unlocked Tale Within a Tale.

After designing my mage Hawke and importing my save from Dragon Age: Origins, the game proper begins.

Ilyria Hawke, her brother Carver, her sister Bethany, and their mother Leandra Amell fled a Lothering besieged by Darkspawn.

Bethany_profile
Bethany
Leandra
Leandra

The beleaguered family decided to set out for Kirkwall, a city-state in the Free Marches where some of Hawke’s relatives live.

Further down the path, we met the lovely couple of Aveline and Wesley.

Aveline
Aveline
Wesley
Wesley

Aveline will beat the shit out of a Hurlock to save her husband, but he still got critically wounded. We joined up with them and set out for the Kocari Wilds…

Characters level up fast in this game!

Unlocked Talented.

Bethany, a mage, was my sister. She was killed by an Ogre. Mother mourned her as Ser Wesley kindly eulogized her.

Which of Hawke’s siblings survive is determined by your choice of class. If you choose a warrior or a rogue, Carver dies. Choose a mage, and Bethany is the one that perishes.

More Darkspawn came, but so too did a dragon that swept the makeshift battlefield. It dealt with the Darkspawn and transformed into a human woman that presented herself as Flemeth, the Witch of the Wilds.

Flemeth
Flemeth’s look changed entirely from the first game.

She said that she would help us if we delivered an amulet to the Keeper of the Dalish elves outside of Kirkwall.

Wesley’s condition did not go unnoticed by the witch. Pale, veiny skin, bags under the eyes – the sign of a Taint that was not mastered.

Wesley and Aveline

Ilyria told Aveline to make the decision herself. Wesley handed her a knife, and she solemnly plunged it into his stomach. Flemeth consoled her. “It never gets any easier.”

She said that our trials had only begun…

Cassandra stopped Varric there, but his story checked out, so she let him continue. That, orrr she really didn’t want to hear about the Grey Wardens at the time.

Wait, Varric knows about that, too? Has he been stalking me?

He continued. The Champion, her remaining family, and Aveline reached Kirkwall two weeks later by ship.

Varric described Kirkwall as “the City of Chains”, a slave city, now “free – and I use the word ‘free’ loosely.”

To get to the docks, one must enter a deep valley flanked by giant bronze statues of weeping, gaunt men.

The local guard and Knight Commander, Meredith, kept the rabble out of Kirkwall, which made it very difficult to get in. But we had our uncle, Gamlen…

…who sold our family estate (gambling debts, I bet!). However, he knew of two people who could let us in by virtue of employment: a mercenary, or a smuggler who did not deal in flesh or slaves. Sounds good to me! But we would have to work for her for a year.

The smuggler was an elf named Athenril. With Aveline’s assistance, we helped Athenril claim a long-awaited debt from a scummy merchant.

Unlocked Nefarious. Sneaky!

Unlocked Immigrant.

Varric said that we worked for Athenril for the rest of the year, building a reputation in the underworld. Before the year was up, news of the Grey Wardens’ victory over the Fifth Blight spread.

But Hawke and her family were still stuck in Kirkwall. Tensions between the mages and the Templars grew. This was also the year when hundreds of Qunari warriors were stranded in Kirkwall…

Ilyria and Carver tried to convince a dwarf to let them tag along on an expedition to the Deep Roads. But he refused.

As Ilyria and Carver walked away, a thief tried to steal what little coin they had.

That was when they met Varric.

He pinned the thief to a wall with a bolt shot from his crossbow, Bianca. Varric then gave the gold back to Ilyria.

It turned out that Varric was the younger brother of the dwarf (Bartrand) leading the expedition into the Deep Roads. Varric wanted to help us get in on the expedition.

Unlocked Craftsman.

We went to Varric’s room on the second floor of the tavern called the Hanged Man. There, Varric told us of a Grey Warden in town helping Ferelden refugees. Varric thought that this Warden could help us get into the Deep Roads.

Some Varric trivia: he’s voiced by Brian Bloom, who also voiced a dwarf named Leske in Origins.

Unlocked Darkness Falls. OOOH

Behold the cockiness of one who doesn’t know how dark this game gets. -_-

Apparently, the magic in the family comes from the Amells.

The ability to use magic in the Dragon Age universe is passed down genetically, so Etheria inherited her magic from one or both of her parents. Connor? He inherited it from Isolde’s side of the family.

Morrigan, Wynne, Jowan, Irving, Zatharian, Ilyria, Bethany – all of it passed down genetically. It’s a bit like X-Men, isn’t it?

I wonder if it can skip a generation.

…And Carver didn’t get any of it. He’s jealous of the thing that Templars are so uptight about as to be constipated…

Mother doesn’t seem to show any favoritism.

Does that mean that Carver’s insecurity is rooted entirely in himself?

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