Dragon Age II: Wrath of Mod

I’ve always felt rather torn over Dragon Age II. I loved the story and the characters, but hated the gameplay. Normally it is my habit to play through Bioware games several times to see different plot branches, but due to the bad gameplay, I never managed to get myself to play through DA2 a second time.

Cutscene art from Dragon Age IIBut the desire was always there. Recently I got it into my head to try playing it with some player-made mods to make the gameplay a bit more bearable.

Normally, I’m not a fan of mods. I’m always paranoid about technical problems resulting from the use of unofficial software, and it feels a bit like cheating (which, let’s be honest, it is).

But in this one case it seemed like an exception might be warranted.

To keep the risk of technical difficulties low, I tried to limit the number of mods I used. These are what I settled on:

  • Total Freedom: Remove all prerequisites on learning abilities and reduce ability cooldowns by 50%.
  • All Specs – All Abilities: Unlock every specialization and talent tree for every character, including companion-specific trees like Dalish Pariah or Tevinter Fugitive.
  • Modest Run Speed Increase: Slightly increases Hawke’s movement speed out of combat.

Of them all, the reduced cooldowns made the biggest difference. After a few levels, it removed virtually all the downtime from combat and made it simply dull, instead of excruciating.

A battle during the Legacy DLC in Dragon Age IIThis also obviously had the effect of lowering the game’s difficulty, but it didn’t make as much of a difference as you might expect. The only really broken thing I was able to achieve was getting Fenris to 100% magic resistance.

It was a success in that I was able to play through the game to completion, though I have to say that even with all the changes the combat did start to drag me down a bit near the end.

I’ve also come to the conclusion I’m not a big fan of lady Hawke. I really like Jo Wyatt in SW:TOR, but she just sounds a bit too refined and imperious to be believable as an underdog refugee.

It was interesting to revisit the game, though, and I was reminded there’s a lot about it I truly appreciate. It has better pacing than most other Bioware games, and it’s the only Dragon Age game to date to display any particular style or personality in its art or world-building.

Also, it’s so much vastly better to actually get notifications when companions have new conversations. Why on Earth didn’t this become standard for every Bioware game? It’s such a basic convenience…

Fenris and Hawke in Dragon Age IIOne of my big goals for a second playthrough was to romance Fenris and see how he reacts to it if you’re a mage. I’m coming away from that with mixed feelings.

First of all, it’s definitely possible to romance Fenris if you’re a mage and support mage freedom. It’s difficult, but it’s possible. I will admit I turned to some guides online to smooth the process.

It doesn’t feel very natural, though. There are some lines that make mention of how he thinks you’re one of the good ones (or words to that effect), but mostly the game kind of glosses over his mage prejudice during the romance scenes.

Other than that, it was well-written. I’d say I recommend romancing Fenris; just don’t do it as a mage if you want it to feel natural.

I do like how he lunges at you. He and Sera should compare notes.

This was also my first time playing through with Carver instead of Bethany.

Oh my gods is he ever an asshole. I mean, just, wow. There have been some unpleasant Bioware companions, but this guy just might take the cake. He’s like Alistair’s whining crossed with Vivienne’s condescension and Jorgan’s prickliness sandwiched between two thick slices of unrepentant spite.

My mage Hawke and her party in Dragon Age III was disappointed he didn’t side with Meredith at the end. I so wanted to murder him.

Beyond that I didn’t do much differently this time compared to my first playthrough. There’s no way in hell I’m ever going to side with the Templars in this game. I still lost Isabela (too bad; I was hoping to sell her to the Qunari), but I managed not to have to fight any companions at the end. I thought I’d have to fight Avelline because I wound up with a pretty toxic relationship with her this time, but she had a last minute change of heart. I still supported Merrill and Anders at every turn, and I was still friends with Varric — is it even possible to get on his bad side?

I did pick up the Legacy DLC, since it ties into Inquisition, but it was actually a bit underwhelming. Normally Bioware’s “set up the next game DLC” is amazing (see: Arrival and Trespasser), but Legacy didn’t really impress on any level. Corypheus came across as more of a confused old crank than the world-ending threat he was in Inquisition. I wouldn’t say it was a bad DLC, but it’s definitely not a must-play.

The one change that I really don’t get is that for some reason I had a dog this time. I have no idea how that happened. I figure it’s either some side-effect of the mods or something to do with the flailing at the DLC page I did before starting. But I definitely didn’t have a dog the first time I played this game.

I named him Rufus. I liked how Merrill told him Dalish stories about dogs.


4 thoughts on “Dragon Age II: Wrath of Mod

  1. I’ve always had the dog in DA2, so I was puzzled when you mentioned not having him. Apparently he is part of The Black Emporium DLC which came included with my edition of the game, so I’ve never known different.

    I’ve played DA2 once as a male rogue Hawke and then replayed the same again before DAI to use as my “canon” version with super mega happy ending to import into Dragon Age Keep.

    I really liked him so it was tough when I made the decision to have him hold off the enemies when escaping the Fade in DAI. I needed Logain alive to get Grey Warden support. But I never actually saw Hawke die, so in my head he was badass enough to survive and is out there in the Fade somewhere waiting to return when Dragon Age Imperium (or whatever DA4 set in Tevinter will be called) comes out…

      • My Dragon Age world was unique that way 😉. My Warden decided to keep him alive as punishment and made him go through the joining to become a Grey Warden.

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