Biowares Dragon Age II is my Number 1 game so far this year. Since its release nearly two weeks ago, I have been spending as much time as possible playing through this role-playing epic.
I’m going to chronicle each play-through of the game, so I can understand the choices I make and the ramifications of those choices. I have now finished my first play-through so I will write what I have experienced so that I can look to change things the next time around.
***There are quite obviously a great many spoilers in these posts so if you want to experience everything yourself without any outside influence, please stop reading (I know I’m certainly avoiding all walkthroughs as there’s so much I want to find out for myself).
This is also not the complete story of Dragon Age II, it is a walkthrough of the significant choices I have made and how my companions and their backstorys have evolved.***
For my first play-through I set the game difficulty to casual. For me the most entertaining aspect of the Dragon Age games are the multi-faceted storylines. I tend to get frustrated when I can’t continue the storyline because I keep dying. It’s the metaphorical equivalent of having several pages stuck together in a really addictive book.
For my first adventure I wanted to play a character that didn’t have too much to worry about so I opted for a simple damage-dealer; the rogue armed with two deadly daggers. Also, as I was the rogue I wouldn’t have to worry about taking someone with me who could detect and disarm traps and open chests. I created an unshaven, and tattooed yet good-hearted and charming male Hawke and dived right in.
Dragon Age: Origins Game details.
I was able to use a previous Dragon Age: Origins story which gave me the following game events to progress from.
- Connor was freed from the Demon
- Mages were recruited into the Army
- Werewolves were recruited into the Army
- Bhelan rules Orzimmar
- The Anvil of the Void was destroyed
- Logain was killed
- Alastair is King of Ferelden
- Alastair performed the Dark Ritual with Morrigan
- The Warden killed the Archdemon
- Wardens Keep was reclaimed
- Shale was discovered
My Party and Companions
From an early point in the game I wanted as many mages in my party as I could. This was initially because I thought that the spell effects were so dynamic and powerful, I felt we could be an unstoppable force. Although as I took those mages with me and experienced their comments and people’s attitudes towards them as I quested, I felt that my first Hawke would want to help them as much as possible.
Here is a breakdown of each companion and how they have evolved with me.
Anders has been in my party as soon as it has been possible for him to be. He is a very adept healer as well as being able to cast devastating spells. Despite him not really getting on with Merrill’s use of Blood magic he has remained faithful and I have helped him when-ever he requested it. Whether it was to unearth a supposed Templar conspiracy or to attempt to remove the Justice spirit that dwells within him. He is one of my most faithful friends.
Aveline only became a regular party member once Bethany had left, after the Deep Roads. She is my party’s tank; equipped with sword and shield she defends the rest of the party. Aveline is now the head of the City Guard, and despite her ability to lead the men and clean the streets she is pathetically useless at telling another guard that she is in love with him. Though, after a large amount of playing-cupid from yours-truly she is now happily married to Donnic. We have not always seen eye to eye, and we remain somewhere in the middle of the friendship/rival bar. This is mainly because she is a good City Guard and didn’t always like turning her head to some of my more underhanded activities.
Bethany my younger sister. Playing a rogue caused my brother Carver to be killed in the games intro. If I had played a mage it would have been Bethany that would have been killed (I believe). She was with me from the very first moment and she stayed with me all the way to the Deep Roads after which she became a Grey Warden (See below). She excelled in fire and ice magic, and we were firm friends until that fateful journey.
Fenrys has been quite overlooked in this initial play-through. As Fenrys distrusts all mages, his discomfort with partying with mages was an odd dynamic that didn’t really work with my chosen party set-up. From my limited knowledge of him, he is a former elfin slave, imbued with raw lyrium to increase his powers. Escaping his master he is know seeking his own way in the world. Fenrys’ forte is using two-handed weapons to inflict large amounts of damage on multiple foes.
Isabella is, in essence, the games bike. It feels as if everyone has had a ride. She is a former pirate captain who is up to her neck in trouble because of a relic that she is desperately trying to find. Isabella was taken to bed by Hawke but they agreed it was just for fun. Isabella didn’t really feature in the main party very much and so she left the party in Act III (More info below). Isabella is another rogue, and as such was never really essential in my party.
Ah, how can anyone not fall for that wonderfully cute welsh brogue. Merrill, the excommunicated Dalish elf with a penchant for blood magic. Despite being asked to leave her Dalish clan she has sworn to recover the power of the Dalish, and later on in the game attempts to do this by way of a magic mirror. This mirror is shown in the Dalish opening introduction in Dragon Age: Origins. A mirror whose original misuse caused the death of one of Merrill’s closest friends. Hawke is now happily married to Merrill, she lives in his mansion in High-town and Hawke showers her with gifts when-ever he can. Needless to say she is definitely one of Hawke’s closest friends.
Varric is the game’s narrator, a dwarf storyteller and the lynchpin of the entire narration.. The storyline is pushed along by way of a number of cut-scenes involving Varric being interrogated by Cassandra, A Chantry Seeker who blames Hawke for the events in Kirkwall. Varric has been a part time member of my party on and off. I went with him into the Deep Roads and the events that transpired from there helped to cement our friendship even further. Varric is another rogue, who uses his crossbow who he has personified and calls Bianca.
At first I played Hawke as the joker, whenever possible the comic option was used. As my character developed I found myself using the nice responses more and more just because some of his previous jokes had been at the expense of someone I was trying to help. I know I’m a complete softy, but as I didn’t know what ramifications these comments would have I have tried to play it safe.
Main Story Arcs
Once I entered Kirkwall I needed to earn some money in order to buy my way into the Citi. I was given a choice of two different people to work for by my less than reputable uncle, Gamlen. I could either work for some smugglers or for some mercenaries. At this point I wanted to play the loveable rogue, so I joined with the Smugglers. After a few not entirely above-board quests I had paid my way into Kirkwall.
|Garrett at the end of the game|
The Deep Roads Adventure
Once I had paid my way into Kirkwall I was approached by the Dwarf Varric offering me a once in a lifetime chance to go into a section of the deep-roads no-one has ever been to before. Wealth and prosperity was promised if only I can come up with 50 gold and some maps of the area.
Once I had gathered all of the supplies, I decided that I would take two of the three Mages (Bethany, and Anders) with myself and Varric to the Deep Roads. Our mother begged me not to take Bethany to the deep roads as she couldn’t stand losing both of us. I comforted her and told her everything would be fine. Maybe I should have listened to her. At the start of the adventure Bethany started to look queasy and feint, and by the end was suffering from the final stages of ‘The Taint’ and wouldn’t survive the trip back. Anders, the ex-Grey Warden new that the only way to save my sister was for her to become a Grey Warden herself. He knew where some Grey Wardens were stationed in the Deep Roads, and after a brief conversation my sister had left my party to join the ranks of the Grey Wardens.
It turns out that the Quanari were still in Kirkwall because they were still looking for a relic that was stolen from them. The very same relic that Isabella has been looking for. After tracking it down to an old forge, Isabella performed her roadrunner act and scarpered with the relic. I suspect that if I had developed more of a friendship with Isabella that this could have played out differently.
No, even after promising her that I would give her the relic (hoping I would be able to change my mind later) she left with it, and has not been seen since. Leaving me in quite a tricky situation with the Qunari who really, really wanted their relic back.
The Qunari Exodus
The Qunari, under the belief that what the people of Kirkwall really needed to make their situation better would be a Qunari assault where the inhabitants would be forced under the teachings of the Qun (The Qunari teachings). After assaulting High-town, the Qunari Arishok is ‘guiding’ his new ungrateful initiates in the Viscounts keep. Decapitating the Viscount and killing someone who stands up to him, puts him in quite the aggressive light (Although, I’m sure he’s all fluffy-bunnies when you get to know him.)
When I fought my-way to the Arishok, killing his soldiers and his guards and being very relic-light when I spoke to him, meant that there was no other way; I had to kill the Arishok and all his men. By saving Kirkwall from the Qunari I became Champion of Kirkwall although It’s very likely that all this will have violent ramifications later on.
The Mage – Templar Wars
Once I was champion of Kirkwall, the increasingly antagonistic divide between the Mages and Templars forced me to provide an opinion. The First Enchanter (mage) speaks to the people about how he feels mages are mistreated only for Knight Commander Meredith (templar) to break up this display claiming that they (The Templars) do what they have to do. I had three decisions siding with either of the two parties or asking them not to argue. I hadn’t played anything else indifferently before so figured there’s no point starting now. I sided with the mages and Meredith stormed off.
A little while later I was asked by Meredith to investigate 3 apostate mages. She claimed that investigating these mages would show me just what they were up against and just why their actions were justified. Two of the mages I tracked down were possessed by demons and fell to my blades. The third was basically lying so he could erm… be intimate with a lady. I gave him some money and told him to run, saying I would lie to Meredith and tell her that he had been killed.
Upon returning to Meredith, I accused the Templars actions of being responsible for the mages having to defend themselves like this. She didn’t much care for that and she threw me out of her office knowing she was never going to get my approval.
Well, things just escalated from there. I took the side of the mages at every available opportunity (even though there were some occasions I felt they had some good points.) Then the spark to the tinderbox. Anders decided he would blow up the Chantry. At least I know why he needed to be left alone when we visited before. Meredith called the Rite of the Annulments (basically where every mage gets killed) and a fight broke out. Now it was mage vs. Templar. I took Anders with me, even after what he had done and fought our way through to the Gallows.
As we battled our way through Templars and Demons alike we came across Bethany, my young Sister, Grateful, for the help of such a powerful mage she came along for the ride too.
As we were holed up in the Gallows, I spoke to all of my companions for what could be the last time. Templars burst through the door, and as we took them down, more and more approached this wasn’t going to be easy. The First Enchanted seeing his defeat, delved into the very depths of blood magic and turned himself (and several mage corpses handily lying around) into a weird blobby, mouthy apostate demony-thing. Needless to say he wasn’t exactly on our side and we had to kill him, for our own good.
Fighting our way through even more Templars and there stood what had to be the final battle. Meredith herself. It turns out that she had got hold of a sword in the deep-roads that had had exactly the same effect on her as the idol had on Bertrand. She was paranoid, angry and now quite insane. As not even the Templars would follow her dictates. She turned on everyone.
After a scuffle involving giant moving statues, Meredith lay slain and the game was over.
Varric, concludes his story by saying that this event sparked similar events of mages overthrowing Templars all over the world. The companions all found reasons to leave the hero’s side.
A nice surprise at the end is that Leliana (from Dragon Age: Origins) was behind the interrogation of Varric. She is desperately seeking the Champion for reasons still unknown.
Lovely, lovely Merrill how could I refuse her anything, well I couldn’t and I don’t. I have helped her whenever I can. There have been various quests which show that despite of the fact she was thrown out of the Dalish clan she still wants nothing more than to help restore some of their power, and her best shot is this magic mirror. I have helped her retrieve any magical components she requires and after obtaining an important magical element from the leader of the Dalish I gave it straight to Merrill, even through Anders complained about her demon and blood magic usage. The mirror……
One final quest, and I was trekking back up Sundermount to ask a demon trapped within the mountain what do. Quite a bold move which didn’t go down too well with Anders but I can’t let my elfin wife down, now can I?
Upon reaching the cave, and the demon apparently gone. Marethari, the leader of the Dalish clan approaches her and says that her body is now the prison for the demon. She of course did this to save Merrill and by destroying the prison you killed the demon. Once the demon was vanquished Marethari said the demon was gone and that she was safe. Though as the prison hadn’t been destroyed it could only have been the demon possessing her. Merrill kills Marethari, and after a brief pyrotechnics display the demon is now more.
As soon as I left the cave, Hawke and the party are confronted the Dalish elves demanding to know what has happened, and accusing Merrill of murdering Merrill. Being the gentleman that I am, I defended Merrill and the Elves turned on me. When I reached the bottom of Sundermount, the remaining Dalish were all hostile and I had to kill them all.
Ander’s Demon Cure
Ander’s had investigated a cure for his condition. Something that could help him separate the Spirit of Justice from his own spirit. I ventured into a couple of caves to retrieve the magical components he needed, at which point he said he needed me to distract the Grand Cleric at the Chantry while he performed an important part of the ritual. He was very cagey with the details and wouldn’t tell me exactly what he was doing but I trusted him. After occupying the Grand Cleric for long enough, Anders returned and I am still none-the-wiser regarding how it went. He told me it didn’t work, but I have no idea what he did in the Chantry that I wasn’t allowed to see. Of course, I found out…
It was Varric’s brother Bertrand’s expedition into the Deep Roads and he didn’t like the idea of sharing the profits with me, although after realising that he wouldn’t actually get an expedition together without me he reluctantly agreed to take me along.
Once in the heart of the Deep Roads an idol was discovered which, once in the hands of Bertrand started his descent into greed and madness. Bertrand locked Varric and the rest of the party into the Deep Roads and ran off with the idol in a Golem-ish sort of way.
After escaping, reports started to come through that Bertrand had returned to Kirkwall and was holding himself in an expensive house in High-town. Vowing vengeance on the back-stabbing little git, Varric, myself and my two remaining mages trotted off to the mansion to confront him.
At this point I became Varric, on his own, killing a near infinite amount of enemies with little effort. Switching quickly to a cut sequence Cassandra asks why Varric had “chosen to lie now”, and for him to “say exactly how it happened”. At this point you relive the events as your actual party from the instant they enter the mansion.
As I entered the house, the full degree of Bertrand’s insanity becomes clear. Mercenaries throughout the entire house, had been magically brainwashed to fight me. Clearing out all of the mercenaries, I found the gibbering and paranoid brother, driven mad by the power of the idol. Anders’ magic clears the brothers mind long enough for him to speak clearly and beg with us to kill him as he couldn’t live with what he had become. I encouraged Varric not to kill his brother, and Bertrand is now the newest resident at the Kirkwall funny farm.
Once I became Champion of Kirkwall, Varric once again asked for my help. He is trying to sell his brothers house, but it has been invaded by evil ghosts and spirits, and needs them cleared out. Another…
Once at the house, you witness things floating about and apparitions all standard ghost stuff. Whilst in this house, the usually quite calm and friendly Varric seems tense and angry, even accosting a servant girl still at the house and accusing her of stealing the idol. After this conversation you fight a piece of the idol in large Stone Golem form. Once the Golem is nothing more than rubble. It is clear that Varric cannot give up the piece of the idol easily, and asks to retain a piece of it as it is the only cure for his brother. I let him. Later on, Varric seemed back to his usual self though It can’t be a coincidence that a piece of a Golem is making people act rather like ‘Golem’. Can it?
Murder of Crows
A member of the Antivan law enforcement asked me to find an escaped criminal who is being sheltered by the Dalish. Being the honest law-abiding citizen (sometimes) I agreed and headed off to the Dalish village to find him. The Dalish told me that he was hiding in a cave, and that he had no wish to get anybody hurt… Not your most murderous of criminals then. Fighting my way through the cave, who is there to great me at the bottom but good ol’ Zevren from Dragon Age: Origins. I couldn’t kill him, not after he fought so diligently to defeat the Blight. So I went back to kill the ‘law enforcement’ who were in fact members of the Antivan Crows. The Crows didn’t survive for very long, and Zevran made his goodbyes and left.
Demon Magic Books
I have been asked to find and destroy some very powerful evil books. Well instead of destroying them, I have been taking them. Nothing happened with this, so I can only assume I either didn’t find them all or find the quest point that activates them.
When I got to the Dalish village, I was asked by a young human woman to help gather some ingredients for a cure. Apparently, the werewolves who had slaughtered the Dalish Village in Ferelden (from my DA:O) were losing a grip on their feral nature and becoming more and more wild.
Unfortunately, I went to the Deep Roads before I found the last ingredient, so without the quest completed the rumours spread that the entire pack had become completely feral and had disappeared into the woods of Ferelden.
Mid-way through my experiences I was asked to investigate a serial killer who sent his victims white lilies before killing his victim and removing parts of their anatomy.
Later on the game my mother spoke to me of an admirer who she had become quite taken with. It had been several years of game time (and a few days for me, so long enough for me to completely forget about this murdered) so I embraced the relationship and told my mother she deserved to be happy and that she should see him.
Unfortunately, my mother went missing on the way to Uncle Gamlen’s just after receiving some white lilies. By the time I had found my mother she had been turned into a Frankenstein’s monster of dead women made to look like the killer’s lost love. Needless, to say the killer was killed, but my mother died in my arms. Yet another loss to the Hawke family. Was there anything I could have done?
The Bone-Pit is a mine owned by a merchant called Hubert who suffers from no end of issues with his mine. In Act I, he offered me 50% of the mine’s profits if I discover why his miners are not working and profits are down. It turns out that the miners had broken through a wall and had nearly all been slaughtered by dragons. In Act II I was asked to investigate some shipments that had been stolen, this also got sorted when I killed the brigand responsible and once again Huberts mine was safe. The next quest in Act III was completed accidentally. I was at the Bone-Pit for another quest and found a High-Dragon, even on casual this was one mother of a fight that took a lot of potions to survive. Though eventually after 5 minutes or so, the High Dragon was killed. Returning to Hubert, I discovered that the High Dragon had killed even more shipments, and even though the mine was safe Hubert wanted no more to do with it, and gave me the mine. Though it doesn’t seem to be making me any money.
Future Play-through Plans
I have already decided how I am going to play it through next time. I like the idea of using one of the pre-written storylines, probably the one were Alastair was exiled and King Logain had been killed. This character is to be a female mage, who hates all of her kind, and travels with people willing to kill anyone; a really nasty piece of work who gets things done with violence, murder and intimidation.
If you’d like to read my reviews of the Dragon Age II Demo, or full game review, please click the links below…
- Dragon Age II Choices – Play-through #2 (Geneva) – Part 2
- Dragon Age II Choices – Play-through #2 (Geneva) – Part 1
- Dragon Age II – Full Game Review
- Dragon Age II – Demo Review
- Dragon Age II – Free Demo