Just a brief blog on my first thoughts about the game. I’ve played something like 8-10 hours and have gotten far enough in to offer some thoughts on some areas of the game.
The character creator offers slightly more variety in terms of hairstyles/colour, but the largest change is eye colour. It’s now much easier to make out than before. Otherwise, it’s pretty similar to Origins, except that you must be a human (class and gender options remain).
On a related note, the faces have been improved upon. I thought they were good in Origins, but they’re notably better in the new game.
A big change is that the protagonist (Hawke) is no longer a mute but voiced. The female version is played by Jo Wyatt, and I must say that she’s got a pretty good voice. I haven’t played as male Hawke yet, but Nicholas Boulton played Vaughn in Origins, and his voice was excellent.
I was uncertain whether I’d like a voiced protagonist, but I think it makes the character more real.
I’ve recruited most of the companions, and can report DA2’s banter is (from the sample I’ve heard) as good as Origins. The companions are far less customisable (you can give them accessories and weapons but their outfits cannot be altered except rarely), which is disappointing. They are, however, far more proactive. If the games had subheadings, Origins could’ve been The Warden’s Story, whereas DA2 is more like Marian Hawke and her Merry Men.
Assessing balance between classes is hard, but I do think they’re more equal than in Origins. It’s also not possible to spam potions or healing spells because of the lengthy (overly lengthy, in my view) cool-down periods.
Battles are substantially faster, but that’s the biggest change. Talent/spell trees have been nicely improved.
The battle menu is almost identical to Origins but the main in-game menu is radically different. It’s a bit less clunky than the Origins one, but still not quite as user friendly as it might be.
Regarding flaws: the processes of saving and loading are both much faster. There’s less jitteriness and very little (if any) combat lag. Sadly, freezing may be an issue that’s persisted. I’ve had one freeze, after 2-2.5hrs of continuous play.
There’s a very, very different feel to Origins. It’s more personal, more about development of Hawke, her companions and their relationships to one another and the numerous factions in Kirkwall. I may prefer it to Origins, but I’ll need a few completed games to find out.