David Gaider, the lead writer on the divisive Dragon Age 2, has revealed some of what he would do if he could “Zack Snyder DA 2” and change the game for the better.
This Dragon Age 2 journey began when Gaider was asked whether or not Dragon Age 2 was his favorite in the franchise. Gaider answered by praising the writing team and saying how proud he was of all they accomplished in such a short time.
DA 2, according to Gaider, was a project where the “goal posts kept moving” and where “things kept getting cut, even while we worked.”
“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,” Gaider said.
He continued by confirming that, while DA 2 is his favorite in the series, it’s “the sort of thing I never want to live through ever again. Mixed feelings galore.”
He then posed the question, “If you could Zack Snyder DA2, what would you change?” This is when he created a thread of fascinating details that reveal much of what could have been had the team been given enough time to do so.
One of the first things Gaider would change was to either “restore the progressive changes to Kirkwall we’d planned over the passing of in-game years or reduce the time between acts to months instead of years.”
Despite many saying the team should have gotten “rid of repeated levels,” Gaider doubled down and shared that he wanted “Kirkwall to feel like a bigger city. Way more crowded. More alive! Fewer blood mages.”
He also wanted to “restore the plot where a mage Hawke came THIS close to becoming an abomination. An entire story spent trapped in one’s own head while trapped on the edge of possession. Why? Because Hawke is the only mage who apparently never struggles with this. It was a hard cut.”
Many alternate lines were cut, and Gaider would be happy to see these restored, many of which dealt with people forgetting they’d met you, “Or that they knew you were a mage. Or, oh god, that maybe they’d romanced you in [Dragon Age: Origins]. So much carnage.”
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He’d want to “restore the Act 3 plots we cut only because they were worked on too late, but which would have made the buildup to the mage/templar clash less sudden.”
Alongside restoring Orsino’s end battle, he also would have wanted “an end fight with the templars that didn’t require Meredith to have red lyrium and go full Tetsuo.”
While he and the team never got around to planning it, he also would’ve loved to implement “an end decision where you sided with neither the mages nor the templars. Because it certainly ended up feeling like you could brand both sides as batshit pretty legitimately, no?”
Oh, and he also thinks there should have been an option to go, “umm, Anders… what are you DOING?”
Varric also should have been a romance option, because Mary Kirby “took that ‘slimy car salesman’ character we’d planned and did the impossible with him.”
If Gaider had his way, there would also be an “original expanded opening to the game which allowed you to spend time with Bethany and Carver BEFORE the darkspawn attacked.”
Wrapping up his thoughts on this “Zack Snyder DA 2,” Gaider also would have liked to “Restore the ‘Varric exaggerates the heck out of the story’ at the beginning of every Act, until Cassandra calls him on it. Yes, that was a thing.”
He also wished to have had the opportunity to make the cancelled Dragon Age 2: Exalted March expansion that would have… gasp… “ended with Varric dying.”
While being extremely proud of the project, Gaider obviously shares in the frustration in what Dragon Age 2 became, and even said “he wouldn’t be surprised if EA considered DA2 its embarrassing red-headed stepchild.”
Many of these issues may have stemmed from the fact that “DA2 existed to fill a hole in the release schedule. More time was never in the cards. DA2 was originally planned as an expansion!”
“I would personally say that DA2 is a fantastic game hidden under a mountain of compromises, cut corners, and tight deadlines,” Gaider said. “If you can see past all that, you’ll see a fantastic game. I don’t doubt, however, that it’s very difficult for most to do that.”
In our Dragon Age 2 review, we said, “Every modification to the gameplay and structure of Dragon Age II is a clear improvement over the previous game. The combat is more responsive and bloody, you don’t need to fight the inventory system anymore, and conversations are more engaging thanks to the adapted Mass Effect wheel. There are downsides though; the semi-linear story and repetitive environments have a negative effect on what is otherwise a great role-playing game.”
While Dragon Age 4 is currently in development, Gaider left BioWare in 2016 after 17 years at the studio. In 2019, he co-founded Summerfall Studios and is currently working on Chorus, a part musical and part adventure game.
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