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Dragon Age 2 PC Getting A Perspective Shift?

by Jeff Cork on Aug 09, 2010 at 04:52 AM

The PC and console versions of Dragon Age: Origins may have shared the same title and storyline, but the gameplay varied significantly. PC players were able to zoom out to better manage their team’s tactics from above, while players on the console front played a game with camera controls that were much closer to the action. BioWare recognized the shortcomings of the console version, and the studio has been working to improve the gameplay for the sequel.

When we visited BioWare for our cover story, we were assured that PC players would benefit from the console version’s upgrades, though they’d still be able to enjoy the same tactical gameplay and presentation from Origins (similar to the classic Baldur’s Gate) if they preferred it. According to a post on BioWare’s forums, that seems to have changed.

According to the post, French gaming magazine Joystick interviewed Dragon Age II’s lead designer Mike Laidlaw. In the post, which has sections of the translated interview, Laidlaw apparently said that the camera can’t zoom out as far, citing technical reasons. “For budgetary reasons, we focused our work on a 3rd person view, that asks for very detailed and nice textures  so that the player can admire the game with a close-up view,” he said. “With an aerial view [isometric] we should cover much more ground and so create other textures. Now, the game mainly sold on console, so we're going the way of the audience."

In addition to the perspective shift, Laidlaw said that Dragon Age II will not have a toolset for user mods.

As you can imagine, BioWare’s forums erupted with complaints and threats of boycotts. Laidlaw popped into the thread on his weekend with the following post:

“Hey folks,

“Victor managed to hunt me down, and I wanted to clear up a few things with regards to what I'm seeing as the two major concerns on this thread.

“First off, let's talk about the toolset issue. Obviously in this community there's going to be some concern that we wouldn't release a toolset, so let me clear the air a little: The tools we're using to make Dragon Age 2 are very, very close to the tools you guys have used to make your mods for DA:O. They're not identical, as we've made a few in-house improvements, but they're almost identical. As such, there isn't a new toolset to release, per se.

“While we won't be releasing a toolset update in tandem with Dragon Age 2, we ARE investigating what it would take to update the community toolset to match ours, along with providing DA2 content in the future.

“As to the subject of tactical view, I can confirm that we will not be doing a tactical view on consoles, though we are looking into some expanded party control that I think will make console players quite happy.

“On the PC, however, we are still working with the camera to keep the key elements of the tactical experience there. I was actually playtesting some new camera code when Victor found me, in fact, so I can give you the latest news on that front.

“While we likely won't pull as far up as we did in DA:O, I have always felt that the key to tactical play was actually freeing your camera from the character you're controlling to issue precise orders, which is what we're tuning now. So, this means you can still maneuver the camera around the battlefield and issue orders from a remote location, just as you could in Origins.

“As you can probably tell from my phrasing, all of this is a bit in-flux right now, so things may change between now and ship, but I wanted to update you guys on the current direction of things.

“Mike”

That clears things up—to a point. It seems BioWare itself is still tweaking the camera, but it won’t be the same as before. That’s contradictory to what we were told on our visit. We’ve contacted EA and BioWare to get further elaboration on the news, and we’ll provide updated information as soon as it’s made available.