Why Dragon Age 2 is still one of the most accessible triple-A RPGs

Of all the coming holidays, Dragon Age Day on December 4 is perhaps the one collection followers are trying ahead to the most. Since gamers based the occasion in 2018, the annual celebration of BioWare’s fantasy RPG collection has continued to develop. Last yr, the studio even contributed to the festivities by releasing new brief tales and beforehand unseen paintings – recent crumbs of info for followers to devour in anticipation of Dragon Age 4 information.

“The fact that our unofficial day is now marked and celebrated by BioWare itself is probably the best compliment we could ask for,” Dragon Age Day founder Teresa M says.

But the occasion isn’t only a group celebration; it’s a possibility for followers to help inclusive causes they consider in. For the previous 4 years, the founders and their fast-growing group of volunteers have run a decent ship, steering their ardour for Dragon Age and its capability to deliver individuals collectively in the direction of elevating funds for charity. Co-founder Angela Mitchell says “We’re proud to have involved dozens of Dragon Age celebrities, artists, devs, and writers, as well as expanding our message internationally, but we’re proudest of the way our event gives back, raising over $30,000 USD for charity so far while boosting the call for greater accessibility and diversity in gaming.”

This yr, AbleGamers – an organisation devoted to making sure incapacity inclusion in gaming – is the fundraiser’s featured non-profit for the second yr since 2019. Other non-profits with related missions, equivalent to I Need Diverse Games, are additionally receiving a lift throughout the occasion and on social media.



Considering the highlight that’s being shone on non-profits like these, Dragon Age II turning ten years outdated earlier this yr, and the proven fact that it’s Dragon Age Day, now is the excellent time to debate why the maligned second entry is so particular to accessibility advocates.

Ten years on Dragon Age II is, surprisingly, still the most accessible triple-A RPG I’ve performed

Upon its launch in March 2011, Dragon Age II confronted a storm of controversy. Critics and followers alike criticised it for recycling property and environments from Origins, the construction of its narrative, and the determination to make the protagonist a human character with a longtime character and voice. This was a step away from Dragon Age: Origins’ much-loved net of prologue tales and voiceless protagonist, which let gamers extra freely conceptualise the histories and tendencies of their Wardens.


However, Dragon Age II did obtain loads of reward for BioWare’s fascinating writing and its streamlined fight, and stands as testimony to the miracles recreation builders can produce below artistic limitations and the stress of crunch culture (which is, nonetheless, at all times to be regretted). It outlined Dragon Age as we now comprehend it: with a voiced protagonist, a novel mix of motion and strategic gameplay, and a deal with emotive storytelling. And ten years later, it is, surprisingly, still the most accessible triple-A RPG recreation I’ve performed as somebody with mobility disabilities.

In most third- and first-person RPGs, digital camera motion is sure to cursor motion with none choice to remap it. This presents challenges for gamers who lack the energy and dexterity to deal with a mouse and the WASD keys concurrently. Workarounds like the on-screen keyboard (OSK) typically can’t be learn. While we’ve seen current triple-A video games like Ubisoft’s Far Cry 6 try to unravel this concern, utilizing the OSK to deal with motion and fight simply isn’t there but.

But BioWare’s Dragon Age collection stands out as an exception and provides us an instance of how we will combine the OSK seamlessly, and mix it with different accessibility options to present players with bodily disabilities the immersive expertise we deserve.


For the first two Dragon Age entries, it’s potential to play with none keyboard in any respect when you’ve named your character. The digital camera follows your character everytime you hit right-click to maneuver, have interaction an enemy, or acquire loot. The UI enables you to click on on each means and menu display screen you want. And Dragon Age II distinguishes itself with highly effective AoE talents, companions that aren’t paperweights, and frequent auto-saves.

Its sequel, Dragon Age: Inquisition, takes a step again on this regard regardless of having extra accessibility choices than its predecessors. You can technically use the mouse-only method by unpausing Inquisition’s Tactical Mode function – which lets gamers organize their celebration like items in a board recreation – however digital camera motion is clunkier, companions are inclined to get in your method, and also you still have to hit the spacebar in your keyboard to leap over obstacles and ledges.

This isn’t to say Dragon Age II is an ideal instance of accessible recreation design, even in regard to mobility accessibility. Its wave-based fight prevents gamers from appropriately assessing whether or not they can deal with a combat earlier than coming into it. The boss battle with the Arishok at the finish of act two is hell, even on the informal problem setting. The UI’s menu buttons are barely a pixel bigger than a cursor, presenting a barrier to visually impaired gamers which is exacerbated by the dim, low-contrast design of the menus and environments. Other design decisions, equivalent to giving NPCs speech bubbles for his or her ambient dialogue and including clear outlines to the compass, are extra accessible in comparison with what you’ll discover in Inquisition, however there’s no escaping the proven fact that a lot of what makes Dragon Age II so accessible comes all the way down to the yr it was launched in.

Still, what BioWare managed to drag off with mobility accessibility is spectacular. The studio demonstrated, although doubtless unknowingly, that accessibility is about presenting decisions to gamers, and correctly integrating these decisions into core features. One still wonders what extra BioWare might’ve achieved if given extra time, not solely in respect to accessibility however the complete recreation. Could the studio have pushed boundaries additional, if it hadn’t been pressured to publish what was primarily a primary draft in a severely restricted growth cycle?

The proven fact that our unofficial day is now celebrated by BioWare itself is the greatest praise we might ask for

Theresa M

Founder, Dragon Age Day

Some unimaginable design decisions emerged from BioWare’s rush to fulfill EA’s 16-month growth timeline. I might endlessly reward the genius of utilizing a companion like Varric Tethras as each an unreliable narrator and a story failsafe, ought to a delicate retcon of the story be desired down the line. But as we have fun Dragon Age, accessibility, incapacity non-profits, the collection’ followers, and the individuals behind this beloved collection on December 4, let’s name the business’s crunch tradition what it is: an accessibility concern in and of itself, that forestalls builders from doing their greatest work for followers and sometimes bars disabled players and builders from a seat at the dialogue desk in the first place.

“Dragon Age Day is truly a labour of love for all involved,” Teresa tells me. That’s what I see once I look again at Dragon Age II – a labour of love and a novel piece of videogame historical past, from which builders and publishers can still study in the present day.

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