Is Dragon Age 2’s Hawke A Mistake?

The first Dragon Age was an impressive mix of classic Western RPG elements and modern console sensibilities. BioWare had crafted one of the few Baldur’s Gate style RPG that truly worked on consoles and I loved it. In fact I played it enough to get the platinum trophy. With that said, the few details that have been introduced about Dragon Age II’s protagonist, Hawke, have really been disappointing.

One of the strengths of Origins was the inclusion of the origins stories into the overarching narratives. The manner in which BioWare weaved the origin throughout the rest of the game was incredibly involving and made every race and class feel extremely different. In Dragon Age II BioWare is removing that experience in favor of a more controllable protagonist like in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved both Mass Effects. But I don’t want to have the same experience in Dragon Age.

BioWare, it seems, has made the decision to make money, and that is perfectly okay. In that sense, it will not be a mistake. Odds are good that, in making Dragon Age II more similar to Mass Effect, it will open it up to a wider audience. But in so doing, they have lost much of what made Originsso special. One can only hope that Bioware does as good of a job with Hawke that they did with Shepard in Mass Effect.

Many people out there will love the changes, and that is understandable. The addition of a voice for the main character is great, and Hawke will allow for the possibility of a much stronger narrative. Dragon Age II is going to be an excellent game, but it is going to be at the expense of what made the original so special.

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  • Blood Omen

    I could not agree with you more.

    Origins was special because of
    the origin stories. I loved
    ME 1, i thought ME 2 was great
    for a shooter, but fell far short
    of me considering it a RPG.
    I don’t want DA 2 to go down
    the same path.

    Eveyone was worried that Awakening
    was a BAD OMEN. It was
    rushed/glitchy and left more
    questions then it answered.
    Now we know our fears were

    I am scared Dragon Age will turn
    out like every other generic
    fantasy game. Its bad enough the
    1st press release makes DA 2 sound
    like FABLE 3 mixed with ME 2, and
    That really scares me.

    Its still very early, but what happens to everyone from DA:O?
    your love interest that was
    supposed to carry over, your

    And i have to say it, ME 1/ DA:O
    were developed PRE-EA. ME 2 and
    DA 2 were developed after Bioware
    became part of EA. Is it a
    coincidence? Most are starting to
    think not. Just check all the
    forums, Dragon Age fans are pissed.
    KOTOR 3 was changed to the MMO after BW became part of EA too.
    3 games, changed after EA shows
    up. I can see why everyone is
    connecting the dots….can you?

    Making money is great, and its not
    something BW needs to worry about.
    They are the gem in EA’s crown,
    they are known around the world
    as one of, if not the BEST story
    tellers in the entire game
    industry. Updating graphics, battle
    system, diolaogue is fine, but BW
    is messing with the story telling
    formula which could be their
    biggest mistake, considering
    how much time people invested
    into their Origins charachters.

  • Exanda

    What makes you think this is a monetary decision? Recently it was confirmed that Dragon Age: Origins performed better than Mass Effect 2 with regards to sales. A great deal of customers, it was suggested, invested in the game because of its adherence to the old mainstays of the RPG, such as a great deal of leniency towards development of your avatar.

    Surely a monetary decision and a financially motivated one would be to keep that amount of diversity part of the player creation process?

    I tend to think that this was a decision made to compliment Bioware’s primary muse in the games-making medium: the story.

    I know I’m not alone in thinking that my voiceless character could not imprint enough of his/her personality onto the world, that this uncharismatic mute was not a person this band of adventures would feasibly follow.

    Sure, my character could imprint certain things on the world – people would comment on my gender, which people I belonged to and other such things – but they rarely greeted me with anything more than a half-hearted acknowledgement of said character choices.

    A voiced character, restricted in race et al, is a compromise I can understand, and more importantly one I cannot wait to get my hands on. After completing Dragon Age, my memories of the game grew sour.

    After 30+ hours of playthrough I still felt my Grey Warden was anonymous. I still didn’t know who they were. I only knew what people said about them. That they were a scrounging Dust Dwarf or a reckless jerk of a Dalish Elf, and such confirmation of racial traits should be below fantasy and below Bioware.

    Of course, I know I am not in the majority of people, and only that I am simply not alone in thinking this. Origins was a neat idea. Sometimes the experiences would differ and pleasantly surprise. I can only ask that people dipping heads at this change in direction consider the greater implications for the story. Dragon Age is Dragon Age, and it won’t become a fantasy shooter RPG out of the blue.

    Fact is, before this news I had quietly decided that if Dragon Age’s anonymous player-characters remained a feature, I would (to my own disappointment) decide to not by it. Because of this news, Dragon Age 2 is one of my most anticipated slice of gaming.

    In fact, I may even replay Origins again – although I might find myself putting it down as soon as the Dwarfish and Elvish folk start speaking with North American twang again.

    • Ski

      I agree with you, man. I mean, I love Origins, but one of the most disappointing things about it was that I put so much work into developing my character and customizing what he looked like, and he didn’t even get a voice. I mean, I know it’d be ridiculous to hire 6 voice actors to do dialogue for basically two entire games each, but it would’ve been nice if everyone knew my character and not of him.

      I’m actually welcoming and looking forward to the change of having a more in depth narrative in exchange for a little less customization. In my opinion, the tradeoff is more than worth it.

      I mean, the absolute worst case scenario would be that they revert to the Origins style in Dragon Age III.

      If you think about it, there will still be a great deal of customization in DA II. It’s just not as much as DA:O. I think everyone will see that, although Hawke is a voiced character created by BioWare, you still get the interactive experience that you loved in DA:O.

  • jusb

    I dont like the idea of not being able to select your own race. I was hoping that they would have expanded on this I was hoping for a quinari mage (they are leashed so that would be very interesting to play) and/or warrior option to be available.

    I suppose it will be easier for them to build a better story for the player character if there is no option for race selection.

  • rosesunrai

    I have been the fan of RPG and my favourite is Dragon Age I. What I liked about DA I is that we get the choice of creating our own character and have our own destiny in the game depending on our choice. It really defines player character. And I liked the story which defines oneself and we feel that it is we that are involved in the game and the experience of playing oneself and defining one’s choice is what I feel DA I became most favourite and popular.
    Now we have DA II where we will not find ourselves playing the game and defining players choice and character but of protagonist Hawke, which I do not prefer playing as someone which doesn’t define what we are. I do not prefer to play’s someone’s role but prefer to mould our own character.
    I wish BIoware could just continue from DA I where we could just carry our character forward as in Awakening and start the story for DA II with new game plot and experience.

  • rosesunrai

    Anyway I am hoping DA II will also be great regarding the story and plot and worth playing as Hawke.

  • Erries

    I think the idea is cool and I honestly don’t think that you’ll be limited in race, unless it’s already been said. I think Hawke is a generic name (similar to Sheppard) and could be used across all races. However, my problem is that there is no continuation from Dragon Age: Origins. All the hours I put into my character and now I find out that his story just ends? At least in ME1 I know that I was gonna be able to import him.
    I just hope BioWare understands what it’s doing and that if DA2 doesn’t sell as well as the first, they’ll understand why…

  • Colton

    The story of the Grey Warden is complete. What happened to their companions, I think we will see in DA2 and future DA games. Honestly, what DA: Awakenings showed us, is not a rushed product, but that the Grey Warden story is complete. There is no reasonable way they could have continued the story of the Grey Warden, because the Blight is over, and for there to be another Blight so soon after would be outlandish.

    The world created for DA has so much potential for other stories, to expand on one specific group or country would be linear and become dull quickly. What Hawke gives us is a chance to expand not only a important character but one with true identity. A character that we could easily see in a future DA game.

    I love almost everything they are doing with DA 2 (not a fan of the new Darkspawn art style though) and through out all Bioware RPGs there has been two major points; story and companions. If the companions look dull, and the story seems uninteresting, then you should worry.

    Bioware has never let me down with either of these. Baldur’s Gate is still one of the most impressive RPGs despite how linear it is. What makes it so create is the story and companions. I’m not the only person to have played through Baldur’s Gate multiple times, despite the fact that you will get the same story over and over again no matter what race or class you choose.

    I think, for those who give DA 2 the chance, all their worries will be laid to rest upon it’s release.

  • Rim

    First of all we should note that we know nothing about the story of DA2, who Hawke is and what part he plays in the grand scheme of things. Commenting on something we do not know is sort of…<.), the story is what matters not strategy and face modeling.

  • Yuge

    I could not agree more! This is one of the big things that has been bugging me. I love Dragon Age Origins, and I love both Mass Effects. I do not want Dragon Effect, or Mass Effect: Fantasy edition however. The origins and the customization of your character made Dragon Age special.

    I’m sure Dragon Age II will be an amazing game regardless of this Hawke character. It’s not so much that I think the game will be horrible, as much as it’s simply… disappointing. It’s disappointing because it is a near-perfect game turning into a great game.

    Dragon Age is actually a game I admit I have a bit of an emotional attachment to. They did so well at that; at making you connect to your character… that honestly, I almost feel… insulted, that they’re being replaced by this new guy.

    They made you feel your character’s pain and happiness, they made you be your character. I felt my character’s love for Morrigan, his pain at losing her, his drive to find her again…

    And now it’s just like… “Lol, your Warden wasn’t really that important, meet the REAL main character, Hawke.” Not to mention I have this sinking feeling in my gut that my Warden never WILL get the chance to find her. Don’t get me wrong, I could respect that from the standpoint of it being artistic, showing gamers how sometimes there really isn’t a happy ending… but just the whole… utter disregard for the Warden in favor of this “Hawke” person… how they keep referring to him as the most important person in Thedas’s history or whatever…

    I kinda feel like Bioware just slapped me in the face.

  • Shadow

    I bet this will be a rushed attempt to make up for lost DLC sales, I’m already not liking it.

    There are things that agree with me and things that don’t, this takes the cake. However as someone commented on here *we simply don’t know enough about the story* makes sense but so does *we don’t know enough about game play* lets be honest that’s what it all comes down to anyway.

  • Lycan

    I find it amusing how many people here dislike the concept of DA2. There is no logical way to move the warden story forward, and while some people may have an emotional attachment to their warden, but if bioware have triggered such an attachment once they can surely do it again. The story of hawke is a way of seeing more of what thedas has to offer and even you can’t decide who he/she was, you can choose who they become as a person and how they become who they are at the end. All that is definite is that you are a human refugee ( which is likely to lead to a more stable storyline), you can talk ( good and bad to a degree), your family name is Hawke, Flemeth plays a part, your father and sister are/were apostates, there is a framed narrative done by former dwarven companion varic for benefit of Cassandra, choices in DA:O will to a degree have an impact on DA2, you will if you complete the game be champion of Kirkwall, there is a physical threat of some sort another ( likeley a qunari threat from I can conclude) and a few other factors. We also know that this is bioware who have as of yet (to my knowledge) not dissapointed the majority and are not going to do so now

  • Evil Peter

    The origins part of DAO was well made and something I really liked but when BioWare makes premade heroes for DA2 they increase their opportunities to make the hero himself memorable.

    For all the good things that were in DAO, the hero never really stood out nearly as much as the companions. They were the real characters, together with some of the more important NPC’s not under PC control. The hero was important but never truly present in all senses of the word.

    With Hawke they can make the character come alive and not just be your mute pawn in the story. They also have a much better possibility to make all parts of the story connect stronger to the character and make a better whole.

    As long as they makes your choices in the story matter even more than in the last game it will be just as replayable as DAO was, if not even more so.

    The thing I don’t want to see is them dumbing down the plot and the relationships with other characters. If they take this opportunity to make an even more intricate story, and doesn’t just make it more action packed, this has the chance to be a better game than Origins. At least when people have finally accepted that there will be a change and just gives it a chance.

    And for the guys to say that the warden character wasn’t really important, that’s just stupid. He/she saved the world from the Blight and that didn’t matter? That story is over and you can’t really top that for the character unless you break the feel of the game and make it as epic as the Baldur’s Gate series ended.

  • Hermit

    First i was thinking “But i want a dwarf”

    But i guess im so starved of good rpgs that this will be just fine.

    Now, what happened to that Lotr rpg?

  • Holycrapofgod

    BS! If i cant make my own character in the new dragon age im not going to even play it. This is both disappointing and a mistake. I was looking forward to the new dragon age because i wanted to see what new possibilies for character design there was. For RPG games you need to be able to create your own character. I don’t mind if its a FPS shooter like call of duty or survival horror like dead space, but if its an RPG game, customizable character is a must, and i am outraged and disappointed that they would pull such a dick move.

    I liked dragon age origins because it was fun playing as different people rising from difference places, but being forced to be some asshole? That takes alot of fun out of the game. The point of RPG is to play as anyone you want to be, not be forced to be someone, honestly it was a good franchise but this ruined it for me, all I can say is I hope they reconsider, other wise,me, and pretty much everyone like me, will not even bother with this game.

    I’ll stick to origins and RPG games that don’t force characters on me.

  • luna3334

    Im soooo sad by this! I want to play as a girl! I dont want to be forced to play as a guy ;( Im not a guy im a girl! and i want to play as a girl! its not fair that i am being forced to play as i guy! do i atleast get to edit what i look like? Im sad now ;(

  • @Luna3334 You will have a choice between playing male or female. As for character customisation, I don’t know.
    I am also very sceptical about DAII. The gameplay footage we’ve seen so far looks no better than it was in Origins, I’ve even seen some generic hair styles from Origins!
    Let’s see, maybe, against all odds, Bioware will impress us once again…

  • DA 2 will be told as flashback through Varrick’s and Cassandra’s perspectives. How this going to make the hero more stood up compare the ones on DA:O is beyond me. My personal experiences with 3rd party story telling is, I never feel much involvement with such characters simply because the truth is I’m only the audience while the narrators shape the story about a man called Hawke. It’s weird that the audience get the chance switch role to be Hawke here and then when the narrator ask him to.

    To be honest, I prefer to experience things first hand rather being told by the narrators. I don’t like being a puppet either. But this is exactly going to be in DA2. The narrators are the puppet master. They will tell you when to jump into plot and when to return back as audience in real time. You on the hand are merely a puppet. Good luck !

  • I was did everything and every quest I possibly could to beat DA-O. I was excited because I wanted to continue my game as I did in ME. I was really impressed with the first DA, and can count it to be my favorite game so far! I know I may not have played many to have that opinion, but it had all the fun I want in a game. That said, I was really disappointed to hear that the sequel to my favorite game isn’t a sequel at all, just a game set in roughly the same land. I agree with what a lot of you said. I wanted them to continue the characters(which I loved)and I wanted to continue MY story in the game. I LOVED ME 1 and 2 because of the continuation. I’ll still play it, but I’ll be wishing I could be my old DA self whilst I do. Perhaps they’ll continue it how we want it down the line…

  • Honestly, what I disagree with in what you said is how ‘involving’ the Origins stories are. Rather, they were the opposite. Once you had met Duncan, any quest from the Origin was completely severed and not mentioned apart from one or two lines. In fact, the Origin story barely made a difference at all, and all that was ever experienced was: 1. Racial discrimination, 2. Vague references to the Origin, or 3. One line changes to dialogue. The story is barely affected at all by the Origin.

    Despite that, I do not mind them creating a title character for Dragon Age 2. I’ve enver played Mass Effect, and m,y only disappointment in waiting for Dragon Age 2 is that they didn’t set the game in one of the often-mentioned other countries. Rather, we’re still pretty much face-to-face with Ferelden.

  • I definitely understand everything you have mentioned. In reality, I browsed through your other articles and I believe that you’re definitely right. Congrats with this particular blog.

  • Ok lets face it. The substance in stories of RPGS of today (and past?) is just pure water. Sure, Origins had a complex story and a Hollywoody feeling (like a blockbuster specacle) but won’t make leave me with something to remember. Comparing to books, I’d put it in the same level as feist,eddings and other similar story-for-money guys, but way below Le Guin and Zelazny, for example.

    All that said, Origins was so much fun to play, in no small part thanks to amazing voice actors. Of course, there was a very refined combat control system. The only reason for frustration was that the most powerful spells were usually so uncontrollable to be very difficult to be used properly.
    Compared to Origins, the sequel is such a lowly junk. Bare and crude artwork, combat full of annoying interactions (all these screen you need to switch between, when in the original part everything was interweaved properly), just three classes of characters, debilitated spell system, ……., i could go on.
    Not worthy it’s high price. Not worthy at all. Do they think the players are imbeciles. In order to balance out the injustice, I won’t buy the new Dragon Age, no matter how good it is.
    Waitin for Witcher II …

  • I finished Dao like a hundred times because of how addictive the storyline and everything was. I absolutely loved Dao in every way and to be honest I’m starting a new game after I finish writting this post. I finished DA 2 twice now and to be totally honest, if you haven’t bought it yet, don’t buy it, if you haven’t Downloaded it yet, don’t either. This is just a sad sad game. Your actions are stuck, you can’t really change anything in the story, the characters are ok but not even close to first dragon age, hawke is a lucky moron that’s usually “on the right place at the right time” if u catch my drift, and the ending is just… Bioware could have made the same ending with the Warden. And fuck anyone that says bioware couldn’t have continued the Warden story… Seriously this is a Fantasy game, question isn’t what can be made, it’s “what CAN’T be made”, possibilities are limitless… seriously… I think Bioware just slacked and with such action they disapointed all the true Dragon Age fans… Bottom line is: Like Dragon age? then start a new file on DAO it’s 20 times more worth it than DA2 and those limitless DLCS