Laidlaw: Dragon Age 2 lowers the entry barriers to RPGs

Thursday, 24 February 2011 22:45 GMT By Brenna Hillier

BioWare’s Mike Laidlaw has said a significant number of Dragon Age: Origins players didn’t complete even an hour of the game, so Dragon Age 2 has a more forgiving learning curve.

“I think [Dragon Age II] sidesteps what I see as almost like traditions,” Laidlaw told Destructoid.

“Traditional weak points of the classic RPG are … they’re daunting. High barrier to entry. They’re hard to get into.

“… So our goal with 2, I think, is to strip away a lot of that barrier to entry to let you ease into the game.”

RPG’s are often criticised for almost requiring a play guide in order to succeed; Dragon Age instead uses increasing complexity and tutorials to let the player get a feel for it. Laidlaw cites early character progression, as seen in the game’s demo, as an example.

“I’m pretty sure I’d like to play as a rogue who is male,” he said. “And then I kind of ease into, ‘Ok, cool, these are my starting abilities and do I want to go more archery, do I want to dual-wield, or do I want to … use more bombs and poisons?'”

Getting nostalgic, Laidlaw recalled playing Ultima 3 and being offered three gender options – but having no idea if his choice would mean anything.

“It was kind of hard to parse what that meant,” he said. “What effect would that have? Would it change the game?”

Despite avoiding the trap of expert knowledge requirements, Laidlaw considers both Dragon Age games as traditional RPGs.

“To me, the hallmarks of a classic role-playing game would be: story-driven, stat-based, and to some lesser degree, there’s a bunch of ancillary baggage that comes with it. I have inventory, I have customization.

“I think Dragon Age II has all the hallmarks … and those elements were really critical to, I think, Origins’ success.”

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