Dragon Age 2 may have acquired a poor reputation, but that’s not why BioWare cancelled the Exalted March expansion

By Brenna Hillier, Thursday, 12 January 2017 23:42 GMT

Dragon Age 2 DLC came to an abrupt halt. Is that because it was a stinker?


Dragon Age 2 has a reputation for being the low point of the series, fairly or unfairly. When DLC support came to an abrupt end before the release of the cancelled Exalted March expansion amid backlash and criticism of the sequel, it was easy to point to underperformance as the cause.

But there’s never been any indication Dragon Age 2 and its DLC didn’t shift some units, and it actually sold faster than Dragon Age: Origins at launch. Certainly EA coughed up the cash for the team to double down for Dragon Age: Inquisition – and that leads us to today’s story.

In a series of tweets, Dragon Age creative director Mike Laidlaw said BioWare dropped Dragon Age 2 like a hot potato not because it was rubbish but because the team needed time to get to grips with Frostbite ahead of Inquisition; you may recall this was about the time EA decided all its studios should use DICE’s engine as we prepared for the next generation.

It’s worth noting that Skyrim released in November 2011, six months after Dragon Age 2, and changed the RPG landscape forever. The enormous success of Bethesda’s adventure showed the industry that with enough effort RPGs could sell as well as more traditional blockbuster fare like shooters. Suddenly, it was worth going really big on RPGs – and to go big, you need time and a fresh start.

Laidlaw also shared a few details on what Dragon Age 2: Exalted March would have covered if it had ever got past the early planning stages.

Although you’ll hear plenty of criticism of Dragon Age 2 – the recycled environments, more action-friendly combat, set protagonist and character-specific story are often highlighted for derision – there’s a lot to love about the middle child of the franchise, too.

Critics generally rated Dragon Age 2 higher than user ratings on sites like Metacritic, for whatever that’s worth, and hardcore BioWare fans might have enjoyed more adventures with Hawke’s merry band of pals. Ah well: even staff have said Dragon Age 2 came out in a bit of a rush.

As an aside, in some later Tweets, Laidlaw said he can’t remember whether it was Dragon Age 2: Exalted March or Dragon Age Inquisition which BioWare codenamed “Project Nugstorm”, resulting in concerned calls from EA regarding just exactly what the studio was up to. Ha!

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