Dragon Age 2 DLC: Legacy Review
While Senior Producer Fernando Melo suggested this DLC would only be the first step taken towards addressing feedback, two things Legacy promised to directly address are the recycled locations and the repetitive battles.
Legacy’s plot begins in media res; a criminal cartel has been out for Hawke’s blood, so he (or she) decided to saddle up and rally a posse to put a stop to the buggers. Along the way, he uncovers clues about his father’s past as his quest leads him into the depths of a Grey Warden prison where a powerful ancient evil has been locked away.
Upon loading into the Legacy, the first thing I noticed was the drastically different scenery. Within this one DLC, I explored an evolving environment than ran the full gamut from sun-scorched desert to subterranean twilit world. The atmosphere was palpable and conveyed the increasing danger as I descended into the depths of the ancient Grey Warden prison. To quote Aveline: “The water’s on fire. I don’t think that’s good.”
Along with new environments, Legacy contains a host of new enemies, each with their own behaviors. Charging Brontos, swarming Deepstalkers, and the juggernaut that is the Genlock Alpha, a Hulk-variety Darkspawn that carries a massive tower shield.
After I met my first Genlock Alpha, I started seeing those shields standing everywhere in the environment. I knew that, at some point, one of those shields wouldn’t just be part of the décor, but would have an Alpha hiding behind it, ready to ram me into a paste. The building anticipation made the inevitable ambush all the more powerful.
The variety in enemies ensured no two battles were alike, but most importantly, none of the battles felt contrived. The monsters didn’t drop from the sky or otherwise “poof” into existence — the setups were all very organic.
Oh, and only one battle involved spiders.
But the variety in combat didn’t end with the new monsters — each encounter was designed to include some tactical element, be it choke points, high ground, or the ability to pull levers to trigger traps on the battlefield. Although I mostly ended up hurting my own teammates with the traps, they’re irresistible, and there was one instance when I nearly wiped out a dozen ambushers with a well-timed pull of a lever.
Throughout your battles, you gain a powerful, class-specific weapon that you can customize with magic attributes of your choice, increasing its power as you delve deeper into the prison.
However, combat isn’t the end-all be-all of Legacy; fans of lore will have pages to read to learn more about the new locations and the people that lived (and died) in them. A moral dilemma will force plot-oriented players to make a tough choice between two shades-of-grey options. Legacy even manages to throw in a couple puzzles that make you use your noggin — a throwback to the tabletop Dungeons & Dragons roots of the genre.
Characterization in Legacy is as strong as it was in DA2; inter-party banter returns, there are some touching family moments, and you meet one memorable NPC that is both visually interesting and has depth to his character. The voice-acting is top-notch as usual — my only complaint is that the dwarves sound like morons, possibly even more so than in DA2. I expect DA’s dwarven language to sound like “Herp derp.”
Without spoiling the ending, the final villain didn’t feel as menacing as I would have liked, and the immediate post-battle denouement was not particularly satisfying, but a family moment at the end brought it home: the villain, the Grey Wardens — none of that mattered. Dragon Age 2 is a story about Hawke and his family, and Legacy left me satisfied with the completion of a journey of self-discovery and family bonding.
Overall, the quality of Legacy is unquestionable. It was crafted with the same quality and attention to detail as DA2 — perhaps even more so. Had DA2 been developed this way, players would have had far less to complain about.
But what it boils down to is whether the $10 price tag justifies the amount of content. It took me 3.5 hours to play through Legacy, exploring every nook and cranny, looting every crate and sack, and completing every side quest. While I would have preferred a $7.5 of even $5 expense for 3.5 hours of entertainment, if I take into account that some $60 AAA titles contain barely more hours of gameplay than this DLC, I can’t complain.
Final Score: 95/100