Dragon Age 2 DLC: Legacy Review

The first major story-based DLC for Dragon Age 2 made a lot of promises — namely, to address player criticisms.

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

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13 Comments on Dragon Age 2 DLC: Legacy Review

CHoedy

On July 28, 2011 at 3:34 pm

I don’t think it merits a 95/100.More like a 90.

SilentCate

On July 28, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Loved it! Great story and fun fighting. Final boss was really fun! Bring your sibling because they have some really good extra dialogue. Played it twice so far and will do so again this weekend. Well worth the money =) banter was great!

Templar224

On July 29, 2011 at 10:59 am

Having played the Hawke character on so many play throughs in DA2, I have grown quite attached to the role. The legacy DLC brought it home for me both viscerally and emotionally. The visuals are stunning and the uneasiness of knowing you are about to be ambushed at every turn really made it enjoyable. My advise to players – Bring Aveline and Isabella with you on a play through. It is very amusing. I can’t wait to experience what comes next!

Marked One

On July 29, 2011 at 5:38 pm

What’s a glenlock?

CJ Miozzi

On July 29, 2011 at 5:44 pm

“What’s a glenlock?”

A new type of Darkspawn. It’s big. Like a gorilla. Or the Hulk.

undon3

On July 30, 2011 at 2:29 am

There are no “glenlocks” – it’s a repeated typo. Just a redesign of your plain old Genlock.

CJ Miozzi

On July 30, 2011 at 2:40 am

“There are no “glenlocks” – it’s a repeated typo. Just a redesign of your plain old Genlock.”

Not a typo on my part — just an honest mistake. I thought there was an “l” in there. All fixed now; thanks.

tencutty

On July 30, 2011 at 11:57 am

I havent played Legacy yet. I have to agree $10 is too steep for a DLC. The review said it did have completely new environments. I swear if i see another cave with dead end doors,piers/docks with loot always in the same spots, or mansions… i will send Bioware a box full of pop up books, maybe even an etch-i-sketch. How can a comnay as well seasoned as bioware go from the explosive hit of origins to this lackluster regurgitating over and over pile of dung.

Garry Cotton

On July 31, 2011 at 6:12 am

Shame the vanilla game wasn’t like this.

undon3

On August 1, 2011 at 7:30 am

@CJ: Didn’t intend to sound like a smug, I blame it on the little time I had to write. I could have put it in a more polite way, my apologies. Thanks for taking the time to fix the article :)

The DLC was OK, but very short&linear – maybe 4$ would be a more realistic price to ask, but hey, given you can “try” it for nothing, who cares. Bioware is not getting any money from me, until they put out a decent expansion with 20-30 hours of gameplay.

The final boss battle is pretty epic on Hard+ difficulty, although I think that a heaven-invader magister deserved a much longer, detailed story…

PS: Make sure you’re not missing the SECRET BOSS! (Seek the Warm Orb).

John

On August 1, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Bioware has officially redeemed themselves in my eyes with this DLC. Well worth the 10 bucks I spent on it… there were moments in it when I was genuinely terrified, moments when I actually laughed out loud, and moments when I actually read entire letters and codex entries all the way through.

I can’t wait to see what new DLC they might have cooked up for us in the future. This was the most fun I’ve had playing a Bioware game since I first played Mass Effect 2.

Jason

On August 6, 2011 at 8:46 am

After the DAII and doing almost everything I could to complete every mission and back story and quest, It was good to get out of Kirkwall and see a little bit more of the world. I think Legacy could have started off better. Hearing that the Carta have attacked Hawk and sibbling ( if their still alive)and then dumping you in the desert. This story could have started in Lowtown fighting Carta thugs at night and worked it’s way to the desert. Talked to diffrent characters never seen before in Hightown. Bumpted into an old friend from games past in the Hanged Man and start the investagation on why your blood is soooo important. Then seeing on your map a new location to head to..then letting Legacy begin.

CJ Miozzi

On August 6, 2011 at 11:32 am

@Jason:

Great point. That would have been a better opening. Hey Bioware, hire this guy ;)