Dragon Age II Previews

Two more hands-on previews of Dragon Age II have made their way online this weekend, starting with this short piece on PC Gamer:
Dragon Age II's backstab move is ludicrously satisfying: starting with Hawke hurling a smoke bomb, he darts forward at warp speed and somehow gets behind his foe, whereupon he injects a few inches of cold steel into their kidneys. The first time he did it, I made an involuntary grab for my own innards. The second time, I started grinning. I began playing this Hawke as he was meant to be played. Hawke and friends are a lot more mobile this time around indeed, combat as a whole is fresher, faster, and closer to an action game than in Origins.

Immediacy is BioWare's adopted mantra for Dragon Age II. Now dressed up in Mass Effect armour, DA2's dialogue adopts its stablemate's mannerisms: a conversation wheel anchors discussions and small blobs of text provide an inkling of what your fully voiced Hawke will say without spelling it out. Best of all, I was able to use my party's abilities mid-chat to shut up unruly backchatters. Bethany, Hawke's sister, has access to a fireball. Against a stream of Darkspawn, she and Hawke could stand and discuss the ways they were about to be eaten, or with a conversation option she could launch a pre-emptive conflagration and crisp half the incoming force.

And then you'll find a lengthier piece on Gamereactor UK:
I did meet a charmer named Varric though, who had some of the best dialogue I witnessed in the game; luckily he also became my first companion. Bodahn and Sandal ("Enchantment?") can be found in Kirkwall, where they reside, but perhaps a lust for adventure will make them leave their home at some point?

The companions in Dragon Age II have also been included in the more focused visual style. You can no longer dress them up in whatever piece of armor you find, simply because their personalities and looks are designed in every detailed - and that for example the warm-blooded Isabela would look incredibly stupid clad in some heavy armor. That doesn't mean that they people you meet won't change their appearance, though. Specific points in the story will change specific characters, and you can also buy armor upgrades for them that will still fit their personalities.