In a new "Why Role-Playing Games Dominated 2011" piece, IGN's Charles Onyett have rounded up a few of the stand-out RPG titles of the past twelve months and pored over their strengths and weaknesses. Dragon Age II, The Witcher 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Dungeon Siege III, Rift, Fable III, Darkspore, Dark Souls, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Star Wars: The Old Republic are all mentioned:
Dragon Age II was a huge letdown. My complaints have little to do with the mechanics. The combat system was actually better than Dragon Age: Origins. Many times throughout my playthrough I halted all progress to pore over the talent trees, reading descriptions and plotting out exactly how to build my party, my decisions made more difficult because of how many paths seemed worthwhile. It looked great, the voice acting was superb, the writing strong, but few role-playing games have frustrated me so intensely.
BioWare's legacy had something to do with it. Baldur's Gate II is one of my favorite all-time games, and that definitely influenced my expectations. Before Dragon Age II was released, I thought of the franchise as a return to the fantasy role-playing style of old with a few modern conveniences. That meant a long journey full of unexpected discoveries and strange new worlds, where I'm free to follow along with the main plot or go off on my own and uncover unexpected treasures. Dragon Age II cut most of this out, focusing on a painfully limited set of recycled dungeons and explorable areas, forcing me to talk to the same people so many times that many interactions felt as mundane as waiting in line for a morning cup of coffee. By the game's end all sense of wonder and discovery was completely wrecked by Dragon Age II's limited scope, which felt like an origin story from the first game puffed up into a 40 hour experience.