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Joystiq starts us off:
The main characters of Dragon Age 2 are actually Cassandra and Verik, two people ten years down the line from the first game, that have to save a world on the brink of war not by fighting their own battles, but by finding out just what Hawke's been up to since Dragon Age: Origins. In other words, the game is told in flashback, by a not-always reliable third party. Which means that if Hawke's story is flashier, grittier, or more fanciful than the first game, that's okay -- anything that might be a lie probably is. "We wanted to see what happened if a legend is exaggerated," said Laidlaw during the demonstration.
That doesn't mean that Dragon Age has lost its core RPG combat mechanic -- you can still pause the game and assign orders to your characters. But it does mean that Hawke can mow down baddies with just one whirlwhind ability, or that his mage cohort can summon a magic meteor storm with just the press of a button. Moves are gory and flashy, with limbs and blood flying everywhere after a big slash or a devastating spell.
And then we get a different take from Game Rant:
Complementing the framed narrative, Bioware has changed the art style of the game to a more stylized and distinctive look, so that it appears as if it were from a story. The graphics engine has also been upgraded substantially. This was a priority for the sequel as Bioware was disappointed with the visual disparity between the PC and console versions. In the demo, the blood spatter appears to have been toned way down, which is for the better.
In the original game your characters would enter combat by lining up with the enemy and entering an initial combat stance. The characters would then attack, and reset. Bioware felt that this was too mechanical and took players out of the game, so the combat system has been changed to a more fluid style. Combat now feels like an action RPG that is more similar to that of a Lord of The Rings game than Baldur's Gate. While the skill/inventory wheel still exists and you can pause the action to assess your battle options, fans of a pure RPG style of gameplay will likely be put off by this change. At the same time, this combat system may bring in those gamers who like a little more control over their character during combat rather than relying on the random roll of the dice. You'll still be able to jump between your party members and control them.