There's a bunch of posts on the Dragon Age II forum with developers discussing tidbits that are being revealed as the preview embargo is lifted. But first some comments on friendly fire, which is linked to difficulty. David Gaider.
Because it has a profound effect on the difficulty. Hence it being attached to the difficulty. Peter Thomas on difficulties and friendly fire.
Or that, anyhow, is what I assume. Attaching things to toggles is great, but if someone flips that on and doesn't know that it will suddenly make their "Easy" game not quite so Easy anymore... well, that wouldn't be good.
Friendly fire is only on Nightmare. There were discussions on it months ago (including toggles, having it not be toggle-able in certain modes, and even locked difficulty levels) and that was the decision that was reached.
And a bit more from Peter Thomas.
For reference, here are our current goals for difficulty balance:
Casual - Able to be beaten playing a single character sub-optimally, with the rest of the party using default AI tactics. Normal - Able to be beaten playing a single character optimally, with the rest of the party using default AI tactics.
Hard - Able to be beaten playing the entire party sub-optimally, either controlling directly or using custom AI tactics.
Nightmare - Able to be beaten playing the entire party optimally, either controlling directly or using custom AI tactics. Friendly fire active.
Warrior basic attacks will have FF on Nightmare, but against party members it will only deal glancing blows (1/10th damage).John Epler on introducing characters the PC already knows.
I'm sure David or another writer will correct me if I'm mistaken, but I can't recall a single instance while working on the game where I saw a dialogue that told me 'THIS PERSON YOU'VE NEVER MET BEFORE IS SOMEONE YOU KNOW WELL, TRUST ME'. In my experience, anyone I'm expected to know about is someone that I, well, know about. David Gaider replies.
Correct. On occasion you'll encounter someone who you've "met" before during a time jump, based on whatever you were up to in that time jump (I'm being vague here, but the idea is that you are up to stuff during that time and presumably doing stuff even if it's not earth-shattering). We'll mention the fact that you know them in context, but try not to take too many liberties outside of that. Most people you meet or know about are ones that you will encounter during active play. Seb Hanlon clarifies how some characters in the plot are tied to the player's class.
The article is correct. You'll get Bethany if Hawke is a rogue or warrior (regardless of gender), and Carver if Hawke is a mage.David Gaider explains.
Not that this is something you're really concerned about, I imagine, but this came down to a design decision. I understand that you're deciding who you like more based on a meta-gaming decision (using information gleaned from previews, along with assumptions as to what Bethany and Carver are about) but someone who's playing the game for the first time won't know these things. How would they make such a decision, based on characters they've only just met? It would feel hollow at best-- and providing a decision that indirectly did the same thing (meaning you weren't directly deciding between them, but whatever decision you did make had the same end effect) might also feel cheap.
This did what we needed for the story to work-- and personally I really like the fact that both Bethany and Carver are fully-realized characters, providing you family members that aren't killed off right at the beginning of the story who are also going to work as part of it. I would caution you not to assume the worst about characters you haven't met yet and a story you don't know about... but you are of course free to jump to whatever conclusions you like.