Dragon Age II Preview and Video Interview

GameSpot rolled out some new GamesCom-based Dragon Age II coverage this afternoon, including a hands-on preview and a nearly five-minute video interview with lead designer Mike Laidlaw. From the preview:
In addition to seeing how combat plays out on the battlefield, we got a chance to see the new leveling-up system. If you remember the first Dragon Age, spells and abilities were all leveled up along a linear path. In Dragon Age II, it's more of a branching tree of upgrades. So, for example, if you've gotten to expert combat tactics and you're not particularly compelled by master combat tactics, you can veer over into a different skill path entirely without having to start over from the beginning of another field of specialization. (That's not a specific example, but it should hopefully give you a good idea of where BioWare wants to take the leveling system.)

Aside from gaining a more accurate picture of how combat works in Dragon Age II--think quicker and less clunky than the original, but far from Dragon Age: Turbo Mode--we learned a few things about the game's character-building elements. The one that intrigued us the most is the way the tone of conversations will become affected by the style of character you play as. Essentially, if you're playing as a pure bastion of light and goodness, your character will tend to sound very genuine. But if you're playing as a real salty scoundrel, for example, choosing the polite dialogue options will often result in your character saying the nice thing with a hint of sarcasm because it's not really something that fits with the character you've built thus far. You can still choose whatever dialogue options you want, but the way you actually sound during those options will be affected by decisions made far earlier in the game. We're not sure whether that applies to everything you say or just a few select sound bites, but this nonetheless seems like an intriguing way for BioWare to repurpose Mass Effect's conversation wheel in Dragon Age and still add a new touch to it.
I suppose I can live with a set character and the Mass Effect dialogue trees, but they really need to expand upon the character advancement/progression system. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask for at least twice as many talent and skill choices this time around.

Oh, and if you have $75 burning a hole in your pocket, you might want to consider pre-ordering the newly revealed Dragon Age action figure four-pack. You'll even get a free Dragon Age t-shirt if you do.