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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why I like Dragon Age II more than Skyrim

I like Dragon Age 2 more than Skyrim. It has something that Skyrim doesn't. Something that makes all the difference in a role playing game. 

What is it? What makes Dragon Age 2 better than Skyrim?  

We'll get there soon enough, but first let’s start with some numbers shall we? People like numbers.

Skyrim is listed on Metacritic as having a score of 96 out of 100 based on critic reviews and an 8.4 based on user reviews. Overall outstanding scores for a game.

Dragon Age 2 in contrast scored a 79 out of 100 by critics and only a mere 4.4 from users. I guess gamers didn't like it that much.

Skyrim boasts an outrageously expansive open world with hundreds of hours of gameplay.

Dragon Age 2 is crippled by copy paste environment design, a restrictive, semi-open world, and has comparably less content.

There is Kirkwall Day and Kirkwall night; an excuse to reuse environments.... 

Skyrim puts the fate of the entire world in your hands, tasking you with defeating the World Eater Dragon who is about to bring on the world’s end. That’s a lot of responsibility.

Dragon Age 2 conversely puts the fate of the city of Kirkwall more or less in your hands. The stakes aren’t quite as high.

Skyrim lets you be whoever you want, be it orc, human, argonian, etc. While Dragon Age 2 forces you to be a human, choosing one of three classes; rogue, warrior, or mage. Skyrim doesn’t shoehorn you down such restrictive playstyles.

There’s an incredible potential for epic or hilarious things to happen in the world of Skyrim, from unscripted dragon encounters to being able to interact with (or assault) anyone in the game (excluding children).

Nevermind the fact that you use the force to move objects. 

Dragon Age 2 has no unscripted dragons or silly inhabitants you can easily mess with using the game’s physics engine. You can only attack those the game designates as enemies as well. Most of the people in 
Dragon Age 2 are just there for show, to make the world seem populated.

So why then, in light of all that, do I say I like Dragon Age 2 better than Skyrim?

Am I just trying to troll you guys?

Nope. I’m serious.

Skyrim is an awesome game. I had a crapton on fun playing it. I liked it so much I even wrote a story of my life in Skyrim, and my moral decline, here. Give that a read if you've got time. 

Skyrim is definitely worthy of the praise that’s been given to it, but there’s one big thing that leads me to prefer Dragon Age 2 over Skyrim.


Just kidding. While Dragon Age 2 is a very kinetic and fast paced game compared to Skyrim’s grudgingly slow pace that pervades almost all of its aspects, this isn’t the game changer so to speak.

The one element that makes Dragon Age 2 shine for me that Skyrim hardly has any hint of is emotion.


Dragon Age 2 has gallons of it.

Skyrim hardly has an eyedropper of it.

The most impactful and memorable game experiences come from games that stir something inside you, make you feel more than just the unexplainable craving for more XP. When games can make an emotional connection with you is when they've done their job right. Skyrim is an amazing game! But it lacks any emotional connections with the player! Dragon Age 2 felt like it was rushed, but it makes emotional connections in so many ways!

The Darkness is one of my favorite games, not due to its gameplay, but because its story was so wrought with emotion and feeling.

Who are you going to remember more fondly? Someone you shared an emotional connection with? Or someone you got drunk and had a good time with a few times? Memories of the latter will quickly fade. 

What Bioware manages to do in Dragon Age 2 (and most of their other games), despite the game’s technical shortcomings is tell a compelling story that draws you in and really makes you care about the world you’re exploring and care for the other characters in the game.

When I played through Skyrim I couldn’t really care less about the political scene or the civil war. It didn’t affect me. It never affected me. I never chose sides or got involved. I just didn’t care. That might have been different for you or your friends, but I really just couldn’t be bothered to care about what was going on in the land of Skyrim other than what would net me some more gold and some cool items.

On the other hand, Dragon Age 2 pulls you into the world’s problems and makes them your own, makes you care about the turmoil happening in the city of Kirkwall. I really cared about and was interested in what was going on in Kirkwall in my time spent playing Dragon Age 2.

But the biggest thing for me was how much I grew to care for the other Characters in Dragon Age 2. I cared (for the most part) about their problems and troubles. I developed friendships and relationships with them.

Dragon Age 2 was the first game I had ever played that gave me a family. And I cared about that family

I was sad and angry when characters I grew to care about in Dragon Age 2 died or left me.

In Skyrim I only ever had two companions. Both of them ended up dying while in my service. "Well shoot."

*poke poke* "Lydia?" Well, better take the good stuff she was carrying for me... 

I was only sad about it because they were carrying all the stuff that I couldn’t fit in my inventory. That was the pinnacle of any feelings I felt toward any of the characters in Skyrim. 

Skyrim never makes you care about anything, or get involved with any other characters in a meaningful way.

The most emotion you’ll find in Skyrim is a few “Oh shit!” moments now and then when a dragon snatches a mammoth or something startles you. But a few "Oh Shit!" moments don't count as emotion. 

Dragon Age 2 gave me a family, it gave me friends, and above all it made me care about them like they were real people.

If you want to, you can think of Skyrim as being a one  night stand type of experience. It's a lot of fun, but in the end there aren't any emotions involved and it's all about what's in it for you. It's not going to leave a lasting impression on you. 

Ok, well that might leave an impression..... 

Dragon Age 2 is like being with someone you care about. You're going to make an emotional connection and care about more than just what's in it for you.  

Ok that analogy was really weird...

Moving on.

So despite of all its criticisms I am a huge fan of Dragon Age 2. Its capacity for stirring emotions in you and its storytelling are what make it a game worth playing.

If you haven't played Dragon Age 2 yet it's worth your time, though I'd suggest playing the first in the series before trying DA2. 

If you haven't already, I hope one day you'll be emotionally drawn into a game and find out what I'm talking about, and what makes a game truly memorable. 

Also if you haven't played Skyrim yet, go play that too. It's pretty damn awesome. 

Enjoy Dragon Age. 

Enjoy Skyrim. 

Enjoy your life. 

Previous Post: Enjoyment Guide to Skyrim 


  1. Too bad Dragon Age 2 was horrible in everything else. If you want emotion go play a dating sim.

    1. Point of the article: You're missing it.

    2. That's what DA2 was, a dating sim.

    3. fuck off DA2 was a great game...........

    4. Really? I thought it was a patience test...to see how many times I could play through the same cave that is allegedly a new area without rage quitting out of boredom.

  2. Like emotions? Try out the Gears of War series. Only game to ever make me cry, not ashamed to say it.

    1. I love the Gears of War series. One of my favorite games ever. I've also read all the books. Good stuff.

  3. Sorry, but DA2 sucked.

    1. it was just made to set up the third, it's wasn't meant to completely satisfy gamers, just make them want to see what happens to thedas next

    2. Nah Dragon Age 2 was awesome

  4. I liked Dragon Age II and I agree with you, definitely more emotion. I became more attached to Dragon Age then I was with Skyrim. Wish it wasn't so hard to romance Fenris though, that was a fail on my part. erg.

    1. a romance with fenris is easy... so long as you take him everywhere and only ever side with the templars.

  5. i feel quite the same. i was sad that DA2 didnt have the epic storyline that the first one did, but i was happy that you could actually explore, create, or even destroy relationships in DA2.

  6. There are no RPG elements in Skyrim. It's just an exploration game.

    1. There are no choices/consequences. Nothing you do has any impact on the game, and NPCs are completely oblivious to your previous actions. This makes your character feel disconnected from the world.

    2. Skyrim has no replay value. No character specialization limitations. Every character ends up being a generalized know-it-all/do-it-all in the end.

    3. Pacing. Going from the executioner's block from being the legendary Dragonborn in less than 20 minutes is a bit like like your sunday wank. And then in the next instant you're doing fetching jobs for companions as "whelp".. It's all very chaotic. Also, going from ragged robes to ebony plate within a hour of gameplay is.. depressing.

    4. The only enjoyable form of combat gameplay in Skyrim is with sword/shield. Magic has scaling problems and the gameplay completely circumvents the difficulty slider. If things take longer to kill, it doesn't make the game harder. Pretty much every non-melee skill is unpolished or somehow broken.

    It's horrible game for a role-playing enthusiast, but an amazing game for explorers and completionists. Bethesda has some really good art team, but very, very mediocre game designers.

  7. Dragon Age 1 > Dragon Age 2 any day of the week.

  8. People just don't understand emotion in games any more. I completely fudging agree with everything you just said.


    Have a nice day :)

  9. Phew. I am so glad I'm not the only one to feel this way about Skyrim and DA2.

  10. Guess it really is a personal preference. Just downloaded Skyrim based on the great reviews. Played a couple hours and am finding it painful to continue. Frankly, I do have better things to do with my time. On the contrary, I played DA and DA2 almost obsessively. More than once. I still have better things to do with my time, but the DA series makes it harder for me to realize it.

  11. I completely agree with this article. I play games for the emotion, to meet characters that feel like tangible personalities, to develop connections strong enough that I feel sad when the adventure is over and I won't have further adventures with my companions. DA2 is very heavy on interactions and characterization, and that's why it's one of my favorite RPGs ever, and Aveline, Isabela and Varric are some of my most memorable video game companions ever.

    The people who say that having deep interactions makes DA2 a dating sim seem to be oblivious to the fact that DA2 has massive amounts of combat, something dating sims do not have. At best, you can call DA2 an action/dating hybrid, but calling it a dating sim alone is complete bull.

    And there's nothing wrong with having action/dating hybrids. Some of us don't play pure dating sims because they have no action, and some of us don't play pure action games because they don't have character interaction. There's an audience out there for games that have both action and interaction.

  12. I love both, for different reasons that was already explained here.

  13. I found Skyrim to be extremely emotional. Not sure how you didn't pick up on any of the emotional connections in skyrim unless you already had a preconceived grudge where no matter what it doesn't do it for you, in which case it's You that's the issue, not the game. DA 2 was more elementary in a lot of ways, it seems like a game for kids, skyrim seems like a game for adults.


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