The first time I played Dragon Age II, I remember getting into two different battles with dragons that just completely kicked my butt. I mean, my entire party died at least three times in each of these battles. I also remember at least one of them going in many waves (get enough hit points on the big dragon, a bunch of little and medium dragons show up to distract you and wear you down) and lasting at least fifteen minutes (which is a long time for a battle to last) on the go around that I finally beat it.
I have just finished up the first "act" of the game, and gone through both of those battles. I knocked out each one on the first try, and the Bone Pit battle (the horrendously long one) only took me about five minutes. I mean, yeah, that is awesome and all, but now I am wondering why the heck it was so darned hard the first time around. Did I just imagine it being that difficult? Or have I hit upon the magic skills and party configuration to make the "normal" setting seem more like the "easy" setting? I mean, yeah, the first time around I walked into those battles completely unprepared. I had no idea what was around the next corner, whereas now I do know what is coming up in most cases. Still. I am starting to see why some people do like to play the games on the harder settings.
Not that I will be upping my difficulty level any time soon. For me not playing it on "easy" (and not temporarily changing it to "easy" for tricky battles) is accomplishment enough.
I do have a sneaking suspicion that there must be one more bigger dragon fight at the Bone Pit, though the internet seems to be saying that isn't the case. We shall see, I suppose.
I am finally starting to run into a few battles that are giving me a bigger challenge. They only get harder, for the most part. I do have two acts left to go, after all. Still, I am quite impressed with how well my mage handles battles, compared to my rogue of the first time through. Also, I've been configuring my party with three mages (including myself) and my rogue Varric, who specializes in fighting with a crossbow. This means that all of my party (or most, when I deviate) is fighting with ranged attacks rather than close in. That could be the key.
I'll gladly risk the rivalry of mage-hating Fenris if my team can keep being this kick-ass!
Also, and major spoiler alert here, so skip the rest of this paragraph if you would prefer to avoid learning about some of the bigger plot points.....I find it very intriguing how Hawke's family gets picked off one by one throughout the game. Depending on the class you choose, as I've mentioned before, one of your younger siblings doesn't survive the flight from Lothering in the prologue. Act I concludes with your team's expedition into the deep roads. The first time I played I took my sister Bethany, and she got tainted by the darkspawn and died (permanently) at the end of the trip. So this time my Hawke heeded his mother's advice and left his little brother at home (I wanted my ranged 3 mage + Varric team anyway). Given the argument between Hawke and Carver before the former left, however, I wasn't all that surprised to return home to find out that Carver had become a Templar. For those of you not up on the world of Dragon Age, Templars in this setting are soldiers of the Chantry (church) specifically tasked with keeping watch/guard over the Circle mages and hunting down apostate mages, which my character in this game happens to be. Hmm. So, I left Carver behind half hoping he might still be part of my party when I got back, but clearly that was never the intent of the writers, since Templar!Carver is no longer available as a party member. I will be curious to see how letting him survive to become a Templar will play out in the final Circle/Templars showdown of the game, though. So now I get one more act to hang out with my mother before she is killed by a psycho Frankenstien wannabe (which, despite an earlier hope, I am fairly sure is also an unavoidable plot point). Again, very interesting how as Hawke goes through the events that make him the Champion of Kirkwall and gains the loyalty of all of his new friends and party members, he also has to lose the very people he came to Kirkwall to protect. That's...that's some impressive writing there, Bioware, I have to say.
In slightly related news (well, Bioware-related at any rate), the bonus goodies in the collector's edition of Mass Effect 3 have been announced. It is entirely possible that upon seeing this, I canceled my existing preorder of the basic game to instead preorder the collector's edition. I am amused by the fact that Commander Shepard now gets a "robotic dog" to hang out with when he's on board the Normandy. I suspect this has something to do with the awesomeness of the Mabari hound that came as bonus content of the collector's edition of Dragon Age II. Either that or someone at Bioware is a huge Doctor Who fan and wanted to work in a tribute to K-9. I am sure it will prove entertaining whatever the inspiration.
May you have a wonderful day filled with the things you love to do. Until tomorrow, folks.