It’s fitting that Legacy – the first major piece of post-launch DLC for Dragon Age II – is about dealing with a problem that involved the protagonist’s father. It’s fitting because Legacy is clearly also trying to fix some of the problems that permeated its own father, Dragon Age II.
Samey locations? Have a sprawling new dungeon with a load of entirely new assets. Repetitive fights? Have a few that’ll require a bit of tactical nuance and finesse. New waves of enemies constantly appearing during battles? Er, well, that’s still present, but it happens a lot less.
To a large extent, the fixes to the original game’s more disappointing mechanics work. It’s honestly nice to be out of Kirkwall and its few surrounding areas, and it’s equally pleasant to be exploring a dungeon that’s not identical to every other dungeon barring occasional door placement.
This brand new dungeon has given BioWare the ability to specially tailor some nasty encounters; players will actually need to both think and adapt to tactics on the fly (and usually for reasons other than merely respawning enemies). Protagonist Hawke is most definitely walking into enemy territory, and his foes are prepared: to some extent he’s striding into one ambush after another, and getting through these unscathed does wonders for your sense of power.
One early encounter, for instance, places archers on ranged platforms and then prevents you from reaching them by unleashing a rhino-like Bronto on you. Another takes place in an arena lined with lever-triggered saw traps, which your foes love to set off if you move carelessly – but which can also be turned back on them. The DLC’s climax takes the cake, however, with a lengthy multi-phase boss providing one of the most challenging battles yet to feature in Dragon Age II.
Annoyingly, part of that challenge is down to the imprecise console controls. It’s a battle that demands rapid and precise movement from your entire party, and a lack of an aerial view or adequate party controls quickly makes regularly flicking from member to member tiresome and frustrating – so much so that I ended up simply brute-forcing the battle by soloing it with Hawke and a stack of health potions after the rest of the party had died. A shame because it’s one of the smarter and best conceived battles in Dragon Age II on the whole.
That battle caps off a mystery which begins when Hawke’s family comes under attack by the Carta (read: Dwarven Mafia). Hawke’s investigation leads him to a Carta outpost at the Vimmark Mountains, built surprisingly near to a gargantuan Grey Warden prison.
In a nice touch a lot of the conversations within Legacy change depending on the status of your Dragon Age II; while that might not be enough to encourage repeat playthroughs by itself, it keeps things fresh should you go through it again with a new character.
That said, it’s perhaps not the most exciting adventure for a post-game character. While there are some intriguing snippets of lore, some well-written conversations and a few details on the Hawke lineage, there’s nothing within that’s truly essential. Even the gear isn’t particularly jaw-dropping; the most impressive new piece is a weapon (which changes depending on Hawke’s class) called The Hawke’s Key. You can manually craft and upgrade The Hawke Key at various points throughout the three-hour adventure, but it didn’t quite stand up to the weapons I already had stashed away. It’s certainly useful for a character without access to the most powerful pieces of kit in the base game, but those who play after Dragon Age II’s climax aren’t going to get much out of it in terms of either gear or story.
That’s Legacy’s biggest problem. Factored into Dragon Age II on the whole it provides a unique little dungeon with some interesting twists, and unique little dungeons were exactly what Dragon Age II was missing. As a piece of content for experienced players, though, it’s a bit lacking.
Legacy is a throwaway piece of content. It’s nice enough but there are no great lore reveals, fantastic new characters, shocking new locations or amazing pieces of equipment to get excited about. It’s just… fine.
It’s nice to see Dragon Age II content that avoids the pitfalls of its base game, but it’s a shame that there isn’t more to it. Recommended to those who’re desperate for some more Dragon Age II content, and while those playing through with a new character might find a new and unique dungeon helps break up the tedium a little, for everyone else it’s disappointingly inessential.