Notes from this Weekend’s Legacy Dev Chat

A family wedding kept Razorfish and me away from our computers for most of the weekend, so we're playing a little catch-up on the developer's chat over the weekend discussing the upcoming DLC campaign for Dragon Age 2. Catch us below the break for the video and some key points gleamed from our studious dissecting of the chat.

The chat features Level Designer Kaelin Lavallee and Senior Producer Fernando Melo playing through the early stages of the new campaign, along with describing some of the key changes and features added during the development process, and taking viewer questions towards the end. Kaelin and Fernando specifically mention the following points:

  • You can access the campaign from any point in the game, from the moment you move into Uncle Gamlen's house. This includes end-game saves.
  • You can access the campaign by clicking on a new statue (which would be decidedly out of place at Gamlen's)
  • New creatures, voiceovers and areas are included.
  • Depending on how your story plays out, you can play with Carver or Bethany as a party member.
  • You begin with walking into a Carta ambush. The dwarves, however, seem insane or possessed, and mention Corypheus - the imprisoned big baddy teased in the previous trailer.
  • There's a whole bunch of new gear - including the iconic "key" weapon used to access the latter part of the campaign. This weapon will vary based on your class and specialty (so a rogue archer will receive a bow while a DW rogue will get a dagger).
  • While all of the characters have new dialogue, Anders and Varric specifically will have much to add to the story, due to the inclusion of Carta dwarves and the Grey Wardens.
  • Boss fights will have unique mechanics and tactics.
  • All locations and dungeons in the campaign are BRAND-FRIKKIN-NEW.
  • Expect a play length longer than any of the Dragon Age DLCs (excluding the retail expansion Awakening) though they didn't give a specific time.
  • You can get high-fives and hugs from the Bioware guys at Comic-Con.

The inclusion of Darkspawn and the Grey Wardens are also mentioned, and the final boss will answer some questions about the history of Thedas and the origin of the Darkspawn, as well as the Architect from The Calling and Awakening. The story also ties Hawke's family (specifically, his father Malcolm) into this history, and promises a bit of satisfaction for lore nerds.

Q&A Transcript (part 1)

[18:48] Can you join in this DLC at any point in your save?

FM: Assuming you mean 'any point in the main game,' then yes. So, at any point in Dragon Age 2, including the post-game save, you'll be able to start this DLC. In your house will be that Memento of Legacy statue, and you just click on that, and you'll be able to select whatever followers are available to you at that time and jump into the DLC.

[19:28] What kind of items can we get in this DLC?

KL: We've added a bunch of new items, maybe some new iconic armor, and a really special item that you'll find out about...

FM: We've alluded a little bit to the weapon that's upgradeable. We talked about that in our stage presentation, the fact that it is class-based. We don't have the weapon here (editor's note: in the gameplay demo shown prior to the Q&A) - you haven't picked up the weapon at this point - it's later on in the DLC.

It is class-specific, so in this case, we're playing a mage, so we'll get a mage staff as our upgradable weapon or key. And then there are several points throughout the game where you can actually upgrade that weapon with different properties - bonuses and things like that - which is really cool. And then you can actually take that weapon back into the main game or even into future content as well.

[20:38] Does Legacy come with achievements on the XBox 360?

FM: Absolutely. We have five achievements, I believe. And I think the total point score is around 200...

KL: 200 to 250

FM: 250 gamer score. Those are actually available right now, that [is], you can take a look at them. I think there's a XBox achievement site which is listed on there. And if you're on the BioWare Social Network, there's a couple of threads that have mentioned them, with respect to Legacy.

So the way that that works is, essentially, once the content has passed through Microsoft certification, they already prop those achievements on the live servers. And I guess sites like the 360 achievements site are seeing that stuff by essentially...daily they update, so that's how those come out.

So, it wasn't intentional, but it's not a bad thing. I think you'll agree it's always great to hear that there's more content coming out.

(editor's note: The gamer score point total is actually 120, according to the XBox achievements site to which they alluded.)

[21:42] Does the rogue get a bow or a dagger?

KL: For the rogue, it really depends on how you built your rogue. If you went the dual-wielding way, then you'll get a dagger. If you went the archery route with your skills, then you'll get a bow. Both will give you a bonus to whatever skillset you require. And they both look really cool.

FM: And I saw that question as well, so is it based on - I know the answer, but [KM laughs] - is it based on the weapon you come in with, or based on the skills that you have?

KL: It's based on the skills that you have. So if you're a dual-wielding rogue who's using a bow, for whatever reason, you'll actually get a dagger.

[22:35] Will your sibling play an important role in the DLC?

FM: Absolutely. So, even through to the end of Dragon Age, you can still have one of your siblings around. And depending on which one comes in - as you saw in the opening there, there's some unique lines to the siblings - the story of Legacy is very much tied to the Hawke family, in particular, your father and the bloodline. So the fact that you have a sibling with you does play a role, and it reveals a lot more information as well.

The other thing, as well, is actually with this party we have here with Varric and Anders... Because of the connection to the Carta dwarves, as well as darkspawn and Grey Wardens, both of those characters have a lot of interesting information and special scenes that show up because they're in your party.

But all of the followers have brand new lines. You saw some examples of the great party banter as well. There's some great replayability coming in with different followers and seeing what other things show up because of that.

[24:01] Will boss fights be made more tactically complex rather than just relying on more hit points?

KL: That is a definite yes. That's really all I want to say about that without giving too much away, you know, telling you how to do the fights...

FM: Not to give away the strategies, but with the stage demo we saw, for example, with one of the gate guardians, we saw that it could duplicate itself. So there is going to be special tactics to all of the boss fights, where they will all have some kind of unique ability, or there's some sort of tactics that you have to figure out in order to take it down.

Now, on the stage, we played it on casual. So on the lower difficulty levels, it can still kind of all come down to just raw hits. So, yes, you could just throw the party at them and wean them down. Once you get into higher difficulty levels, you will need to be smart about what tactics you're using and learn their weaknesses in order to take them down.

Does that kind of sum it up?

KL: That says it perfectly. Well done.

[25:24] Still same dungeons as in DA2 or will every dungeon will look different?

FM: We've not reused anything from DA2. Effectively, it's all new areas. There is the Grey Warden base, which I guess you could treat as a dungeon. There is a segment of the base which takes place in a tower, so as you're traveling throught multiple layers of the tower, there is the same architecture as there, but you'll see that the layouts are different.