Author Topic: Dragon Age 2: The Opening Salvo  (Read 6701 times)

Offline Silver Sorrow

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Dragon Age 2: The Opening Salvo
« on: March 08, 2011, 02:51:48 PM »
Another rainy March in the trenches.

I just installed DA2 and was forcibly reminded that I, having XP with dx9, will be limited to medium quality textures. High quality is for those who have dx10, and very high for those with dx11. I say it's all bullshit, but what can I do?

...besides find a way to extract all of the high-res textures and dump 'em in my override folder, that is?  :evil1:

We shall see.
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Offline Starfox

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Re: Dragon Age 2: The Opening Salvo
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2011, 04:26:09 PM »
As I am in Europe I'm still 2 days from the release so I don't have my copy. So I won't listen to anything you say 'til then...

lalalallalllallllalalalalllal ala

Oh wait... You're not spoiling... So OK then  :biglaugh:

Dropping the texture in the override folder may or may not work. It depends if they have renamed the texture for DX11 (in which case you'd have to rename all of the textures to their correct DX9/10 names).

Me I'm just waiting to see what the DX11 performances are going to be -- yeah, after 3 years of abandon I finally decided to give my gaming computer a real upgrade... So far, not impressed. I mean the only other DX9/10/11 game I have tested is Metro 2033 and god... In DX10 High quality I run a confortable 65 fps average (which is almost a 100%  boost over my old rig). As soon as I engage DX11 (keeping the same quality settings) my framerate drops to the low 20s. And the difference in image quality does certainly not justify the cut. For a few pretty sparkles more it isn't worth it.

But Metro 2033 is a particular case. Just think Crysis and you'll have a good idea of the graphic quality in this game. No kidding. I thought only Crytek was able to pull that off but no... Apparently Russians do too. Even on just high details in DX10 the game is definitely superb, maybe even better than Crysis in "very high". The problem is that like Crysis this game doesn't like old rigs (even moderately old rigs like 2-3 years ago) and to engage all features requires a high end rig that few people can really afford right now. Sadly I don't have any other game with DX11 support to verify if the blame is really on DX11 or its implementation in M2033.

But maybe DA2 will be a different beast... who knows. Maybe DX11 will run flawlessly (one can always dream). So far DX11 seems to me like an excuse enabling Microsoft to release DX12 stating "We have fixed everything that DX11 got wrong". That is until we discover that DX12 runs better than DX11 but still worse than DX10 and much much worse than DX9  ::)


Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. -- A. Einstein

Offline Silver Sorrow

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Re: Dragon Age 2: The Opening Salvo
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2011, 12:21:00 PM »
No spoilers from me, no! Especially not the one where the Maker turns out to be a Reaper. That would be wrong. :evil1:

From what I'm seeing, there are people having problems with the same old memory leak crap as with DAO and subpar performance with DX11...but, being stuck with DX9 and medium texture quality, I can't help but laugh in a manner most would deem "spiteful," or even "downright evil"...of course, whenr I get my Win7 thing going, I'll be there too, boo-hooing with the rest of 'em. It's too much to hope that the devs will have any of this fixed by the time THAT happens. ::)

I haven't had the time to look into it, but if the Toolset recognizes the DA2 textures .erf, then it may be possible to extract the textures; rename, if possible, and try that. Worst case? The Toolset won't accept the header, etc. From what I gather, there may not be a Toolset at all. Confounding, but not all that puzzling, considering that they really REALLY want us to play the game on a console. (Just look at the retail price, for God's sake: $59.99 no matter what platform.)

Useful Stuff, For Once:
If your game is too dark...and it will be...and that dratted gamma slider won't go any higher, find your DragonAge.ini; being on XP, mine is in C:\My Documents\Dragon Age 2\Settings\. Note that this is named DragonAge.ini. Open it and find the line Gamma= under [VideoOptions]. "1" is the brightest setting you can set in-game, but you can change it to something more suitable here. I have mine set at 1.6. So using my example, yours should look like this:

Gamma=1.6

Experiment with it until you find your own comfortable niche. Maybe you're more comfortable with 1.2...perhaps 1.7 is more your bag. Maybe even 2 for darker monitors. The world is yours! Experiment! Live! Laugh! Love! I, for one am going to sleep off the cranapple juice.
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Offline Starfox

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Re: Dragon Age 2: The Opening Salvo
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2011, 06:53:29 AM »
Quote
No spoilers from me, no! Especially not the one where the Maker turns out to be a Reaper. That would be wrong. :evil1:

That's not a spoiler... Everyone knows that  :biglaugh:

Well, almost 600 hundreds PC technical related topics on Bioware forums for what... 3 days? Scary... Makes you wonder if when installing the game the computer will explode  ::)

You got to love the way they named their board: "Dragon Age 2 PC technical Self Help"

Guess we have to fix any potential problem ourselves then... But how are we going to do this without a Toolset, huh? Dear Bioware, if you want the community to work for you, you have to give it something to work with.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2011, 06:57:35 AM by Starfox »


Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. -- A. Einstein

Offline Starfox

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Re: Dragon Age 2: The Opening Salvo
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2011, 09:48:14 AM »
So, I've received my copy and installed it. Wanted to make sure that everything was working correctly and aside the fact that the game that wouldn't default to full screen in DX11 mode it works fine. But I'll be joining the big "boohoo DX11 runs like crap complaint"  :lol:

Well to be frank I'm not especially interested in running the game on "Very High", high is good enough for me and once again (like for M 2033) the difference in looks does not justify the cut in framerate. On my HD6850:

DX 11 High (so without the DX11 effects) - 75 fps average

DX 11 Very high (DX11 effects engaged) - 30 fps average

Note that I'm using the current Catalyst 11.2 drivers. There are 11.4 beta drivers that are supposed to improve performances in DX11 but I have not tested those (and I'm not enthusiastic about testing them as they could cause a mess in some of my other games hence the word "beta"). So I'll only apply them if I encounter a real bug in the game that requires them.

BTW: is it just me or did they rebalanced the gameplay since the demo? My mage staff on Normal difficulty seems to do more damage than it did in the demo Normal difficulty... (I'm talking about low level gameplay not the exaggerated battle). They also seem to have reduced some cooldowns and increased others. The heal spell was reduced from 60 seconds to 40 but some attacks spells were pushed up by 5 seconds.


Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. -- A. Einstein

Offline Starfox

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Re: Dragon Age 2: The Opening Salvo
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2011, 06:34:41 PM »
OK so comparison shots time! Warning, I didn't rework nor resize those screens so the differences are clear... this is 1920x1080. The optional (good one)  HD texture pack is enabled in all cases.

Here's a screenshot of Dragon Age 2 in DX11 High quality settings


About the same screenshot but with Very High quality settings (minus Ambient Occlusion)


A last one still in Very High settings


So what changes between high and very high? Well mainly the textures which are flat in high have volume in very high (it's clearly seen when you look at the floor). DX11 Tessellation at work -- it's the main feature that was not used in DX10. problem is: Tessellation use textures and make polygons out of them to emulate volume... The result can be very sweet but it is a resource hog. Between the two first screenshots my framerate dropped from 79 to 38 (still manageable mind you but actually it mainly depends on the scene complexity -- the more textures there are in a scene the more important the drop will be). I guess I could play in very high but It would possibly stutter in some places, especially during heavy battles.

We'll see if future drivers increase the performances.

As a side note installing the HD texture pack has no effect on the framerate whatever the settings are -- no noticeable effect, it's just a matter of something like a couple fps less, if your card has 1GB of VRAM.


Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. -- A. Einstein

Offline Silver Sorrow

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Re: Dragon Age 2: The Opening Salvo
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2011, 07:59:15 PM »
This game is pissing me off. Even though I'm playing on Casual, I keep running into stupidly overpowered enemies. Granted, Act 1 was mostly a stroll through the park, but by the end of Act 1 and now not too far into Act 2, I've had to reload more times than I like thanks to the idiots in charge throwing either tons of overpowered foes at me and/or those goddamn assassins... For example, in Act 2:

Went to Sundermount for some damn reason and ran into a "Shadow Assassin" (or whatever), and the idiot nearly killed me. Iif I hadn't been saved by Anders, I would be in a much worse mood than I am now. The thing is, my groupies...henchpeople...what ever...took on the zillions of corpses and shades that popped up in this one small area as I focused on the assassin. It took me a long time to even knock it down to half health, using all the tricks in my primal magic quickbar multiple times (none of them were all that effective), and it kept knocking me back and disappearing, only to pop up behind me and stab me in the back, cutting me down to a dangerous sliver of health. Is this supposed to be fun?

Additionally, staves don't do shit against anything anymore -- I have several with different elemental damage types, which seem to make no difference whatsoever -- and spells are pretty much shrugged off no matter who it is I'm trying to kill. Enemies are overstepping my character's level, there are a LOT of them in any given encounter...and they show up in waves: once I've exhausted the first wave, more pop up -- sometimes even spawning out of thin air! Ha-ha! FUN! -- without a chance for a breather. Healing and mana cooldowns are another stupid joke, and I'm looking into a mod or two that reduces them to something approaching useful. Example #2:

Act 2, Abandoned Thaig: Walking into a room and being HAMMERED by a zillion undead monsters, most of them high-level. After a long while, all of my companions were facedown and it was just me, being chased around the room (no joke) by a couple of shades, two Abominations, one pissed-off Revenant, and a Rage demon, all of them at or near full health. I, meanwhile was at one-quarter health and very little mana, waiting -- impatiently, I admit -- for the damned potion timers to let me have more health and mana. "This is stupid," I quite reasonably opined, and quit in disgust.

Did I mention that this was on Casual? It was on Casual.

Besides the moronic cooldowns issue, Bioware has no fucking clue when it comes to implementing difficulty in their games; Easy in DAO was anything but, and they even had to patch the game once or twice in that regard. It's not fun when even the easiest setting becomes a confounding click-/reload-fest because SOMEONE forgot to reduce the stats of the overpowered monsters and bad guys they think makes a game fun. As has been noted before, Bioware excels at storytelling, but at gameplay? Not so much.

And the new Elves suck. So there.

I'll be back later with more sparkling wit and deep insights engineered to delight and astound.  ::)
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Offline Starfox

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Re: Dragon Age 2: The Opening Salvo
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2011, 04:51:40 AM »
I agree on the fact that difficulty is odd. The "easy" aspect of the demo was a downright lie. I don't know exactly how it's implemented but it's like if your opponents were gaining 2 levels each time you progress by one. But the real thing that is pissing me off personally is that some enemies possess abilities that are mentioned nowhere in the manual and that should not even be accessible to their class (mages teleport themselves now? Cool... Except that if you play as a mage you still can't). You have the impression that the more you progress the more useless your abilities are, depriving you of any sense of reward. I'm playing on Normal so I don't know what casual is like yet,

Enemies constantly swarm you from every side, frequently jumping from rooftops and the like (no wonder why they turned off friendly fire on every level except Nightmare... The way enemies are appearing, it's impossible to fire a single AoE spell or ability without striking your allies). If FF was on you'd be forced to use your basic attack and the few targeted spells you have 99.9% of the time. Good fun to those who want to play on Nightmare...

And what's more unnerving... recycling... I hate when they do that. They came up with one cave design and they intend to make you explore it a gazillion times with just changing the entrance point and closing or opening some doors so you feel like being in a brand new area (the purpose of this being completely lost on me anyway because I KNOW I already passed through there), the only changes being the opponents and loot you'll find.. After a while I really got bored. I don't mind being mostly stuck in a city that looks the same because well, that's how cities are but I do mind when they propose me the same two or three basic designs for every different place in the game. It's the Mass Effect 1 syndrome all over again. They do love copy/paste. So whereas DA:O was mostly never boring because you'd never really be in a place looking exactly like the ones you were in before DA2 gives you the feeling of running in circles.

So as usual for Bioware, the only thing that could save the game for me at this point are the storyline and character interaction... And so far I have a mixed feeling about that too. Would it be possible that finally I've met the first Bioware game in 10 years that really let me down?

Oh, and we really need a toolset, would it only be to change the elves and qunari appearances... What designer -- with a clear horn fetish -- had the stupid idea to make them this way? Sten could be frightening in his ways... The new Qunari, they're just a band of clowns.

On the plus side; I didn't encounter yet a single bug with my DA:O save import. Characters are talking of the hero of Ferelden like they should and refer to some events like they happened. As I suspected however, it's mostly background things and some character cameo but can be sometime fun.

If you bedded Isabela in the first game, she lets you know that she has known the hero of Ferelden in that *special* way

Just an example...


Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. -- A. Einstein

Offline Silver Sorrow

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Re: Dragon Age 2: The Opening Salvo
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2011, 02:29:56 PM »
One thing (among many) I find annoying is that I have to keep the merchants under constant scrutiny, because there's a slim chance that one has stocked slightly better equipment since I've leveled up. And it's never all that interesting; other than the champion armor, most of the armors I've seen are godawful. (Some exceptions exist, but not many.) So most of my time is spent shopping and completing inane/banal side quests.

(Tangential to the equipment issue is the tiresome upgrading of companion armor, which is far more annoying than being able to select a set of armor for them. Where are the upgrades? Look around! Find the cheese, rat!)

I still don't know what the deal is with fur on the armor. It's weird.

I'm currently playing a rogue, which is the second most-useful class (#1 is still the mage, believe it or not ::)), and while in the Deep Roads, a loading screen tip about rogues not doing much damage with dual wielding was haunting me...

And I still can't talk about teleporting mages without breaking all my furniture.

Friendly fire...yikes. If FF was an issue on lower difficulties, Bethany would be picking chunks of my character out of her boots after the first fight. I have no desire to play on Nightmare...the devs hate the player as it is, so I can imagine.

I think the most ridiculous encounter I had in my first playthrough was the High Dragon. That shouldn't be a spoiler, really...DAO had us facing a couple of them at least, so one isn't a huge surprise. The worst thing was that, thanks to the sheer numbers of dragonlings, dragons, and long-range fireballs, I found myself completely alone against the thing before its health was down to the halfway mark. There was a lot of running around in circles with a dozen dragonlings and two or more dragons in close pursuit, as I waited for the healing potions to cooldown. I'm not sure how I managed or how long it took (felt like hours), but I eventually killed the stupid mama dragon without dying, and...

...you know how some people will walk away from some harrowing event and say something like "Whoa! That was intense!" or "What a RUSH!"? Well, I'm not one of those people. I say things like "Let's not do that again!" or "If you ever get me involved in something like that again, I WILL KILL YOU!" So you can imagine how I felt after fighting the High Dragon. I'm especially looking forward to it as a rogue. :madatwall:

Gotta run...I'll throw in a couple of pics really quick:

The Travesty Of The Elves:

Death Of A Stupid Dragon:

...and It Took Me Three Days And Several Mods To Get This Face:

I imagine it would be much easier to get a good-looking character if there were...oh, say...a TOOLSET? Lazy money-grubbing bastards gave us half a game and no easy way to make it better.

Late...late...late... :ufo:
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Offline bobdog

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Re: Dragon Age 2: The Opening Salvo
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2012, 06:44:07 AM »
Have just started DA2 (only a year late! I'm catching up!  :funup: ) and I wonder if there's an easier way to get my rogue to switch back and forth between dual-wielding blades or a bow? I don't think there is, but I'm still trying to remember how to play this silly game.

Offline Silver Sorrow

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Re: Dragon Age 2: The Opening Salvo
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2012, 08:40:26 AM »
No, they broke that feature. The morons.
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Offline Starfox

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Re: Dragon Age 2: The Opening Salvo
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2012, 02:28:35 PM »
The only thing that will do the trick is this mod that allows you to switch quick bars and weapons set at the same time. A bit messy (because Bioware never released a proper DA2 toolset for the modders) but works, for the most part. You just need to attribute the swap function to one of the numbered keys. Only way you'll recover a useful function that Bioware inexplicably scrapped from the game (among other things).


Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. -- A. Einstein

Offline bobdog

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Re: Dragon Age 2: The Opening Salvo
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2012, 06:24:23 PM »
'Nuther question: all those scraps you get in your junk pile ... are they really junk, or can you use some/all of them elsewhere? I remember in DAO, you could give your pals some of that junk and they started crushing on you. But it appears that was removed as well, or else I can't figure out how to gift the items. It seems like when I have gotten some special objects, it asks me to click on the appropriate character to give it away and get some "friend" points.

Offline Starfox

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Re: Dragon Age 2: The Opening Salvo
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2012, 11:11:13 PM »
The junk is just that, junk. It's there so you can sell it for a little money but it has no other practical use. Items that may be used are stored with the quest items that you cannot access or sell.

Gifts does not appear in your inventory. Basically when you find a gift in DA2, the game stores it with the quest items (that do not appear in the inventory) and inform you that "you found something that [insert the name of the party member] could appreciate, why don't you go give it to him/her". It even creates a quest for that purpose so all you have to do is go and talk to the appropriate companion (that should have at this point a convenient quest marker above their head). You can't mess up and give a wrong gift to the wrong person, the game won't let you. But anyway there's not that much gifts to be found. One or two per companion during the whole game. Note that at least one must be bought and cannot be found in the game world (I remember one for certain, not sure about any other).

Anyway that's what they call streamlining...
« Last Edit: March 13, 2012, 11:17:11 PM by Starfox »


Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. -- A. Einstein