Dragon Age II: The Exiled Prince Exclusive Hands-On Preview

We go hands-on with the exiled prince himself, Sebastian Vael, in Dragon Age II's upcoming DLC pack.

Dragon Age II is almost upon us, along with the game's first downloadable content pack: The Exiled Prince. It's no secret that some fans were less than thrilled with the implementation of the previous Dragon Age's DLC. This time developer BioWare has tried to craft a content pack catered to their desires by extending the game's storyline and not deviating from the main party. On the eve of Dragon Age II's release, we got the chance to try out this upcoming content pack and put the noble Sebastian Vael through his paces.

It's called Dragon Age for a reason.

"All of the quests in The Exiled Prince revolve around a coup that you learn took place in the city of Starkhaven, elsewhere in the Free Marches," explained Ferret Baudoin, lead designer for The Exiled Prince. "During the coup, all of Starkhaven's ruling family was killed in a bloody massacre, except one: Sebastian Vael. Sebastian was third in line for the throne of Starkhaven, always overshadowed by his elder brothers. So he led a life of excess--wine, women, and song. In the process, he became a headache for his father, who decided that Sebastian would do better with a life of religious contemplation in Kirkwall."

"He was an unlikely addition to the Chantry there. But under the benevolent and patient (very patient) guidance of Revered Mother Elthina, he found real faith in the Maker. As a man, Sebastian could never become ordained--only women can be clergy in the Chantry--but as a lay brother, he could still devote his efforts to the Maker. Over the years, he became one of the Chantry's most devout believers. But this surprising life was shattered abruptly when he heard of the tragedy that befell his family. So he broke his vows in order to reclaim his crown."

The mission we played through was actually the second in Sebastian's story arc, titled Repentance. Previously, we had helped Sebastian dispense justice to those who had ended his family's life. Now we had finally learned who had hired those rogues to do the deed. Without spoiling any of the juicy details, we'll just say that we ended up fighting a lot of monsters in our pursuit for vengeance.

Sebastian may excell at ranged combat, but he can hold his own in melee as well.

As a rogue and an archer, Sebastian is a well-rounded character who excels at fighting enemies from afar while still holding his own in melee. He is also the only character, outside of the main hero, who can wield a longbow in combat--which comes with its own royal archer skill tree to complement it. For us, it was all about the hit-and-run tactics combined with liberal use of the pinning-shot ability. This skill let us snare foes in place while we retreated back to a safe range.

Sebastian's role in battle is dealing high damage to single targets. Many of his abilities are single-shot attacks that can be combined with other abilities from his allies to devastating effect. For instance, a mage can douse an enemy with his cone of cold, which will make the enemy brittle. Sebastian can hit the frozen target with a shattering arrow, dealing a whopping 600 percent additional damage. Of course, nobody told us this until after we finished the quest, so it didn't do us a whole lot of good.

"DLC is still a relatively new phenomenon," Baudoin admitted. "With Dragon Age: Origins, we'd often have discussions about what we thought the fans wanted, but we'd hit an impasse--one person's gut would say one thing, and another person's gut would say another. We released a lot of different flavors of DLC and learned a great deal. One thing I've learned is that the fans want something close to the original experience. There's a reason they loved your game enough to buy DLC in the first place, so the DLCs that work best are the ones that tell yet more of the tale or add elements that enhance the experience, not replace it."

Hail of Arrows is another great ability that hits multiple targets from a distance.

Our brief time with noble Sebastian revealed him to be a character torn between his religious teachings and duty to the throne. It also didn't hurt that he had an awesome Scottish accent to boot. In combat, he is a high-damage assassin adept at dropping single targets in record time. If you find your party in need of another rogue with some ranged expertise, you can download The Exiled Prince for Dragon Age II on March 8 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, and Mac.

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157 comments
jemoedr
jemoedr

DAII is far from as good as Origins. It is not a bad game, but compared to Origins it sucks. Hell, even Awakening is better. It is fun to see that the original story has to do with the game (even when you import a save from one, your actions then can make differences). But i miss skills, and compared to origins, your to overpowered compared to most enemies (not the Qunari Archon or what his title was).

jonasf
jonasf

I'd rather buy a DLC for DAO. Can't stand DA2, 10 minutes of playing and I'm bored to death with it.. But there isn't anything new out on DAO, so I guess I'll just have to play through the main story yet again.. *sigh*

thechemo
thechemo

@RBD6 Agreed. Now that I have had more time with DA2, Sebastian's arc and content has been a let down to be honest. Maybe if I hadn't paid for it, but I did. I rarely use the guy honestly as Varric is more interesting. The freebie items from the pre-order were a mixed lot as well: love the Dog, couldn't use the shield and sword as I play a rogue. Thanks.

RDB26
RDB26

Unfortunately, Sebastian isn't a very impressive character. If only the DLC companion had been more interesting like Shale in DA:O. The Stone Prisoner is one of my favorite parts in Origins.

nito_x
nito_x

why always dlc? suck...

MrFarquar
MrFarquar

@thechemo.. well said mate, I didnt play the dlc and i havent played much dlc on most of my games and i dont feel like iv missed out on anything..

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

The dlc is interesting for da2 but nothing to call your friend about. If you didn't get the dl's with the game as a free package I wouldn't bother buying them you aren't missing anything....

thechemo
thechemo

Bottom line regarding DLC, that some of you mentioned, is much like bad music or reality TV - if you don't like it, don't download it. Almost all XBOX games are $60 so that argument is moot. As for the incomplete game argument, I played through DAO twice at around 40 hours average each time without any DLC. That's a heck of a lot better than some other games (*cough* shooters) I have paid the same price for. I have only had a few hours with DA2, but am willing to bet that I am going to get at least 30 hours out of it if not more. If you buy a car, is there only one model with every option on it, or do you get choices to upgrade certain aspects if you like? It's all about consumer choice and cost-effectiveness.

Dominicobaggio
Dominicobaggio

ITS FREE WITH THE GAME ITS FREE WITH THE GAME lol Anyhow, saying that the original dlc of the stone dude in dragon age i never even used first play through, so its not that important if you dont get it. Nowadays we all have that screaming baby syndrome of "Ahhhh he has it i want it tooooooo" The world doesnt work like that, we cant all have ferarris! (i think i put the r inthe wrong place)

ILDUCE420
ILDUCE420

Not to mention, if I'm not mistaken (which I'm not), Dragon Age: Origins had launch DLC with Wardens Keep and Stone Prisoner so it's not like this is something drastically new from the Dragon Age series or Bioware in general since Mass Effect 2 also had launch day DLC...and once again if you knew you were going to get this game you should have pre-ordered the Signature Edition and gotten it for free along with other bonus items.

ILDUCE420
ILDUCE420

It's worth mentioning that the DLC is included with the Bioware Signature Edition if you pre-ordered before January 11th like I did for the free upgrade, otherwise it costs extra if it's even available.

JimmyNunChuck
JimmyNunChuck

Everyone complains about the DLC blablabla. Do you feel the same about say call of duty,well,how about every game that ever used dlc? Quit crying about DLC,nobody is making you buy it. Many of you want EA to improve but you insist on cursing your way through the internet. Nobody would take a kid that cusses at what they cant have seriously. Yes,EA shouldnt charge money for online usage your already paying for but whatever,dont buy their games or play them. wait,whats that? THEY'RE GOOD???? OOHHOHOHOHO. Freakin kids. Great game as always Bioware,cant wait for ME3.

mAArdman
mAArdman

Are we supposed to believe that this thing could not have been a part of the base game? If they're going to release a crapload of DLC as soon as the game comes out, why not just release the whole game once all the meticulously crafted content they seem to be able to pull out of their asses has been completed. It would also give them some time to actually improve on the original. Instead, we get raised prices, then they release worthless bits for $10 each, and in the end the game costs 100 bucks. They sure know how to use their "fans".

foxglove1313
foxglove1313

@nishua you do have a point, sort of. As for Dragon Age II in particular, if you preordered you automatically got this DLC and more stuff, so the game isn't $80 to start it's still $60. I would, however, agree that even $60 nowadays is too much. Yes DLC is definitely another way to bend over gamers to shake more money out, but no one's forced to buy anything. Don't want it then don't pay. There is a case to be made for DLC though, as this article points out. The devs can stretch creatively and do some things you might not be able to fit in at release, for time or thematic gameplay reasons. DLC also allows the devs to get a reaction to the game from fans and then give us more of the content we like. Win win. Overall I'd say DLC is a mixed bag right now. But it's also fairly new as a concept so I'm satisfied to wait and watch.

Nishua
Nishua

DLC = crap that should have been in the game but in order to maximize our profist we deliberately withheld it from the game so we can sell it to you. Now your 60 dollar game is offically 80 bucks without us pushing up the retail price at all. These companies must think that I'm stupid like mass majority of people. You can't tell me that you release a game one week and then in that same week you somehow create enough extra content to sell it at a package price as an add on. **** you Bioware I'm not buying your game at all now.

Merlinmint
Merlinmint

I find it quite funny that this is already happening. I mean I know that the gaming industry is a dying beast compared to online games where this type of market already exists though I didn't expect consoles to start selling add-ons so quick. I mean to be honest the future of gaming sadly will be such things like DLCs or things based loosely on WOW principles where if you want an item you can buy it if you want simply cause it is the most profitable. True the top brands will survive though you look at the price of the original game then the DLC and you can see exactly why it's happening - $ Just to say that I have pre ordered this game as I will by most accounts enjoy it. Probably more than Call of Duty actually..

Merlinmint
Merlinmint

I find it quite funny that this is already happening. I mean I know that the gaming industry is a dying beast compared to online games where this type of market already exists though I didn't expect consoles to start selling add-ons so quick. I mean to be honest the future of gaming sadly will be such things like DLCs or things based loosely on WOW principles where if you want an item you can buy it if you want simply cause it is the most profitable. True the top brands will survive though you look at the price of the original game then the DLC and you can see exactly why it's happening - $ Just to say that I have pre ordered this game as I will by most accounts enjoy it. Probably more than Call of Duty actually..

2bitSmOkEy
2bitSmOkEy

Completely pathetic that this even exists. Not to mention DA2 is a watered down, boring piece of garbage anyways. You keep hearing from everyone that the gameplay has been dumbed down, but for some reason people don't recognize how horrible the story/dialogue/characters are. Bioware is dead to me.

scarhead1
scarhead1

this game is a big shame for EA studios , It have so much failures in details and surroundings , and this new fighting system, luck´s like some bad ninja game ,this game is like some cheep B production of dragon age, I not as half good as first sequence , I´m very disappointed this time

MihaiHornet
MihaiHornet

Welcome to EA's new $$$ making scheme. Oink, oink! Sale a base game for $60, use online account/activation, sale the rest of the game piece by piece as DLC. Gamers might pay $120 or more for a full game. I wonder who will pay that much for a game up front?

ben_ster
ben_ster

Bioware and EA and their whole DLC business is simply insane. Best bet is to wait for the GOTY edition, but for all those people (myself included) who have no patience and buy DLC on day 1... well... we're idiots. On a side note, I was pretty pissed off to find out that simply preordering DAII didn't make me a "loyal fan" and that I had to have preordered it prior to the January 11 or whatever date it was to get "free" DLC. For Origins they had the right idea, but for this one, with the facebook items and all these other promotions, it's really just one big corporate mess up. Did that make any sense?! O___o

amin7224
amin7224

i think it is will be has 9.5 score there are many thing repaired in this game than origin version

Karrotjuce
Karrotjuce

It is obvious why they cannot include the dlc in the finished product. In between the actual development phase and the time a game goes on sale, there are several weeks or months. The developer can use this time while the original game is being marketed to make dlc.

0carnaigh
0carnaigh

I actually read a comment a couple weeks back on day one DLC, thought it was rather brilliant (this is in my own words), "DLC is like toppings on a Pizza, additions to a sandwich, etc. the original if fine by itself, but if you want extra content/flavor you have to pay extra." I think it makes sense. I also prefer DLC like this, extra character and longer plot for only a few bucks, compared to the 15 dollar map packs released for Halo and CoD.

Jtm371
Jtm371

@Radwar You must be completely dull, in order for me to get the DLC for free I have to get the special edition, right, so your limb just broke, and as to me saying that I think that the DLC should be free and then saying that I'm getting the DLC for free, it was meant to show that I'm not biased either way, I don't agree with gaming companies doing this, they should have made the DLC part of the original game, but I can already see that this is going to fall on deaf ears, so I guess I'll end by saying that, if you are going to quote someones comment, don't cut out the end to make yourself seem like you know what you're talking about.

elbatangueno
elbatangueno

@falcon and all the other smart asses' who don't understand timezones It's now March 9, 6:43 am in manila, philippines.. the game was released on our game stores March 8, which makes it yesterday..on the day of my post..... The shop told me my order was waiting and I can't wait to pick it up as well as buy a compiled edition of the first one and almost all of the dlc's... Sorry to hear that it isn't released yet on your shops

Dominicobaggio
Dominicobaggio

Am i missing something or isnt this dlc included with the game? Its in my version thats for sure (ps3)

Ulthar_Cat
Ulthar_Cat

"Man, I wish DLC was around when we created FF7 cause then we could have added that extra content." I would like to believe they made the game as complete as they could have. " That's just naivete. It's simple economics, and if Square could develop a strategy for smaller transactions (a la DLC), you can be sure they would. They made a MMO, and it sure wasn't out of any sense of artistry...

hrothgar99
hrothgar99

@Radwar : did say that bioware was the first to do so .....i just felt they hardly gave us any time to judge the game to make a informed decision ..... you look like a old timer who just wants to whine about the good old days blah blah blah blah ..........

anthonycg
anthonycg

@Sabotage No but I do worry about companies purposefully doing less work in the game knowing that they can always shell out the other content that should've been in the game later.

jansdman
jansdman

Wow, dlc already. That's wow in a bad way btw.

BILLNYE6983
BILLNYE6983

The "they could have included it" isn't entirely true. Releasing a game is a much more demanding physical process. Meaning all the physically shipped discs and such. There is a lot more work to be done all around. And chances are this game has been done for a long pretty long time. I am not defending them for doing this. And launching it this soon is lame. They should have given it away for free. But chances are it was developed after most of the work on DA2 was done. Again though. They could have just given it for free. Or added it in via an update or something. Would have been a nice treat for early buyers.

jedediahpelland
jedediahpelland

Well the review for the actual game is up today. It saddens me that I was able to see a preview for DLC before even seeing the review for the actual core game.

icyseanfitz
icyseanfitz

disgusting :( to think i used to really love bioware

rigas47
rigas47

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

VilandasUK
VilandasUK

They probably created a dlc on a first day because they had nothing to do or something.

MyFinalHeaven86
MyFinalHeaven86

IMO, With DLC coming out the same day the game is released (or close to it) just doesn't make sense other than just to squeeze more money out of its fans. Why don't they just include it in the game? It's obvious they could have. If there was no such thing as DLC would they include this extra content in the game or put it aside for DA3? I'm sure squaresoft is not sitting around saying "Man, I wish DLC was around when we created FF7 cause then we could have added that extra content." I would like to believe they made the game as complete as they could have. I feel like we are getting a shorter version of a game and they are charging more money for the rest of it. Usually, gold/signature/platinum/prestige, etc versions include different memorabilia, not game content. This DLC is getting out of hand. It makes me want to wait a year after it comes out just to get the GOTY edition that has everything. Games no longer cost $60. To get the "Complete Experience" you will need to pay $100 or more for a game. And for some reason a lot of people are ok with this.

TerraMantis
TerraMantis

And please don't turn this into some conversation about who is and or who isnt or was a subsidiary of Bioware. (dork voice) Um yea well aaaactually Black Isle was transformed into Bioware and Obsidian is their "B" team....op my nose is bleeding.

TerraMantis
TerraMantis

I really dont like gettin into little hissy fits with people that like to use awesome internet lingo like ps3tard and what was the other one...xbox...bros? I'm sure ill get a "you mad bro?" superduper cool fun awesome funtime response after this, but whatever. As far as people commenting on not knowing what your going to get, like you take advise from the wisest man of all Forest Gump, you should be able to make an edjucated decision. First off all, there is a first one, since this is dragon age TWO, there is a somewhat general idea of what to expect for the game. Also, it is Bioware. When i am wondering what a movie is going to be like you can just look at the minds behind it and get a general idea of what the end product will be like. Coen brothers...the nuances and complexities of human relationships usually thrown into strange or what is considered "not normal" situations. Charlie Kaufman...questioning what reality is through contra-standards of philosophy and film making itself. SO anyway, it is Bioware...they've been killing it on the RPG front since the first Baulder's Gate. If you look at a list of the top RPGs EVER created Bioware, or a branch of Bioware, usually has atleast 5/10 in just the top 10. Planescape, Baulder's Gate 1n2, Icewind Dale, Mass Effect, um...Dragon Age: Origins. Just look at their track record and make an edjucated choice.

tommynj
tommynj

Another scam deal. How do you make dlc purchasable day 1 of a release ? I can see maybe a month or 2 down the road perhaps but not day 1.

Radwar
Radwar

@hrothgar99 Nobody forced you to do anything, people bought the the SE for the extra content out of their own free will. Stop acting like a drama queen. Do you seriously think that DA2 is the first game to include extra content in Special Editions? This has been going on for years, where have you been living, in a cave?

Radwar
Radwar

@deathman023 The DLC was extra content for the Signature Edition (Which is something gaming comanies have been doing for a long time with Collector's/Signature/Special Editions, even before DLC's even existed. EA decided to sell that DLC for those who didn't pre-order the SE, which makes sense since they don't want to spit in the face of the fans who bought the SE for the free extra content. The real problem is, todays generation of gamers are a bunch of whiners. You see it everyday on the message boards.

vortex_gw
vortex_gw

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Radwar
Radwar

@Jtm371 "No, I would prefer them to put the content on the disc when it was released instead of making us pay extra for it, and just so you know I already have the game preordered, I have for awhile now, so I'm getting the DLC for free." You're kind of contradicting yourself, now aren't you? "Making us pay extra for it" & then writing "so I'm getting the DLC for free". Yeah sure, I'll go out on a limb here in stating that you don't have the Special Edition.

edinko
edinko

PREcisely hrothgar99! this is a way to dorce you ionto preorder withou knowing what the game will be like. It is laughable that some people wrote here about bioware quality games. the last one was years ago. they mass produce just casual crap for console dummies who honestly think that the modern bioware games are deep. but they are stripped of most of the gamepplay so stupid xbox bros and ps3tards used to 1 button mashing and who can barely control a 1 button mashing game make a purchase

JamesX007
JamesX007

@vortex_gw "Look at me I'm a whinning baby and I complain about day 1 DLCs whinning baby complainers. Shocker!" Great attitude there. As for DLCs I am still surprised how blind somepeople are. Any content that is finished before game is released should not be considered Extra Content. It is only extra in the sense that they decided it is extra. So it is a moot point one way or the other in regards to the legitimacy of content. What is really the point is do you think it is better to pay 20-30 dollars for another 20-30 hours of game play (e.g. full Expansion) or do you thin it is ok to pay 3 to 5 dollars for every extra 1-5 hours of game play. Or even simple things like trinkets and "extra appearances." Because if you can do simple math then you will know why the companies are going the DLC route. To defend it as anything other than a profit making move is simply blind. Is it their right to make a profit? of ocurse. But it is also the consumer's right to complain about methods of profit making they don't agree with.

hrothgar99
hrothgar99

@TerraMantis : they could have easily made it part of the da2 ...but ONLy those who preordered get it free meaning you were forced to choose this game and pre order it without knowing anything about it and thats bs