I was skeptical of DA 2
when it was first announced. I had enjoyed being able to play an elf/dwarf/human in Origins, and I was not liking the idea of having to play as a human. However, DA 2
itself did an excellent job in presenting this without losing the roleplaying aspect. I think this was mainly achieved by the new dialogue system. Some detractors may call it "Dragon Effecting," but I thought it brought a whole new level of emotion to the game. In my first play-through, I played Helpful Hawke. In my second, I played Charming Hawke, and I was genuinely surprised how much Hawke changed just by how I made her talk. I must hand it to Jo Wyatt for her voice acting. In my first play-through I would see that there were possibilities for the middle option during particularly emotionally intense scenes to be sarcastic, and I was appalled at the idea of making jokes at a time like that, but they honestly worked. You could still feel the disgust ("Someday, I'd like to go one week without meet an insane mage. Just one week.") or tenderness ("You know me, I always save the day.") in a line even if it was made in wit.
The supporting characters were wonderfully three-dimensional, even dirty Uncle Gamlen and literal Knight Templar
Meredith, and some characters even got some lovely development. The writing was well done. I actually quite enjoyed the ending, but I'm a sucker for vague, bittersweet endings. (To me, the Origins ending was a little too "And they all lived happily ever! The end.") I especially liked how the entire game I had no idea where it was heading, and then it just topped it off with this giant HSQ ending.
However, it was certainly not flawless. The limitation of Kirkwall was such a great idea and done well for the most part, but the level design was so horribly lazy. I could excuse it for the houses. Houses in neighborhoods do tend to look the same, but the caves and tunnels were inexcusable. The bugs are annoying and really need to be fixed. Though I'm not a PC gamer, I am upset that they got screwed over. My attachment to a certain sibling may end up ruining the replay value for me. The random ambushes got particularly tedious at points. It felt too short.
Yet none of those flaws felt like they ruined the game for me. I'd give it a 8.5/10, and that's probably the same I'd give for Origins. It's different, but not terrible.