Here’s What Would Happen In A Dragon Age 2 'Snyder Cut'

It’s been 10 years and this is the first time i’ve seen the silhouettes of people in the game logo. Wow.
It’s been 10 years and this is the first time i’ve seen the silhouettes of people in the game logo. Wow.
Image: BioWare

Yesterday on Twitter, former BioWare employee and Dragon Age 2 lead writer David Gaider explained what he’d do with the opportunity to give Dragon Age 2 it’s own “Snyder Cut.”

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The tweet thread covered a wishlist of changes to the game, including vastly altering the sequence of events and the ability to make different critical choices, as well as smaller tweaks like the addition of more NPC dialogue. Gaider revealed that during DA2’s development, the team planned for Kirkwall, the main city and primary setting of the game, to change over the years DA2 takes place.

“First, either restore the progressive changes to Kirkwall we’d planned over the passing of in-game years or reduce the time between acts to months instead of years... which, in hindsight, probably should have been done as soon as the progressive stuff was cut,” Gaider said on Twitter.

My fight with the Arishok looks nothing like this. It was mostly me running in a circle trying not to die.
My fight with the Arishok looks nothing like this. It was mostly me running in a circle trying not to die.
Screenshot: BioWare

The team also planned to have NPCs change along with the city to have people react to Hawke, the main character, as real people would. “I’d want to restore all those alternate lines we cut, meaning people forget they’d met you. Or that they knew you were a mage. Or, oh god, that maybe they’d romanced you in [Dragon Age: Origins],” Gaider tweeted.

In Dragon Age 2, players can choose for their Hawke to be a warrior, a rogue, or a mage. Mages in the Dragon Age universe are feared and discriminated against because of their potential to be possessed by evil demons. In Dragon Age 2, one of the plots Gaider said was cut centered on a mage Hawke struggling to withstand demonic possession.

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“I’d want to restore the plot where a mage Hawke came THIS close to becoming an abomination. An entire story spent trapped in one’s own head while trapped on the edge of possession,” Gaider tweeted. “Why? Because Hawke is the only mage who apparently never struggles with this. It was a hard cut.”

Official EA UK (YouTube)

Like all Dragon Age games, Dragon Age 2 featured binary choices a player could make that have a dramatic effect on the story. There is one point in the game in which Hawke must choose between the unfairly maligned but dangerous mages or the corrupt and fanatical templars. Gaider’s Snyder Cut DA2 would allow for a third, neutral option that sides with neither faction. Gaider also imagined an option to interrogate Anders, one of the player’s mage companions, before his shady, “let’s do a terrorism” actions lead to the final climax of the game.

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I really like Gaider’s vision of a “Snyder Cut” Dragon Age 2. I felt a lot of the choices the game forced me to make were antithetical to the spirit of other BioWare games that similarly offered black and white choices but sometimes rewarded you with a third and often better option depending on how you played. For example, in my playthrough I supported the mages, which made me feel like I was at least turning a blind eye to, if not tacitly supporting, their use of murderous blood magic. Supporting the templars and their oppressive, sadistic regime would have been even worse. In Gaider’s revamped DA2, I would have loved the opportunity to tell both the mages and templars to fuck off to work toward a more balanced solution to mage/templar conflict.

I’m also deeply incensed that we were robbed of a Varric romance.

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I never felt the romance options in DA2 were as emotionally satisfying as the ones in Dragon Age: Origins or Dragon Age: Inquisition. Yeah, I said it. Merril is boring. Fenris is dour and boring. Anders is a terrorist, covered in cat hair, and boring. Sebastian is hyper-religious, refuses to kiss you, and is boring. Isabela is the only non-boring love interest but she’s more likely to scam you than smooch you. The one character who would have changed all of that is Varric. He’s handsome, witty, a good friend, and an excellent storyteller—a romance with him would have made Dragon Age 2 2011’s game of the year. And! Imagine all the exquisite emotional suffering we could have had from a romanced Varric dying Spock-style in DA2 DLC. Or, even better, imagine a scenario where a romanced Varric lives and gets to ask a Hawke-sacrificing Inquisitor in Inquisition, “Where’s Hawke?”

We were robbed, y’all.

I’m sad Dragon Age 2’s rushed development cycle led to a lot of great features getting cut from the game. At the time of DA2’s release, it was largely reviled for its repetitive and reused dungeons and for the simple fact that it wasn’t a continuation of Dragon Age: Origins. Although time has softened people’s opinion of the game (including my own) such that Dragon Age 2 is no longer universally despised, David Gaider’s Snyder Cut of Dragon Age 2 would have made it my absolute favorite Dragon Age game ever. 

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DISCUSSION

Dragon Age 2 is the only game I really wish had gotten that full developmental cycle, the explanation to my general view being that games need to come out at some point. Considering what it achieved even with that rushed dev cycle is just staggering, I can only imagine what they would have been able to do with the full dev time. Especially as we get so many teases during the game of bigger and better thigns. Not even included there is that Gaider has talked about some of the other stuff cut out not mentioned here, like the Carta subplot which would have involved Varric. When I’ve listened to Gaider’s interviews, there’s just a different tone when he talks about this game.

I’ll be honest, even in its current deeply flawed form, DA2 is one of my favorite games of all time as you can just feel that ambition to really do something different burn in it and that Act 2 was something brilliant. I would argue that if it came out now, the story and narrative would feel groundbreaking and it really suffered a lot from people expecting DAO 2.0. Hell, not only does it have awesome companions, I seriously rank its three central antagonists among the best Bioware ever created. While it doesn’t affect my own feelings towards the game, it has been really heartwarming to see the general reception regarding shift over the past few years.