Why Modding Dragon Age 2 Is A Good Idea
Dragon Age 2 was released earlier this year to drooling PC RPG fanboys, and was generally well received. DA2 focuses around the hero known as Hawke, whose dark and gritty story compliments the bloody and visceral combat riddled throughout the game. Along the epic quest you meet several interesting characters, complete several insane challenges, and kill lots and lots of dark spawn. Sounds great right?
Unfortunately, Dragon Age 2 also has its fair share of problems. Some of these issues include horribly annoying design and HUD decisions, an almost unholy amount of gore, and poor loot itemization. And these issues are exactly why modders have taken Dragon Age 2 to task, developing several gameplay improvements almost as soon as the game was released.
However, as with most games, Dragon Age 2 mods come in a large variety or sorts, many of which are not really appropriate or useful.
Frankly, most DA2 mods are terrible. So what is a gamer to do? Well, I asked myself this very same question and decided to make the top 10 best Dragon Age 2 mods list to help everyone else improve their DA2 experience also. So keep reading to find out exactly what mods make DA2 awesome again.
10. Autorun and Tab Highlight Toggles
The first DA2 mod on this list, Autorun and Tab Highlight Toggles is relatively self-explanatory. Basically, Dragon Age 2 forces players to run all over the world, picking up copious amount of loot on the way. Unfortunately, there is no auto-run function and in order to toggle item highlights players have to hold down the Tab key the entire time. Obviously these small yet ridiculous oversights make traversing the world a total drag.
Autorun and Tab Highlight Toggles fixes these two annoyances by providing players with a way to autorun, and a way to toggle off and on item highlights with one tap of a key. While small, these fixes make a huge difference in how enjoyable DA2 is, and may even save some gamers a trip to the doctor’s office for carpal tunnel syndrome.
9. Hide Weapons
Bioware is well known throughout the gaming world as the foremost leader in cutscene storytelling. Their prowess has been seen in the likes of KoToR, Mass Effect, and the original Dragon Age Origins. Of course, Bioware’s penchant for the dramatic and immersive is on display yet again in Dragon Age 2, and..wait, what’s that? Why is Hawke holding his giant, 45-pound Zweihander when he is talking to his close companion Anders?
The above scenario is an example of another small, yet quite large gameplay bug that went overlooked in Bioware’s rush to get DA2 out the door and to the streets. Characters always have their weapons equipped, even when strolling through peaceful towns, or participating in campfire conversations. It gets to be quite ridiculous as you discover more powerful weapons with elemental effects, as having a flaming bow and arrow set sticking out of your character even when she is talking to a merchant is just plain absurd. That is why the Hide Weapons mod for Dragon Age 2 was created. It completely hides any and all weapons from view when you and your party are out of combat. This makes the game much more immersive and fun to show off to friends. Hide Weapons is a must download Dragon Age 2 mod.
8. No More Gibbing!
One of the best elements of the Dragon Age series is its staunch refusal to portray a gritty, mature plot and world in a sterilized way. By that I mean there is quite a lot of blood in Dragon Age 2, and for the most part it fits the theme. That is until you start to become the Hawke of legend, not just the street kid with a knife and a sense for glory. Once your characters are powerful enough to complete several late game challenges, many regular enemies just don’t stand up to your ferocious attacks…and by stand up I mean remain as a whole entity. As soon as the tip of your blade hits just one of your enemy’s arms, he explodes in a shower of bloody giblets, staining your outift for the foreseeable future.
Obviously, that gets to be a bit gratuitous, even for 2011. So several fine members of the Dragon Age modding community decided to end some of this nonsense, and made the No More Gibbing mod for Dragon Age 2. This mod takes away the exploding internal organs of vanilla DA2, and replaces them with a simple one or two large piece dismemberment with an appropriately small red shower. The improvement has to be experienced to be appreciated, but it does add a sense of depth to an otherwise ridiculously dark world.
Click on Next Page to find out the rest of the best Dragon Age 2 mods!
7. Character Generator Revamp
One of the largest differences between Dragon Age Origins and Dragon Age 2 is that in 2 you are forced into the protaganist role of Hawke, a legendary hero(ine) whose conquests against the Dark spawn are well known. However, the character generator used at the beginning of Dragon Age 2 allows you to customize your Hawke how you so wish. While the game provides you with a dashing and scarred starting face, what you end up with is ultimately under your control.
Unfortunately, the starting Hawke options are almost always the best options, as the current character generator is more of a character uglifier if anything. Of course, this is completely modifiable, and the Character Generator Revamp does exactly that. Gone are the days of butt ugly “ünique” characters. The generator revamp sharpens the edges of most unique character features, allowing even the most terrible facial artists to create a heroic figure that is sure to be the envy of all. For its gift of player character beauty, the Character Generator Revamp mod is one of the best Dragon Age 2 mods available today.
6. Archery Critical
Dragon Age Origins had one pretty large knock against its stellar gameplay; Mages were unbelievably overpowered. Thankfully, a slew of early mods fixed this problem in a variety of ways. It seems as though Dragon Age 2 has swing the pendulum in the opposite direction for protagonist Hawke, as instead of being horribly overpowered, the one balance problem is that an Archery based Hawke is incredibly useless.
One of the reasons a rogue style Hawke is so pitiful is his lack of critical skills that are on par with Warriors or Mages at a higher level. Of course, this balance issue really sucks, as it takes players a full 30 hours of gametime to finally realize their Hawke is completely gimped. Thankfully, modders have recognized this problem once again and have produced a backwards-save compatible mod that gives Hawke a reliably powerful Archery Critical Build Up Skill. This makes a rogue Hawke a great character to play, and fixes one of Bioware’s largest balance issues.
5. Dragon Age Save Generator
One of Bioware’s touted selling points for Dragon Age 2 was its backwards compatibility for previous save games from Dragon Age Origins and the Dragon Age Downloadable Content. Depending on the stage of your saved games and the plot choices you enacted, the plot for Dragon Age 2 is slightly changed to reflect your previous games. Of course, this is useless for those who played DA:O on different machines, lost their save games, or didn’t enjoy the game and never finished.
If you fall into one of the aforementioned groups who didn’t complete DA:O or buy the DLC, you may miss out on several interesting pieces of DA2 content. Thankfully, modders have rectified this horrible situation and produced the Dragon Age Save Generator, which lets you create a save game from the previous Dragon Age content, and select different choices to build up to your Dragon Age 2 game. This mod basically lets all players see all of the hidden content in DA2 without forcing them to replay DA:O several different times. For its ease of use and functionality, the Dragon Age Save Generator has earned the number 5 spot on the list of the top 10 best Dragon Age 2 mods out today.
Click Next Page to find out what the top 4 best Dragon Age 2 mods are!
4. Nightmare Difficulty Tweak
Bioware created Dragon Age 2 by listening to the feedback coming from a large number of vocal gamers and critics, and then attempting to mix their own preferences with the criticisms received from their audience. While wonderful in theory, oftentimes only the loudest minority are able to be heard as they drown out the relatively content majority. This is exactly what happened with Dragon Age 2, as the sometimes brain-tweaking strategy required in Dragon Age Origins was completely ripped out of DA2. Bioware instead opted for a much faster paced action-rpg hybrid mix that went well with critics, but not holdovers from Origins.
One of the tactical decision players often had to make in Origins was to nuke or not to nuke. See, mages in Origins had very powerful area-of-effect spells that would also damage the rest of the friendly party, not just the enemies. Thus, players had to be judicious in their use of nukes. In DA2 that strategic gameplay element only exists in one mode: Nightmare. Unfortunately, Nightmare mode also increased the number of enemies, how hard they hit, and how much health they have. Basically, it is not much fun to play.
This leaves regular old gamers out in the cold, yearning for the tactical based combat of Origins but too casual to take on Nightmare mode in DA2. Of course, there is a mod for that, as the Nightmare Difficulty Tweak allows casual gamers to get their strategery on in Dragon Age 2. It takes the friendly-fire aspect of AoE attacks and puts it into regular game modes. Casual RPG gamers, you can now breathe a sigh of relief.
3. Facial Tweaks
One of the most recognizable features of Dragon Age 2 is its incredibly high resolution character model graphics. Especially noticable is the quality and care taken in rendering each notable character’s face. Bioware isn’t quite as bad as Bethesda is at rendering facial beauty, but some of their design choices still manage to stump gamers regularly.
Luckily, the Facial Tweaks mod gives the control to the customers in this situation. It allows players to select from a set number of options for each major character’s face, such as giving Anders a greasy ponytail, or Meredith many more wrinkles than she already has. Silliness aside, facial tweaks has default options that make most characters fit their personalities much more. Meredith goes from a girly blonde to a harrowing grey warrior, Aveline gets rid of her Arnold Schwarenegger-like jawline in favor of a more realistic face, and Anders appears to be much more rogueish than before. While small touches, Facial Tweaks is an incredibly immersive mod, and one of the best Dragon Age 2 mods out now.
2. TrufflesDuval HighRed Texture Pack
Ah, the Bentley of mods in most gamer’s minds is the graphical enhancement mod. Made extremely popular by the Natural Landscapes mods for Oblivion and Morrowind, graphical mods usually give a game’s graphics a next-gen bump by increasing the screen resolution and texture size of the existing files. TrufflesDuval’s High Resolution Texture Pack mod for Dragon Age 2 is more of the same, in a very good way.
The mod takes almost every texture from DA2 and reworks it. Cobblestone roads now appear uneven and positively medieval, while Dark spawn revenants are now every bit as frightening from far away as they are up close. This mod even changes the armor textures, giving more detail to the moving pieces of Hawke’s armor, and ultimately delivers a much sharper Dragon Age 2 grahpical experience. However, the best part of this mod is how little processing power it takes to run. Talk about turning a molehill into a mountain, in the very best sense.
1. Sunnie’s Evolving Weapons Pack
And the absolute best Dragon Age 2 mod out right now is…..Sunnie’s Evolving Weapons Pack! Let me explain; in my opinion there is nothing more frustrating in an RPG than getting fantastic new loot every other battle. It sounds crazy, but many gamers like myself like to familiarize themselves with their awesome new loot before they wear it out. Unfortunately, vanilla Dragon Age 2 loot drops like candy, and you are simply another dungeon away from a completely new set of armor.
Sunnie’s Evolving Weapons Pack changes all of that, allowing players to literally bond with their weapons and armor. In Sunnie’s world, weapons grow in power as you do, and as you kill more enemies your swords gain different abilities depending on severla factors. Also, it allows you to continue to use great looking armor and weapons with relatively crappy stats, as those items will grow alongside you. Say goodbye to an ugly looking Hawke. For all of these tremendous gameplay improvements Sunnie’s earn the top spot on the best Dragon Age 2 mods list.
This post is part of the series: Dragon Age 2 Mods & Addons
Read this article series for an outline of the various Dragon Age 2 modifications and expansions.