So, I have finished my first runthrough of DA2. Not going to talk about plot in this post, just some gameplay stuff.
There were things they did well, there were things they did mediocrely, there were things they did very badly. The thing that annoyed me most was not necessarily what you'd expect - it wasn't the combat, or the reused dungeons, the things that got the most whining in blogs at launch.
It was the LOOTING.
Bioware has never been the best at loot. I've complained before about the proliferation of barrels with stupid crap in them and the lack of putting actually cool things in rewarding places. Somehow they took everything they've ever done wrong and made it vastly worse. Loot was not a fun minigame, it was a painful chore.
Why? Well, for starts, all your party members except Hawke have fixed armor throughout the game. That means, from the very beginning, two-thirds of all armor you can find is completely worthless. No one can wear it. It's not right for your class, and no one else can wear armor at all.
On top of that, it appears that each act features a special named suit of armor designed for your class, with good stats and special abilities and a bonus for completing the whole set. Which means that, after act 1 where you had to scrounge your way up, you're likely to spend the game wearing special armor, and every other piece of armor in the game is useless. The special ones aren't even hard to find!
But the worst offender is the accessory category - belts, amulets, and rings. 90% of which are simply labeled "Belt" or "Ring", no matter what their powers are. They have no names. They have no graphics. They have no description. If you mouse over them, you'll get a quick popup of the stats they alter, and that's it. They have a range of effects, but they all look absolutely identical so you can't possibly remember what you've got in your inventory, and you certainly can't care when you find yet another 'Ring' somewhere.
Weapons are slightly better, since the majority of them do get names. They still don't get descriptions or icons, though.
Then there's the vendor trash category, which again gets no icons or descriptions, just a name. You have no way to tell what any of it is worth (well, you can guess that 'Torn Pants' is probably not very valuable, but is a pair of pants worth more or less than a chip of beryl? That's NOT obvious) until you actually sell it to someone. Sure, maybe my character is supposed to be stupid, but at the least after selling things a few times you'd think she'd get some idea and be able to provide information on what to throw out.
Naturally, inventory space is limited. And there doesn't seem to be a convenient way to pick and choose objects when you're looting either. So you pick up all this crap, almost all of which is JUNK, some of which might be usable but it's pretty hard to tell with the generic names, and... It just sucks, okay?
Once I look up cheat codes I am probably going to attempt to loot NOTHING for my next playthrough. Looting is THAT anti-fun.
I would far rather be equipping 'Pustulent Greaves Of The Whale' than 'Ring'. What were they thinking?
Yes, it's extra work putting in all that fluff and no one pays much attention to it. But the lack of that fluff kills the atmosphere and lays bare the sheer drudgery of item upgrading.