One thing Dragon Age 2 lacks is a full set of modding tools. Dragon Age: Origins let you use developer tools to create missions, new weapons and new characters. But the lack of tools in the sequel hasn't stopped the modding community. There are already a ton of tweaks and fixes for Dragon Age 2, adding texture packs, save game generators, developer console access and much requested features like the ability to edit default Hawke's face. Read on to help tailor the experience to your own play style.
Character Creator Redux
There are many different players, and a character creator should allow every player to create his or hers own face, without making it look like a Madame Tussauds' reject. The Chargen Revamp mod allows you to alter the face of the default Hawke, meaning you can still use the heroic dude that's on the front of the box, whilst still customising it to add that little personal touch. It also keeps the default models for Hawke's family; meaning even if you do give your character a facelift, they won't look like escaped genetic test subjects.
Save Game Generator
Like the Mass Effect series, Dragon Age 2 can look at your saves from the first game and see what kind of world you created, and then use that to make your choices impact the narrative in the sequel. They're never big changes, but it's always nice to live in a Kirkwall that feels personal to your own Dragon Age journey. Should you have lost your saves from Origins, or feel you messed up so much with your Grey Warden than you wish to start with a different set of circumstances, this Save Game Generator can create files that DA2 will use, without having to replay Origins.
When you first start up DA2, you'll be offered a line-up of some pretty awesome looking Hawkes, all wearing armour you'd sell your own graphics card for. Unfortunately for you, you'll get to run around in it for just a few minutes before it's taken away and denied to you until the later stages of the game. Think this is a crime against fashion? Stand up to the man: get modding! Using this little tweak , you can have the armour dropped in your inventory as soon as your reach Kirkwall. If you're doing this right at the start of the game, your Hawke will be too weedy to equip it, so follow the mod's readme to beef up your character in the game's coding so you can get fashionable pronto!
The combat in Dragon Age 2 is awesome. Fast, bloody and explosive; it's always satisfying. That is until you're knee deep in Sela Petrae and you've just thrown every spell and ability you have at an enemy who just won't die. Now you're stuck waiting for your abilities to cool down, and all you can do it weakly tap them with your blade or produce puffs of smoke from a staff. Reduce the hassle of hot spells with a Cooldown Reduction tweak , which reduces the time abilities take to cool down by a frosty 30-50%! Snap, and the heat is gone! It even works on potions!
If you rolled a mage in Dragon Age: Origins, you're probably used to timing your spells perfectly to ensure your comrades don't get caught up in the hellfire you're about to summon. There was nothing worse than preparing to spray your enemies with Cone of Cold, only for your main DPS character to charge into the fight and get themselves ice-cubed. It was frustrating, but it forced you to become a highly tactical player, and soon became one of the main pulls of the game. For some reason, Dragon Age 2 only offers friendly fire on the Nightmare difficulty, which kind of lives up to its name. If you want to experience the tactical combat of Origins without breaking a few keyboards out of frustration, you need the Friendly Fire mod .
Dragon Age's graphical prowess is a difficult beast. Unless you've got a lyrium-powered rig with a DX11 card, it can look a little ugly in places. BioWare's own High-Definition texture pack can help out with this, making systems with even just DX9 cards run the game pretty as an elf in a glowing sunset. The pack does require pretty high horsepower though. Those with lower-powered PC's need not fear though, for the Trufflesduval Texture mod does an exceptional job of making Kirkwall look prettier than its default settings. Just see for yourself in this comparison screen.
Like all the best PC games, Dragon Age 2 has a developer's console than can be access to make adjustments in-game. It requires a bit of technical wizardry first though. You'll need to adjust your 'KeyBindings.ini' file in your Dragon Age settings directory (found at Users\[your name]\Documents\BioWare\Dragon Age 2\Settings). In the file, change the “OpenConsole_0=” line to “OpenConsole_0=Keyboard::Button_F8”. You can make the button anything you'd like, and most players use the tilde button above Tab. However, I found that this wouldn't work, so chose F8 instead.
Then you'll have to adjust your shortcut's target. Right click on the Dragon Age 2 shortcut, and click on “Properties”, and then add “-enabledeveloperconsole” at end of the “Target” field. Make sure you add a space before this extra command.
With this all finished, hitting F8 in-game will activate the developer's console. Unfortunately it's invisible, but when activated your characters will be uncontrollable, so that's a sure sign it's working. You can use this to engage several cheats like immortality and insta-killing all enemies in the area. But we at PC Gamer are not cheaters, and we refuse to reveal the commands for these sordid abilities!
Give Isabella some clothes
She's a sexy, saucy pirate lady who is probably going to end up breaking your heart. Prevent the temptation to flirt with Isabella early on by giving the girl some damn clothes to cover up all that thigh and arse she keeps showing off every time she does a somersault over a Hurlock. You'll thank us for this in the long term!
So there we go, plenty of tweaks to mix up your Dragon Age experience a little. Installing them is generally a pretty painless experience; most of them are placed directly into your Dragon Age 2's 'Override' directory (found at Documents/BioWare/Dragon Age 2/packages/core/override). Anything in this file will automatically override the game's normal settings. It's also useful for swapping in and out mods, since files deleted from the override directory will stop working with immediate effect. All the mod's come with readme instructions too, to guide you through the application process.