Despite the reaction to Dragon Age 2 being somewhat polarised across the interwebs and beyond, Rich McCormick scored it an impressive 94 in his 2011 review. "The best RPG combat," he said. "Not gaming's best story, but maybe its best storytelling. Darker, sexier, better." Elsewhere, critics were a little harder on the game which, for some, couldn't escape Mass Effect 2's looming shadow.
When BioWare announced that a DA2 expansion had been canned after the fact—named Exalted March—prior to the arrival of Dragon Age: Inquisition I, among others it seems, assumed this was a direct result of Dragon Age 2's divisive reception.
Not so, says Dragon Age creative director Mike Laidlaw—it was down to the move to the Frostbite Engine, the complications that arose from the transition, and a lack of "engineering folks" available at the time.
First off? Why did we cancel it? Easy to assume it was “the reaction” to DAII, but not so! It was the move to Frostbite.January 12, 2017
Taking to Twitter, Laidlaw posted a series of tweets (starting with the above) which note the game's Hanged Man Tavern as the DLC's proposed entry point, as well explaining why it never came to light.
"We had an opportunity to do [the DLC and the engine switch] at the same time, but knew as it would be the first time that engine did 'RPG stuff' it would be hard," he says. "As most everything in making games, it certainly was challenging. Great engine, but took tons of time. Had we tried to do both EM and the Frostbite transition, both would have suffered a lot, especially from lack of engineering folks. [Mark Darrah] made the call to stop development on EM and go all in on what would become Dragon Age: Inquisition.
"Exalted March didn’t make it too far past concept. The idea, however, was that it followed the red lyrium chicanery of DA2 with the Chantry becoming VERY UPSET, while various aspects of the qunari started to make moves on the turbulent Free Marches. And thus it fell to Hawke to stop things from going to hell (again) while working with Starkhaven and the pirates of the Armada."
Laidlaw concludes: "But as it stood, I think shutting it down was the right call to focus on the engine change."