In DA:O, my characters' relationships develop in an organic way – my Wardens chat with their companions about their pasts in a way that feels true-to-life, and over time, some of them eventually open up enough to confide some of their personal problems. If they grow or change as people as a result of knowing the Warden, it feels subtle and natural, and I have a lot of freedom to imagine for myself how my Wardens are affected by the people around them.
As much as I loved the companions in DA2, Hawke's relationships with most of the companion characters seemed to focus on a single personal problem of theirs, which Hawke helped them to resolve (this was less true of Aveline and Varric, but I'd say it applies to my experiences with most of the other companion characters, to varying degrees). I appreciated the variety of ways that companion characters could respond to Hawke's actions, but something about the influence that Hawke had over them didn't quite ring true to me – I wasn't always sure why they accepted Hawke continually giving his or her opinion about how they should resolve their problems, and about the direction their lives should take.
I think it comes down to my not feeling that I had enough time to get to know the companion characters before being introduced to their quest arcs. I didn't have a problem with the idea of Hawke having opinions about his or her companion characters and their personal problems, but I sometimes felt that I was being asked to make decisions that affected them before I'd really had a chance to get to know them, or to develop a strong sense of their relationships with Hawke.
I found this to be a problem especially with the romances in DA2. I appreciate that some people might want to "get right to the action," so to speak, but when I arrived at the DA2 romance scenes, I sometimes felt as though something was missing. My problem wasn't with the scenes themselves – it was just that I had been expecting them to have a a bit more context. I sometimes found myself wondering "Wait, how did they get to this point?"
Of course, I could, in theory, imagine interactions between Hawke and his or her companions that take place off-screen. I do this frequently when playing DA:O, and it makes each of my characters and their relationships feel much more personal. But I find that for some reason, I don't quite feel motivated to do that when I'm given a voiced protagonist.
When I'm playing DA:O, I feel as though my character lives his or her life in my imagination, and the in-game cinematics are there to help me imagine my character more vividly. But in a game like DA2, with a voiced protagonist and a more cinematic presentation, it feels more as though Hawke lives his or her life on-screen – and that means that in order to feel part of events in Hawke's life, I need to actually witness them.
In short, I enjoyed seeing the ways that interactions with companion characters played out in DA2, but I think that their romances and quest arcs would have been more satisfying if I'd been able to see Hawke spending more time with them in a casual way beforehand.
Edited by jillabender, 06 October 2012 - 07:24 PM.