Mark of the Assassin is BioWare’s second foray into story-driven DLC for Dragon Age II, and it’s a different beast to its predecessor, Legacy. While they seem to be of a similar length (I took around 5-6 hours to complete both, your mileage will vary depending on how you play), MotA contains considerably more dialogue and a fair few non combat set pieces which differentiate it from Legacy.
Varric sets the scene in yet another charming conversation with Chantry Seeker Cassandra, after which the game introduces Tallis, your new companion, in an impressive opening sequence set in Hightown. The initial battle left my entire party dead, other than my warrior PC who is, to be fair, invincible. This was a nice change – at level 26 my party steamrolled through Legacy, finding no challenge until the final boss.
While MotA isn’t particularly difficult, an encounter with an annoying spirit in an early forest zone resulted in five or six reloads to complete. The final boss went down during my first attempt, so it was nowhere near as frustrating as the final act of Legacy.
The DLC assigns Tallis permanently to your party, so you’ll only be able to take two of your usual companions to Chateau Haine, on the western edge of the Vimmark mountains. The upside is you’ll be outside Kirkwall the entire time! Amazing!
The gist of the story is that Hawke is invited to a social meet and greet at Duke Prosper’s manor near the Orlesian border. Tallis, the character voiced by Felicia Day, invites herself to join you with the intent to steal a rare jewel from the Orlesian nobleman. Instead, you end up hunting wyverns to gain access to the chateau, as wyvern hunting is apparently a favourite Orlesian pastime.
The DLC introduces several new types of monsters to fight (including the aforementioned wyrverns), which keeps the adventure feeling fresh. There’s less combat overall in MotA, but this is offset by the increased dialogue and in my playthrough, the added humor.
MotA is a more light-hearted romp compared to Legacy, though you will learn considerably more about the Qunari and their beliefs, which adds some weight to the proceedings. The new loot is fairly decent, although I didn’t find any real use for it considering my party was already kitted out in similar and sometimes better gear. There’s also an extended sequence wherein you can sneak around the chateau, distracting and clobbering guards, if you enjoy a little variation in your gameplay. Alternatively, you can just wander around the old fashioned way, killing everyone you come across. Finally, MotA adds a few more puzzles for players to set their wits against, although they’re not particularly difficult.
I’m not sure I could state that Mark of the Assassin is ‘better’ than Legacy. If you enjoy extended dialogue sequences, cameos involving NPC’s from the Dragon Age series and bantering with your companions, you’ll find MotA is right up your alley. If you prefer a lot of combat, or a gritty story, it probably won’t live up to your expectations. It’s certainly an improvement over the recycled environments and repetitive wave combat that we saw in Dragon Age II, and a continuation of Legacy’s push to remove or cleverly disguise such things.
Here’s the rundown:
+ Plenty of dialogue, humorous banter
+ Improves on common complaints leveled at DA2 (environment recycling and wave combat)
+ Felicia Day’s Tallis is an interesting new companion
- Not particularly combat heavy for those who enjoy challenge
- New stealth mechanics can be frustrating
- Story not as gripping as that of Legacy
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Dragon Age II: Mark of the Assassin was developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts. It was released October 11th for $9.99 on the PS3, 800 Microsoft points on the Xbox, and 800 Bioware points for the PC. If you enjoy hobnobbing with high society, listening to French accents and hearing Felicia Day’s voice, you will enjoy it.