If Dragon Age II: Legacy is a direct response to the many so-called crimes of Dragon Age II proper, it comes off as a bit coy. In a single swoop, Legacy attempts to address the cringe-worthy reused maps, the oft-putting enemy spawning, and weirdly unbalanced difficulty curve. But Bioware's new disposition is hardly clairvoyant. Legacy occasionally feels fresh, but mostly limps around with vain attempts to mend fences that are long broken. It’s certainly a competent piece of content, but it never sells itself as being absolutely necessary.
Regardless of your position in the campaign, Legacy is woven into the main plotline as a strategically-forgotten storyline – courtesy of our usually-reliable narrator, Varric. In the new tale, Hawke and any assortment of still-living buddies delve deep into an especially narrow Grey Warden prison filled with dwarves, magic-y things, and darkspawn, only to be unwillingly intertwined into a plot involving Hawke's father, the Grey Wardens, and the Tevinter Imperium. With the prospect of including Hawke's surviving sibling in the shore party, the story becomes a bit more personal, but Legacy's brief narrative focuses more on the factions, the history, and a few interesting revelations about the nature of Thedas’ more eccentric inhabitants.
The multi-tiered Grey Warden prison screams “Hey, look at me! I’m a new map and I’m not necessarily completely reusing maps from previous quests!” While that is absolutely true, the maps aren’t that impressive, either. The environments can’t seem to escape the single-minded and brown emptiness that blights Dragon Age II. We live in an age where environments can tell us just as much about the story as spoken dialogue and codex entries, but Legacy’s dungeon is merely adequate.
Battles in Legacy are a marked improvement over all other Dragon Age II content. Legacy is able to reawaken a bit of the tactical flair of Dragon Age: Origins that often felt absent from Dragon Age II. Thankfully, Legacy doesn't feature any soldiers falling out of the sky or insta-spawning mobs. Ambushes feel like ambushes, as enemies at least appear to lure your party into some wily traps. This hardly makes everything better (as the core battle system has problems), but it feels sufficient and fair.
The frustratingly oddball decisions that made Dragon Age II a bipolar experience still prowl the outskirts of Legacy. At some points, I found myself getting especially eager about certain story prospects and their possible implications. But later, I found myself being pushed back into the dirt due to some poor design choices during. Dragon Age II was simply not designed to support a four-character party dodging environmental traps during battle, yet the end boss requires you to do so. The frustratingly oddball decisions that made Dragon Age II a bipolar experience still prowl the outskirts of Legacy.