Dragon Age 2 did many issues proper – and lots of issues mistaken – however one factor that stands out essentially the most to me is the tragedy that’s Hawke. In lots of tales the place there’s a hero on the coronary heart of the story, that hero goes by Hell and again to change into a shining beacon of triumph and prosperity. For Hawke, nevertheless, every win got here with ten losses behind it, in the end leaving them to be one of the crucial heartbreaking protagonists in gaming thus far.
After we first meet Hawke in Dragon Age 2, they’re a humble farmer from a small village close to Amaranthine whose life is out of the blue upended because of the ravaging Blight seen in Dragon Age Origins. Escaping a easy life alongside their mom, Leandra Amell – a former noble that left the “good life” behind to seek out love together with her apostate husband, Malcolm – and their two siblings, twins named Bethany and Carver, the primary loss finally ends up being one among many. When escaping the hordes of monsters thirsting for destruction, Hawke and their household expertise their second loss following the demise of Malcolm some years earlier than. Relying on which playable class the participant chooses, both Bethany or Carver might be crushed to demise by a vicious ogre. It is a startling approach to start any recreation, however what’s worse is that this is without doubt one of the simpler horrors that this household will face.
When escaping to Kirkwall, a location out of the blue overrun by refugees in search of security and housing following the Blight, Hawke finds themselves in an unfamiliar place with no meals, no cash, and no place to name house. Fortunately for them, Leandra hails from Kirkwall, and whereas she is not the noble’s daughter she was prior to now, her brother, Gamlem, nonetheless resides throughout the metropolis. Unluckily, Gamlem lives within the slums, squandering away the wealth the Amell line accrued following their mother and father’ demise. With the intention to acquire sponsorship to be allowed into Kirkwall, Hawke and their household should pay their approach with blood, sweat, and tears. All of the sudden thrust into indentured servitude, the Hawke line ultimately claws their approach out of poverty by killing and stealing, whereas additionally taking over some odd jobs right here and there to in the end elevate the coin for a dangerous enterprise down into the Deep Roads. The chance? Grotesque demise. The reward? Untold riches.
However, as with all the things in Hawke’s path, this too goes mistaken. This escape from the squanders of Lowtown comes with a value. Although Hawke solidifies a lifetime friendship with Varric, the best-damned character within the franchise, they need to even be confronted with one other loss. That is one other occasion the place there are a number of outcomes, relying on participant alternative, all of which lead to one other hit to the guts. If Carver is the surviving sibling, he can both come into the Deep Roads or keep behind. If he stays behind, Hawke returns to seek out that their brother has joined the Templar order to forge his personal path, a choice that rips him away from the household and is made much more troublesome if the playable Hawke is an apostate mage themself. As a result of the Templars in Kirkwall aren’t simply Wardens of mages to maintain them “protected” and others protected from them, lots of the Templars in Kirkwall are jailers, abusers, and rapists below the paranoid rule of Knight-Commander Meredith Stannard. A ruler identified for her heavy hand, an consequence from the Deep Roads drives her to the purpose of madness, one thing we do not see till the very finish of the sport. However for now? Now there’s the Deep Roads.
If Carver comes with the celebration into the Deep Roads, there are two outcomes. One: if Anders will not be current within the Deep Roads as one of many chosen celebration members, Carver will die following the invention that he has been contaminated with the Blight when battling the Darkspawn that haunts the winding caverns. If Anders is current, there’s a small Warden camp that may be discovered, successfully saving Carver’s life by having him carry out the harmful Becoming a member of ritual to change into a Gray Warden. Both approach, demise has marked the youthful sibling, with the latter determination giving him extra borrowed time, permitting him to spend the remainder of his days battling out Darkspawn along with his newfound brothers and sisters.
If Bethany is the surviving relative, then the identical can occur to her, the one distinction is that if she is left behind, Hawke returns to see her imprisoned within the circle below the Templar order’s cautious watch.
Following a betrayal by Varric’s brother, the celebration ultimately makes it out of the Deep Roads with the riches promised, permitting Hawke and crew to flee Gamlem’s decrepit house to reclaim the Aristocracy standing inside Kirkwall’s Hightown, on the sacrifice of one of many siblings a method or one other. A victory to make sure, however one which pales compared to the losses forward.
Now safe as one of many rich elite in Kirkwall, Hawke is as soon as extra on the epicenter of hazard and damage because the Qunari occupation boils over. The apex of this battle revolves round two eventualities: both betray a detailed good friend, Isabella, by giving her again to the Qun alongside the tome or facet together with her and battle the chief, often called the Arishock, in a duel to the demise. This, after all, follows a tumultuous battle that left many voters lifeless, together with the Viscount along with his head kicked down the steps throughout the Hold as a logo of the Qunari’s whole conquest. Following Hawke’s victory, they’re supplied one more title, that of the Champion. Little did Hawke understand right now that this new title would include the love and respect of Kirkwall, in addition to the watchful eye of Meredith and those who imply hurt beneath the stomach of the town.
Part of Hawke’s tragedy is separate from themself, discovered inside their companions:
As Kirkwall resettles from the Qunari invasion, Hawke should then deal with their new function as Champion as Meredith declines into chaos, Anders’ conspires to make a stand for mage rights, and the remainder of the companions fall into their very own private tragedies, occasions that Hawke weighs upon their shoulders as if the burdens are their very own. Throughout these occasions, Hawke additionally suffers what’s arguably their best loss: the homicide of their mom by a serial killer blood mage obsessive about misplaced love. Once they lastly discover Leandra after a path of lifeless ends, it is too late. They discover her soul trapped inside a lifeless physique that’s made up of a number of murdered ladies as they cradle her throughout her closing moments.
Seeing this as one more failure, Hawke fades right into a melancholy and it is right here the place they’re endlessly modified, a change we see later in Dragon Age Inquisition.
What makes Hawke’s story so tragic is that their coronary heart is so open, particularly so when taking part in the “blue” diplomatic path. They’re at all times prepared to assist these round them, irrespective of the price, and are simply seeking to preserve these they love protected following a lot loss. Sadly, these round them have their very own tragedies, tragedies that unfold after asking for Hawke’s assist, which feels to put these failures at Hawke’s toes. Whether or not Merrill’s clan survives her thirst for Elven preservation or not, whether or not Sebastian finds peace below the Chantry’s roof, whether or not Varric involves phrases along with his brother’s insanity, whether or not Isabella can escape the reminiscences of her previous; the story of Dragon Age 2, whereas flawed with the gameplay mechanics of the sport itself and quick in nature, was one which was drenched with heartbreak and actual human relation. Themes so simply relatable could be discovered inside this fantastical story of dragons, magic, and the journey of self-discovery. However even past Dragon Age 2, Hawke’s tragedy follows them into Inquisition, with a alternative that may result in their entrapment throughout the Fade with the Nightmare of all Nightmares, or a survival that can plague them for the remainder of their lives.
There is no such thing as a comfortable ending for Hawke. There’s peace, if chosen appropriately, that finds them again in Kirkwall with their finest good friend Varric, or there’s sure demise. There’s a path paved with demise, homicide, accusations. Emotions of “did I do sufficient?” and “how did I not see this coming?” when Anders’ closing actions on the finish of the third act, an act that resulted within the Mage vs. Templar conflict that noticed 1000’s killed and thousands and thousands affected.
What makes Hawke so particular to me, which is one thing I’ve talked about beforehand when exploring the hidden perfection inside Dragon Age 2, is that their story is way from excellent. They’re flawed. Confused, fearful, decided. Even with the entire help they discover, even with the entire willpower to do what is correct and to be there for these they care about, it’s at all times simply shy of sufficient. Every misstep leaves an enduring scar, as a result of Hawke was by no means meant to dwell fortunately ever after. That is not actual life. A few of us simply need to be content material with discovering peace the place we are able to and are available to phrases with the playing cards we have been dealt.