The Tragedy Of Hawke, Dragon Age 2’s Schrodinger’s Hero

Dragon Age 2 did many issues proper – and many things wrong – however one factor that stands out probably the most to me is the tragedy that’s Hawke. In many tales the place there’s a hero on the coronary heart of the story, that hero goes by Hell and again to develop 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 heartbreaking protagonists in gaming so far. 

When we first meet Hawke in Dragon Age 2, they’re a humble farmer from a small village close to Amaranthine whose life is all of the sudden upended as a result of 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 search out love together with her apostate husband, Malcolm – and their two siblings, twins named Bethany and Carver, the primary loss finally ends up being certainly one of 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. Depending on which playable class the participant chooses, both Bethany or Carver will likely be crushed to demise by a vicious ogre. It’s a startling approach to start any sport, however what’s worse is that this is among the simpler horrors that this household will face. 

When escaping to Kirkwall, a location all of the sudden overrun by refugees looking for security and housing following the Blight, Hawke finds themselves in an unfamiliar place with no meals, no cash, and no place to name dwelling. Luckily for them, Leandra hails from Kirkwall, and whereas she is now 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 dad and mom’ demise. In order to achieve sponsorship to be allowed into Kirkwall, Hawke and their household should pay their manner with blood, sweat, and tears. Suddenly thrust into indentured servitude, the Hawke line finally claws their manner 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 threat? Gruesome demise. The reward? Untold riches. 

But, as with all the pieces in Hawke’s path, this too goes improper. This escape from the squanders of Lowtown comes with a worth. Though Hawke solidifies a lifetime friendship with Varric, the best-damned character within the franchise, they have to even be confronted with one other loss. This is one other occasion the place there are a number of outcomes, relying on participant selection, 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 search out that their brother has joined the Templar order to forge his personal path, a call that rips him away from the household and is made much more tough if the playable Hawke is an apostate mage themself. Because the Templars in Kirkwall aren’t simply Wardens of mages to maintain them “safe” and others protected from them, lots of the Templars in Kirkwall are jailers, abusers, and rapists beneath the paranoid rule of Knight-Commander Meredith Stannard. A ruler recognized for her heavy hand, an end result from the Deep Roads drives her to the purpose of madness, one thing we do not see till the very finish of the sport. But for now? Now there may be the Deep Roads. 

If Carver comes with the occasion into the Deep Roads, there are two outcomes. One: if Anders will not be current within the Deep Roads as one of many chosen occasion 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 damaging Joining ritual to develop into a Grey Warden. Either manner, demise has marked the youthful sibling, with the latter resolution 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 beneath the Templar order’s cautious watch. 

Following a betrayal by Varric’s brother, the occasion finally makes it out of the Deep Roads with the riches promised, permitting Hawke and crew to flee Gamlem’s decrepit dwelling to reclaim the Aristocracy standing inside Kirkwall’s Hightown, on the sacrifice of one of many siblings a technique 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 smash because the Qunari occupation boils over. The apex of this battle revolves round two situations: both betray an in depth good friend, Isabella, by giving her again to the Qun alongside the tome or aspect together with her and battle the chief, often known as 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 Keep as an emblem of the Qunari’s whole conquest. Following Hawke’s victory, they’re provided one more title, that of the Champion. Little did Hawke notice 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 cope with their new position 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. During 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. When 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 girls as they cradle her throughout her ultimate moments. 

Seeing this as one more failure, Hawke fades right into a despair and it is right here the place they’re perpetually 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 enjoying the “blue” diplomatic path. They are at all times prepared to assist these round them, irrespective of the price, and are simply seeking to maintain these they love protected following a lot loss. Unfortunately, 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 Merrill’s clan survives her thirst for Elven preservation or not, whether or not Sebastian finds peace beneath the Chantry’s roof, whether or not Varric involves phrases along with his brother’s insanity, whether or not Isabella can escape the recollections of her previous; the story of Dragon Age 2, whereas flawed with the gameplay mechanics of the sport itself and brief in nature, was one which was drenched with heartbreak and actual human relation. Themes so simply relatable will be discovered inside this fantastical story of dragons, magic, and the journey of self-discovery. But even past Dragon Age 2, Hawke’s tragedy follows them into Inquisition, with a selection that may result in their entrapment throughout the Fade with the Nightmare of all Nightmares, or a survival that may plague them for the remainder of their lives. 

There is not any joyful ending for Hawke. There is peace, if chosen appropriately, that finds them again in Kirkwall with their finest good friend Varric, or there may be sure demise. There is a path paved with demise, homicide, accusations. Feelings of “did I do enough?” and “how did I not see this coming?” when taking a look at Anders’ ultimate actions on the finish of the third act, an act that resulted within the Mage vs. Templar battle that noticed hundreds killed and tens of millions affected. 

What makes Hawke so particular to me, which is one thing I’ve talked about beforehand when exploring the hidden perfection within Dragon Age 2, is that their story is way from excellent. They are flawed. Confused, fearful, decided. Even with all the help they discover, even with all the dedication to do what is true and to be there for these they care about, it’s at all times simply shy of sufficient. Each misstep leaves a long-lasting scar, as a result of Hawke was by no means meant to dwell fortunately ever after. That’s not actual life. Some of us simply must 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. 

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