Recently BioWare invited all manner of international (read: non-North American) sites to get a hands-on with Dragon Age 2. Naturally, they have given various impressions. Furthermore, some questions have been asked and answered. RPG France recently asked Mike Laidlaw, a lead designer for the game, about romances and if they would be available for both the female and male Hawke among the companions. His response?
Not every follower is interested romantically in Hawke, though there are options for players of all genders and orientations.
I know there has been some fair amount of concern regarding this issue among you all, largely because of this year's release of Mass Effect 2 and its exclusion of male-male romances (very arguably, the female-female options are rather lacking as well). While I've had a fair amount of confidence in the Dragon Age team, I know this will set some minds at ease.
As to who those romanceable companions might be? We don't yet know, but the male companions thus far revealed are Fenris and Varric. Dawdle highlighted the former this past weekend, and Varric is a dwarf rogue who has a rather lengthy thread in the BioWare forums concerning just his chest hair (in a tongue-in-cheek manner). For females we have Isabela, who was in the first game and could teach the player the duelist specialization (and was notably bisexual, allowing for threesomes if one so desired) and Aveline (who shares the name of the first female knight in the Dragon Age universe--though she was knighted posthumously). I would put my bet on the pirate captain.
Concerning reactions to it, many have been asking about it in the forums for a while, and David Gaider has answered in bits and pieces neither confirming nor denying. However, he responded in this thread, concerning people who might be offended by same-sex romance inclusion:
So long as romances of any kind are optional and need to be actively pursued by the player in order to be experienced, they simply don't have a leg to stand on. Advocating that nobody should be able to have content you don't intend to personally use is largely pointless-- outside of a vague notion that such efforts should go towards other things, instead. Personally, it's not a lot of effort to include them. The resources we can devote to a minority of players isn't great, but I imagine to those players it's quite worth it... and I would hope that some folks could be sensitive enough to be happy for those players, at the very least out of the selfish notion that they may one day end up in the minority of some content issue and receive the same consideration if nothing else.
I may just have that ready to copy and paste in response to persnickety people in the future.
Other news that might be of interest in the RPG France interview? Most of the action will center around Kirkwall and its close environs. RPG France draws a comparison to Baldur's Gate II and the city of Athkatla. David Gaider (who was involved with that particular game) mentioned they wanted to craft a city that you could explore--a city that felt real and living, as opposed to Denerim in Dragon Age: Origins. Also, while Morrigan will reappear in the Dragon Age universe, her story is not a focus of the sequel.
The other piece of news I found while romping about in the forums is that Chris Priestly, in a separate thread, (edit: originally attributed to the wrong person) confirmed the Signature Edition (basically a pre-order bonus) will not see a presence on Steam. This largely just means you will not be able to pre-order it on Steam before January 11, 2011, which is the cut-off date for pre-orders receiving the bonus. Said bonus was detailed here a while ago, but there are still plenty of other retailers through which you could purchase and be eligible before said date, and this only concerns PC gamers with an interest in Steam. While I'm interested in the extra character, I think I'll just pay extra and wait for its release on Steam anyway. C'est la vie.
While the very first link is to the English translation in the BioWare forums, the original article, in French, is available here.