I don't actually know what the plot of Dragon Age 2 is. I mean, I know it's the story of the rise of Jenny, Champion of Kirkwall, but that's rather vague. That's not a plot, really. I know that the story ends with a cliffhanger. I know that the Chantry is going to get pretty upset with Jenny. I know the Qunari are involved. But I made it past the introduction, I've set up home base, and I've been running around in the sandbox picking and choosing quests, and I still don't have an overarching quest.
In every other game I've played, by now I should be finding the water chip, or rescuing my teacher, or finding clues to the Sith Doom Device, or gathering allies to defeat the darkspawn, or finding the rogue special agent and bringing him to justice. I'm not doing anything like that. I'm just running around the city, saving up for an expedition into the deep roads. And the motivation for that is
purely financial at this point. The darkspawn are on the retreat so
it's a good time to go looting.
One of my first "main quests" was a search for a missing templar. Along the way I discovered templars who believed that the Knight Commander was conducting mysterious initiation rites to weed out those who might question her orders. I met Knight-Captain Cullen, who shared his superior's zealotry. When it turned out that the templars were kidnapped by mages hoping to destroy the Chantry by raising demons in ordinary people, I killed the mages, rescued the templar, and the quest was over. It didn't lead to anything else happening. I got some money and went away. The quest seemed to function as world-building rather than plot-advancing. I wonder if this is the kind of storytelling risk that reviewer was talking about.
And while this lack of focus on a single questline might have disengaged me from the story, the way that Skyrim did, I'm still very invested. I think that, partially, it's because I believe that there will be something, so I'm invested in finding out. It's less like a lack of story, and more like a mystery story. I just don't know what it is yet.