DA2 certainly had much to recommend it and it was hardly the unmitigated disaster some like to pretend it was.
I know I'm probably in the minority with this view, but I thought the companions' story arcs were the "real" story being told and that whole mage/templar thing was just a backdrop. Perhaps that's less a to do with the way the companions were written and more to do with how disinterested I was with the main plot, but it was enough to get me to replay it three more times. Not a big fan of the DLC. Legacy was just one massively dull dungeon crawl topped off by a frustrating boss battle. Never did finish Mark of the Assassin.
The big issue with DA2 was that it was
b)Different from the first one
Now being different isn't necessarily a bad thing. I loved the story and how it was told differently from DA1. What I didn't like was the change to the gameplay. RPGs like DAO and KOTOR don't come around very often. Is it too much to ask that their be a franchise that keeps the elements that make those games fun? In the case of DA2, they felt that they could take a few pages from ME2 and apply them to DA2. While it didn't break the game, it took away some of what made DAO special.