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I picked up DA:Origins again


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#1 theacefes

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 12:38 PM

Not that anyone cares but if you do, here's an experience I had/am having as I go through my something-th time playing through Dragon Age:Origins.

I still remember back in the early-ish 2000s when Dragon Age was announced but as far as anyone really knew, it was never going to be finished and Bioware *never* updated that stupid web page for it. The page also gave away little to nothing about the game itself, only that it was the "spiritual successor" of the Baldur's Gate series.

After seeing initial screenshots for the game and seeing that yes, the characters had bright circles underneath them, just like Baldur's Gate, but that didn't mean crap. 2008 comes along and we see Mass Effect (on the PC). I thoroughly enjoyed the game and thought that it did my new computer justice to have a game that looked and played like a movie I could interact with. I thought for sure that's where games were going.

Then 2009 came along and we see trailers for Dragon Age and gameplay and....what the f@#*? What is *that*? You're going to charge me 60 dollars for *that*? I don't give a crap about how rich the story is...Knights of the Old Republic has an awesome story too and I could buy that for 10 bucks at the store.

"But...but Baldur's Gate has a great story and not very good graphics...you hypocrite! All you care about are graphics...and Halo!"

Ah, but Baldur's Gate came out in 1998 and its sequel in 2000....and I began playing them when they were released. So of course their graphics seemed awesome! And I don't even like Halo.

Like a good little Bioware drone fan, I gave in and bought DA:Origins on release day. I installed it and began playing it immediately. At first, I cringed when I saw the cutscenes and the fact that the load times were ridiculous and the game even crashed a few times. But after 8 hours of playing and being surprised that I wasn't even close to being halfway through the game (like Mass Effect or Knights of the Old Republic), I stopped being annoyed and was able to ignore the flaws.

I realized that DA gave me what Baldur's Gate couldn't:
- A campsite where NPCs stand around a campfire and talk about stuff with pretty music in the background (someone make a mod for this please). I *hate* that DA2 took this away.
- Romances that are not mods and still decent
- Better options all around for a female PC, as though the developers actually thought people with female PCs might be playing this
- Taking down the over complexity of inventory management, statistics, and game rules so that I can focus on the story instead.
- The Sacred Ashes quest...has to be my favorite quest of ANY game. For all its flaws, the game pushes you to learn about the lore of this new world.
- Commoner NPCs with background stories and references to geography and history instead of typical BG NPCs ie: "I be scratchin my arse all day and something something click End Dialogue".

DA2 wasn't bad (I like the new dialogue mechanic), but it did feel rushed and...like it was missing something. I still think 60 dollars was overpriced for a game that looks like it jumped through a time vortex 6 years ago, but at least I'm entertained, which is the whole point of playing games right?
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#2 Yovaneth

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 01:03 PM

but at least I'm entertained, which is the whole point of playing games right?

Right!! :D

-Y-

#3 Tempest

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 01:11 PM

I can agree with most of your points, but BG2 still has something I doubt the DA series ever will: every potential party member is optional. I'd enjoy DA quite a bit more if I could just refuse to let Alistair and Morrigan join the party (or immediately eject them from the party if they forced their way in) and never see them again. You have a lot more freedom in BG2 that way - you are the main character, period.

"The righteous need not cower before the drumbeat of human progress. Though the song of yesterday fades into the challenge of tomorrow, God still watches and judges us. Evil lurks in the datalinks as it lurked in the streets of yesterday, but it was never the streets that were evil." - Sister Miriam Godwinson, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri


#4 theacefes

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 02:19 PM

I can agree with most of your points, but BG2 still has something I doubt the DA series ever will: every potential party member is optional. I'd enjoy DA quite a bit more if I could just refuse to let Alistair and Morrigan join the party (or immediately eject them from the party if they forced their way in) and never see them again. You have a lot more freedom in BG2 that way - you are the main character, period.



See, I like that...even if you hate the character...I don't think Dragon Age was ever meant to be solely about *you*. It's about the world and how you have an effect on it, but like the real world, life goes on around you without you having to do anything. I enjoyed the fact that certain NPCs were tied to the main plot. It gives me the feeling of "oh great, what have I gotten myself into", instead of every dialogue option being a world-altering decision. BG2 improved upon NPCs greatly in that they were no longer packmules, but then again, the story of BG was about the Bhaalspawn. You don't *need* Jaheira or Minsc or Aerie. Dragon Age:Origins is about the Blight and makes note that you can't stop it alone. Sure, you have a beginning and it goes into where you are from, but I feel the game makes it clear that you are not the sole architect of Ferelden history.

And I believe you can tell the above NPCs to leave during the course of the game, can't you?
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#5 Archmage Silver

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 02:29 PM

I agree with Tempest on the fully optional party members feature of the BG series, and personally I still get more out of a SoA/ToB run than one of Origins/Awakening. With that said, I really like DA, and I think that it's a special game for multiple reasons. First, it's a transitional game for BioWare, spanning from before ME to past its release. Secondly, it may very well be the last traditional Western AAA RPG title from BioWare, as they adopt the modern action take on RPGs.

#6 Tempest

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 02:32 PM

I don't think you can get rid of Alistair, but Morrigan pops back up at the end of the game regardless. Beyond the simple fact that I detest Alistair, Morrigan, and just about everyone in DA2, I prefer the greater focus on the PC that BG2 and to a lesser extent the Mass Effect series has, and in the latter case the involvement of the NPCs is both written well enough that I don't mind their greater prominence. I cannot say the same of DA. True, I'm prejudiced in that I simply don't find the DA setting and story compelling or very interesting, but I found the setup and storytelling of BG2 far superior - the prominence and optionality of the NPCs is at the level I enjoy in a game. Optional, and not rammed down your throat.

"The righteous need not cower before the drumbeat of human progress. Though the song of yesterday fades into the challenge of tomorrow, God still watches and judges us. Evil lurks in the datalinks as it lurked in the streets of yesterday, but it was never the streets that were evil." - Sister Miriam Godwinson, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri


#7 theacefes

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 03:09 PM

Optional, and not rammed down your throat


Were that true, then I think that maybe they could have done with giving us the option to bring back all or most of the BG1 NPCs as joinables, and not just their favorites. Yeah we get it, Minsc is a bit off, he's got a hamster named Boo...okay, it's not funny anymore...I drop him every playthrough now.

@AMS: I'm not sure what you mean by transitional...they just took forever to release it. I don't mind the action RPG thing as long as there is a decent plot and no more micromanaging...I'd rather that than Bioware go the way of JRPGs...the day that happens is the day I stop buying their games. :(

I bought Awakening and when I reinstalled Windows recently, I made sure not to install it again. Really unimpressive.

Edited by theacefes, 16 August 2011 - 03:14 PM.

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#8 Archmage Silver

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 05:38 PM

@AMS: I'm not sure what you mean by transitional...they just took forever to release it.

Merely that its development begun when BioWare was still developing traditional RPGs, and that its release was after that time had already come to a close with Mass Effect. It was the one game that saw BioWare's design goals change during its development, thus I like to think of it as a transitional game.

As for when it was released, it already represented something that wasn't a part of BioWare anymore (as evidenced by the lackluster effort they put into Awakening.)

#9 theacefes

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 08:11 PM

Ah, got it. Agreed. :)
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#10 Kulyok

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 09:42 PM

I just completed a DA:O run with only two party members - my Amell girl and Alistair only(romance, Alistair is king, ultimate sacrifice). I had temporary companions, sure, but I asked Morrigan to leave in Lothering, told Oghren to go right after we saved the Anvil, and asked Wynne to stay in the Circle.

I think the most powerful moment of that playthrough was when my Amell said goodbye to Alistair at the gates and went into Denerim (to cheers and calls from the guards) all alone.

Couldn't do it in DA2, of course. I mean, that thing with Merrill is ridiculous: I told her I didn't trust demons and blood magic, told her outright I wouldn't visit her again, and yet the game still tries to give me her quests(which I never do), she shows up in party selection, and in Act 3, she shows in my Hawke's house! Damn. Same thing with Aveline, though I don't mind as much - my party needs a solid warrior. And, of course, same thing with Anders, Carver and Bethany, but they are more or less family, and I accept that Varric is needed for story reasons.

Anyway, yes, please, optional party members. I find that my playthroughs are the most interesting when I don't stop to loot the bodies or to read the codex or to do most of the optional quests, but just follow the main story(mages-templars storyline, qunari storyline, serial killer storyline. Or the Blight in DA:O, sometimes even without Soldier's Peak/Awakening). And it's not possible with seven NPC quests in a row for each act. Thankfully, I could ignore Isabella/Fenris and disable Sebastian DLC, but still, five non-optional party members is too much.

Loved the graphics in DA:O, by the way. I like the art for the Deep Roads in DA2 better, but overall, DA:O makes me feel more comfortable in my chair. And DA2 was too difficult on casual difficulty before the last patch. Even now, I think the High Dragon battle in Act 3/lboss battle in Legacy should be easier.

#11 princesspurpleblob

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 04:14 AM

I just started to play DA:O again. Tried Cullen romance mod (playing female mage, ofcourse). What I really love about DA:O is the colourful NPCs. I really loved Ser Gilmore from human origins and Cullen from female mage origin.

I always thought my female noble warden and Ser Gilmore were in love. It was really upsetting to see Ser Gilmore sacrifice himself to help warden escape. Also, it was a terrible feeling to see his corpse (in cut scene) at fort drakon(sp?). For my female noble warden, I played 2 different ending. My warden moving on with her life and come to love Alistair, eventually becoming the Queen. Another ending was that she never got over Ser Gilmore and ultimately sacrafice herself, not only to save the heir to the Fereldan throne (Alistair) but to follow her loved ones (Ser Gilmore & parents). I tried Ser Gilmore mod, and while it was good it was bad in a sense that it did not match my imagination of what happened between warden and Ser Gilmore. Kinda ruins the whole thing you know.

On the other hand, I really love Cullen romance. It does not change any story line -- just adds few more cut scenes and dialogue. Too bad we can't see happy ending between Cullen & female mage warden. Although, mod gave me some comfort that at least my female warden let Cullen know of her feelings too. I really wish there could be happy ending between Cullen & female mage warden. Maybe someone will make a nice mod for him sometime? :) I can only hope. Right now, I'm thinking of my own ending of Cullen & female mage warden. Something like, after the Blight is over, she went back to Circle tower, which was only home she knew, and start to build relationship with Cullen again. Cullen is forever scarred with what happened during the Broken Circle quest, but if he can be broken, he can be mend too. And hope, my female mage warden's love is enduring enough to do that.

Funny how I came to love non-joinable NPCs more than joinable romance options.