Tobold's Blog
Friday, November 20, 2009
 
Dragon Age: Origins - Review

FTC disclaimer: I do have a material relationship with EA Bioware insofar as they did send me a free review copy of Dragon Age: Origins. Nevertheless the copy of the game that I actually played was a “Digital Deluxe” version bought via a Steam pre-order, thus including all existing additional downloadable content. I'd claim my opinion isn't influenced by a second free copy, but I'm disclosing this information so you can decide that for yourself.

This review of Dragon Age: Origins will include several comparisons of DAO to MMORPGs in general, and specifically World of Warcraft. That might seem a strange comparison to some of you, as obviously these are different genres of games. But there are common problems and solutions in single-player and massively multiplayer role-playing games; and by comparing them I hope to show up some inherent limitations of the two genres.

Dragon Age: Origins is the spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate. Although DAO isn’t based on a D&D license like Baldur’s Gate, the game system used is quite similar to D&D, with some clever additions adapted from MMORPGs, e.g. warriors having a taunt command. So like Baldur’s Gate you start out the game alone, but quickly pick up various colorful companions. It’s not quite “go for the eyes, Boo, go for the eyes”, but your companions do have a mind of their own, leading to sometimes funny interactions between them and you, or each other.

A RPG consists of two building blocks: Combat, and a story which happens between combats. In Dragon Age: Origins combat happens in real time, but by hitting space you can at any time pause the game and give commands to your characters. You can control one character directly in real time, and give a series of tactical instructions to the other characters. Note that even on “normal” difficulty, the second lowest of 4 difficulty settings, doing combat only in real time will get you killed in any harder fights, and every boss fight. Thus pausing and working in pseudo turn-based mode is pretty much required.

In comparison to World of Warcraft, combat in Dragon Age: Origins is generally harder, and far more tactical. Some basic principles are the same: You put a heavily armored tank in front, taunting the enemy to attack him; heal said tank with a healer or potions; and use the remaining party members to deal damage. There is aggro management, crowd control, and the necessity to watch both health and mana of your characters. Only that in WoW you only play one character (unless you multi-box), and you can’t pause to give commands. As in DAO you can save before the combat and then replay any failed attempts, and as you can pause in combat to have time to think and give commands, combat can be harder and still be doable. As you control all characters, there is also the possibility of friendly fire, which as a concept in a MMORPG would cause all sorts of problems.

The story that happens between combats in Dragon Age: Origins is mostly told in the form of dialogues, plus a few cutscenes. In the dialogues you have several options, which do have some influence on how the story unfolds. But much of that choice is an illusion, as the main storyline will progress with only minor variations regardless of which options you chose. DAO has a rather dark story, and the choices you have aren’t of a simple good or evil nature. For example a recurring choice is dealing with children possessed by demons, where you are given the options of letting the evil demon loose, or killing him by killing the child, neither choice being very pleasant. In other cases the dialogue has much simpler choices to make, which basically boil down to “do the quest” or “refuse the quest”, with doing the quest being the obviously better choice, to get more xp and rewards. The world of DAO features orcs, ogres, dragons, and many other mainstays of fantasy RPGs, only that for some reason the orcs are called hurlocks or genlocks, the ogres look like horned demons, and the dragons are referred to as archdemons. That is the sort of “creativity” I could have done without.

In comparison with WoW, the main difference is that as a single-player game DAO has a beginning, middle, and an end. That is the classic structure of storytelling in general, and thus the story of DAO follows a classic narrative structure, with you starting out as an unknown, and ending up saving the world. World of Warcraft doesn’t have an end, nor a story per se, but has “lore” instead, which is told in non-coherent bits and pieces through quest texts and books you find on your journeys. One consequence of that is that the world of WoW is relatively static and only changes with patches, or through tricks like phasing. In Dragon Age: Origins the world is changed by your actions, so that a village isn’t the same before and after you saved it from an evil undead invasion.

While you do interact with NPCs, and especially with your companions, this interaction of course is much simplified in DAO compared to the interaction with real other players in WoW. While you might do an action that displeases one of your companions in DAO, you often have the option to reload a previous save game, do the same action again with a different group composition, and thus keep everyone happy. Your companions in DAO are also suspiciously fond of gifts, so if you committed a heinous act in the presence of a good character, you can just bribe him with a trinket to completely compensate for the loss of esteem. I haven’t played the game through yet, but it is reported that if you do enough positive actions and gifts to a companion, you can even have cybersex with them. Not sure if that applies only to members of the opposite sex, not to mention the dog. Given the sex and copious amounts of blood splatter, I wonder why the game is only rated M. Your characters in dialogues and cutscenes after a combat are often covered in lots of blood, and there doesn’t appear to be an option to switch that off.

Character development in Dragon Age: Origins works by gaining xp and leveling up. While I would recommend to always have a healer, a tank, and two dps in your group, you will with time get enough different companions to choose from so that your main can be any class and specialization. However taking a mage character with a healing spell as your starting character will make your first game go a lot smoother. Characters have a kind of a talent tree, but as the tree is very wide and only 4 talents deep, you can quite well mix various specializations, and for example have a mage who heals, deals area damage, and does crowd control to boot. The rogue and warrior talent trees are somewhat less varied, but still interesting.

Depending on what version of Dragon Age: Origins you buy, different methods of “digital rights management” (DRM) will apply, that is either Steam DRM, or a simple disc check. EA did not put a more invasive DRM like SecuROM in Dragon Age: Origins. However every version of the game comes with at least some codes for downloadable content and these codes can only be used for one account to be created on the Bioware website. Thus if you buy a second-hand copy of DAO (or pirate one), you will miss out on at least part of the game, or you will have to buy the missing downloadable content. So in a way the DRM of Dragon Age: Origins is rather similar to the DRM of World of Warcraft, where you need a valid account too to enjoy the totality of the game. Of course Dragon Age: Origins has no monthly subscription fee, but Bioware will sell you additional content for the game in the future, with the first DLC called Return to Ostagar just having been announced to cost around $5.

In summary, in my very personal opinion, I do enjoy Dragon Age: Origins for its very tactical combat. Other people like the epic story of DAO, but I found the story to be rather stereotypical, linear, and cliché-ridden. I did however appreciate the “origins” part of DAO, which results in the first hour or two of your game being different depending on which origin you chose for your character. I’m not a huge fan of DAO’s dialogues, which are often long, and ultimately have only a small effect on the main story. But I must admit the story is well told, and not limited to simple good vs. evil choices. And you could always click through dialogue fast and get right back into the next fun tactical combat. So overall I do recommend Dragon Age: Origins.
Comments:
Your characters in dialogues and cutscenes after a combat are often covered in lots of blood, and there doesn’t appear to be an option to switch that off

Actually there is one, it's called "Enable persistent gore" in Game Options. What isn't present is a checkbox to turn off blood altogether.

As for the sex, all it amounts to is several shots of your character and the companion in their undergarments hugging and kissing; if you could call it that. Mercifully nothing revealing is shown, especially considering the character models used.
 
There is a way to turn the blood off on your characters armor. In the Options menu, you can turn off Persistent Gore.
 
I'm not sure about why you think the dialogue choices have little impact in the story. It has a huge impact actually. I'm not sure where you are in the game, but I don't think you can judge this game in 10-15 hours. At least 20 hours in.

I just finished it.
 
I'm not sure about why you think the dialogue choices have little impact in the story.

Dialogue options have an impact on SIDE stories, not the main story line. For example whether you choose to sacrifice the mother or choose to kill the child in Redcliffe Castle only affects who of them will be around afterwards. It does NOT affect that your next step in the story is to find the sacred urn.

Other example: You participate at the discussion of strategy before the battle of Ostagar. You know who the traitor is, and why the agreed upon strategy will be a disaster. Where is your dialogue option to warn the king and prevent his death?
 
The world of DAO features orcs, ogres, dragons, and many other mainstays of fantasy RPGs, only that for some reason the orcs are called hurlocks or genlocks, the ogres look like horned demons, and the dragons are referred to as archdemons. That is the sort of “creativity” I could have done without.

I don't think this is fair. They go out of their way to explain the standard fantasy elements in new and (IMO) original ways. I love what they did with turning dwarves away from chubby alcoholists, and the whole demon/mage lore seems pretty well fleshed out.

The only thing not entirely clear to me at the moment (but I havent finished the game yet) is what the darkspawn themselves really are, if not generic undead or demon.
 
Dialogue options have an impact on SIDE stories, not the main story line. For example whether you choose to sacrifice the mother or choose to kill the child in Redcliffe Castle only affects who of them will be around afterwards. It does NOT affect that your next step in the story is to find the sacred urn.

I think you might be surprised tobold. While the OVERARCHING story isn't changed, yeah, you are correct in that, lots of things do change based on your decisions. Dragon Age does this better than most RPGs in fact.

Other example: You participate at the discussion of strategy before the battle of Ostagar. You know who the traitor is, and why the agreed upon strategy will be a disaster. Where is your dialogue option to warn the king and prevent his death?

That's metagame information. Your character would have no way of knowing that!
 
Excellent, informative review. It sounds very much like a game i can enjoy (as a single player alternative to WoW).

I'll be picking up a copy (or 2 so that my Son can play through it too).
 
Where is your dialogue option to warn the king and prevent his death?

Your character can't really know that at this time of the story. And the presence of such an option would not only have an "impact" on the main story, it would made a big part of the story obsolete. Bad example.

There are a few choices with impact on the main story, the game has more than one ending, after all. And even if they don't change the future, choices like in Redcliffe (you have more than two options here) have an impact on what you have to do at this moment. If you have such choices often enough, this adds to replayability. Plus, the game feels different with different companions. Having Shade with you in Orzammar, for example. Some of them can even die before you get the chance to add them to your party. The game feels different depending on your origin, because a lot of the NPCs react to this.

All of this is important, i think. "Story" is not only about "the results". It's about the way to reach them, too.
 
Nice review. So far I like the game quite a bit, especially the story and characters. I've actually been quite pleased by the difference your choices make, even if they don't affect the central storyline.

I really do not like the MMO influences on the combat system, though. The game has a strong "holy trinity" feel, and pretty much every battle is just a matter of crowd-controlling, tanking, and spanking, which gets old. I recall Baldur's Gate having a lot more variety, both in party composition and tactical approaches.

It's still an outstanding game, though.
 
Great review Tobold, I do want to ask you a direct question about it. IYO, do you think that $5 for dlc like 'return to ostegar' is worth it? Or is that overpriced?

Because if you compare the price of an one of the many expansions to Fallout 3, that were all $10. It seems very steep to pay $5 or better for a quest when I can pay $10 for a whole expansion pack.

Do you agree?
 
Your companions in DAO are also suspiciously fond of gifts, so if you committed a heinous act in the presence of a good character, you can just bribe him with a trinket to completely compensate for the loss of esteem

That's not right. At some point I thought it was a great idea to sacrifice a woman to save a child. Apparently one of my companions did not like me killing his stepmother. Even if I'll give him all his gifts I only might get him to neutral.

At other times doing an action will cause a character to just leave or take up arms against you. You can always quick load and change your action or group setup but it's not always as simple as "give two gifts and you're ok again".

I do agree that the combat is tactical. I enjoy the fights a lot, especially the micromanagement needed to control a full party.
 
I'll be picking up a copy (or 2 so that my Son can play through it too).

Depending on the age of your son, even with your supervision i would be wary of letting him play this game. Even with persistent gore turned off, there is alot of blood, melee characters decapitate enemies, many of the conversation options with certain companions are sexual in nature (particularly once your approval rating goes up).

There are rather good reasons why the BBFC in England gave the game an 18 rating.

Aside from that, i think the criticism on how your choices affect the story are fair, but then again, most RPGs are exactly the same. They have a firm idea on where they want the story to go, and will railroad you towards that end, with the illusion of choice in the middle.

There are multiple endings to DA:O though, and the choices you do make during the game do affect which ending you see.
 
I do want to ask you a direct question about it. IYO, do you think that $5 for dlc like 'return to ostegar' is worth it? Or is that overpriced?

I found the other two DLC modules, Warden's Keep and Shale, to be relatively short. Return to Ostegar seems to be marketed more as the potential loot you can get there than as additional content. In which case you are basically paying for the loot that makes the rest of the game easier, an effect you could have achieved by playing at a lower difficulty level.

I did buy the digital deluxe version to find out whether DLC is worth it, but the result is that I'll not buy Return to Ostegar.

Regarding the Fallout additional modules, I read their main problem is that they are made for a specific level, and if you are already past that in the game, they are too easy and thus boring. I wonder how that will be handled in Dragon Age: Origins.
 
DA:O is the first sp game i played extensively in a very long time, and also one of the best. The story is indeed a bit cliche and predictable, but the delivery of that story is first class. Sidenote: when playing i suddenly realized mmos always manage to give me that 'i have to do something useful now or im wasting my time' feeling, even though i consider myself to be a (very) casual player...The absence of this "pressure" was enjoyable.

I dont know about you but first thing i did was play through most of the origin parts (except for the elf stories :). I think the idea is excellent but some origins were much better implemented then others. The dwarf noble origin is my favorite.

Also there is some controversy about the DLC. Some think the DLC available at launch should have been in the game, others complain about the fact that too little is offered for too much. I downloaded the Keep (the other dlc was included) and thought it was pretty good albeit a bit short (first playthrough lasted maybe 2 hours max).

The way the DLC is implemented is somewhat suboptimal imho, and can lead to curious behavior. Sometimes the game doesnt recognize the fact that you downloaded/own/paid for the content, which can cause items to disappear. A warrior fighting in his underwear is somewhat ineffective. I usually could solve these problems with a restart, but these issues need to be ironed out though, if they want the DLC to be succesful.
 
I found the combat in the game extremely boring. It is literally the same thing over and over again. You always have to AOE a lot, there are always swarming enemies, you can kite the bosses just by running around while the rest are DPS-ing.

I would argue that most MMOS are a whole lot more tactical - there are patrols, there are extra mobs you may aggro - there is such a thing as a bad pull! None of which apply to DA.

I found it tremendously dissapointing just how lifeless the surroundings are. When you are sent to kill some bandits (as you can see I quit the game early on) they just stand in the fields, there is no movement, milling about etc that you are used to see in an MMO...

The incessant loading screens, the tiny extremely linear world. Why don't you mention that? Why is it that a single player game has a whole lot less interactivity and fewer choices than an MMO?

Compared to Baldur's Gate the game is a step back, it is a linear game with lots of cutscenes (that actually reduce replay value - who wants to sit throught that banter again...)
 
Not sure if this is just a European version difference, but in the US the easiest difficulty is 'easy', not 'normal', and imo really does make all the combat very easy.

Also, while the archdemon looks like a dragon, not all dragons are archdemons, so there is a difference there (the codex has a lot of interesting entries about that btw). Also the Deep Roads explains what Genlocks and Hurlocks are, how the difference 'classes' of them form, and why overall they can keep attacking. It's not as simple as 'they just respawn', which I thought was a nice touch.
 
Oh and about DRM, if you get the game from Direct2Drive the only thing you have to do is put in an activation code when you install the game, and after that all clear, which IMO is a huge bonus over a boxed copy and having to keep the CD in the drive, or over steam which has to do it's check every time you load up.
 
I think you missed your call on meaningful discussions in the game.

In 3 particulars: Slight spoiler

Taking the dwarf noble start: you have a choice, very early on, if you want to sleep around--and it can even be viewed as a noble's duty.

I have no clue if that has repercussions in the rest of the game but I had to stop and think about what this character was, what sort of person he was going to be. The question is useful because it illuminated the personality of the character I was creating. And there are a number of these choices scattered through out the game.

The dwarf commoner and mage intros have choices at least as morally complicated and even the city elf start lets you cast another character as an alcoholic or not.

Then there are the relationship choices that you make within your party and followers--there are some endings that aren't possible unless you have a specific relationship with a specific character.

And lastly, every major plot arc has a choice that will effect what options you have in the end game.

The questions that shape the personality are always the most interesting.

Now you are correct, Bioware's dialog is often carefully structured so that NPC answers can be valid for many of the player responses, but that doesn't mean the answers I choose don't charge the way I view my character or don't have an effect in the game world or other choices you even have available later in the story.

PS Meta-gaming bad.
 
PPS (sorry about the second comment)

While I agree Warden's Keep seemed short, I think you might be misevaluating the value of the Shale. His value is not in the extra zone you can play in, but in having another character to choose for your party.
 
I pirated DA:O. Simply due to this being an EA game. When I pre-purchased WAR from the EA store they never delivered the codes I needed to play in the head start. So I purchased it from a different digital download site and tried to cancel my EA store WAR. I spoke with a rep in EA store who said it was cancelled but I still got billed and another copy of the game. I spent weeks communicating with them through email but to no avail. So f**k you EA I am getting my money back by pirating this game. With that out of the way....

I felt DA:O was too slow. Dialogs were too long and loading times were way too frequent, and way too long. I really would like to get into this game but the constant loading pisses me off. This was the same reason I didn't like Mass Effect. TOO MUCH GOD DAMN LOADING.

I do plan to keep playing it and hopefully i'll enjoy it more. With L4D2, and WoW, and Borderlands, and COD: mw2..... though there are just too many good games right now.
 
Not sure if this is just a European version difference, but in the US the easiest difficulty is 'easy', not 'normal', and imo really does make all the combat very easy.

You misread what I wrote. I said "second lowest of 4 difficulty settings". I haven't tried easy, because the normal level is rather enjoyable as it is.
 
I am surprised you haven't dwelt more on the characters and the interaction between them Tobold. That is by far the game's highest point in my opinion, and the extremely well done voice overs and subtle dialogue choices make the game so good. Combat and the "epic" narrative are decently done if nothing out of the ordinary, but it's the interaction with and between the characters where the game truly shines, and why it's the real spiritual successor to BG2.

The combat is nice and tactical, yet not tactical enough. I find WoW's clearly defined ability trees to be much better than the poorly described mish-mash of abilities DA:O has, with no clear counters and counter-counters. Still, it's very addictive and satisfying gameplay if somewhat easy to game even on the highest difficulty level.

It really is the best Western RPG of the decade in my opinion, there are many minor quibbles one can find but overall the experience is gripping. If you like previous RPGs like BG and PS:T where the strength of the characters and the storytelling is the best part of the game, you will love DA:O. To put it simply WoW is a better game, but DA:O is the far better interactive novel.
 
Just as an FYI (and mini spoiler): you do know that you can kill the demon in Redcliff without sacrificing either the child nor the mother - right? I've never killed either one, and have always just killed the demon by entering the Fade.

There are several twists to side quests like this, where two options may be presented, but a third option can be discovered and is actually better than those first presented.
 
As far as the cliched setting goes, bear in mind that when games do come out with really interesting and different settings (ie. Planescape), people don't buy them. The standard fantasy audience is a bit conservative.

Given the standard setting, I think they did a great job of really fleshing out the different cultures, the religions, and so on. It kept me interested at least.
 
"For example whether you choose to sacrifice the mother or choose to kill the child in Redcliffe Castle ."

You don't actually have to kill either one of them as there is a way to save the child without sacrificing anyone, or killing him.
 
Yikes, put a spoiler warning in your comments ;)

I just started playing last night and I am delighted with the way that the game lets my choices affect the story, or at the very least it gives me the illusion that it does.

I also like the "like/dislike" meter and the fact that your actions alter the party's opinion of you. I dislike that I may be forced to replace a valuable team member (ability wise) because I keep pissing them off though. (Morrigan gets pissy when I do things like save lost children.)
 
**Spoiler Alert**

Your point about the demon child plotline in Redcliffe Castle is misleading, if not factually inaccurate. You do not have to choose between killing either the child or the mother. Neither do you have to let the demon loose.

One of the dialog options hints that if more mages were available you could perform the full ritual and no-one would need to be sacrificed. If you then go to the Mage Tower you get a long and interesting sequence in The Fade, at the end of which you have the Mages on your side and they will come and perform the ritual. This ends with the Demon vanquished and the mother and child both alive and healthy.

**End of Spoiler**

I think your review is a bit hasty, although I'm not sure how far you've got. I can't see how, until you have finished the game and all the variations possible have come out on the web, anyone can say with authority whether certain dialog options materially affect the plot or not. I suspect you are right, but I do think it's too soon to be certain.

@Pumba While I disagree with you about the combat (I have no-one in my line-up who can cast any AE damage spells and many battles are tricky on normal setting because of it), in general I tend to agree. Bioware have pulled back from the things they did right in BG1, largely I think because at that time the market wasn't ready for the degree of freedom that game allowed players. They severely curtailed it in BG2 and have followed that pattern here, but times have moved on and in comparison even to basic MMO gameplay, environments and AI, DA seems terribly limited and unconvincing.

The fixed scenery with extremely limited mobility for characters is annoying, but the complete inability of characters to move over even small obstacles is unforgiveable. Even Guild Wars offers more movement options than this, and that's the most restrictive MMO I've played.

One particularly infuriating limitation is the impossibility of leaving your party in a specific place and travelling without them, but still having them in the group. You can make them stay, but as soon as a dialog or cut scene happens, they all pop up beside you and stay there after it stops. Drives me crazy when I deliberately put three of them around a corner in another room and send a rogue to scout and a cut scene triggers and BANG there they all are next to me.

Also I can't see that you have any option to have anyone but your own character as Leader. You can;t, as you could in BG, have your Bard or Rogue do the clever talking and benefit from their eloquence and deviousness. If you made a Dwarf Warrior as your main character, as I did, then he does ALL the talking even though he's the least suited in the party to do so.

In BG1, if I recall correctly, you could even park your own character and play as any of the others as your "main". I seem to remember that Mrs Bhagpuss did almost the whole campaign with Imoen as her main and her own character just tagging along doing very little.

I also detest the common inventory. Again, its a huge step backwards from individual inventories and utterly unrealistic even in the context of the game. You can access anything from your bags at any time, no matter who you have in the party. Even during combat.

I am enjoying DA a lot, and would thoroughly recommend it, but the more I play it, the more complaints I have. It's good, but it could have been a lot better.
 
you do know that you can kill the demon in Redcliff without sacrificing either the child nor the mother - right?

Yes, I know. And do you know what happens after you do the situation by taking a detour to the mage tower? Oh right, you are back to Redcliffe Castle, with the Arl still sick, and the only way to save him being finding the sacred urn.

My point was that it doesn't matter what choice you make, not that there are only two choices.
 
I'm enjoying DAO tremendously. I feel the story telling is well done and I have an impact on the outcome. Maybe it's an illusion but I think it's one that is well done. I made a choice to not min/max my first play through. This isn't WoW where my goal is to learn the game systems and optimize all my actions towards "beating" those systems. I'm treating this as actual role playing and I'm developing a moral compass for my character and letting the story unfold. I'm enjoying the process of discovery. Don't squint too hard and you won't see through the veneer.

I do think combat is getting too easy now that my team is in the 11-12 range and I usually go with a 3 mage party. Most of the time I can just queue up my big AOE and let everything die without much interaction. I'm playing on normal difficulty so the drawbacks to friendly fire are mild. Next time I'll pick a melee character so two offensive mages isn't an option.
 
I think Tobold mixes up story and plot. Or maybe I should say dramatic story and McGuffin story as, with each example he brings of dialogue not changing the story, he comes up with examples of the overal plot not being altered much even though the dramatic story changes significantly.

The story is all about the choices you make and why. Often choices are prompted or not even present based upon your orgins and made stronger, more poignant the more you immerse yourself in that origin and act in character. It's probably harder to get into for someone with more MMO than RPG background.

To use the Recliff Castle example. The choice you make is different if you make it as a human noble or an Elven Magi for example, or male or female as Lady isolde will play that card. The story is different each time even if the total number of outcomes is limited. Heck the story will be different depending on your origins, group composition and at what point in the campaign you make the choice, even if you make the same choice each time.

P.S. Even though there's some similarity between the Darkspawn (twisted, corrupted humans) and Tolkienian Orcs (twisted, corrupted Eldar) seeing mythologically accurate Ogres rather than the D&D variant was a breath of fresh air to me.
I much prefer Dragon Age's "creativity" which harkens back to Fantasy and mythological concepts from before the D&D/Warhammer/Warcraft entrenchment of clichés.

P.p.s. If you're an Arch Demon, what mortal body are you going to posess? Your options range from a fluffy Bunny Rabbit up to something Bad Ass such as a Dragon.
 
Dragon Age's basic philosophy is the following:

Choices in the game are meaningful if you already know everything there is to know about DA:O. Otherwise you are throwing out guesses that sometimes work well and sometimes don't, often causing you to reload or re-roll. You go into the smithy and agree to help him find his daughter, but Morrigan disapproves. Reload, kick her out, do the dialog again.

You level up and don't know what ability to get. You try something, find out it sucks, pray you can reload otherwise you're re-rolling or using a suboptimal character.

You get swarmed by a horde of 10 undead guys and are not sure of what spells to use to CC them. Reload the many attempts in which you get slaughtered until you realize you need to be spamming cone of cold...

Baldur's gate had these flaws, I expected that in ten years Bioware would learn to do better, I guess not.

Where they took several steps back from the BG series is cliche crappy uninteresting story, meaningless enemies (sarevok is infinitely more interesting than the archdemon or loghain). For example loghain poisons the arl, and he betrays the king, these sort of mysteries lead the player to think he may have some kind of master plan, after all he tries to assassinate the grey warden...yet once we face him at the landmeet, it turns out there is no master plan, there is nothing at all, just a dude who went nuts and paranoid?!?! Boring, unexciting, anti-climactic, uninspired, unimaginative, dull.

Despite the many flaws in the game, I would recommend it to try, perhaps wait a while until its cheaper at the store.

I personally dislike the fact that the shale content is short and gives you really good loot, basically giving players incentive through items, when what they want out of a single player game is content, not items.

I dislike the fact that the tactical options of the game are heavily narrow: when there is a huge line of archers behind a doorway, you only have one viable option, spam aoe, or put traps on the doorway and abuse their dumb a.i.. WoW combat is more fun, more balanced, more tuned, period.

And for the love of God, the blood spatter is utterly ABSURD.

I bought this game knowing it would be heavily flawed, hoping the mod community would not suck and make special things we could enjoy.
 
@Max Or you could make your team and stick with it no matter how badly some choices turn out. You could struggle to get characters back onside after upsetting them, instead of just re-writing history so you never upset them in the first place. You could just back off the fights you can't win by using the tactics you feel your characters would use and hope that you can come back later when something's changed.

Playing this way has made DA harder for me than I seem to be seeing other people say it is, and has led to me not playing it so much. But if playing it successfully consists of just saving/reloading with different combos until the key fits the lock then I'm really not interested in playing it any more.
 
Yes, I know. And do you know what happens after you do the situation by taking a detour to the mage tower? Oh right, you are back to Redcliffe Castle, with the Arl still sick, and the only way to save him being finding the sacred urn.

My point was that it doesn't matter what choice you make, not that there are only two choices.


So what would you want as an extra choice? That driving the demon out would heal the Arl?

I am not really understanding your objection. It feels to me as if you are saying "But I went to the bank to get cash, but the car's gas tank was still empty when I got back." One doesn't seem to have a lot to do with the other.

Is it that the situation is static and unchanging until you get back?
 
@Bhagpuss: That's how I've been playing it. I stuck it on easy mode and enjoyed being able to pick abilities, talents, and companions based on the story I wanted to tell.

I think that's one of the bonuses with user controlled difficulty. Because if I truly wanted to play it on easy mode, I'd look up the most powerful character and party builds.
 
I like it as as an rpg,

but I do miss the baldur's gate setting and gameplay somehow.
 
So, this game have a disk check protection? Then, I think I cannot play it with my laptop, because I have an external DVD drive but I use only at home, I don't like to carry the DVD all day. Well, one sale less.
 
*spoiler*

It is somewhat disappointing that you have the time required to go save the mages and then return and can still save the child and his mother.

Just the night previously, you only just managed to hold back the tide of undead assaulting the town and now what, the demon just sits there and waits for you to come back?

Seems like what should happen if you go save the mages is that you return to find the demon gone and everyone dead. That would of course screw the storyline just a wee bit much.
 
Your companions in DAO are also suspiciously fond of gifts, so if you committed a heinous act in the presence of a good character, you can just bribe him with a trinket to completely compensate for the loss of esteem.

Actually, this is not completely correct. Generally, the way I see it is like this... most folks in the party care about the bigger deal - the Blight. If you act like a ruthless bastard, it's ok because you're still working toward the larger goal - securing the forces to help fight the Blight. Sometimes you'll do small things that will cause (dis)approval among your companions. They are small annoyances that they can overcome, maybe with a little gift or some understanding conversation. Other times, you'll do large things that will cause them to either leave or turn on you. This is the case for at least three of the companions you can acquire.

Ultimately, it's really tough to accurately model human feelings in a game, so they went with a reasonable approximation that's still readily understandable.

--Rawr
 
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