Dragon Age Patch Out, Targets Difficulty Issue

By John Walker on November 6th, 2009 at 4:29 pm.

Come, it's slightly friendlier here now.

Dragon Age playing masses, the 1.01 patch is out, and it’s likely essential. Those who’ve seen my PC Gamer review, and indeed very many others saying the same, will have noticed complaints that the Easy difficulty level at certain points isn’t altogether that easy. And I’ll wager many playing on Normal aren’t exactly finding it a breeze. The patch notes explain that they’ve, “made Easy difficulty easier”, and crucially, “slightly increased attack, defense, and damage scores for all party members at Normal difficulty.” I’ve yet to check what difference it actually makes, but hopefully this will address my one major complaint with the game. Steam has already auto-patched, so restart if you’re playing it over there. (And while I’m here, here’s Eurogamer’s review of the 360 version – it seems the PC won this one rather well.)

, , , .

78 Comments »

  1. TotalBiscuit says:

    Well it hasn’t touched my delicious Hard so I’m all for it.

  2. Squirrelfanatic says:

    Sounds like a good thing to me. Although I wonder why playtesting hadn't ruled that out before the game was released, seeing that it has been out only for a few days now. Which reminds me of another thing. *cough* Competition. *cough*

    • D says:

      Well, imagine testing a game that you’ve completed 15 times, but this time you’re told to play it on easy. You know all the tricks already, have played all the class builds, so the occational difficulty spiking completely misses you, and a game is released. Not too much of a stretch I think. Also you are overworked, haven’t seen sunshine for weeks and hate the game anyways.

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      I see your point, but I don’t think that playtesting works that way. Developers are probably aware of such a bias and multiple “sets” of poor playtesters are each kept in different cell blocks each of them dedicated to one of the games difficulties. Or something similiar.

    • bleeps says:

      “I don’t think that playtesting works that way.”

      Think again. On top of what D said, remember the dev’s have spent even MORE time with the game and have to evaluate what the playtesters are giving them. In a perfect world without deadlines and budgets, playtesting would be a long and thorough process filled with thoughtful and productive exchanges between QA and the developers. This ain’t that world.

    • Lagmint says:

      Actually what likely happened is after difficulty testing was done, something was done to player/NPC/etc damage that’s thrown off the curve.

      Happens a lot.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      D’s right, Squirrelfanatic is wrong, sadly. Devs usually forget to account for the fact that their QA team gets very good with their game through sheer familiarity after a while.

      As far as has been publicly stated, Valve are the only people who bring in total strangers to test a game (they do a weekly thing where they grab someone random who’s never worked on the game to see what they have to say).

  3. Premium User Badge Kelron says:

    I’m getting on ok with hard.

  4. Beastbaron says:

    I wasn’t really planning to get the pre-order edition if I didnt win but the suspense is killing me about that competition. Even though I don’t have a hope I cant keep myself from wondering. :(

    • Persus-9 says:

      Yeah, I really want to see the winning entries as well if possible. I want to see what beat my glorious human Tall-Nut.

      Out of interest has anyone else decided to use their competition entry when they play the game?

    • Stupoider says:

      Ooooh, definitely, Persus!

    • Beastbaron says:

      I’ll be using my entry in game for sure. Spent so much time on him I might aswell get some use out of him if I don’t win.

    • Bob Bobson says:

      I’ll be playing my compo entry character in the game iff I win as a thank you to her freakish disturbing face. But if she doesn’t bring home a prize (which is most likely) then it’s a lifetime of begging for her and a chance for adventure for someone else.

  5. manintheshack says:

    That’ll teach those pesky console gamers to steal our genres. Now let’s concentrate on snatching first person shooters back, yes?

  6. Sporknight says:

    It’s always nice seeing this kind of speedy post-release support for games.

  7. Jockie says:

    Just ordered my copy from the EA store, I found a nice discount code that you can enter to get the digital deluxe version for £10 cheaper if you buy it from there, quite pleased Steam decided to reject my credit card!

    • groovychainsaw says:

      Indeed jockie, I did the same – collector’s edition gear for the same price as normal version, nice. Glad i got it now, with the negative reviews of the console versions too. Just going to be harder to get the missus to co-pilot my RPGing (and hence allow me enough time to play!!) on my pc than it is in the living room, but I guess that probably an issue unique to myself ;-)

    • Heliocentric says:

      I hope you don’t plan to play dragon age a year from now. EA store is a terrible creature.

    • groovychainsaw says:

      Yeah, I know that, and I’ve deliberately never bought anything from them for that very reason, but the way i see it, they were £10 cheaper today, I got a year of redownloading with that, I could burn the installer if i get desperate, or if its really good, and I complete it, then want to go back after a year, I’ll get it on steam, where they will no doubt have a cheapo weekend to pick it up for £5 or something. So whilst EA=badmen for making their store so crap, for this game, which is pretty expensive most places, I’ll make an exception.

  8. Harper says:

    Too hard? I’m playing on easy right now and it is a breeze. Just get used to the combat system and assigning tactics to your party and you’ll be fine.

    I think the main problem right now is the learning curve. Alot of people simply aren’t used to a “real” RPG. The Oblivion crowd is probably a bit overwhelmed right now.

    • Legionary says:

      However your implication that if you’re struggling on easy you’re somehow not used to a ‘real’ RPG is put the lie to by the fact that John Walker is by no means inexperienced with RPGs. Additionally it is not helpful to start being snobby about ‘Oblivion players’. I enjoyed Oblivion, are you making judgements on my capability because of that?

    • Taillefer says:

      I’m playing on hard. And I found the best thing is turn the tactics off.

    • DMcCool says:

      ‘Real RPG’ …Bioware…contrasted with Oblivion…urge to kill rising, rising…

      Um, sorry, no. Can we not have any of that snootiness here? Besides an awful lot of people would disagree with your defition of a “Real RPG”.

    • Vinraith says:

      “Real” RPG’s are pen and paper games, everything on PC is one kind of approximation or another. Oblivion does a marvelous job of capturing the freedom of the PnP experience, something Bioware could stand to learn from. It sounds like Dragon Age, in turn, does a great job with party mechanics and making combat interesting, so that’s cool. I think there’s plenty of room to enjoy both, and will henceforth be laughing derisively at people that get snobby about such things.

    • TCM says:

      Dragon Age does a pretty good job at being an approximation of PnP. There’s a ton of resolutions to questlines, lots of reactions based on your origin, and a solid skill system.

    • Vinraith says:

      Glad to here it TCM. I was already planning to pick up a copy, I can’t pass up a good RPG of almost any stripe (JRPGs being the major exception). My point was simply that different kinds of RPGs have different strengths, I certainly wasn’t knocking DA:O.

  9. pilouuuu says:

    Yay! PC wins! It’s good to see a developer take advantage of PC superior capabilities.

  10. Tei says:

    * spoilers *

    This game CHEAT. I use my rogue to visit all rooms, steal all stuff, with all my members safe in the starting of the map, waiting. But as soon I open a door that trigger a cutscenes, magically all the party members are on that cutscene.

    * spoilers end *

    • Taillefer says:

      Yeah, it’s doubly annoying for rogues because they magically lose stealth when that happens and you can’t hide again during combat, even if nobody can actually see you. Grr.

    • TCM says:

      You can hide during combat…with a certain level of the stealth skill.

      Level 3, IIRC.

  11. Butler` says:

    MAN I CAN’T JUST SPAM LEFT CLICK TO KILL STUFF :(

    (oblivion)

  12. Gundrea says:

    After intensive investigation and researching many sources I have discovered the dark truth behind RPS. There never was a competition. Kieron just wanted some dwarf porn.

  13. Mungrul says:

    The 360 review is pretty damning, and yet I still know people who have PCs that are capable of running the game that are buying it for 360. Madness I tell thee, UTTER MADNESS.

  14. MeanCoffeeBean says:

    I’ve been playing it on Normal. While I really love the story line and the depth of the lore, there are two distinct problems I have with the game so far.

    - No matter what tactics I assign to my party members, all of them, mages included, just seem to melee the target. Worse, instead of continuing to attack until the creature is dead (and moving on to another would be nice, but not happening), they seem quite content to just stand around and watch until told that they should, you know, swing their sword again. This is absolutely aggravating. No skill usage and they refuse to keep fighting. I wind up having to select all and keep clicking the target to attack so they actually DO something. What is the point of the Tactics if they do nothing?

    - There is a huge disparity within the Normal difficulty. Most fights are relatively easy as long as I use one character to pull the creatures to my party using line of sight. Then every now and then, for no reason I can ascertain, one pack of mobs or even just a single mob will come along and just lay waste to my party. We’re talking about two or three-shotting my people with more damage than I can Poultice though. There’s nothing to indicate why some groups or individuals are apparently taking massive doses of steroids.

    Have you guys seen this behavior as well?

    [POSSIBLE SPOILERS]
    I really do love the game, and the female city elf starting story was by far the most amazing beginning I have ever seen in a game. It was terrible because you knew what was probably going to happen, but I still found myself shocked that the game plot actually carried through with it instead of a “last minute rescue”. It’s just a game, and I don’t normally get wrapped up in the storyline of games, but this one moved me enough that I actually felt completely justified in the merciless carnage I unleashed and had no apologies for it to either my own people or the King himself. It’s a rare game that can make you feel that committed to your character.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      You probably have your party set to Hold.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      And if you don’t set it to Hold it’s much harder to use strategies which require characters not to be close to one another. Me, I don’t use tactics at all. Also, don’t equip a melee on a spellcaster.

  15. shiggz says:

    I thought Mass effect was a much better balance of story and action. Kotor 1 and 2 were also acceptable imo. The dialogue in dragon age is often tedious. So you get bored start skipping through and then realize you picked some innocuous sounding option only to have the person disappear.

    Reminds me of baldersgate another game where the tedium wore me down and i never finished it. I bought and read the dragon age book. So its not like I am some idiot ow ow words make thinking hurt. Why me no hop hop head-shot rocket launcher?

    • Tei says:

      “So you get bored start skipping through and then realize you picked some innocuous sounding option only to have the person disappear.”

      Holy cow. So is not only me. I like the dialog. But I often click to much, and some end.. well.. removing options. I don’t want to go back (since I like to roleplay it that way.. the first decision is more right than the second one) but I think I have killed that way at least two mayor NPC. I suppose is like killing Mincs and Viconia,.. so theres probably a lot of the game that has died to me forever… Oh dear… I will roleplay a good guy the next time :-/
      Morrigan is a bit emo, no? she’s not reeally evil of stuff.

    • Taillefer says:

      Too much ’tis and ’twas. All I can picture when Morrigan speaks is Claudia Black looking slightly embarrassed in front of the microphone in a recording studio. Likewise with Kate Mulgrew, except I picture Janeway in her captain’s chair.

      It really takes me out of the game.

    • Vinraith says:

      Sure, sure, but the important question is what Claudia Black’s wearing while looking awkward in that recording studio…

    • Beastbaron says:

      How can Claudia Black have any shame left after appearing in Stargate: SG1 after it went down the toilet. DA: O must be like Shakespeare compared to the drivel they were putting out at the end.

  16. MToTheThird says:

    Indeed, very curious to see what people did with the character editor. I found it terribly limited (alas, the lack of spectacles and clothing choices meant that my dream of simultaneously playing Phonogram’s David Kohl in a video game AND shamelessly brownnosing Kieron must wait for another day).

    However, I expect I will give Dragon Age a go with Amos Cousland, the Fallen Amish (tainted by the Blight . . . OF THE “ENGLISH”). He’s delightfully large, uneducated and violent.

  17. Hmm says:

    All the characters look odd to me. It’s either the hands are too big, arms too long, or head too small.

    I wish WASD keys switched to panning the camera in overhead view. And that the overhead view showed enough map to actually be useful and couldn’t be obstructed by scenery.

    Also, show me the value of items without me having to right-click then inspect it, ack!

  18. tekDragon says:

    Been playing on Normal and I found the difficulty to be just right.

    They key as others have mentioned is getting familiar with the tactics settings. Those of us who’ve played FF12 will have an advantage since this is essentially a more comprehensive version of Gambits. It’s great, but you really have to pay attention to how the orders you’ve set will work together or not.

    • MWoody says:

      I like the tactics system in theory, but they made a major mistake when they limited it based on a skill. If you want your NPCs to behave intelligently in combat, you actually have to spec them for it, which makes absolutely no sense. It’s like a punishment for not micromanaging via pause: “Oh, you want to just tell your warrior to attack, taunt, shield smash, and heal himself if necessary? Well, you’ve only got enough slots to do 3 of the 4 effectively. Ha ha, don’t you feel like a pussy for not giving them all commands manually?”

      The weird thing is, I generally DO micromanage in games like these, but in the absence of a turn-based system underlying it all, it just doesn’t make sense. Trying to play the game entirely without the tactics settings just results in wasting a significant portion of your parties’ time doing nothing. So you’re stuck either being frustrated and yelling at your allies or nerfing their damage output and skillset by focusing on combat tactics and cunning. It’s simply poor design.

      I’ll also note that the tactics system doesn’t function at all with shapeshifters. Morrigan in bearskarn mode refuses to do more than autoattack, despite me having a special bear-mode setup for her.

  19. TCM says:

    When I hit a point in normal when my rogue main characer, dual wielding a longsword with fire and lightning runes and a powerful dagger, and using three varieties of poison, was doing 1 damage to enemies while backstabbing them, with the assassin speciality…And the only consistant damage dealer was my mage…

    Well, I’m glad they increased damage.

  20. State says:

    After this patch the game stopped working for my roommate. And then the vanilla game wouldn't reinstall anymore. Cue much swearing.

    Anyone else have any problems with it?

  21. shiggz says:

    weird, game was hanging at a black loading screen for a few minutes, i went to hit alt-tab then the movies started right up.

  22. wat says:

    I dunno. IIRC the review in question claimed that the Dwarf Commoner origin was too difficult on normal, but I survived it without any deaths and a sizeable supply of healing items left.

  23. Jonas says:

    Huh that explains it – I was finding the game a little easier all of a sudden, still playing on Normal, but I assumed I’d just hit some slightly easier encounters. I was kinda liking the difficulty before, but I can always turn it up if I get bored, and so far it still seems reasonably challenging.

  24. Ed says:

    Yup, I did a google around and it looks like a pretty common problem. You patch up, and when you try to launch the game nothing happens – the launcher still works, but when you hit the button to actually play it just does nothing. It’s making me feel full of neckbeardy rage. I’ve just uninstalled and am reinstalling vanilla… looks like I’ll just have to manup and face the hardcore original difficulty for the time being.

  25. Scroll says:

    Yeah the patch broke my game, glad I can keep the saves on an uninstall.

    I’d suck it up and play the game while it’s abit harder until they bring out another patch.

  26. Apelicks says:

    “Sure, sure, but the important question is what Claudia Black’s wearing while looking awkward in that recording studio…”

    And whether she’s perched on Mulgrew’s lap while she’s looking awkward.

    Dammit, I liked Janeway. And The Black Donnellys.

  27. Dan(WR) says:

    I had problem with the patch too – it broke my Windows Games link to the launcher.

    I can go into the file folders and create a shortcut to the launcher which works fine, but the Windows Games shortcut is spackered and unfixable (unless I do some dicking around in Regedit I guess).

    Irritating.

  28. WilPal says:

    They shouldn’t make the game easier.
    People should become better at the game.

    • TCM says:

      “Okay, we’re going to pour water over you in exponential amount. Don’t drown.”

      “…Maaaaaaaybe a bit less water. His spine is crushed.”

  29. Inferno says:

    yeah the patch stopped mine running too, I thought it was just the game being broken but after testing it upatched, its’ the patch

  30. RichardZk says:

    With Steve Valentine and Claudia Black in there as voice actors I keep thinking I’m playing fantasy Uncharted 2 :/

  31. VTgamer says:

    A mention on the difficulty thing….im gonna mention WoW try not to all burn me on this. Remember when you were first playing WoW, and you swore at some random quest that gave you fits? Then months…or yars…later you play another character and that quest that you hated you breeze on through….because not only do you know the system better but your character is better equipped because of it. Well I think that is the same issue with beta testers and different difficulties.. Its not like they can pull a fresh set of testers right before they go gold…in fact prob in very complex games like rpgs..we are kinda the beta testers….although one patch to fix some minor problems is a lot better than some rpgs ive played…(cough cough hellgate)

  32. Tei says:

    Maybe in Dragon Age you are simply supposed to DIE on some encounters. Say… a mature dragon, with your party at level 7. Theres not much you can do.

    After a horrible combat that was imposible, I have changed to easy, and never look back. All the animations of the game are awesome, combines with the fantastic effects the battels are awesome dynamic. I only pause for emergency heals and stuff, I like how the whole thing move and look.

    humm…. I just need more inventary space, seems..

    • Dominic White says:

      If you’ve managed to max out your inventory, this suggests that you’ve been spending too much time hoarding loot, and not nearly enough time selling it and buying useful resources with it. You can never have too many flasks and elfroot to make healing poultices…

      Yes, for some reason poultices come in flasks and people drink them, but that’s because they’re HARDCORE adventurers, but I digress.

      Anyway, set the party tactics so that your guys auto-heal at half health, and make sure you’ve always got at least light healing poultices in reserve, and they’ll do fine.

  33. Baris says:

    So, am I the only one who read the title as ‘Dragon Age: Punch Out’ and got very excited?

  34. Psychopomp says:

    Anonymous Coward said:
    Reminds me of baldersgate another game where the tedium wore me down and i never finished it.

    Don't play Torment.

    After a horrible combat that was imposible

    An impossible combat is impossible. The game uses the same level scaling system that every Bioware game ever has used.

    • Taillefer says:

      I wouldn’t be so sure it’s impossible to have an impossible encounter. I think I know exactly where Tei went, and that dragon isn’t even the hardest thing there. You can reach it very early on. Terrible things lurk there, but many optional fights.

      And shouldn’t the combat be relatively the same difficulty if it’s the same system?

  35. Ratty says:

    Be warned, the patch apparently fecks with the DLC,

    Check the forums for possible solutions to that.

  36. Concept says:

    I may need this for Sloth.

    With enough healing/mana potions I can get him down to his spellcaster form. And then he wipes the floor with me. He just spams knockdown attacks, and when Wynne dies. I’m screwed.

    Playing on Normal.

  37. Sauron says:

    Yeah, I’m glad nobody touched my Nightmare. I’m already disappointed by how easy it is compared to what I’ve heard; can’t have it getting any easier on me.

  38. Zoicksmaster says:

    No DLC workie for me. Did all the troubleshooting steps in bioware forums. All I see is download at 100%, or ready. Not too happy about that, but who needs the armor or golem anyways right?

  39. abercrombie says:

    The idea of this game interests me – it’s just the piss-poor interface and apparently completely passive AI that turn me off