First Steps With Dragon Age

By RPS on November 6th, 2009 at 7:18 pm.


We’re playing Dragon Age. Except for John, because he’s already finished it and reviewed it for PC Gamer. The rest of RPS were a bit later to the party, so to speak. Consequently we’re a little… distracted. We offer a few early thoughts below. It’s probably fair to say that there will be minor spoilers in this article.

Jim: Is everyone here? Hello? Well, I want to start anyway: the Dwarf Commoner origin was loads of fun, the story was just what I was hoping for – a subtle twist on standard dwarfisms. I like the idea of corrupt, criminal dwarf societies.
Kieron: You are, of course, from the East coast. It’s very homely for you. For me – also playing a Dwarf Commoner – is an exotic holiday to the land of ill-spirited shorties. Like visiting Alec’s house.
Alec: I haven’t finished the Mage origin yet, but like that it’s subverting the stereotype of wizardly sorts. The higher-ups seem to be aggressively forcing their acolytes to be certain things – one result of which is the Tranquils, these freaky types who’ve had all their emotions removed to become men of pure maths
John: Like the City Elf, the Commoner Dwarf is a surprisingly harsh and unpleasant beginning.
Jim: Do any of the origins begin pleasantly? I’m getting the impression that Dragon Age is DARK FANTASY, DO YOU SEE?
Alec: Yes, it’s very much “We’re not Tolkien, goddit?” Worth observing that the Witcher has already dabbled with a lot of similar stuff. And Risen too, though that’s a lot smaller in scale.
Jim: Yes, it does actually remind of The Witcher in a number of ways, particularly that aspiring to grimness.
Kieron: I suspect they’re damned-if-the-do-damned-if-they don’t, really. But yeah – racism as a theme overlaid over a fantasy environment is very much The Witcher’s terrain.
John: The Dalish Elf origin isn’t unending misery. Although it is themed around the death of a best friend.So, er, I take that back.
Alec: I can’t say I’m enjoying the voice acting, however.
Jim: Really? I think the voice acting is fine. Great, even.
John: Yes, me too. The only dodgy voice is Leliana, and I grew to realise you just know some people with weird voices.
Kieron: Yeah, it’s not exactly outstanding, but there’s nothing substandard about it.
Jim: At least into the main game, I guess the mages origin has its own characters and silly voices. The acting and story has been the strongest thing so far for me. I’m less keen on the combat.
John: Have you begun the Harrowing, Alec?
Alec: Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by Risen’s array of Northern characters, but the blank plumminess of everyone is grating.
Alec: I have completed the Harrowing. I talked to a rat and a rotting bear in the process
John: Were you slightly let down by the simplicity of it, after the build-up it received?
Alec: Yes, it was very much MMO starting quest. With the demon at the end being laughably easy to kill. But then, I guess there was another point to it. OR WAS THERE? etc.
John: I don’t think any of the others are. Well, the Dalish Elf, maybe.
Jim: Yes, the dwarf commoner origin seems pretty dramatic. And even though you can see what’s going to happen, it’s a fun story: “My dwarf is in big trouble!” (A mountain of trouble, says someone on Twitter.)
Kieron: Yeah – seeing you twitter that, I was playing through the whole origin going “Oh – is NOW when I’m in big trouble?” Eventually the one it was which became clear. Dramatic is the word. It’s got a sort of archetypal energy to it… and its’ worth noting that compared to most fantasy games, I feel my character actually has motivation for whatever they end up doing. Which is neat for a set-up, I think.
John: Noble Dwarf has a similarly large scale origin, and brilliantly it ties into the Commoner one. In fact, when I played as a Human Warrior and visited Orzamarr there was something going on I didn’t fully understand, until I saw the Commoner Dwarf origin, which was a fantastic detail.
Jim: Going back to the combat: initially the balance seemed okay, but now I’m struggling to get through without spamming half a dozen heals. I’m a couple of hours in. And I’m not sure if I’ve just missed something – I’m sure I’m leveling up sensibly, in accordance with fantasy archetypes, and still seem weak. [See patch post, should render much of this part of the discussion irrelevant. Thanks Bioware! - RPS Editor Sub-brain]
Kieron: I’m only just past the start, so I’ve had relatively little combat. I have been eating the health though. I think that’s actually how the game works. You’re meant to use your resources. That’s why you have them, after all. Tom Chick’s written a lot about this over at Fidgit.
John: Same goes for the Mage story, actually. What class are you?


Jim: Warrior, I hope the balance does change. At the moment I’m only winning fights by dint of heals.
John: I played most the game on Easy. Don’t feel ashamed to lower it – they fucked up, not you. It doesn’t change. The difficulty is not set right.
Jim: Well I feel like it’s an okay challenge, I mean i don’t want to win every fight, but the balance seems odd. It’s like there should be some other aspect to it that I’m missing
Kieron: I admit, you chaps have lost me a little here. I mean, if you’re winning with the resources you have… you’re winning. It’s not as if you’re failing. Healing management has always been part of RPGs, hasn’t it?
John: Yeah – going back up to Normal is worthwhile when you realise you’re breezing through stuff.
Alec: I suspect I’m going to load my mage with heal spells, then.
Jim: I’ve played with the tactics stuff a fair bit, which does help.
Kieron: Does it really? I wish they’d intro’d it better. I ended up spending a character point on tactics thinking it’d actually give me something useful instead of actually of something that’s a waste of time If I’m micromanaging the orders. And having the Neverwinter Nights issue of the NPC character running off to fight enemies which I can’t even see yet and aren’t active is silly as hell to have on standard. Though I think I’m managed to make the tactics not do that any more.
John: How are you approaching fights? Are you pausing every few seconds?
Jim: Yes! You absolutely have to in order to manage heals and powers.
Alec: And are you sacrificing a calf to Hecate every 28 minutes?
Jim: I’m all outta calves.
Alec: That’ll be it, then
John: There’s a lot of tactics you can use. You can flank enemies, and you can make sure to focus on range for as long as possible.
Jim: Yeah, flanking seems tricky when there’s half a dozen adversaries, and you are three.
John: But what I found is I became really really good at taking advantage of my team’s specific abilities. It’s important to play as all three/four, not just as yourself.
Jim: Yeah, I’m using witch-woman a great deal.
John: You need a healer. And you need health poultices.
Jim: have you found yourself playing in top-down, or Warcraftian perspective?
Alec: I’ve been playing top-down for fighty-stuff, and over the shoulder for trudging about questy stuff.
Kieron: Me too. One for tactics, the other for getting a sense of place.
John: I used top-down very rarely, rather I scrolled out as far as possible before it. So what has surprised you both?
Alec: I was most suprised that you can make incredibly non-elfy elves. Mine looks like a black version of Him From Lost, with a ginger buzz-cut.
John: Poor thing.
Jim: I think I’ve been surprised by how much I got swept up in the story. I really find it tricky to get into RPGs as tales, but this has captured me quite proficiently
John: Have both of you finished the initial origin and reached Place Beginning With O I Can’t Remember?
Jim: Yeah, I’m well past that now,
Alec: No, I’m loads behind you lot due to being away,
John: Ah, so you’ve met Flemeth.
Jim: And that battle is ludicrously dramatic, despite your tangential involvement.
John: Without spoiling anything for Alec, crossing the battlements is remarkable. What’s so funny about the game is that bit you’ve finished, Alec? That’s the pre-titles sequence. You did say it went against wizard norms.
Alec: They’re very much not the pious mystic men you’d generally expect. I don’t know the whole tale yet, but it’s very much mages designed for killing rather than as intellectual types
John: The history of mages and their relationship with the Chantry is fascinating.
Jim: Right, I’m off, bye!
John: Bye!
Alec: I’ve not picked up too much of that yet – it’s just going into the perceived differences between mages and Normals (or whatever they call them), but there’s a nice sense of mages being sinister outcasts rather than a ruling elite, as far as I can tell.
John: Very much so. I shan’t spoil anything. But the key is, people are really scared of mages.
Alec: It seems less surprising to me after having played Risen, which plays with similar ideas and, to my mind, did class choice much more cleverly by having you make it based on how you agreed with instead of selecting a build upfront. but I’m obviously very curious to see what my place in the world is once I get out of mage HQ.
John: If you play the City Elf origin you’ll get even more of an idea what absolute dicks the Humans are. I’m interested to experience the game as a Mage. But even more as an Elf, who are the gay black Jews of the game. You’ve got all the prejudice stacked against you! One of the criticisms I make in my review is that I played as a black human, but somehow had white parents and siblings in an all-white castle.
Alec: I’m playing as an elf, but no-one’s mentioned it yet, a black elf, no less. No idea if I’m gay, however. I haven’t fancied anyone yet.
John: Go to the whorehouse when you get to Denerim and you’ll quickly decide.

What about you lot? Anyone playing? What origin are you playing? Any early impressions you want to share? Expect a more in-depth verdict from us as we get some more of it under our collective belt. (+1 vs eggmen.)

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150 Comments »

  1. Me says:

    Can’t get into it, the combat is just too sluggish for me.

    Tried multiple paths none appeal really, though a lover RPG games this just isn’t my cup of tea methinks.

  2. Starky says:

    I still can’t decide if this is a buy now, or wait for a price drop purchase for me – as much as I enjoy bioware games, with the exception of KotoR I [b]never[/b] finish them.
    I think I own every Bioware RPG they’ve ever made and I’ve not finished a single one.

    The reason… too many choices.

    I get a 3rd of the way through the game and start going “what if”… What if I was another class, what if I made different choiced… what if, what if…

    So what ends up happening is that I restart from scratch about a dozen times, and then another game comes along and steals my attention.

    The good thing about that is Bioware games are always games I plan to go back too… and sometimes I do, but I never finish them.

    • Starky says:

      Oops wrong tags on the [b]…[/b]

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      This is probably the worst reason I’ve ever seen for not buying a game. Too many choices, good lord.

    • Wooly says:

      I’ve got to say that while I respect your opinion, I’m rather in agreement with TotalBiscuit. Perhaps JRPG’s would be more your thing?

    • Starky says:

      That’s not my reason for not buying it, it’s my reason for not finishing them.

      What can I say I always get so far in them and realize their is something I could have done better, some way I could have better optimized my character, or some item/quest I missed and I have to start again.

      My reason for no buying it is simply there are too many games out at the moment and and this, due to the nature of it and that I never finish them isn’t top of the priority list.

    • Starky says:

      Hmm, looking at my original post it seems the whole paragraph I had at the end explaining that bit vanished… (must have lost it from the copy paste from word)

      Anyway yeah, I’m buying dragon age, that is a 100% guaranteed purchase.

      The question isn’t if, just when… Lots of games out recently, plus a tendency to never finish Bioware games, they are fun, but they are so long I do get bored of them, or end up moving onto another game meaning to go back and never doing so.

  3. Lewis says:

    Well, as my standard, unimaginitive human warrior (though a rather attractive female one, it should be noted, modelled closely on my Mass Effect Shepard), my origin story was a tad rubbish. My first quest was to kill some giant rats in a cellar – though to be fair, the dialogue did give a sly wink at the ludicrous cliché. Anyway, it never really picked up the pace until the super-dramo-battle, from which point everything’s built really nicely.

    I’m playing on the 360, so can’t really comment on combat-specific stuff, though by way of comparison, I’m not having too much trouble on normal. Yes, you have to queue up lots of special moves and you can go through health potions like mad, but it’s not felt grossly unfair in the seven-or-so hours I’ve played so far.

    More generally: it’s totally a BioWare game, right down to its structure of ‘linear opening, then you can pick which bits of the story to tackle in which order’. And the focus on moral decisions is unmistakable. But compared to ME – and, indeed, all BioWare’s stuff – I think Dragon Age really nails that where others have failed. The Witcher comparisons are apt in this respect, in that they’re often really deeply disturbing choices you have to make, with no clear-cut answer. I like how party members debate and disagree over this stuff – and their banter when you’re just walking around is superb, even though it occasionally cuts out to make way for other words, on the 360 at least.

    I’m enjoying it an awful lot, but I do wish… nnng, I dunno. BioWare do this whole evolutionary-steps-within-a-rigid-template thing, which means they’ve been able to refine moreso with each game that goes by. And that’s great – it means the ideas they’ve been toying with for ages are better than ever here. But I do wish they would just take a risk. The stuff they’re doing is far more ambitious than most other devs, but because they stick with the same ambitious template each time, it still ends up feeling devoid of the ambition it actually thrives upon. The fantasy setting I’m finding to be both strong and weak – strong in its presentation but weak in ideas. The characters are on the whole fairly typical, though voiced well (except my family at the start, disappointingly). Except a couple, who are really neatly fleshed out – including one of your opening party members. I dunno. I suspect a lot will annoy me about the game, but it’s more testament to its exemplary quality elsewhere than anything else. When something’s very good, you want it to push its way into greatness.

    • bill says:

      Lewis gets the award for best review of Dragon Age. Infact, best review of every bioware game after kotor1.

      Bioware needs an alt-team to work on random, experimental ideas.

  4. The Hammer says:

    I think I may end up getting this before Christmas, as a means to placate myself for when lots of prezzies do eventually roll out. The only problem right now is that my dodgy PC seems to enjoy crashing all the time when I boot up the Character Creator. Hopefully I can get round that. But probs not.

  5. Spoiler Duck says:

    It’s good you’re enjoying the story, but how is the writing itself? The brief snippits seen in all the trailers seemed very substandard to me, so I was wondering if that was unflattering glimpses or indicators of the overall quality.

    • Alchemda says:

      I think the writing is pretty good. It’s not cheesy, it blends really well with what your dialog choices are. Its much better then risens dialog/writing imo, if you enjoyed the writing in ME, it is very like that.

  6. Nate says:

    It is a hard game, harder than BG by far IMHO, but I only got the patch.

    I am enjoying it otherwise, of course I went in blind as a Bioware-BG fanboy, plus I rarely nitpick games to death when they are actually decent. Most of my issues are more with art scheme choices than anything (do 2h weapons and massive shoulder plate have to be THAT comically big?), character creation is a lil meh (no scars, too few beard/haircut choices and tattoos are extravagant with no “tame” options).

    Other than that I am pretty pleased, I just hope EA doesnt fuck up Bioware’s plan to make the game epic by offering more an more DLC over the years.

  7. Daniel says:

    It’s interesting. It does feel slightly derivative of The Witcher, especially with the Elves. The world however is very strong, with many tropes turned on their heads. I haven’t seen a great many of the ‘hard choices’ yet, but the game has been very well crafted so far. Difficulty is truly difficult, and without a healing character I am pretty messed up. I sort of wish I hadn’t killed Wynne.

    A very positive step for Bioware, so far. Loghain looks to be an interesting villain, too. Nice to hear you guys opinions on the whole affair. Will keep you updated.

  8. Jacques says:

    Really enjoying it so far, I’m playing on easy for now, might bump it up to normal, as it seems a bit too easy at the moment. I’ve just completed the big battle, and it’s looking good so far, definitely more enoyable than Neverwinter Nights 2.

    The Bioware online thing you need to go through to download the extra content is absolute shit though.

  9. Jockie says:

    Really enjoying it so far, I’m pretty much doing the origin stories for each race and messing about with the classes before i decide on which I want to be. I know that’s a rather odd way to play a game, but I’d hate to be 30 hours in before decidng im not too fond of my character or class after all.

  10. Matzerath says:

    I’m playing Mass Effect. PC gaming is one of the few pleasures that being a few years behind the times really pays off.

  11. jalf says:

    Damn you for making me want to play the game! Until the diaries on Fidgit, I was thoroughly meh about the whole thing. Then it started sounding intriguing, and now you’re reinforcing that!

    If you keep this up, I’m going to have to buy it! Argh!

  12. TotalBiscuit says:

    This game is astonishing, really. I’ve never been happier to be completely wrong about a game. My initial impressions before it came out were not good, but after hearing about the superior PC version and Bioware’s clear support for more hardcore gamers, I took the plunge. I do not regret it, at all.

  13. Squirrelfanatic says:

    After reading this I am wondering if any of you guys has already experienced problem with the inventory size. Is it a real handicap or just a matter of proper inventory management as in games as Diablo I / II or Guild Wars (despite having a huge storage, the latter still could give you troubles i.e. when collecting certain objects)?

    • Taillefer says:

      A little, yeah. Especially with my rogue picking pockets like crazy. You can’t drop items, you have to destroy them to remove them from the inventory. So there’s no dropping an item, then backtracking to get it later. It can lead to the frustrating scenario of finding better equipment, but having to to destroy your current equipment rather than having the room to keep and sell it. You can see the value of items, despite what the article says, but you have to right-click it and then inspect it, which is annoying.

    • RyePunk says:

      the inventory is an issue. You get lots of little things that take up one spot. and you start with 60 or so spaces. If you want to carry three types of poisons, 6 types of resistance ointments, 4 types of “potions”, and various other components for making said items than keeping space for every possible eventuality becomes challenging. But I suppose that is kind of their point. Its damn hard to carry everything for any possible confrontation. Me? I just explode their bodies. Which for me makes sense when my entire party starts talking and it looks like a spleen exploded. BECAUSE IT JUST DID!

  14. Baris says:

    I’m loving the game so far, just after leaving the first village and saving some merchant dwarves.

    The game does borrow a laughable amount of it’s plot from ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ so far though, especially as a Human Noble.

  15. mt says:

    I’m with the majority here in enjoying it so far. Starting out as a Dalish elf and mirroring that hate heaped on elves by humans has been most satisfying. I even got to shoot one of those filthy shems in the back.

    I’m only just through crossing the bridge and have begun climbing the tower but so far difficulty has been manageable on normal. Lots of pauses, a few quick loads to try different tactics against large enemy groups, but nothing horrible.

  16. Railick says:

    For some reaosn I just have no will power to play this game (Which is good because my computer can't play it) Nice to see other people are enjoying it though but even after reading this the game seems very bland and boring to me.

    • Baris says:

      I’m curious, why do you feel that way?

    • Railick says:

      I feel like it’s been done before, like I’ve played it before. I just can’t summon any enthusiasm about it at all. Maybe I’m just getting old or something but this seems like the same game I’ve seen released a hundred times before. I’m happy that other people can enjoy though and I really hope Bioware does well with it because I really love their previous games.

      I find as I get older I get less tolerant of sequels ect and to me this just feels like a sequel to NWN. Then again I’m losing enthusiasm to play ANY games at all so maybe it is just a side effect of that.

    • Dante says:

      It’s really not a sequel to NWN, happy now?

      If anything it’s a spiritual sequel to BG2, but honestly only in gameplay terms, the world and story are very much their own.

  17. Beastbaron says:

    I want the compo results so I can be put out of my misery and be free to go get the game tomorrow…or download it tonight if I get impatient >.< /sadface

  18. Taillefer says:

    I have two characters on the go, both on hard mode, but will probably switch to the rogue.

    I have a Dalish Elf warrior, but he’s a bit boring and started looking a little inadequate when Sten came along. Still, he can hold his own fairly well even on hard. I’m enjoying the massive importance on skill use in combat, which gives his fighting a quality of finesse; just relying on him swinging his sword at people gets him killed pretty quickly.

    My other character is a casteless Dwarven rogue. I found the origin story to be exceptional, and playing a female character added a little more weight to that too. Once again, rogues seem to be the exploiters of cheap exp gain (traps, locks, etc), but I kind of like that. I’ve had no consequences for picking pockets yet, and have amassed quite a haul.

    I’m finding the voice acting a little shaky at times, particular the female voices, but rarely cringe-worthy. Duncan is played with a surprising amount of charisma, I even named my dog after him.

    The overhead camera seems awkward to me. Like John, I use the view just before it. It’s an especially bad view if any ranged combat is involved, or if you like using ambushes, as I do. I disabled the use of tactics because I find it important to take out or target specific enemies, which could change at any time. Momentarily taking an enemy out of the fight with shield bash or something, just so you can concentrate attacks on somebody else is often a life saver.

    Overall though, despite several little frustrations, I’m enjoying it.

  19. Scott PM says:

    Caved in and bought this off Steam the other night. So far I’m impressed with how well the characters and stories are written, and I was not expecting to be. I’m a total elitist literature snob and have absolutely no interest in *sniff* genre fiction, so it was a pleasant surprise after the really dreadful trailers. It’s nothing innovative world-wise, but it’s not idiotic or boring, and I guess that’s enough for me it comes to video-game stories.

  20. Jockie says:

    The Dwarven Noble origin is pretty darn epic, my favourite so far. *Minor Spoiler* Saw the 'twist' coming a mile off, but it actually made me quite angry in an empathising with my character way.

  21. Rei Onryou says:

    Just opened it now. Will hopefully start it tomorrow. I’m definitely looking forward to it and your positive words have just made that even more so!

  22. Dominic White says:

    Yeah, count me as another pleasantly surprised soul. The marketing and trailers for this were dreadful, but the game is classic back-to-the-roots CRPG stuff with just enough of a twist on the standard fantasy tropes to feel fairly fresh. It seems to have more than a couple of nods to grungy 80′s swords n’ sorcery movies like the old Conan series, too.

    The fact that the PC version has a vastly more flexible interface, a larger focus on tactical play, a toolkit, mods and other such perks and also pleases me. I do a lot of my gaming on consoles these days, but it’s good that Bioware still remember their roots and the strengths of the platform.

    I’m still in the opening section, and decided to play pretty much the opposite of my regular character, so I’m hacking through the early story as a female dwarven noble warrior, and there’s been quite a few chances to be quite bastardly, and one decision that was actually rather hard to make. So far, I’ve just played her as snarky and violent (within reason) though.

  23. TheSombreroKid says:

    fkn brilliant game, i’m scratching my head a bit about the percieved difficulty i’ve been playing on normal and i havn’t found it difficult at all, i think the key is i’ve got a lot of incapacitation stuff which reduces the number of people you have to fight at the same time significantly

  24. Deuteronomy says:

    You used the word trope. Now you must die.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Why?

    • Magnus says:

      Perhaps at any mention of the word “trope” he feels compelled to visit…

      http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HomePage

    • Starky says:

      Ah, TV tropes, used to be excellent then got filled with made up random tropes that don’t even exist anyware outside tvropes itself, that site really needs some hardcore pruning.

    • Starky says:

      Hmm, I’m thinking I may cave and just buy this game.

      I like many of you was utterly turned off by the god awful PR and video’s, but the word-of-mouth is seeming pretty solid so far.

      How’s the performance? (I’ve got a 3Ghz Quad core, 4GB ram and a 8800GT)

      Finally, is it worth getting the collectors edition?

    • D says:

      You will do fine performance wise.

  25. Zyrxil says:

    Enjoying the combat, obligatory “You’re not good enough!” smugness from playing on Hard and doing 90% of everything by micro because tactics aren’t smart enough for most things. Had to make a slight adjustment after reaching Lothering and the battle sizes started increasing. Number 1, willed my characters to stop hurting and set my poultice using tactic down to <25% health, which is magically working to keep my poultice use down, everyone ending up around 50% after a fight.. Number 2, started speccing toward trapmaking when it was obvious 4 v 20 was going to be the theme of battles for the rest of the game.

  26. Psychopomp says:

    I’m gonna have to agree with Kieron. Besides, the game seems to give you enough poultices and potions after each fight to just get through the next one. I don’t think I’ve ever lost a fight, because I ran out of things to heal with.

  27. Apelicks says:

    Playing as a City Elf warrior, with a 2H specialisation so far.

    It’s okay. I skip as much dialogue as I can because… well because it’s awful. The story may be fantastic but like every other RPG they’ve gutted the story to make it easier to code, and I include the Witcher in that, though it’s my favourite RPG of the last 3 or 4 years.

    Choices blah blah, background blah blah… it’s bland compared to modern fantasy fiction. I’d say it’s lagging top notch fantasy by about fifteen years. Maybe more. Hell, we haven’t even had our Black Company of a game yet. Holy cow, I can’t wait until we get there. THAT’S a game license waiting to happen.

  28. Lambchops says:

    i’ve been playing all the origin stories first to decide which one ot go on with.

    At the moment I’m probably going to go with the mage. The City Elf origin was damn good but I think I’ve poorly specced my rouge character in that origin already so I’m probably not going to continue with him.

    Finding the battles OK so far on normal (i’ve only died a couple of times with just the Dalish elf origin left) – but this is the introductory section after all.

    I quite fancy playing as my human character (a bitchy archer woman) but I don’t really like playing the nasty one first time through a game so that will probably be for a second playthrough if i feel the game merits it.

  29. Moot says:

    I am now 30 hours in having unlocked my Steam copy on the 3rd (outside of UK/Yurp) and I am loving it.

    Gets stronger and stronger IMO – I have amassed quite an unexpectedly party (Morrigan and Shale being particular favourites) and have been playing as a female mage.

    I actually sampled 3 origins (Dwarf commoner, low-born Elf and human mage…) before getting stuck in to the main game…

    I need to actually start making notes – I am coming across so much stuff where I want to find out what happens if I made a different decision, fought the demon instead of bargaining with it or had character X in my party instead of character Y and I will never remember it all.

    I am really hoping that the game does change significantly based on some of these decisions and that the choice isn’t merely an illusion…

    Having started off being slightly underwhelmed by both the visuals and the voice-acting, I have now come to be thoroughly charmed by both – I love the fact that there are clearly many, many different voice actors rather than the usual 6 “main” voices and one other guy playing 100 minor NPCs – mostly in dodgy oirish or ooh/aargh accents.

    So yeah, 30 hours down, 22% completed (apparently) and I am already thinking about my second run through!

    Epic and awesome and hitting all my nerd buttons simultaneously.

  30. SanguineLobster says:

    Alec- They call normal people Muggles. MEUGG – GULLS. Jesus, I am so tired of telling people that.

  31. Moot says:

    ^^^^^

    Oops – HTML tag fail.

    :-/

    I found the difficulty a bit spiky in the origin parts…seems to have levelled out for the most part now I have a nice big party to choose from and some decent AoE attacks.

    I have played probably 95% on Normal and bumped to easy once or twice early on – can’t say I have got stuck/thwarted more than a few times.

    I really don’t see the voice acting and dialogue as being bad – perfectly serviceable for the most part and genuinely great in others.

    What are we comparing to here – “real life”, movies or other games? If the latter and considering the sheer number of characters and volume of dialogue I think Bioware have done a commendable job.

    I have had one or two very minor glitches, some unresponsive characters in combat and 2 points where a cut-scene/dialogue event got trigger twice and looped when it shouldn’t have done, but nothing game breaking or frustrating – again, impressive for a game of this scope.

    Anyway – time spent writing this is time spent not playing Dragon Age, so…

  32. Starky says:

    Hmm, I’m thinking I may cave and just buy this game.

    I like many of you was utterly turned off by the god awful PR and video’s, but the word-of-mouth is seeming pretty solid so far.

    How’s the performance? (I’ve got a 3Ghz Quad core, 4GB ram and a 8800GT)

    Finally, is it worth getting the collectors edition?

  33. Urthman says:

    Is it true that characters drink “poultices”?

  34. Moot says:

    @ starky

    Based on the clips I saw, the promotional videos may well have been for a different game.

    The thing is resolutely old school RPG at heart – so if that is your thing, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it.

  35. Moot says:

    @ starky

    Based on the clips I saw, the promotional videos may well have been for a different game.

    It is resolutely old school RPG at heart – so if that is your thing, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it.

  36. Moot says:

    @ Urthman.

    There may be some poultice drinking, yes.

    :-D

    • Urthman says:

      WTF? Do you also wear crossbows and shoot boots out of your flagon?

  37. Scarves says:

    You are all bastards, stop making me want this.

  38. jackflash says:

    I’m liking it, but a tad shy of *loving* it. Playing the dalish elf origin story on hard. So far it’s not evoking the wonder and immersion I felt when playing Baldur’s Gate the first time, but that’s just me. The combat is, indeed, hard; I was quite surprised to die during the intro dungeon. That said, it feels much more in-depth than any of the bioware’s D&D games, and I like breaking out of that mold. It’s fun to choose between shield bash and dual wield, or between two-handed weapons and being a good archer. I like having lots of combat options. In D&D, I feel like I know what is most powerful and end up always doing that – it gets stale.

    I was not a huge fan of the art design before the game’s release, and I’m still not – the color palette is quite dull, and something about the design of everything in the world just annoys me. I hate it when swords are huge and ornamental and completely different than they are in real life, and women wear butt-floss and armored bras – it feels a lot like that.

    Voice acting is quite good. I haven’t formed an opinion on the music yet; I like the main title music, but in-game it seems rather generic so far.

    Another thing that bothers me is that I feel like I’m constantly being advertised at and told to buy things in game, to the point that I sort of expect there to be doors covered in dollar signs, and when I try to open them, it will say “only 742 EA points to open this door!!!!!” It has EA written all over it, and makes me sad all over again that the once-great Bioware sold itself out. My jaw dropped to the floor when there was a section in the in-game encyclopedia labeled “premium content.” For real? Can’t I just play a game I’ve bought without pulling my wallet out every hour, or feeling like I’m missing out because I’ve only purchased some non-special edition? In two years, will I be deciding between “Dragon Age II: Home Premium”, “Dragon Age II: Ultimate” and “Dragon Age II: Starter Edition”?

    In any case, so far, I would rate Dragon age a 13 out of 17 bananas.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Constantly?

      Unless you bought it used, or pirated it, there’s a single salesman.

  39. Walsh says:

    Did you all see Oli Welsh’s Eurogamer review for the 360 version?

  40. Jeremy says:

    I started to write, then realized I would actually rather play the game, that must mean something :)

  41. Serenegoose says:

    This is the first game I’ve picked up for a -long- time at full price. I’m enjoying it, for definite. I actually quite like the voice acting so far, (I think the acting is fine, but the… visual acting? Is very much a few years out of date.) I’ve been wanting a fairly traditional RPG like this for some time, and it’s got just enough new things to keep me interested. I started a city-elf rogue, because I found the racism in the witcher very interesting, if slightly hampered by the fact that you were, largely, human, so it prevented a sense of empathy. It’s a bit of a toughie so far, but definitely positive. it just remains to be seen whether I shall be glad of paying so much for it.

    • Serenegoose says:

      Replying just to say that it has crashed 3 times in 30 minutes, after 5 hours playing with no crashes whatsoever. Very confused and infuriated, like lrrh.

  42. Lilliput King says:

    Steam is currently trying to download the game at 50 kB/s.

    It has yet to reach 2%, as periodically, steam crashes, and it starts again from 0.

    I think the meta-text is that we are living in the worst of all possible worlds.

  43. simonkaye says:

    I have a question.

    I remember the PC Gamer review of Mass Effect when it finally got ported to the Beige Obelisk, and the reviewer (I think it was John? Wasn’t it? Who was it?) gave the best advice – to play through as a female protagonist. Having subseqently gone through as a male, I now realise what a huge difference in quality there was.

    So, everyone already playing Dragon Age: what’s the simple thing to do from the beginning that makes everything after seem better? Male or female? Any origins to avoid?

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      I haven’t bought the game yet but read the articles at Fidget linked in the entry above. There are some tips and hints on things that are good to know for beginners.

  44. Isometric says:

    I’m playing a Human Mage to start off with.
    It is fantastic so far, i love how the world feels really massive and is rich with history which really shows.
    Everything feels like it is there for a reason not just for show.
    Can’t complain about the dialogue either it really has me engaged so far.
    I even like the combat.
    Nothing to gripe at.
    Damn fine game.

  45. merc says:

    I’m loving this game, enjoying it even more than Baldur’s Gate 2. The combat is really great – lots of skill options, plenty of strategy, nice interface, AI tactics do a good job when micro is not necessary. Best party based RPG combat ever by a large margin, I think. Hard difficulty is great, hard enough to kill you if you play too sloppily but not so hard that you won’t prevail by improving your play.

    The story is solid; nothing as special as PS:T but as good or better than BG2 and the voice acting and writing have been suprisingly good too. Alistair and Morrigan are very entertaining. There have been quite a few places where I was given a choice where I had to stop and think for a minute to weigh up my options, which to me is a sign of excellent RPG writing.

    Great stuff.

  46. Lyndon says:

    I’m playing a sexy lady dwarf rouge.

    The combat on normal was making me it’s bitch so I knocked it down to easy for a while. But I’m back on normal now mainly because I decided to stop being such a pussy and actually use the tactics screen. I have found it helpful.

  47. Tei says:

    I am level 9 dwarf rouge, and the game started to be good and after that awesome.

    Its a game lots of spoilable stuff, so I will not read the article.

    I have made Morrigan my main healer :-)

  48. Premium User Badge

    James G says:

    Was very relieved to receive the game today as I was worried it’d get caught up in the (now delayed/canceled) postal strikes. Unfortunately my starting was delayed by having to recover my blog after a hacking incident (keep your WordPress up to date people!*)

    Still, got in enough to play through the mage origins. (Male Elf) The Harrowing itself was entertaining, although nothing hugely special, but the subsequent story had a bit more bite. I’d installed the difficulty patch, and played through in normal with little trouble, but don’t know if this is an indication of my skill, or a decent re-balancing. I’d be tempted to crank the difficulty up a notch, but might let things progress a bit more and see how things pan out when stuff gets a bit more hectic. I’m trusting you can change the difficulty mid-game, unlike some recent fantasy RPG efforts? :: Cough ::: Torchlight :: Cough ::

    * At least I hope that was the problem.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Once you get out of the origins, the games challenge starts to pick up. I don’t know how it is post-patch, but the first fight in a particular tower seems to be the first fight that demolishes everyone.

      The game never really feels unfair, though. You never feel like you were cheated out of a victory. Most of the time when you wipe, you’re thoughts are more “Well, I blew it.”

  49. Buemba says:

    Decided to go with a city elf rogue because I figured it would be interesting to play as someone who is hated by most of the population, but since I’m still pretty early in the game the two places my character visited so far were either populated by other elves or people too worried about other things to mistreat me. Hope the whole “everybody hates elves” thing gets more pronounced later.

    Is anybody else getting a ton of crashes? Seems like I can’t play for more than 1 hour before being booted to the desktop (Particularly annoying when it happened the moment I killed the big blue meanie that graces the top of this article).

  50. Taillefer says:

    Fickle, I know, but I’m starting to dislike just the shear amount of fights already. It wouldn’t be quite so bad if the environment was nicer to wander through and admire, but it’s a pretty bland world, aesthetics-wise; and if you’re not enjoying every encounter, there’s not much in it. No chance of me abandoning it over these things, but it needs to step up a bit.

    The larger populated areas had better be awesome.