Rock Lord: Dragon Age’s Number One Guy

By Alec Meer on November 9th, 2009 at 5:53 pm.

Danger! Danger! This contains a few minor, character-specific spoilers – but nothing to do with DA’s main plot.

My first few hours with Bioware’s latest had more worried I wasn’t going to be entertained. Sure, I was having fun, but my party, the people I was travelling with, were pretty dry. Facetious holy warrior Alistair had a nice line in comic deflections, but arch sorceress Morrigan seemed a textbook line in sneery, sultry know-it-alls (though I’m sure there are many stings to be found in her self-confident tale) and, while the dog was sort of cute, it wasn’t exactly chatty. As for wide-eyed, pseudo-French bard Leilana – well, my cat could read those lines better than her. Sigh. Could I really make it through a couple of dozen hours with these ciphers, these stereotypes, these appalling cod-Euro accents? (Though, seriously, I like Alistair a lot). Then I met Shale, the golem – almost immediately the game’s bright, dazzling star.

Bioware tend to revisit a lot of themes and structures in their games (if this was snappier and funnier, it’d have been worth a post. It’s really not, but it gets the point across). That very much extends to its party members – for instance, Alistair isn’t KOTOR’s drippy Carth in as much he’s someone you can bear to have a conversation with, but he’s still the first guy you recruit, the one with the heart of gold and the key love interest if you’re playing a woman. (I’m not, but because of him wish I was – I’d much rather flirt against his cheery put-downs than Morrigan’s snide oh-I’m-bit-naughty-me line. Even more ideally, Alistair and Morrigan would get it on, as their constant, comedy bickering very much evokes sexual tension. JUST DO IT. You know you want each other). He’s Carth.

Shale is HK-47 through-and-through, and, I suspect, very self-consciously so on Bioware’s part. As KOTOR’s psycho-C3PO was, Shale is the guy who doesn’t quite fit the tone of the game, because he doesn’t take anything seriously. He’s its Rosencratz & Guildenstein, its Deadpool – creeping as close as the broadly po-faced dark fantasy comes to breaking the fourth wall. Which is why he’s the most welcome presence in the game. He’s also cheerfully homicidal, as was HK-47, and killed his master, as did HK-47. Maybe it’s lazy, but it’s hard to disagree with someone who ritually suggests solving moral dilemmas by stomping everyone involved into paste. Plus, he’s pathologically afraid of birds.

When Shale first spoke, after I’d completed a quest to earn the magic rod and codeword necessary to wake him from a long, petrified slumber in the centre of a human village, I sighed before he even finished his sentence. Another clipped English voice, reedy and weak, not the big, booming, stony golem-voice I’d expected. What is it with this game and its thin voices? Oh, wait. Wait wait wait. A few words in, the shock of his non-golemnity overcome, I listened to what he said and how he said it, and I realised what he was. He was, well, camp.

Is that an insulting way of putting it? It’s not intended as such, certainly. He’s prissy, he’s concerned that his gemstones (a neat way of applying weapon and armour upgrades) don’t complement each other and he regards the rest of the party as really rather grubby. Of course, he’s immensely likeable about it, off in his own little world rather than frowning about Darkspawn. He’s also beguiling childlike – there’s a great conversation between him and Leilana about shoes, him having essentially never heard of them before but loving the idea, and nervously suggesting what colour he’d prefer. He’s the NPC I’d choose to have a romance with, but it rather seems he’s not equipped for it.

Evidently, he’s a parody of/homage to the sort of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy figure that’s become a mainstay of popular culture, and maybe there’d be some discomfort about Bioware playing to broad stereotypes – except for the fact he’s clearly the best, most likeable and enthusiastically written character in the game. His abilities are splendid, too – lobbing boulders, a pair of Hellboy fists, or turning into a frozen obelisk that mega-buffs the rest of the party. You absolutely have to include him in your party – except, to bring up the big problem I foreshadowed earlier, you probably can’t.

There’s a wider issue here, which we’ll probably get into it a post of its own. Shale is only available to people who paid for the Collector’s Edition of DA, around £10 more than the standard. Edit! I’m a fool, as some non-fools have observed – I had presumed he was the same as the Warden’s Keep DLC, as the store pages are careful to only mention him in regard to the collector’s edition. Shale is available with all retail copies of DA – but you have to enter a code to download him. Pray ignore the following two paragraphs, but I leave them there for guilty posterity’s sake. I would say I’m puzzled as to why he has to be downloaded rather than simply included – is the idea indeed that we’re lured into thinking the forthcoming other DLC will be similarly excellent? Hmm… Is he included with standard Steam/D2D copies too, anyone know?

I believe you can also pay for the DLC upgrade if you like. On the hand, his splendidness and how totally integrated he is with the core game is a rare triumph for DLC, something that so often sloppily sticks unnecessary bits on the side. On the other hand, that’s because he is quite clearly not DLC. He’s so core to the game, to its writing, to its world, to its other characters, that there’s no way he was designed as an add-on. I hate to tin-foil hat it, but he very much seems to have been created, removed and re-added, rather than created and added after the event.

But that’s me getting all Crazy Cynical Boy -who knows what Bioware planned or how they did it? All I know is that the game is a lesser thing without him, and I’m uncomfortable that it takes an extra £10 to bring him into things. If he’s a sign of things to come, of Bioware coming up with really slick, clever, enthusiastic DLC, I’m all for it. But their Mass Effect stuff didn’t set a great precedent for that. Perhaps Shale’s a seachange. Is he worth the extra tenner? Erm. Ah. Yes. He’s comfortably one of the best things about the game, and I’ve been enjoying it much more since he joined my party. But you shouldn’t have to pay for him. I’d imagine his writers would feel the same way, as they’d want such a grand creation to be seen by as many as possible. God knows this vast, preening man-mountain would think so too.

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143 Comments »

  1. Snidely says:

    I thought Shale was available for free in every new copy of the game, and that Warden’s Keep was the CE bit of goodness.

    • Morberis says:

      Wardens Keep only comes with the Digital CE’s, to make up for the loss of all the other CE goodness that comes with the retail CE. But it’s also important to note if all you want is all the DLC you can get it for cheaper if you just buy the normal edition and buy the Wardens Keep separately.

  2. Morberis says:

    Correction, Shale is available with every new retail box – not just CE’s.

    From the Dragon Age website, http://dragonage.bioware.com/addon/

    * Every new retail box of DA:O contains a promotional code on a promotional code card which when redeemed provides a free download of The Stone Prisoner. Digital purchases of DA:O will have the code emailed.

  3. Archonsod says:

    Erm, I didn’t get the Collector’s Edition and I got Shale free (along with the Dragon Armour). From the sound of the promo leaflet with the code, I got the idea you would get either the keep or shale as a freebie as a DLC taster, though it may have just been pre-order editions?

  4. Psychopomp says:

    “There’s a wider issue here, which we’ll probably get into it a post of its own. Shale is only available to people who paid for the Collector’s Edition of DA, around £10 more than the standard.”

    Completely and utterly wrong. He’s included with every single new copy.

  5. Lemming says:

    Shale isnt only included in the collectors edition, I have the bog standard normal edition and it came with the code to unlock him. From what ive read on the Dragon Age forums it seems he was removed to combat piracy, as in people without a legit copy cant use the online bit where you enter your code. The other bit of DLC wasnt included however, and the npc in my camp who’s trying to sell it to me is a smidge annoying.

  6. FP says:

    @Alec

    I have the normal £25 version of DOA and my box came with a Shale code inside (though I haven’t found him yet) so I don’t think he needs to be paid for.

    p.s. The inevitable storage-chest-that-doesn’t-cost-$7 has appeared for those sick of inventory juggling:
    http://social.bioware.com/project/463/

  7. Morberis says:

    I love Shale and his banter with the characters. There also appears to be 3 achievements that involve him, I got the first 2 by just going through the quest normally but I’m wondering what the third is. Ooo mysteries!

  8. ChampionHyena says:

    Here’s the story on Shale and why he fits so well.

    Back when Dragon Age was supposed to come out in 2008 or so, Shale was originally intended to be a normal companion NPC in the game. However, to meet deadlines (and presumably to put the most polish they could on parts they thought were more important), Shale got cut while they worked on the rest of the game. Surprise surprise, the release date got pushed back. With their extra time, the devs went about putting Shale back into the game and making sure he gelled. He didn’t get packed in with the original game code, but instead got tacked on as an addon, which–if the website and our friend Morberis are to be believed–everyone should have access to with a new copy. I have friends who seemingly can’t find their codes, and I got the Fancy Pants Digital Deluxe version, so the point is moot for me anyway.

    Still, that’s what I’ve heard on the road. Take it for what it is. Har har.

  9. spinks says:

    I think Shale and his sidequest are the anti-piracy feature. Buy the game legit (or new) and get the nice downloaded extras for free.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Not anti-piracy. Getting around the checks literally just involves changing a 1 to a 0. He’s there to fight against used game sales, hence his hefty price.

  10. Tei says:

    My team is:
    – Morrogan: Healer, and Nuker. Excel at both, he can drop a column of fire the size a tornado, or sleep in area 20 guys, then send then to nightmareland. Hes a whole army.
    – Alistair, has a “tank” guy. 1H + shield, with everything I see can make a tanker stronger.
    – Stan (or Sten?) is the Melee DPS guy, his blade is slow like a continent, and as unstopable.
    – My character is a roguer, that by now all his attacks are criticals with dual weapons that both have tons of +damage bufs. Is the electro-fire-multi-critical-stabber of the steam.

    I wish I where able to move Shale in the team (removing Sten?)

  11. Paul S. says:

    Anyone know who does the voice for Shale? It’s a cracking performance. Sounds a bit like a slightly American, camp Sean Pertwee.

  12. Nicholas Lindenberg says:

    As one still awaiting his copy of Dragon Age, I’m morbidly curious as to how this ‘every new copy’ code works should I experience a reinstall situation, like an OS upgrade/drive crash/uninstall for drive space’ sake. Or in 5 – 10 years time when its time for a ‘retro gaming’ article run-through.

    Presumably bound to an account at Bioware, but that does not fill me with confidence in the long term.

    • Morberis says:

      Yeah bound to your Bioware Account, which you’ll need to be logged into in-game to download and install. I’m not sure how it handles it when it can’t connect, some reports I’m hearing indicate that if the game can’t phone home to confirm the DLC you lose access to it in-game, losing all the equipment in the Wardens Keep storage chest, the items you picked up at Wardens Keep, Shale, and while the first re-appears when you log back in the items do not and Shale(?) might not.

      I’d actually like some confirmation on that though, I’m just treating it all rumor for now.

    • Psychopomp says:

      All DLC is available while offline, in my experience.

    • Tei says:

      Could be…

      DA Download Manager (DADM) Attempting to connect to DADM Control Server!
      DA Download Manager (DADM) Could not connect to DADM Control Server!
      DA Download Manager (DADM) Restarting DADM HeartBeat!
      DA Download Manager (DADM) Service start pending…
      DA Download Manager (DADM) Service not started. Current State: 2 – Exit Code: 0 – Check Point: 0 – Wait Hint: 0
      DA Download Manager (DADM) Cannot start the service because it is already running
      DA Download Manager (DADM) Received DADM HeartBeat!
      DA Download Manager (DADM) Shutting Down DADM HeartBeat!
      DA Download Manager (DADM) Attempting to connect to DADM Control Server!
      DA Download Manager (DADM) Connected to DADM Control Server!
      DA Download Manager (DADM) Successfully configured DADM!
      OnlineFeatures Wallet balance requested.
      OnlineFeatures Login successful.
      OnlineFeatures Entitlements requested.
      OnlineFeatures Wallet balance received (0).
      OnlineFeatures Entitlements received: DAO_PRC_PROMO_WAR, DAO_PRC_PROMO_EMB, DAO_PRC_PROMO_LKS.
      OnlineFeatures Wallet balance requested.
      OnlineFeatures Wallet balance received (0).
      OnlineFeatures Enabled AddIn: DAO_PRC_PROMO_WAR.
      OnlineFeatures Wallet balance requested.
      OnlineFeatures Wallet balance received (0).
      OnlineFeatures Enabled AddIn: DAO_PRC_PROMO_EMB.
      OnlineFeatures Wallet balance requested.
      OnlineFeatures Wallet balance received (0).
      OnlineFeatures Enabled AddIn: DAO_PRC_PROMO_LKS.
      OnlineFeatures Wallet balance requested.
      OnlineFeatures Wallet balance received (0).
      General Loading – Start

      This smells like app checking every pluging to home.

    • Tei says:

      > All DLC is available while offline, in my experience.

      Oh…. great :-)
      It will suck if something is unavalable offline :-)

  13. Myros says:

    He is of course available to all except ‘pirates’ which I think was the point. Add in enough things in the DLC/Login/added-extras category and your liable to push people on the fence into buying rather than dling the free version. At least thats probably the theory anyway, better than a lot of other ideas these companies come up with IMO.

    M

    • ordteapot says:

      A quick google search shows that the pirates actually have access to more DLC than the average purchaser, probably – all the various preorder bonuses plus the official DLC. Sigh.

      This is making me depressed.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      Actually that’s been countered too. There’s currently a thread on the Bioware community forum that allows you to download all of the DLC (except I think Warden’s Keep and Stone Prisoner). There’s a link at fidgit.com.

    • ordteapot says:

      That is quite awesome of them, and the way it should be. I am less depressed!

  14. Jeremy says:

    I think the DLC part is so that they can recoup some of the loss on resale at a Gamestop or some such thing, or at least that would be my assumption. Make a core character for those who purchase the game respectably, but those shady purchasers of legally used games should be punished. The scamps.

  15. tapanister says:

    Wait. I’ve got the game from play.com and already received the download codes for two pretty meh items, a memory band and a wolf’s tooth thingymabob. Do I get the rockman when my copy arives or do I have to get him extra? Cause I’m, pretty sure I ain’t getting nothing extra from play.com…

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      You should get codes for the Stone Prisoner (i.e. Shale) and the Blood Dragon Armour, which is kind of oddly done. You’ll start the game with a suite of massive armour (i.e. you’re not strong enough to wear it yet) and later on you’ll meet a merchant who will sell you matching boots, glubs, and helmet. Or you can ditch the armour and get some free dosh.

  16. Spoon says:

    I had similar first impressions with the game’s characters, in that they all seemed a bit cliche at first. When you give it some time, though, they seem to flesh themselves out enough that they are tolerable.

    Take Sten, for example. He comes to your party as the grim, my-thinking-is-alien-to-you kind of guy that will eventually warm to you; basically a pure warrior version of Dakkon. *light spoilers* When you start learning about him, he is different enough from Dakkon that it is quite amusing. He absolutely adores cookies, for one. I was able to bribe a guard with said cookies when he was in my party. The only gifts he likes are fancy paintings, and he comes to a “warrior’s understanding” with your dog. The guy is a big mushy softie trying to act tough, and it is quite enjoyable watching his disguise slip from time to time. *end spoilers*

    • Lambchops says:

      I liked the Warrior’s understanding thing but I’ve been ignoring him at camp precisely because he initially appeared to be a less interesting version of Dakkon.Maybe I’ll have to reconsider. He’s not in my party anymore now though as Shale is more awesome.

  17. Rosti says:

    Shale – this seasons Tall Nut?

  18. Lambchops says:

    Quick question here. When you have the game on STeam do you have to enter a code or not?

    The Stone Prisoner thing is available in the games DLC store to buy so I’m not sure whether I’m missing a code or whether they were just to lazy to make it unavailable for people who already have it (the cheeky sods!).

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Quick question here. When you have the game on STeam do you have to enter a code or not?

      You should have to, yes. The Steam edition should come with three keys; one is the game (longer than the others, from what I was told), and the other two are The Stone Prisoner and all the CE content (items and Warden’s Keep), I believe.

      You have to register everything on BioWare’s rather rubbish social site, then log into your account from inside the game and download them that way.

      NB: I may be wrong, and the two extra codes might just be for items and the like. If so, you can right-click Dragon Age in your Steam games list then click “view downloadable content” and if that lists TSP/WK then they should already be associated with your game. I’m pretty sure I’m correct and you have to register them manually through social.bioware.com, though.

    • Lambchops says:

      Cheers, I’m sorted now. Predictably it was the last code I entered of the 3 which was the right one!

  19. Sithinious says:

    Cool, very much looking forward to adding him into my party. Really wish you could have a party of at least six. Gotta say though, I love the party interaction with the dog while at the campsite.

  20. ChampionHyena says:

    Also, while we’re on the subject of splendiferous voice acting, who the FUCK keeps letting Steven Jay Blum voice characters!? I thought that I was free from his droning, emotion-free man-grunts until Chaos Rising comes out. ALAS I AM FOILED.

  21. Rohit says:

    Don’t like that the Shale code expires April 2010.

    • Jeremy says:

      Shouldn’t be a problem unless it takes you that long to decide to activate it.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      Type one character a week. I think you’ll make it.

    • Rohit says:

      And if I buy the game after April?

    • Jeremy says:

      Then you missed out on a great opportunity for free stuff!

    • Rohit says:

      Free stuff that was once part of the main game.

      Feh, I’ll probably give the code away once I get it.

  22. Doug F says:

    The moment that sold Shale for me was the brief cutscene as we were leaving Honnleath.

  23. Doug F says:

    Also, Shale is included as (free) DLC because he was almost cut from the game due to lack of time. Then the release date was pushed back a year or so, and they added him back in. He fits so well because all of the other characters’ dialogue in terms of conversation/banter with him were already recorded before he was temporarily axed.

    • Vinraith says:

      Shale’s not free, he’s just included in some packages. A purchase of the base game does not include him.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Unusually, you’re just plain wrong, Vinraith.

      Every new copy of DA:O, regardless of which package you got, contains a code for The Stone Prisoner and a code for Blood Dragon armour. It’s anti-second-hand precautions, since you can only associate the code once and with a single account.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Alexander

      Really? I don’t own the game yet, I’d been investigating the DLC issue and was given to understand that to get Shale and the extra quest I had to get one of the deluxe editions. I’m pleased to learn that I’m wrong before I bought it, thanks Alexander.

    • Psychopomp says:

      “* Every new retail box of DA:O contains a promotional code on a promotional code card which when redeemed provides a free download of The Stone Prisoner. Digital purchases of DA:O will have the code emailed.”

      The steam edition just has a fucked up store page

    • Vinraith says:

      The Collector’s edition listing on Amazon claims that Shale and Stone Prisoner are particular to it, hence my confusion.

  24. yutt says:

    You Europeans are so obsessive about accents. You know Americans have regional accents and dialects as well? If I hear a poor Midwestern or Finnish/Upper Peninsula/Canadian accent, I just assume they were trying to exaggerate so that each character has a distinct voice and character.

    Not anything to constantly comment on and feel insulted by.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_English_regional_phonology

    I swear even if the voice actor were born and raised in the area that has the accent, many people would make smarmy comments about how fake it sounds.

    • Psychopomp says:

      All the comments about the L4D2 accents being over the top, for example, are amusing to this southerner.

    • TCM says:

      This actually happens, incidentally – people tend to complain about “fake” accents from voice actors born in a given area.

    • Nick says:

      In this instance.. she flat out loses the accent at least half the time.

    • Droniac says:

      Interestinglly one of the NPCs Alec mentioned for her ‘fake’ accent is voiced by a French voice actress: Leliana (by Corinne Kempa). I guess the line between genuine and fake is a little blurry.

    • Schadenfreude says:

      I really like Leliana’s accent. Seen a few people profess to going weak at the knees when they hear her speak (which I fully understand).

  25. Mauss says:

    I can confirm that Shale is included free with the standard (non-CE version) Steam version of the game. You just need to redeem the two codes you received with the game, as Alexander Norris describes above, and then wait a bit for the redemption to filter down to your Dragon Age client.

  26. Kyr says:

    Accidental dialogues between characters are pretty fun, Allistair and Sten, for example. Also, chars need to be talked to if you want to hear something character-deep. Shale, BTW, annoys the crap outta me.

  27. cheeba says:

    In an interesting twist, apparently the DLC will work perfectly well with pirated versions, and downloads and installs to them same as any other. Also, they’ve massively tightened up the originally-shaky checks so you more or less have to buy the DLC if you want it for your dodgy version.

    That’s a really clever way of making money from the pirate crowd. I’m actually a little impressed there. It may be an anti-second hand sales tactic for the console crowd primarily, but they’ve obviously thought things though with the PC version too.

  28. Dominic White says:

    For those griping about Leilianas accent, it’s because (according to Bioware) the actess is a native parisian French actress.

    Reminds me of the people complaining about ‘terrible voice acting’ when people reviewed Demon’s Souls on the PS3, citing the Maiden In Black as the worst offender, because she sounds strange and foreign. Well, it’s because the voice actress is Russian, and also very good – been in about a dozen BBC radio plays, but nobody seemed to cotton on to the fact that it’s a real Russian accent.

    • Baris says:

      I really don’t get all the crap about Leliana’s accent. It’s a French/English accent, what’s so strange about it?

    • TCM says:

      So, like I said above…

    • Baris says:

      Right, I was just adding my voice to defending Leliana’s accent.

  29. Jaedar says:

    This post made me sad that my game bugged up so I couldn’t get the quest to acquire the golem. Maybe next playthrough…

  30. BrokenSymmetry says:

    I absolutely adore Leliana’s accent. And the French accent is highly appropriate, as Leliana originates from Val Royeaux, the fashion captital of Dragon Age’s world!

    • TCM says:

      It’s a very good, highly appropriate, and fairly realistic accent. And very…distinctive.

      I don’t get the dislike for it either.

    • Dominic White says:

      Well, if Bioware are telling the truth, and the actress is from Paris, then it’s more than ‘fairly realistic’. It’s an actual French actress. Given that the character is meant to be from a French-imperial country, that’s more than appropriate, too.

      But people seem to have this thing against *real* foreign accents.

    • Nick says:

      Well, if she is actually french, then she was either poorly directed or is just a plain bad actress.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Her origin is academic. She’s a bad actress.

    • jRides says:

      But that Accent! I’ve been totally giving her The Book.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      Theory one: a Canadian developer couldn’t get a French accent right, even when using a Parisienne actress.
      Theory two: someone asked this actress to alter her accent, for raisins artistique.
      Theory three: most people discussing the issue have no clue how Leliana ought to sound.

    • Carra says:

      Well I quite like her voice!

  31. Hug_dealer says:

    I have found myself enjoying all the characters as i have learned more about them, well the ones i havent Ahem offed personally.

    They are hardly stereotypes they initially appear to be.

  32. Jeremy says:

    I’ve really been enjoying the voice acting so far, all the party characters are really well voiced (in my opinion) and not annoying at all. There is some dialogue that’s awkward and strange, but that’s to be expected, it’s a game and not life. Although, I do wish there were some actual joking around possible without losing points constantly with your party members. Sometimes I choose things that sound like good natured joking around, but everyone in Dragon Age is tough as nails except for their feelings, which are oh so sensitive.

    • Taillefer says:

      Yeah, often with Morrigan, I try and put her misunderstanding down to social ineptitude. But it would be nice to know if some of the lines my character can say were meant as actual serious comments or not.

      “Do you think I should be tortured, burned at the stake…” etc.
      “At the very least.”
      “I HATE YOU.”

    • malkav11 says:

      Something which wasn’t immediately apparent to me is that characters will actually react differently to lines based on how good your influence with them is at that moment. When I had Morrigan at neutral, I had the “burned at the stake” conversation and made a joking comment about “tied up and tickled, anyway” and she got annoyed at me and I think lost influence. On the other hand, reloading and coming back to that conversation later when she was starting to be interested in kissing me, she kind of giggled and called me weird, but approved, when I made the very same comment.

      Also, not -all- the characters are humorless. Alistair likes it when you play along with his jokes.

  33. James G says:

    Hmm, I want to grab Shale as soon as possible, but am somewhat caught up in the Redcliff quest-line. I'm actually genuinely stuck as to what the 'right' course of action is… (Please, no spoilers. I'm willing to muck things up down to good intentions.) I started to take it one way, then thought better of it, reloaded and took it the other to completion. But I'm wondering if I shouldn't go back to my first choice, only that will somewhat delay me from obtaining Shale. (Not to mention resting up etc. I'm not sure whether the 'hurry' is a genuine hurry, or one that is just plot setting.)

    • Ziv says:

      I was in that problem too, I know I’ve missed a couple of quests and I don’t know how right are the decisions I make and I thought I was really missing something; and then I came to a realization -
      I AM going to play this game again, it has so much replay value and such a wonderful world with so many possibilities that I couldn’t see it all in one time, it’s like going on a trip to a foreign country, you can’t see everything but if you go a couple of times (each time as a different person :) you can explore more of it, it also gives you chance to try different combat techniques.

    • Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

      Just soldier on through it. You don’t have to cure Arl Eamon right away, but I think you have to finish the quest or else the village will die. And if you’re worried, you can try for an “All Good Endings Only” run in your second playthrough, with another Origin if you’d like.

  34. TThumbs says:

    Shale -SPOILERS- below, squint and scroll past if you do not want to see.

    If you take Shale into the Dwarven portion of the story, you discover that he, is in fact, not a he.

    —END Spoilers—

    Take Shale into the Dwarven area. Totally worth it.

  35. Saul says:

    Leliana has the sexiest, most awesome accent in history. Everyone else is wrong. Shale is pretty cool, too, although the whole DLC set-up is pretty confusing.

    • Lambchops says:

      It’s not a sexy accent at all! It’s just sort of . . . mildly irritating. Although the way people have been talking about it you’d have thought it was a bloody Birmingham accent, now that would have been a disaster (as I’m not Boris Johnson I don’t actually have to go to the bloody place to apologise once I’ve insulted them! I’d be completely unapologetic anyway – it is a horrendous accent).

  36. Gianandrea C Manfredi says:

    You mean EDLC. How they can cut a bit out of a game and then charge loads extra for an extended edition is beyond me. rant done.

  37. Matt W says:

    Shale is cool, granted. However, Zevram is CLEARLY the best character – his lines are a) exceptionally well-written and b) side-splitting. My elven lass was drawing a careful bead on Alastair when WHAM, Zevram’s here, and you just can’t say no to somebody that funny. Sorry Al.

    (In all seriousness, I was concerned that DA was going to be a little too much “generic-fantasy-but-with-a-dark-twist,-oh-ho-look-we-have-dwarves-and-elves-but-the-elves-are-downtrodden-and-the-dwarves-aren’t-all-drunkards,-which-would-be-so-original-if-The-Witcher-hadn’t-already-nailed-it-last-year”, but the quality of writing in the actual dialogue is so high that it’s not bothering me at all – it’s pretty much on par with Prince of Persia (’08), which had superlative dialogue. Just goes to show I guess that the plot isn’t as important as the story, if you see what I mean.)

  38. fatal.end says:

    I would replace Sten with Shale if you want. Shale is a base warrior class, he has the actual warrior skills, but the 2-hand, dual weild and sword-shield has been replaced by Golem specific skills.

  39. Moot says:

    I would also have to weigh in to disagree about the comments on bad voice acting.

    Most, if not all of it has been pretty good. Some of it excellent. Some of it a little “stagey”, fine and some of it fairly unremarkable, but hey – some people do speak in a slightly dull or monotonous way!

    Given the sheer number of different voices and the volume of dialogue, combined with the challenge of tying it all together in a way that flows and makes sense in relation to the players choices, Bioware and all the actors involved have done a bang-up job.

    I think it is telling that this must be the one game of it’s ilk where I haven’t started skipping through the audio dialogue after the first few hours (I don’t count “escaping” vendors repeated welcome banter etc) in preference to skim reading the text/subtitles for the salient points.

    This game has had it’s hooks in me for 8 days straight now…and I am still on my first run through. An Epic in every sense.

    • TCM says:

      I’m running three files at once.

      A notable fact: Within 50 hours of the game’s release, I had played it for 26 hours.

      …I guess that’s kind of sad, huh?

    • Klaus says:

      Ha. I played it a little less than that. Had to force my self to go to bed… eventually.

      In regards to characters;
      I haven’t received all the characters yet, but Morrigan is annoying me the most so far. And I thought I would like her right off the bat, but it took me a while to warm up to Viconia. I initially started as a dude, but Alistair is awesome and I decided to romance him instead of Morrigan. It also pisses me off that her ‘tent’ is ALL the way over on the other side of camp. >:(

  40. AS says:

    Rosencrantz & Guildenstern not Rosencratz & Guildenstein! For shame people.

  41. kai says:

    Jeez, I hate translations. In my version (Polish), Shale was made female.

  42. Anathema says:

    Major spoiler here, but Shale is ["A character in the videogame known as Dragon Age who Alec Meer has written an article about" - Ed]

    • cheeba says:

      @anathema: That wasn’t much of a spoiler warning mate. I’d read the sentence before it even registered. Augh!

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Ana: Yeah, me too. I’m editing it. Thanks a lot.

      Things like this, of course, are why people waiting to buy Dragon Age are being unwise. It’s a story lead game. Someone will screw it for you.

      KG

  43. marilena says:

    I’m not going to have a lot of support on this, but I hated HK-47. The idea had potential, but he never actually said anything funny. And he was such a one-note character…

    (I hated him less than Bastilla, mind.)

  44. Qjuad says:

    Where’s the Sten love people? Pretty funny and an absolute melee monster.

    • Klaus says:

      Yeah, he is pretty awesome. I usually only take him, Alastair and the dog. His abruptness catches me off guard sometimes.

      Another thing I laugh at is all the conversations the characters have while covered in blood. All casual like.

      http://i37.tinypic.com/10ykwna.jpg

    • Dominic White says:

      Apparently a lot of people never pick him because think think they have him figured out in the first ten seconds of dialogue.

      Their loss. Pretty much every character is funny, and has a load of great lines.

    • James G says:

      Minor Sten dialogue spoilers:

      “Actually, I thought you were singing about vegetables.”

  45. DarkFenix says:

    Sten did amuse me somewhat, but the fact that I lost influence with him every time I took a morally right choice swiftly had him out of my party. Same went for Morrigan, but then Morrigan irritates me immensely.

    My current party consists of me (mage), Alistair (who let’s face it is an awesome character, he has a witticism – even if not a very funny one – for everything, and the saintly scriptwriters at Bioware gave pc lines to play along with him in almost every instance), Shale (who is precisely as awesome as Alec says, not to mention an excellent character gameplay-wise. Seriously, there should be a law saying a character on a par with HK47 has to be in every rpg) and Leliana (who is voice acted not especially well or especially badly, but I need a rogue that won’t stab me in the back at first opportunity).

    • Qjuad says:

      Once you build up influence with him, you can actually persuade him to see your viewpoint at certain moments he would normally object to thus negating any drop in approval (and some cases, increase it) – not to mention you can make huuuge influence gains by camp conversations alone. Plus, I think he has one of more fascinating character arcs – the writing seems to be deliberately vague as to whether he regrets his actions or his having taken the action to begin with, if that makes any sense.

      Morrigan and Oghren, on the other hand, I find profoundly boring.

  46. Dave says:

    Can you make your own party?

    • Klaus says:

      If you mean like in Icewind Dale, or Wizardry 8 then no. It’s more akin to Baldur’s Gate.

  47. The Sombrero Kid says:

    could be seen as a little homophobic the way you’re ok with pretending to be a woman but not ok with pretending to be gay (not saying i think you’re homophobic but it did cross my mind).

    • Atalanta says:

      ? Alistair isn’t a romance option for a male character, so you can’t play a gay character and flirt with him.

  48. Evorez says:

    I briefly tried using my 1st tier ‘steal’ skill to unceremoniously blag the DLC from that toad in my camp.
    It didn’t work. Maybe level 2…
    And yes, I assumed the flanking angle.

  49. Enoch says:

    KotOR 1 HK-47 = One joke. It was a pretty good joke, but it also got old rather quickly.

    KotOR 2 HK-47 = A worthwhile, interesting character.

  50. Hug_dealer says:

    KOTOR 2 HK was written by another dev.

    Anyone notice alistair doesnt like it when you have anyone join your group. I am going to do a run with just him and me.