I’m A Naughty Boy: Respecs In Dragon Age

By Alec Meer on November 23rd, 2009 at 7:44 pm.

I rather painfully hit a wall in Dragon Age a couple of weeks back, finding my enjoyment stymied by the twin tediums of getting killed far too much and getting bored of wandering endless dwarven caverns and elven forests that required an absurd amount of backtracking through narrow, empty corridors. (Really, would it be so wrong to turn on the instant map travel system in major areas once they’ve been cleared of enemies?) Finding myself with some free time, I headed back in today, only for the former problem to re-rear its annoying head. I knew what was causing it – I didn’t have a good healer. As well as that, my main character, a mage, was a mess of mixed abilities, lacking a core function, horribly prone to inflicting friendly fire with his more powerful attacks and running out of mana horrifyingly quickly to boot. He was screw-up, in short – a liability in every fight.

I’d chosen the wrong skills towards the start of the game, unsure what my build was going to be, no idea what abilities future party members might have (presuming there’d be a dedicated healer along soon; I didn’t go to the mage’s tower, where one can be found, before Elfland and Dwarftown and so ended up with a crapload of melee types in my roster), and naively hungry to make this character capable of everything. I’d tried to shape him into a crowd control type later on, but those misspent early points meant he was still a few levels off being anything like effective. My only options were to press on, suffering an infuriating degree of death and reloading, not to mention burning all my gold on health potions, or to start afresh with a new character. Whichever I picked, I knew the result would be the same: my time with Dragon Age would be as good as over. I hasten to add that I’m quite sure I would have been able to continue with this borked character, eventually levelling my way out of the problem I’d gotten myself into: but I didn’t want to. I wanted to have more fun, not a slog.

So I cheated. Or did I?

I’ve tried to rationalise it to myself, with endless variations upon the theme of the intro above, but I know there’s no escaping that I have cheated. I have pulled the game’s skin away to reveal the endoskeleton below, have performed decisive and powerful surgery that the game did not intend me to, and then pulled the skin back over. Everything looks neat and normal and as it should be, but I have broken the rules, as set by Bioware. My immortal gaming soul is befouled. I know, you can barely stand to look at me.

The exact nature of my cheating, incidentally, is this. I have removed three spells – Inferno, Drain Life and Winter’s Grasp. I have replaced them with Heal, Heal Party and Revive (the latter two from the Spirit Healer specialisation skill tree which, before you point and judge further, I had already unlocked in the game, by purchasing a training manual for 12 gold). Less crucially, and rather more tinkering for tinkering’s sake, I also replaced my character’s two tiers of the Steal skill, because the Rogue in my party has them already, with two tiers of the Survival skill (which turned out to be all kinds of useless. Oh well).

So nothing was added – only swapped, and only swapped for abilities my character could naturally access at his current level. I haven’t given myself an unfair advantage, or anything beyond what the game allows. I’ve just refined my character by creating an alternate universe in which I made better decisions in those early hours of the game. I have, most certainly, irked the purists. At the same time I haven’t created a situation in which I am constantly breaking the game’s rules – and I will remain on the straight narrow now that I’ve gotten onto a straight and narrow that I’m happy with.

Did I do wrong? Did I cheat? Does it matter? It’s an impossibly mild moral dilemma – improving my own experience vs respecting the rules of the games. I’ll admit it troubles me slightly, most especially because the ease with which I’m now blitzing through fights that were formerly incredibly difficult is now almost risible. The group heal and revive powers absolutely change the nature of battles. I pity anyone who plays without them. And now, I am The Best. Go me.

I do feel that Bioware might have been wise to build some official respec feature – say, for a frightening amount of gold, or the loss of a level – into the game, as it does expect you to make some fairly far-reaching choices long before you’ve become au fait with the combat and know what your party setup will be. But then again, there’s something proud and wonderful about making your own organic progress through the game, living with those bad decisions and surviving despite them. That’s how we used to do it, right? But I suppose I’ve become inured to respecification of my RPG characters after all these years of playing MMOs. Once you’ve flown first class, it’s doubly unpleasant to fly cattle class again, and all that. The net result is that I’m enjoying the game more, and so surely my cheating-or-was-it means the game is now better serving its intended purpose. Others will enjoy the struggle against adversity more. I don’t – I’m a hedonist in this regard, prizing my own enjoyment over Doing It Right No Matter What. That niggle, that strange, pointless guilt will likely never quite fade from me as I play, though. I know I’ve rewritten history. What would you do, gentle reader?

Oh, and if you’re taken with the idea of respeccing, let me kindly/maliciously reveal how. EDIT- helpful sorts below reveal this is a much easier alternative. Haven’t tried it myself, but it sounds pretty great.

There is a way to do it with console commands, but I couldn’t get it to work. Instead, I downloaded the 500Mb Dragon Age toolset (you need to register your copy of DA to get it, which requires inputting your CD key again). A click upon File then Open, followed by a browse to my most recent savegame directory (C:\Users\Your Windows Username\Documents\BioWare\Dragon Age\Characters\your Dragon Age Character Name\Saves\Quicksave_1),and then a doubleclick upon savegame.das. Das is gut, ja? Oh, and be sure to take a backup of your savegame folder first, just in case of DATAPOCALYPSE.

In the fugly window that opens, browse to SAVEGAME_PLAYERCHAR. Click the little + to the left of it, then the one next to SAVEGAME_PLAYERCHAR_CHAR, then the one next to SAVEGAME_CREATURE_STATS, then the one next to either SAVEGAME_SPELLLIST (if you’re a mage), SAVEGAME_TALENTLIST (if you’re a rogue or warrior) or SAVEGAME_SKILLLIST (if you want to change skills e.g. herbalism and traps rather than combat abilities).

If you then look for the abilities you have on this page, you’ll spot their identity codes. Replace the ones for those skills you don’t want with ones for those you do want. That’s it, basically, but expect to hit problems if you try to give your guy skills beyond what his level/stats allow. Plus, hey, that really would be cheating.

If you want to do this with a party member rather than your main guy, start at SAVEGAME_PARTYLIST, delve down into SAVEGAME_PARTYPOOLMEMBERS, then under 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 etc you’ll see another instance of SAVEGAME_CREATURE_STATS, and can follow the above process. You big, dirty great cheat, you.

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199 Comments »

  1. Ginger Yellow says:

    Normally I’d consider a modded free respec option cheating, but frankly I think it’s completely reasonable in DA:O. The spell/talent descriptions are completely useless and things just don’t do what you’d expect them to in a D&D based game. I’ve made a few missteps with my mage, but not enough for me to actually respec (yet, anyway). I’d have no compunction doing so if I hit a wall, though, and the mod was shown to be bug-free.

    Also, as stated above, you’ll probably want to pick up Winter’s Grasp again. It’s a great spell, even for a healer.

    • Taillefer says:

      I think his next three picks will be Winter’s Grasp, Inferno and Drain Life.

  2. TeeJay says:

    Dragon Age for me = 6 days of trying and still no reply from EA/Bioware support… :(

    Install fails with “Error … Line 1, Column 40 in inter XML settings”

    Any help and advice greatly appreciated

    • mootpoint says:

      I would normally never say such a thing, but considering you’ve paid for it already: *cough* torrent *cough*. Just ’til you get your support of course.
      edit:similar. Didn’t read through it all, but try this otherwise ;)

  3. 1stGear says:

    More than a respec option, I want to feel like I’m not missing content by leaving party members behind. I’ve never understood this obsession with having a HUGE MULTI-TALENTED ELEVEN-MAN BAND that you can then only take three members of. Congratulations, you are now missing out on quests and dialogue because you can’t bring everyone along.

    I would prefer if the only companions I got were Alistair, Morrigan, and Leliana. And the Dog, solely because he’s adowable.

  4. Dan says:

    I can imagine the problems people are having, there’s little or no info in the game on how spells/talents actually work in detail. And I agree with whoever said Wynne should turn up earlier – I just wish she wasn’t someone’s quite pleasant, slightly pious and very dull gran.

    And, yeah, I got lucky. Without doing any research I randomly chose to be a mage, have put all my skill points into primal spells except for one on the first heal spell and haven’t really had much trouble on normal difficulty, even before wynne. I don’t really use her now cos she’s so bleh.

  5. EyeMessiah says:

    I used the in-game Raven mod, and have respecced my character and all my party members. The raven only allows you to respend all your points and skill picks, so imo its not that abominable. That said, ironing out the inefficiencies that the NPC party members come built-in to the NPCs does give you something of a leg up.

    I also installed the mod which gives every party member 25 tactics slots. I really enjoy scripting the NPCs so this was a no brainer for me, but again its skill points spent on other things that I wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise, so something of a leg-up there to.

    There was an easy solution to all this subtle buffing though. Its called Nightmare mode. With the above mods @ Nightmare difficulty I’m having more fun that I was when I was playing on Normal, so imo it all amounts to some fairly positive cheating.

  6. Lilliput King says:

    @1stGear: Adds replay value to have alternative companions, I suppose.

    But in general I agree. Wish you could just pick your companions and leave the rest out of the whole damn adventure, ala the BG series. Feels like a cop-out when they tell you it’s been an honour fighting with you despite never leaving the camp.

    Also about Wynne, I used her for about 10 minutes before I got sick of being talked down to and put her back in the box.

    • EyeMessiah says:

      If you talk to them in camp you can send them away.

    • Funky Badger says:

      She can’t be nearly as insufferable as the frog princess.

    • Nick says:

      Also nothing is forcing you to take the same combination everywhere with you… I frequently swap member around for some variety.

  7. Dan says:

    I just had another thought.

    Man buys bog-standard Ford Focus.
    Man’s friend offers him free turbocharged Bugatti engine which somehow will fit inside his Ford.
    Man accepts, installs engine, and enjoys car more.
    No-one is hurt, unless man then enters Ford Focus races.

  8. Coded One says:

    EVERY game needs a respec option. Maybe there are a few that use the lack of one as a gameplay mechanic, but I have never encountered a game that could have been made worse with a built in respec option.

  9. Dave says:

    I know it’s a different sort of game, but one of the things I deeply appreciate about Borderlands is the cheap respeccing.

    They could have easily gotten fake replay value out of not allowing respeccing at all; it would have been the Diabloesque thing to do. But I’m very glad I didn’t have to play another character to level 25 to find out that, for instance, Trespass is only worthwhile in the Eridian Promontory, and another character to level 25 to find out that I don’t really like the Phoenix build as much as a more defensive Merc style.

    I like playing the game, but I don’t particularly enjoy replaying the first few levels where all the weapons that aren’t pistols completely suck and you don’t have an action skill and you have to sit through Claptrap explaining how the New-U works.

  10. Pidesco says:

    Goddammit, how can hardcore gamers suck at playing games so much? As long as you don’t rely on the AI too much (meaning as long as you play the game, instead of letting it play itself for you) DA is a piece of piss, at least on normal.

    • Alec Meer says:

      It’s interesting/depressing how many people, including Laughing Boy above, are totally missing the enormous distinction between ‘too hard’ and ‘not having enough fun’. Snobbery is blinding, I guess.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      It’s a piece of piss on Hard, too.

      However, what does the fact that it is or isn’t a piece of piss have to do with the fact that the combat system doesn’t give you the details it needs to give you for you to make fully-informed decisions? This is like asking people to build D&D characters without access to the books, and then punishing them for having failed to build adequate characters without access to the books. It’s very simply bad design, especially when you’ve built a system from the ground up for a video game (where the number of pages and quantity of ink used is not an obstacle to how much information you have the space to give to the player).

    • Pidesco says:

      “Laughing Boy”? Huh, actually, that whole reply flew right over my head.

      Anyway, to clarify my previous comment, I’m saying the game is just plain easy, with nary a chance to die at any point in the game, regardless of character builds, as long as you pay attention to the combat and control the whole party instead of letting the AI do the work. This allows a player to not waste valuable points on the tactics skill thingy and makes the action abit more fun and engaging than just watching the combat unfold. In any case, my comment wasn’t a jab at you directly, but rather at the amount of, apparently hardcore gamers who seem to find DA impossibly hard.

      Also, regarding the game not being fun enough, I’d say the biggest problem DA has, as far as fun factor goes, is that the game’s rules system is fairly limited allowing for few choices, and eventually ensuring that the battles turn into a repetitive, mindless chore.

    • Manley Pointer says:

      I guess I am in the snobs camp here, but pidesco is just trolling. “Nary a chance to die”? On their first playthrough, any normal player will die plenty. Maybe if you do advanced frame-by-frame spacebar mashing it will seem too easy. I guess that would also explain why you found the fights tedious

    • Alec Meer says:

      Yeah, his experience doesn’t match that of anyone else I’ve spoken to about the game.

    • Psychopomp says:

      He probably used two mages, actually. It makes the game laughably easy.

    • Pidesco says:

      Oh, c’mon. I’m not trolling. I just played the game like I used to play Infinity engine games. It’s roughly the same combat experience with less characters and options to worry about. And I only pause the combat if I need to give new orders to three or four characters at the same time.

      I really can’t believe anyone who played and finished Baldur’s Gate or Icewind Dale, for example, can have trouble with Dragon Age.

    • Manley Pointer says:

      I still think there are some fights — the guy who drops Spellweaver, Gaxkang, and a spoilery late fight against a certain Ser — that should be a challenge, even if you’re good. Maybe super internet RPGers breeze through them with ease, but for me they took some effort.

      There’s enormous variation between the setups of people who know what they’re doing and those of people just getting acquainted with the game, though. I actually feel that Dragon Age is pretty well balanced: I didn’t get impossibly screwed over despite some missteps, but most of the time it didn’t seem too easy either. Second playthrough I went Arcane Warrior/Blood Mage and am rolling everything…but that’s what they get for not providing a New Game +, the bastards.

      You’re right though, Infinity Engine games were way harder.

    • Saul says:

      It’s HARD. And yes, I finished both Baldur’s Gate games. Also, mashing space bar every three seconds is not my idea of fun. I switched to Easy pretty early on, turned tactics back on, and never looked back. And there’s still too many combats and they still take too long.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Gaxxkang is a not-at-all-veiled reference to Kangaxx and is essentially the WRPG equivalent of the JRPG bonus dungeon, i.e. an encounter designed to take a lot of practice to beat. Ser Sheshan’tbenamed is also designed to be an exceedingly hard fight for reasons you no doubt know about now.

      Anyway, I agree with Pidesco; the game is really, really easy. I’m not calling anyone rubbish at video games or anything, but it was much, much easier than any of the IE games. You don’t need two mages to make the game trivial; you need a tank with Taunt and the full Mind Blast tree. Crushing Prison on whatever elite’s running around, then Forcefield on your tank after he’s taunted. You win.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Fortunately, someones working on a mod that nerfs mages into reasonable levels.

      Unfortunately this mod both halves the effectiveness of magical healing, but also removes poultices and potions altogether. Yeah, good luck beating the first 5 hours of the game with that, buddy.

  11. JKjoker says:

    you cant cheat in a single player game, you are not competing with anyone (unless you consider achievements a competition but then you are kind of … errr.. “strange”) who are you going to cheat ? yourself ?

    if you want it, if you need it, if it improves your fun, just do it

    i restarted the game a LOT of times for respecing until i just gave up making a mage and went with a rogue, descriptions are useless, skills are unbalanced (even worse, some spells look very useful like fireball and other attack spells but then you find out they are useless an hour later)

    when i finally gave up and made my rogue i went to look for mods first (at the time the respec mod was very bugged so i avoided it), instead i got :
    -storage chest in camp (it should have been there in the actual game)
    -pickpocket cooloff down to 1.5 seconds (whats the point of standing around for 10 seconds, jeez)
    -the dexterity fixes (this makes daggers and bows pretty good, it works against you tho but i havent found myself in too much trouble just dont ignore archers)
    -and the maxtactics (all party members have 25 tactic slots), wtf decided to tie this thing to level and skill ? mages need like 15 to set up their skills, of course i tried to set up a carefully thought script for the shapeshifting Morrigan but the tactics seem to be bugged, they dont always work, some seem to cancel each other out

    these made the game a lot more fun, now i just need a mod that causes summoned creatures to use their damn skills by themselves (why cant i give them tactics too ?) and respec Morrigan

  12. Boldoran says:

    While Bioware should finetune the spell system in the future, having heal as a tier 1 spell is a pretty good decision. I am playing on normal and I do not have the group heal spell yet but I don’t think it is needed.
    Also Area of Effect spells such as Inferno are a bit harder to use but they do bring on the pain on targets that you manage to trap in them (Fireball, Inferno + Earthquake worked pretty good so far).

    But I agree that it is not obvious which spells will work well with a given setup. Also the balancing of the spells is somewhat wonky in places imho. For example the Manaburn spell seems to have almost no effect while the Manaclash spell pretty much oneshots enemy casters.

    Oh and on the topic of quick traveling:
    It is often possible to quicktravel to areas that you have already cleared. Hit m and then go to the worldmap (button at the bottom center of the map) From there you can quicktravel.

  13. Orange says:

    Survival is moderately useful for telling which rooms have enemies and how many. Although I’ve played so many rpgs over the years that any doorway or innocent looking item is treated with the utmost suspicion and paranoia, so I didn’t need it.

    You shouldn’t need to respec to have fun. Just rejig your party composition or tactics. If you’re getting people hit by aoe then cast it earlier and use hold position, or train enemies into it from your taunting tank.

  14. Spacegirl says:

    I think a game like this could use One Single Respec at some point into the game

    It’s like how I always felt every1 in WoW should get a free respec around 30 or 40. Just somewere midway through a game it be nice to be able to change a few things.

    In DA:O, it wouldn’t need to even allow a FULL respec. Just a few points you can change on each of your characters would make a HUGE difference.

    DA:O has a strong combat system and a pretty strong leveling / class system (If Warrior and Rogue were each as complex as Mage it would be amazing, as it stands it is simply “strong.”) However, it’s an entirely new system that is sort of a combo of D&D-style and WoW-style systems and it is a Not-Easy Game. This Not-Easyness combined with the game telling you basically NOTHING about your abilities or anything can create really imbalanced situations through little real fault of the player.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Thing is, though, 99% of the spells are cockblasting powerful anyway, and the ones that aren’t are still useful. I’m convinced you could go through Dragon Age by only putting a single point into each tier of abilities, taunt aside. Alecs problem was the lack of healing, not a bad build.

  15. Psychopomp says:

    I like 4E system of respeccing. Every level, you can swap out a single feat or power.

  16. Manley Pointer says:

    WTF Meds, playing on Hard and complaining about elitist pricks :D Also, curious how Mass Effect screwed you over, did you use a snipar build or something?

    I feel like there’s been a lot of moaning about how hard this game is, when it is not really that tough on normal. KOTOR and Mass Effect seem like the only games Bioware has ever made that were easier overall or less “obscure” when it came to level-up decisions. (And Dragon Age is supposed to be a return to the Infinity Engine games, which are generally more challenging than it is.) Some of Dragon Age’s boss fights are tough, but bosses by definition are difficulty spikes. Also, it seems like it would be hard to fuck yourself over as hard as you could in other scaling RPGs like Oblivion, where leveling up too fast could lead to you getting raped by bears over and over.

    I went through my first playthrough as a rogue, I had a stupid build, played on normal, and I let the game autolevel my party members (which is a bad idea, esp. for Morrigan). There were plenty of deaths, but the hardest fights were so satisfying to win — felt a sense of achievement I rarely get in a single player game.

    As long as one recalls ancient CRPG wisdom fights are not very difficult. If you’re facing a lot of enemies, always let them come to you rather than running to them. If they have archers or mages, run your party out of the room and around a corner — hostile ranged will either have to run in close, or stand around doing nothing as you AOE them to death.

    No matter how hard anyone screws up their build, there are a couple of spells you can grab that should make any fight winnable: Force Field and Cone of Cold. Force Field lets you lock out the toughest enemy from the fight for a long time (or make your tank invulnerable); I didn’t know about this until the end of my first playthrough, but it’s great. And Cone of Cold stuns almost everything almost every time.

    If anyone feels like going back to Baldur’s Gate, or any Infinity Engine game you’ve never played, and start without reading up on builds or getting advice, you will enter a world of pain. Even with an optimized build you will die more times per encounter playing Baldur’s Gate than playing Dragon Age without a clue. And then you will cry bitter baby tears.

    • Manley Pointer says:

      whoops, that was meant to be a reply to medwards’s post

    • Adam Bloom says:

      KOTOR and Mass Effect are the games most people know. I hate to tell you, but us IE fans are the minority now.

  17. Derek K. says:

    The Raven mod is excellent. I’ve used it several times. I tried out Arcane Warrior, didn’t really enjoy it, respecc’ed, tried the fireball + grease combo (AWESOME), and then found my spec.

    I see nothing wrong with it at all. If the wiki were better developed, or the descriptions were more involved, or the forums had more build info, you might feel bad. But you’re on the frontier. Just respec and move on. ;)

  18. HopperUK says:

    I honestly cannot fathom the mentality that cares whether or not somebody else cheats in a single-player game. Personally I’m terrible at most games, and I’m loving Dragon Age on ‘easy’. And this is only 80% because I’m in love with Alistair.

  19. Kieron Gillen says:

    I admit, I was annoyed I wasted one of my first level on tactics on my main character. I thought it was a leadership skill rather than an automatic-response thing, as that’s the sort of thing they’ll call it in other RPGs.

    (I’m also not entirely convinced that having extra tactic slots cost a level is at all interesting. Surely you want people who like to play with the system to play with the system? But the people who most like playing with stuff like that aren’t goint to weaken their characters just to get it. The option to minimise microtasking doesn’t strike me as much fun as – say – a new fireball ability or whatever)

    KG

    • Psychopomp says:

      Even worse, it’s not a level. You only get a new feat (or whatever they call it) every three or four levels. I went into the game knowing about the tactics so I didn’t get thrown off, but I was part of the minority, that’s followed every little gameplay detail Bioware’s let out since the announcement of the game. I can imagine many people spending that point, thinking it did something useful.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Skill point, and it’s one every 2/3/4 levels depending on whether you’re a Rogue/Warrior/Mage. It’s a terrible system, and is why I wouldn’t really consider installing the 25-tactics-slot mod cheating. If you’d rather automate (knowing that Tactics lacks something as basic as IF/AND/OR and so requires two or three tactics for e.g. Heal or Group Heal), use the 25-tactics-slot mod and the Extra Tactics one (which puts some very useful conditions that BioWare removed for some unknown reason back into the game, such as “X allies at 50% health” or “Y ally dead”).

    • Psychopomp says:

      I’d assume they left things like that out, because some very unreasonable people attack FFXII on the basis that a flawless set of gambits lets you automate the game.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Tactics is essentially a concession to people who never played the Infinity Engine games. I have no problem with making concessions to those people; I do have a problem with half-assed concessions to anyone. You either provide the option to automate the game in a meaningful way, or you provide a better basic AI and force people to micromanage everything. “Somewhere in the middle” doesn’t make much sense.

    • Psychopomp says:

      It seems to me like it’s the natural progression from the prebuilt scripts Bioware used in everything from Baldur’s Gate to KoTOR.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      It is. The problem is that it’s a bit like the natural progression gave up half-way on its way to the next step, and this half-way state is actually worse than what we had before.

      BGII provided comprehensive tools for building your own scripts – by editing a text file. Either stick to pre-built scripts that work and give full-control via an incredibly obscure feature, or give the user full control ingame. Obviously, the latter is preferable; the problem is that Dragon Age doesn’t give you much control at all and makes the basic scripts do little more than “will/won’t pursue enemies.”

      The Tactics system should really have had IF/AND/OR, and the number of slots you get should have been based on what difficulty you play at rather than increasing as you get better.

    • JKjoker says:

      while i would hate a game that plays itself like say Dungeon Siege, i love being able to automate it telling it exactly what i want it to do, it is a very different thing, i usually set up my guys to support my controlled character and concentrate on micromanaging him, when i saw the tactics options i though they were awesome (that was until i saw how you were supposed to get more slots)

      however they dont seem to work that well, the game would ignore some lines i set up, like when i told Morrigan to turn into a spider when out of mana and turn back after mana recharges 50% including 2 lines for using her 2 spider abilities, she would turn into a spider just fine but she would not use her abilities and most of the time would not turn back into morrigan without me telling her

      telling a character to use bows for medium/long range and melee for close range doesnt seem to work that well either

      also i set up my mage to use fireball when enemies are clustered but ive never seen her do it, and so on, ive seen some ppl saying similar things in the bioware forums

    • Psychopomp says:

      “most of the time would not turn back into morrigan without me telling her”

      You probably need give that bit higher priority.
      Should probably look like

      1:Use Least Powerful Health Potion: Health >30%
      2:Transform into spider:Mana >10%
      3:Transform into human: Mana <50%
      (Everything else)
      If it already look like that, then report the bug, something's not working as designed.

    • Psychopomp says:

      After looking into it, it appears that guy discontinued his mod, and someone else took up the torch

      http://social.bioware.com/project/667/

      MUCH BETTER

    • JKjoker says:

      there are a few reports about the tactics already, so shrug, i already played with the priorities but changes nothing (i use 50% tho your tactics wouldnt work like that) anyway i decided to respec morrigan out of the shapeshifter thingy (those 4 shapes are too underwhelming, maybe later ill try the mod that changes them into golem drake and demons), story consistency be damned

    • JKjoker says:

      ack, html killed the less than, higher than symbols, i meant to say i use less than 10%, higher than 50%, the other way around will not work

  20. Snidesworth says:

    Not so much respecing, but I downloaded a mod for my 2nd playthrough that prevents NPCs from auto-leveling when they join your group, allowing you to allocate stats, skills and abilities as you see fit. This was mainly brought on by a certain rogue showing up later in the game with no lockpicking skills, rendering him completely useless.

    It allowed me to cheat like a bastard at Ostegar, though. An archery specced tower guard turned what was a punishing battle before into a cakewalk.

  21. Taillefer says:

    Hmm. Interesting reading about the importance people place on taunt, as I never used it.

  22. Tony says:

    It turns out you can redistribute Attribute points on level up without a mod (at time of writing). Spend 3 points in the attribute you wish to decrease, press reset, now subtract 3 points from that same stat. Now you have your 3 level up points plus the 3 points you pulled out of the stat.

  23. dadioflex says:

    I bought DA, Torchlight and Borderlands all around the same time. I still play TL and BL.

    With DA I got to the bridge with the bandits that were shaking down refugees and just don’t want to go back. It’s boring me to tears. The prospect of running around camp to talk to everyone I need to to advance the plot may as well be the fly catching section from the Karate Kid game. I am prepared to click endlessly, but do I need to actually look at the screen while I’m doing it?

    I did like the build up to the battle but then they spoilt the story with that nonsense with the woman soldier abandoning her leader.

    Um spoilers ahoy, but:

    The bit where the scared guy gets killed for pulling his sword out (despite me pulling all his arms and armour into the community backpack because I knew it was coming, because it crashed the first time I played through it) was lame. You don’t kill someone like that for no reason. Even if he wasn’t warden material, he’s still a competent soldier.

    The bit with the healer and her bratty “daughter”? Painful. Let’s create a new RPG franchise and populate it with cast rejects from One tree Hill…

    I played and replayed the old Infinity engine games on Normal and never had much of a problem with them. The NWNs were tough but doable. NWN2 and expansions I found to be completely unplayable. I had to cheat my ass off to get anywhere in those games. Did not enjoy them much.

  24. malkav11 says:

    I don’t think respeccing, mod or otherwise, is cheating unless you are a) flagrantly breaking the rules of the game (i.e., pulling points from the start of a tree without turning off other skills in that tree), or b) respeccing every few fights to maximize your power against a given scenario.

    I’m not convinced that there are many, if any, useless spells/talents, (although skills definitely have some issues), but if the spells/talents you’ve picked don’t fit your playing style after all, fair enough.

  25. Stompbox says:

    I have found healers to be entirely unnecessary and a waste of an offensive mage slot; potions are absurdly good and easy to produce. Admittedly I specialised my mage in stuns and paralysis effects (everyone should take forcefield, it is just brokenly good) so I generally don’t require much in the way of healing but even on the harder fights like Gaxxkang where CC isn’t useful I only ended up using maybe 6 health poultices.

  26. kitchendon says:

    I met up with Leliana, but haven’t added her to my party often.

    I’ve never met or seen this Dog that everyone mentions, though. Guess I’ll look for him on my 2nd playthrough.

  27. catmorbid says:

    Meh, what really bugs me is how the game feels more like mission-based fantasy action slasher rather than an rpg. I mean, sure, the parts where you’re not to hack’n'slash your way through are fine – more than fine even – but whenever you stumble upon some opposition, you notice it’s always scaled to your level and instead of adding to the immersion of the world you find every fight (except for the random encounters) more or less the same. Boring.

  28. Rinox says:

    Whatever your feelings are on the respeccing thing (I don’t really feel it’s necessary, but it’s your party, game and life), I AM a little susprised at the lack of enthusiasm for the game in general. Because for my part, I loved it, and I felt it left all fantasy RPG’s of the last 10 years in the dust with ease. “Fantasy” because KotOR is a tough call. ;-)

    I won’t say it’s perfect – the tactics thing that Kieron pointed out etc. – but it has an undeniable charm and lure, and once you get into the endgame you only fully start realizing what a massive achievement Dragon Age really is. The more so when you talk to friends about their game and hear about things they did and why they did it, often corresponding with their origin. For example as a dwarven commoner I had some ‘personal’ reasons to make some choices in Orzimmar which I may not have done were I an outsider, which my friend had no clue about. But the events of the other origins still took place. Same for my friend’s origin as a City Elf which didn’t directly impact my game but did have consequences for the Alienage. Etc.

    It offered me choices, tough choices (also because I couldn’t talk my way out of it as a bonehead dwarf) and I had to make some rather…pragmatic decisions with far-reaching personal consequences. It made me rethink tactics in some tough battles. It made me like most of my NPC’s thanks to good writing (Morrigan’s romance is very well done even if it seems a but juvenile at first) and it made me actually somewhat emotional at the end with the final ‘what happened to’ texts.

    All I ask for in a game really. /end praiserant

  29. Serenegoose says:

    The ability to respec seems a fundamental ‘need’ for the RPG genre to adopt. RPGs are big games. Huger than your average bear. They’re also very reliant on factors that go beyond twitch skill, which can pull you through an encounter in most other genres. If you have a character you’ve poured 20+ hours in, and you reach a brick wall of ‘no further progress’ then unless you find that fun, the game has failed. Because its objective, in purest form, is fun. it’s not there to be tough, unless you find being tough fun. Nobody writes a book in which the pages can only be turned if you successfully navigate increasingly difficult riddles. Movies don’t freeze 30 minutes before the climax unless you can successfully assist the protaganist in dewiring the nuclear bomb. The answer is choice. If someone just wants to play a game to get caught up in a story, delve through the dialogue, and enjoy the combat, LET THEM! To decree that people aren’t good enough to deserve the ending is absolutely stupid. If you don’t want to respec, don’t. Don’t stop others from having the choice.

    • Rinox says:

      I don’t know. I know it’s ridiculous to expect realism from a fantasy or sci-fi RPG, but: seeing as they often (read: always) involve a quest towards maturement/fulfillment/revenge/whatever I find that one of the points of playing RPG’s is creating a character along the way with his or her strengths and weaknesses.

      It just wouldn’t make sense in my head if you could suddenly change around the skills and talents which you built and gained during your epic quest towards whatever. People don’t just wake up and go ‘oh I want to be a bowmaster today instead of a two-handed sword fighter’. It takes all personality away from a character. They are what they are because the road they travelled to get there.

      Besides, if you manage to fuck up your character’s skills so bad that you can’t finished a game that’s just bad game design, plain and simple. Respeccing is a MMORPG byproduct and concession to players so they don’t have to pimp out 4-5 different warrior characters to level 80. It has no place in a singleplayer RPG, except maybe some of your party members’ starting skills. Then again, some skills you get at first are just essential to the character. My dwarven commoner had a rank in stealing, coming from a mafia-ish background. Did I use it, being a warrior? No. Did it make sense? Absolutely.

      Besides, there’s no way you can fuck up so bad that you can’t decently play and finish DA on normal, let alone easy. I killed Wynn at the Circle of the Magi Tower and never had Morrigan cast a healing spell and was a warrior myself. Perfectly doable with just healing potions, even on hard.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      It has a place when the system is badly telegraphed.

      It’s a gamist RPG; the system needs to make it 100% clear what you’re doing with your character in terms of the combat system, especially if the game is going to make combat an obstacle to you seeing the plot. That the system in DA does not keep you fully informed is a mistake, which a respec mod fixes.

      I doubt Alec Meer is talking about respecialising before every fight (but I obviously don’t know for sure) – he’s talking about correcting mistakes that you wouldn’t have made in the first place had the system done its job and informed you of the consequences of your mechanical choices. It doesn’t, so respecialising is justified. It’s not a question of “oh, I feel like being an archer rather than a swordsman today;” it’s a question of “I, the epic hero, should be better at what I do and so we’re going to retcon my player’s poor mechanical choices and make me into what I would be – a paragon of competence – had my player been given the information he needed by this game.”

      Although again, I don’t know why you couldn’t simply make an RPG where respecs are a basic mechanic and you’re expected to change your build every fight. It’d obviously need an in-setting justification, such as “you’re play a doppelgänger” but it would likely be mechanically interesting.

    • Rinox says:

      Oh I definitely agree with your last paragraph – that could be very cool if well-done. Deus Ex already did a good job at it, but that’s been a while. Guild Wars was excellent at it too, even if it was an MMORPG.

      As for the rest what you said: fair enough. I don’t Alec meant to change setup for every fight either. You’re right to say Dragon Age isn’t always informative about the consequences, and that isn’t the player’s fault. I suppose it’s a mix of below-par design and the new system (D&D was relatively familiar to most of us I think).

      And I can see why anyone would want to ‘reclaim’ a skill or slot that’s gone wasted, especially a tactics slot for your main which is pointless when you micromanage. It’s just that..where’s the line? We might not respec for every fight, but do we really need to build this Übermensch for a main with all the ‘optimal’ skill choices to enjoy the game? But I guess, if it makes you enjoy the game more, then it’s all moot and I should just stfu. ;-)

    • Alexander Norris says:

      D&D was relatively familiar to most of us I think

      Which is why their new system not divulging everything to the player is even more of a design crime. With D&D-based systems, they at least had the excuse that we were all familiar with the system to one degree or another; but this is an entirely new, custom-built system. :)

    • Rinox says:

      Incidentally, what did you think of the new system as such?

    • Alexander Norris says:

      It’s far from bad, although a little too simplistic for my liking. I think its biggest flaw is that it allows little room for additional classes beyond the three base ones and that the specialisations don’t really differentiate your character that much; they’re just talents you use in addition to the core set, rather than talents that replace the core set or make it into something different.

      Other than that, all three classes have well-delineated roles and neither of them makes the others obsolete. The only exception is the Arcane Warrior specialisation, which not only changes your Mage’s role from support to tank but also makes you a better bag-o’-hitpoints than a proper tank due to the crazy resistances it gives you (and with a few AoE spells, the loss of taunt is hardly an issue).

      The fact that Mages are really very useful doesn’t seem to have much to do with the system itself, but with the way the encounters were created and balanced – rather than pitting you against a small number of skilled opponents, you often face hordes of inferior enemies whose damage, when added together, can very quickly overwhelm you; hence the over-reliance on crowd-control that makes Mages so very handy.

      I also didn’t like the differences between types of weapons. Longswords essentially render maces and axes completely irrelevant by having better damage, a better crit rate and a faster attack speed; the other two types would really benefit from a straight-up buff.

      As it is, I feel maces are the closest to being a reasonable alternative, as the increased armour penetration means they do more damage than longswords to heavier-armoured targets, but they need the same crit-rate as longswords to compare.

      Axes need a straight up damage buff; they have inferior armour penetration, swing speed and crit rate to longswords. Increasing the Strength multiplier while putting the armour penetration and damage on par with longswords, all this at the cost of their crit rate, seems like it would be a net improvement in balance.

      I haven’t really played around much with two-handers, but I imagine they suffer from the same problem of swords being the default superior option. Armour and shields seemed fairly balanced. Bows are useless without the Dexterity hotfix, but once you have it installed, shortbows and longbows are evenly matched given different builds that take advantage of their stats. Crossbows seem a little weak owing to their slow speed of fire.

    • Rinox says:

      Good points. In my experience the difference isn’t so big on two-handed weapons, simply because mauls have insane armor penetration (around 15% or so iirc). That alone makes up for their relative lack of damage.

      I personally found the warrior and rogue (when fixed) skilltrees to be very nice and fluid. The mages, however, could have done with some more streamlining. I don’t think it’ll mess up your game if you pay at least some attention, but their skills can be a little overwhelming in their diversity (while warriors and rogues tend to be pretty straightforward).

  30. Rodafowa says:

    I missed out on the dog because I accidentally stumbled into the next cutscene and didn’t get the chance to go back for him. :(

    Spell Combo Of Awesomeness: Cone Of Cold + Stonefist. For a long while I was routinely carrying Morrigan and Wynne around (two mages, no waiting) just for that.

    • Stick says:

      Oh yeah. I had a lovely tactics setup for the freeze ‘n’ smash combo:

      IF Enemy: Immobilized, THEN use Stone Fist (or – for the non-wizardly – any weapon skill capable of forcing a crit). Winter’s Grasp on autocast (nearest enemy, whatnot), a bit of manual deployment of Cone of Cold and… BIFF! POW! KERSMASH! Even worked on Rank Oranges a few times.

    • Taillefer says:

      You can shatter petrified enemies too. In case you miss one with the cone of cold, or something. I’m assuming petrification lasts longer than frozen… I wonder if earthquake can shatter…that would be something.

  31. Ash says:

    I have to side with the people that don’t understand why so many find this game so hard. I was playing IceWind Dale II for the first time on the week before Dragon Age came out (yes, I know, shame on me) and it was a lot harder, even with the benefit of me knowing the D&D rules like the back of my hand, and a fully customizable party.

    I only used Wynne for a section of the game, and it was just so I could try her out; Morrigan plus the first healing spell was more than enough for a full play trough, including all the dragons and revenants and Gaxxkang. And I do think that pausing often to micromanage is fun. That’s what the IE games were all about. If you play them in real-time you might as well go play Warcraft III, no?

    To the point, I do think a respect option would be nice, not really because of the main character – I like sticking with them, kinks and all – but becasue of the unbearable amount of crap abilities the NPCs come with. I wanted to used Zevran on my second playtrough, but I got him and now I’m sticking with Leliana until he goes up 4 levels so I can get his lockpicking to a decent tier. In a game were the major reason to have a rogue in your party is to open chests, it’s insane to give you a rogue NPC with no skill at all in that area a quarter into the game.

    Anyway, those are my two cents. I found DA a nice challenge on normal mode the first time around, and quite easier the second time around. Maybe on my third time I’ll go for hard mode, but I really don’t see much interest in hard modes that do nothing more than make the beasties harder to kill and the player easier to kill.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Actually, the main reason to have a Rogue is damage.

      The chest loot tables are either bugged or deliberately shit, but they very, very seldom contain anything of interest or worth. You end up looting one blank vellum from locked chests regardless of your level or location.

    • Ash says:

      While rogues are the best DPS class, the difference is not as huge as in many other games. A DPS-oriented mage with infinite lyrium or a well-specced warrior will do just as well.

      Meanwhile, while most chests do not have anything special, the sum of what you find in all of them contributes a good deal of money to buy potions and good gear with. A rogue is a moneymaker first, dpser second.

    • Premium User Badge

      Carra says:

      I’m doing fine with Morrigan who has the four healing spells on normal difficulty. The games difficulty is just right for me. Maybe even too simple now that I’m doing the Mage Tower last.

      Having one rogue feels useful. She can open locks or disable traps. She’s also bringing nice DPS. And the ranger specialty is really useful, having an extra member really helps.

    • Taillefer says:

      Hasted rogues are super-stabby.

  32. H says:

    At the end of the day, if it’s your game (as in, if you bought it) then you should play it however the hell you want. If you get more enjoyment tweaking your character to rectify bad decisions, crack on. Likewise if you want to whack God mode on, feel free. The only problem with the latter, as far as I can see, is God mode tends to damage your enjoyment somewhat. I’m tempted to start over as I’ve not got a healer either, but then I haven’t got any ranged damage specialists either; I went for a melee group and they’re pretty damned nasty.

    You do what you like, at the end of the day, as long as you’re enjoying it. If you stop enjoying it, you’ve done sommat wrong.

  33. Gassalasca says:

    I found the game on Normal too easy, with Wynn and Morrigan being absolutely indispensible. Mages are too powerful. <_<

  34. Whelp says:

    Having a healer in your party is not really neccessary in this game, at least not on normal difficulty IMHO.

    Also, I found that it’s really hard to make a mage completely useless, practically every spell is useful in some way; even taking all the (seemingly redundant) primal spells is useful; even if only for overcoming certain enemies’ resistances/exploiting weaknesses.

  35. Premium User Badge

    Carra says:

    I’m also bothered with the fact that it’s impossible to get a healer.

    My group has tons of warriors. Me, Alistair, the grey giant, the stone golem and a dwarf. Plus some rogues who can DPS. And I had one mage which was best for DPS. So I had to let Morrigan learn the healing skills a few hours into the game to continue comfortably.

    Sure, I’ve now found a healer mage in, you’d never guess, the mage tower. But I’m already over fourty hours in the game. Adding a healer a lot earlier in the game would have been great. Maybe even create a fourth healer class which is there for buffing, healing and CC.

    As for respecs, I’m still quite happy with my characters. I picked up all the sword & shield spells for my main character which seems to be the way to do it. I did waste a point in that “get another tactic” skill. Still, there are no decent alternatives, the skills seem to be chosen poorly.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Carra: It’s an odd choice, isn’t it? I mean, you can get her a lot earlier – I went to the Mage Tower second – but having a semi-essential character (at least, for people who are trying to approach the game as a trad RPG) – but it’s odd to make it possible to miss her for so long. I gave Morrigan a single heal before i met her, just as a minor measure.

      (Admitedly, it’s not that I was having trouble without Wynne – I was doing a lot of herbalism. It just felt strange)

      KG

    • Alexander Norris says:

      It’s a prickly issue. How much of game balance do you sacrifice to your setting?

      On the one hand, the game could definitely have benefited from losing a warrior and gaining a mage. On the other, the setting explicitly makes mages rather rare, hence your only having access to two.

      It’s very much a problem that every low-magic setting runs into, in my experience.

    • Rinox says:

      Since none of you mentioned it: I don’t know if you realize/know this, but it’s entirely possible to kill Wynn before even knowing she can join you, right at the start of the Circle of Mages quest. I did. :-/

    • Ash says:

      At least they avoided the cliched “the good-natured healing girl saves you / you save her at the start of the game”.

      I maintain that a kleptomaniac tendency to pick everything up, combined with Morrigan’s herbalism, is enough to get you past almost anything the game throws at you. And being that the healing spell only requires one point in the spirit tree, it’s not only easy to get it with Morrigan, but common since if you are feeling even a little bit of difficulty.

      It’s not like you got a group heal / ressurection spell early on in any of the old Bioware games, either. A Druid/Priest in those games could heal a lot less than Morrigan does, and potions were few and far between, up until the higher levels. And on those games you had to run all the way back to town to get people back up after dying.

      I don’t want to sound all “you young kids have it too easy, back in my day…”, but it feels that the people that complain about it not being like the games of old don’t really remember properly how those games were.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      I think that it’s actually a stroke of genius. Well not genius, but it’s cleverish.
      It’s bucks the traditional Fantasy RPG trend. I also happen to think that the spell, ability and weapon descriptions are likewise trying to do something different.
      In a genre that has previously been dominated by the idea of a traditional RPG party based combat – buffer, tank DPS etc. you have a selection of characters that doesn’t necessarily fit that traditional system. They are certainly familiar enough in that respect and it is possible to create that party, however it is also very easy to create a party for other purposes and NOT suffer a penalty. The healing focus in this game is very much on poultices. You have no need for a healer. Certainly you may be used to using one and so the system feels odd to you. But the game should not necessarily be criticised for this. In fact, the game has opened up several options for you in terms of healing.
      Regarding the descriptions, I have the feeling they were left purposely vague. Now, I will certainly jump in and say that the system is confusing and I often found myself unsure of what an ability or spell would do – which is sloppy. But they have very obviously been trying to steer clear of number crunching. Which I admire and like. The descriptions of spells and general character development felt a lot more organic to me, rather than the cold calculations needed in DnD.
      I think the devs kinda wanted their players to go “wow, fireballs sounds awsome, I want that.”
      So yeh, it could have been done better, and we are used to differing methods. But I like what they tried and I have actually not yet come across a single useless spell or ability. Depending on the enemies or the situation, I think I have used all spells and abilities to great effect at some point.
      Oh and as far as my ability with the game:
      Playing on hard I have found the core combats to be frequently a breeze but often challenging and never insurmountable. However, some of the optional enemies, such as revenants have destroyed me completely! Which I like.
      It has it’s flaws for sure but i love a LOT about this game.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      SanguineAngel: I actually kinda agree – the problem is more that there’s that sort of magic healing there at all. Designing a game which doesn’t even include a healer would make people start playing the game in that way, rather than waiting for the mage or stuff.

      Also: Can anyone think of a healer character who isn’t just a very nice person? I mean, I’ve met a whole load of doctors. There’s as many as are like House as Miss Nice Nice.

      (House as a healer NPC, of course, would be genius)

      KG

    • Ash says:

      @KG: Off the top of my head, I remember Viconia in the BG series; “healer” might be stretching the term, ofc, because a cleric is a cleric and you just use the healing spells if you want to do so. But she was a “healing class”. Same with the cleric of Tempus you met in Naskel, and joined your party if you saved her from petrification. Can’t remember her name, but she was hardly “nice”.

      Now, want a better challenge? Find me a MALE healer. And most of the doctors I know IRL are male. :/

      Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t recall many characters in those RPGs introducing themselves like “Hi, I’m a healer”. Much like in Dragon Age, the option was there, but you took what you wanted from them. The difference being that it would be almost impossible to go trough those games without a healer, while in Dragon Age it’s more of a difficulty modifier than an essential.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Kieron: Yeh I see what you mean. I mean, I really like the options that are available to me when I play the game. If I have a mage who can heal (Or I AM a mage who can heal) then I can rely on them. But if I don’t like them, they’re not in my party for whatever reason then I have more traditional means of healing.

      However, this does raise the balance question. Without a mage who heals, the poultices are essential, and a vital part of your player economy. You have to earn money and you have to spend money on vital supplies. If you do have a mage who heals then suddenly these poultices are no longer vital and you start stockpiling. And the money starts growing.

      I can see a couple of things the devs tried to do to combat this:

      1. The inventory layout means that having a massive stash of potions if you need them is not a big deal. Once you have a stackable item, it only takes one slot, no matter how many you have. However! If you don’t need them then all those potions take up valuable storage space, since storage is at a premium in the game. Quite clever. Works to some extent.

      2. Lyrium potions. The Poultice of the mage. Because mages require mana to cast spells and mana works just like a health bar, the idea is surely that mages qould require a steady supply of lyrium to survive and continue casting. This is actually, in my opinion, a very good move. Unfortunately it fails in execution because mages rarely need them in my experience. It’s easy to develop your character to have massive stores of mana, and it regenerates really quite quickly.

      I think that this is fine at the easier difficulties, however at higher difficulties, I’d have thought handicapping mages mana growth and regen would be a sensible idea. Meaning that lyrium would become vital and returning a sense of balance to the game, difficulty and economy.

    • Nick says:

      Anomen was a male healer =)

    • Premium User Badge

      Carra says:

      It is possible to play the game without healing and just using potions. I just think that it would be quite a bit easier if I had a healer at the beginning. Either by starting as a healer mage myself or by doing the Mage Tower first. Picking your first of the four locations shouldn’t make the game harder.

      In retrospect things might have gone a lot easier if I used herbalism earlier on. I only figured out later that you can craft as many health or mana potions as your wallet allows. None the less, the game is a ton of fun on normal and never feels too hard.

      But I admit it, the main reason I miss a healer is because I wanted to create a classic tank, mage dps, rogue dps, healer group. And that’s impossible with only one mage.

  36. Rinox says:

    The Medic from TF2?

  37. Bronte says:

    On the fence.

    If there was an in-game respec, like in Borderlands, I’d use it all the time. But to actually tinker with the savegame data? I don’t know about that…

  38. mlaskus says:

    Two mages with cone of cold make every fight a breeze, it is also good if one of them is a dedicated healer like Wynn and the other should have at least the simple heal spell.

    Cone of cold freezes your enemies, it allows you to beat them up without worrying about getting hit back.
    I’m not sure if anything resists it freezing effect. I used it to good effect even on dragons.

    • Akhenaten says:

      Indeed…. Cone of cold is invaluable…especially when dealing with a large number of combatants. I find that the paralyze and slow runes are also nice additions to dual wielding characters. Now to deal with those stinking archers. LOL

  39. Akhenaten says:

    Very nice write-up on the pains of leveling “properly”. I found that, much to my own chagrin, since I have started taking a severe beating, financially due to purchasing health and physically due to poor spell selections, that I have been dropping the difficulty from normal to easy as a “fix”. After between 2 and 8 reloads a mind looks for an “adapt and overcome” strategy. I think I’d rather move along the respec lines than lose the piece of mind one gains from NOT playing on easy. I find, personally, that I am using Shale, Leilana, Morrigan and my Female Elf Warrior with a pension for dual wielding. Allistair is worth his weight, once you give him a decent weapon and shield, but otherwise he was only worth his MANY MANY deaths. : ) I think that I will be respeccing tomorrow morning when I can get back into the thick of it… It’ll be nice to leave the difficulty on normal…. cheating be damned, I need the piece of mind.

  40. latedave says:

    Haven’t played it yet but my flatmate seems to think its quite hard and he and I have played through BG1, 2, both Icewind Dales and the Neverwinters without too much of a problem. Incidently completely disagree with whoever said Oblivion was hard, as a mage it was stupidly easy, I only ever used three spells the whole game, heal, minor electric charge and then electric charge and I didn’t die throughout the whole thing, thats not a boast, just shows you the inbalance of systems in RPGs!

    • Manley Pointer says:

      I said Oblivion could be hard if you didn’t know what you were doing, because scaling monsters make the leveling system ridiculous. If you set all the skills you plan to use the most as your major skills — which the game encourages — you will level up very quickly and get tiny stat increases. Because all the monsters in the game scale, you can get massively screwed over; it is counter-intuitive because leveling fast in most other RPGs is a good thing. I know a few people who chose the wrong skills in Oblivion and just had to reroll. (On the other hand, the game could be massively broken by leveling slowly and maxing stat gains each level.)

      I only mentioned it because a lot of comments complained that choices made while leveling in DA:O are poorly explained. I think you could say the same of the old IE games, NWN, Mass Effect, the Elder Scrolls games, and many other RPGs. If you go into an RPG with no outside knowledge of its systems (gleaned from friends or FAQs) and you happen to choose the wrong things (cause you think turning into a bear looks awesome) you can always screw yourself over. There is a legitimate complaint that DA:O doesn’t provide a lot of hidden stats, though.

      But like you said, balance is always an issue in RPGs. The community for any RPG figures out a few builds that break the game, and dismisses a lot of skills as junk. I can’t think of any RPGs that struck me as “balanced,” where all classes/builds were viable and all the spells that looked good on paper were as good in practice.

      A lot of the argument here seems to be between extreme cases who either messed up hard (“I made all the wrong choices so I’m fucked”) or knew exactly what to do (“I made all the right choices so fuck you”).

  41. The Sombrero Kid says:

    there is no cheating in a single player game, unless you’re cheating yourself out of enjoyment, in this case you seem not to be, in the future games will have complete random access and it will be the players responsability not to abuse it

  42. Tei says:

    My first experience with cheating was inmortality.
    I tried a inmortality cheat in Turrican.
    My impression of imortality is based on that. Living forever, but stuck on a deep hole sucks.
    Inmortality sounds good on paper, but wen you try it, everything lacks color, the challenge, the meaning, everything is pointless, a chorse. I am not built for inmortality.
    Turrican is also a game I finished withouth cheating (in another different game session). The feeling of achievement, after surviving all the hordes, and horrible and amazing levels of Turrican… Is something I will never forget.

    So heres two thing I have learn about life, thanks to a videogame:
    – Winning feels good.
    – Living forever sucks.

    The moral of the history is.. go berseker, and try to win, live once, make it count.

    • Tei says:

      not the same thing, ,…but anyway here is a video fo turrican 2.

  43. Masked Dave says:

    I always, always, always had this problem with the DnD ruleset, my characters were broken messes with no hope of ever being the best they could be simply because there were too many options and numbers that I didn’t understand.

    So I find Dragon Age’s lack of options massively better.

    Saying that, I avoided this problem by playing Dragon Age: Journeys with all three character classes and so got to properly appreciate and learn the system before making my choices for real.

  44. SheffieldSteel says:

    Those who’re in favour of respeccing cite the lack of numerical information in skill, spell and talent descriptions. Does that mean that respecs are only necesary on the first playthrough? Wouldn’t a better solution be to provide the information that some feel is necessary?

    I can’t shake the feeling that many / most of those who want respeccing have come from WoW where it’s the only alternative to starting a new character. DAO by contrast allows the player to save, experiment, and reload their game if necessary.

    That said, choosing to increase a particular attribute, learn a particular spell, or improve a particular skill is no different from choosing whether to burn the witch or massacre the village that accuses her. You have to try and figure out which set of consequences you’re more or less prepared to live with. To me, that is the essence of a roleplaying game.

    If you want a way around that, I hope you enjoy your version of the game.

  45. Corporate Dog says:

    I too have sullied my gaming soul while playing Dragon Age.

    For three nights in a row, my party sought to defeat the Revenant that took up residence in the courtyard of Redcliffe Castle. My party (made up of my dual-wielding warrior character, my dog, Alistair, and Morrigan) had its collective ass handed to it more times than I could count.

    This was not anything like fun. And as much as I wanted to keep playing, I found that I was enjoying House reruns more than Dragon Age.

    At least, that was the case, until I tossed ‘revenant’, ‘courtyard’, and ‘Dragon Age’ into Google, and discovered the “trick” that I had missed. The Revenant was dead on my very next playthrough. I’m having fun with Dragon Age again, but I still feel empty on the inside.

    Regards,
    Corporate Dog

  46. TheSombreroKid says:

    personally i had real trouble with branka, but i just persevered until i found out that lyrium veins give you health, me getting them instead of her meant her health bar wasn’t as difficult to chip away at as i thought and mines was lasting longer, i saved the whole party first time round after learning that, but i learned the hard way.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      If you’d completed the Mage tower first, things might have been different for you. I suspect you will find that too easy…

  47. Gassalasca says:

    One thing I find very strange is that there are no stamina potions. I mean if you don’t have a healing mage you can still use health poultices, but if you don’t have a healing mage, there’s no way of raising stamina during battle. And even if you wear light armour, and spend a decent amount of points on willpower, you’ll still run out of stamina pretty soon.

    • Earl_of_Josh says:

      Deep mushrooms my friend. Though I never use them so I don’t know how much they give back.

    • Taillefer says:

      This was intentional to make items which enhance stamina regeneration more powerful, and so that light armour has more benefits. But it’s rarely that useful outside of sustained battles, anyway. And hardly needs to be a consideration at all on lower difficulties.

      It’s not balanced very well.

  48. Vinraith says:

    A large part of what makes RPG’s interesting and fun, IMO, is planning out character progression. Respeccing is generally not a good thing, as it undermines the meaning of any choices being made for your character. However, in the case of an RPG with a poorly documented skill and progression system (and a shortage of NPC’s of certain types, apparently), I’d argue it’s a necessary evil. Of course, the best fix is to document your RPG mechanics better, and ensure a reasonable diversity of NPC roles for the player’s party are available.

    Short version: respeccing shouldn’t be necessary if you designed your RPG properly to begin with.

    • Ash says:

      This is a very fair point. We as gamers clamor for choices and consequence to those choices, but when there’s any chance to make permanent mistakes, the majority moans for a way to undo them.

      The game is not impossible due to choices made. It’s just easier or harder. Just like real life – many times you are not aware of the implications, or ramifications, of your choices. You’re still stuck with them and have to make the best of them.

      This is where the “gaming should be fun” argument kicks in. My answer is selfish: it is fun for me. Not every games has to, or should, be fun for everyone.

  49. Lanster says:

    Exactly what I was thinking.

  50. SanguineAngel says:

    Anonymous Coward said:
    This is a very fair point. We as gamers clamor for choices and consequence to those choices, but when there’s any chance to make permanent mistakes, the majority moans for a way to undo them.

    The game is not impossible due to choices made. It’s just easier or harder. Just like real life – many times you are not aware of the implications, or ramifications, of your choices. You’re still stuck with them and have to make the best of them.

    This is where the “gaming should be fun” argument kicks in. My answer is selfish: it is fun for me. Not every games has to, or should, be fun for everyone.

    Amen