Dragon Age: Return To Ostagar + Rumours

By John Walker on January 4th, 2010 at 5:59 pm.

BioWare still putting their bloody logo on every stinking image.

Dragon Age is getting bigger. A little bit bigger tomorrow, and then perhaps rather significantly bigger in March. If the words spoken by Czech Eurogamer are true, we could be seeing Dragon Age: The Awakening in a couple of months. (Via That VideoGame Blog.) When I spoke to EA bods before the game was released I was told, “We’ve got at least 30 hours more content ready for the game already,” so it’s no surprise that the expansion rumoured for March should be about 15 hours long (or, for perspective, twice the length of the average console shooter). Tomorrow, however, definitely brings us the smaller DLC pack, Return To Ostagar.

Quick warning – slight spoilers follow, since we’re discussing DLC that fits in after the first few hours of the game, post Lothering. I’m replaying Dragon Age at the moment, in order to catch the DLC I missed, and enjoy the company of Shale who wasn’t around for the pre-release review code. Which means Return To Ostagar appears with perfect timing. It frustrated me both times that it wasn’t possible to go back to the site of the terrible battle, especially since I have my suspicions about the authenticity of Duncan. I mean, you see something about to attack him, then it goes white. But I’ve not seen a body. Just saying. So I’m looking forward to seeing what’s to be found there tomorrow. The other body we haven’t seen is King Cailan’s, and this certainly appears to be a part of what you investigate. As the game’s site explains, “Return to fallen Ostagar, discover the fate of a king, and reveal the true cost of betrayal.”

The new pack will cost a weeny $5, and I guess will appear around lunchtime in the UK.

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73 Comments »

  1. Pantsman says:

    Charging for extra content? They’ve gone too far this time!

    • Sparvy says:

      Its a conspiracy I say!

      Not sure if I will pickup Dragon Age, I have always found it hard to motivate myself in RPGs. Bought Mass Effect in the steam sale though so if I like that I suppose Dragon Age might end up on my computer as well.

    • Kadayi says:

      Mass Effect is ok (aside from the shitty inventory system), but Dragon Age is massive step up in comparison as an RPG.

    • JuJuCam says:

      Mass Effect I have found unfinishable every time I’ve tried to play it and it’s only a 30 hour game at the most… and that’s not for lack of trying at all. It’s just somehow not compelling.

      On the other hand I can’t get enough of DAO. It helps that pissy side-quests are easily dealt with in the same areas you would explore anyway. I hated ME’s entire planets devoted to… mineral deposits… whoopee… and yet I can’t bring myself to leave them incomplete…

  2. itchyeyes says:

    I hope Bioware keeps the DLC coming quickly. I put about 70 hours into my first play through. So while I’d like to revisit the game and make different choices along the way, I’m waiting for a bit more new content before I do so. Hopefully they won’t keep me waiting long.

  3. dadioflex says:

    So… if you’ve only just started do you stop playing and wait until all the content is in place so you can play the whole game?

    • JohnArr says:

      @dadioflex All the smaller DLC we know about will be available tomorrow, so you may as well start. The rumoured expansion is apparently a new campaign with a new character so it won’t affect your first play through.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      After you finish the game it creates a save that’s canonically set earlier in the game in order to let you play premium content if you want.

  4. Katsumoto says:

    I suppose I could load up Dragon Age and answer this myself…
    Okay i’ll stop being lazy and load up Dragon Age.

    /pause

    Aha, so if you load up your final save having completed the game it allows you to carry on playing to “experience new premium content” but emphasises that it will all take place “prior to the *MILD SPOILER* siege of Denerim”. Fancy lady, well fancy that.

  5. Alexander Norris says:

    Warden’s Keep was $10 for the most powerful sword in the game, a 30mn dungeon and a gimped game feature available in non-gimped form as a free mod (storage chest that forced you to travel back to the Keep every time). I have no doubt that Return to Ostragar will be more of the same: $10 (because it’ll end up being £5 in the UK and 7€ in Europe), a 30mn dungeon and some overpowered loot you obtain far too early in the game.

    Which is why I’m looking forward to the proper expansion; hopefully, they’ll at least deliver a reasonable amount of content for our money, rather than making us pay for digital items.

    • Choca says:

      Yeah I really think they should slow down on the DLC and actually make new content worth paying for.

    • leeder_krenon says:

      it’s not 2006 any more. £5 = $8

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Good on you, krenon; you can go tell Microsoft.

      Because meanwhile, they still think that £5 = 7.50€ and so their funbux (and BioWare’s funbux) are both arbitrarily priced 50% more in Europe than they are in the UK.

      Magically making $5 DLC turn into $10 DLC when it reaches Europe.

    • Schadenfreude says:

      Eurogamer article says:

      Return to Ostagar will cost £3.99 on PS3, 400 Microsoft Points (£3.40/€4.80) on Xbox 360 and 400 BioWare Points (£3.10) on PC.

  6. ascagnel says:

    I’m still on my first playthrough of Dragon Age, and I’m curious as to what view people are playing with. I tend to go with the overhead Baldur’s Gate-style for battles, but when I’m navigating the world I go with the more over-the-shoulder Knights of the Old Republic-style view.

    What view does the RPS hivemind prefer?

    • orta says:

      This member of the hive played exclusively in KOTR mode, pausing occasionally in difficult battles.

    • Rinox says:

      Isometric, BG2-style view all the way for me

    • kitchendon says:

      I use the over the overhead view in battle, and the behind the shoulder view when exploring. I have the right mouse button down most of the time when walking ‘cuz I like to look around. Love how the camera works in this game, although it’d be nice to zoom out a little further during larger battles.

    • Kadayi says:

      Generally over the shoulder, with zoomed out for the bigger battles when the placing of those pesky damage everyone area effect spells/flasks require precise placing.

    • Larington says:

      I also tend to switch between views depending on the situation. Though that situation is usually based on issues I’m having with control & view fidelity:
      1) My ability to see opponents at a distance is laughable in top down view, so I have to switch to the mode I’d prefer to use for just exploring…
      2) As a result, I usually only use top down for for targetting area affect spells like fireball, where I need a clear view of where everyone is in relation to where the blast will land. When in 3rd person view, it can be hard to not target an opponent which is a nuisance if I want to specifically target the ground.

    • KilgoreTrout XL says:

      I used a ton of glyphs and AoE spells for most of the game, so the isometric view was usually the way to go once the battle started. You could see much further by messing with the camera in the closer view though, so the set up for each fight was usually in that mode.

  7. Nick says:

    Nah, you can keep on playing and probably won’t be finished by the time the expansion comes out in March. Saving the world is a lengthy business.

  8. yns88 says:

    @alexander: Yeah, whatever happened to their approach to NWN? That is, creating real campaigns to be sold as premium content, rather than selling side-missions for $10 each.

  9. Langman says:

    Already paid full price for the main game. Certainly not going to be paying any more for extra sidequests & items; there’s enough ‘game’ in the main release to show pretty much what the DA:O world has to offer.

    So that’s a big No from me.

  10. Colton says:

    This is why I didn’t bother to buy it.

    In six months it’ll be the Game Of The Year Edition for $29.99 – with all the DLC included.

    • Colton says:

      To clarify: I didn’t pirate the game – I just simply won’t play it until it’s all available at one price.

      Keep paying 10$ for mini-expansions and guess what. That’s all you’ll get from now on. From every gaming company. If you didn’t like the fact that games cost $60 you’ll like it even less when you spend $100 on each one over it’s lifetime.

    • Doug F says:

      Colton – you saw the part where it said the DLC was $5, yes?

    • Premium User Badge

      Carra says:

      The point remains. $60 up front, 8x$5 in DLC = $100

      Besides, it’s mentioned that they ask 4.80 euros or about 6.90 dollars. Not that far off.

    • Lilliput King says:

      If you honestly think PC games are too expensive now of all times then it’s too late for you.

      You’re beyond help.

    • Baris says:

      Well, I think that statement sort of contradicts itself. For the past week or two PC games have been at all time low prices, so clearly a full price game would feel far too expensive.

      I know I won’t be able to justify buying a game for weeks thanks to the Steam sale.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    Hey, let Obsidian do a campaign in this world. The new Mask of the Betrayer to the original campaigns NWN2.
    :)

    But I’ll get both the Bioware expansions on day one, even if this the first one doesn’t sound all that awesome so far.

  12. Lobotomist says:

    Dragon Age is incredibly overrated. Tad less overrated than TES Oblivion. But still

    Mediocre story – bordering to bad

    Simply bad RPG ruleset (Should stick with D&D or anything else , but not this)

    Sub par game world and lore

    And occasionally horrible humanoid models ( worst elf models i ever seen)

    … only thing going for it is oldschool RPG top down tactical combat.
    And great dungeon crawling , when it happens …

    - And this is coming from long time RPG player and Bioware fan.

    Only hope for future of DA is to get Obsidian to do sequel

    Same as Bioware done with KOTOR , and NWN.

    • Rinox says:

      “Sub par game world and lore”

      wha?

    • John Walker says:

      Thanks for letting us know!

    • Lobotomist says:

      C’mon

      Andraste is simple spin off from Christianity together with templars and the clergy.

      Elves are more or less Jewish people in history. Together with its roots in slavery (bible) and Ghettos.

      Darkspawn are mindless evil force. Giving no room for negotiations, diplomacy, scheming and plots. Just straight black and white evil – kill on sight monster. BORING

      Noble power struggle was good. But it felt very much out of place – Basically you face humanities biggest nemesis. Almost sure destruction. And few nobles quarrel over lands that will get devastated by enemy in very near future. Than when epic fight against epic nemesis finally happens its actually laughably easy. I thought Blight was something on a scale of Sauron against free people of middle earth. Not 1% of total game.

      Dwarven story was actually only good and decent part of the game story and lore.

      But all in all. Dragon age is miles away from likes of Witcher , Planescape, Forgotten Realms, even Krynn

    • Jockie says:

      I was giving you the benefit of the doubt sorta until I saw you hold up Forgotten Realms as a high watermark for fantasy world construction. FR is a horrible bloated mess at least it was in 3rd edition. They obviously realised that for 4th edition, so used a silly plot device to do away with half the lore, except they got rid of the fun parts (Lantan and the gnomes for one, Thay being turned into a “Nightmare land of death” for another).

      I admit outwardly Dragon Age can seem a bit generic, but the lore is pretty well written, the fact that they draw things from real life ( Christianity/religion for a dualistic force that can perpetrate good and evil equally, or the plight of the Jews etc) doesn’t detract from that, it just gives the world something we can relate to. Fantasy is at it’s worst when it’s an idealised world stuffed to the gills with self indulgent fluff or black and white morality, I think Bioware did a pretty good job bringing Ferelden to life, certainly far better than FR.

    • Aganazer says:

      Agreed. The story and lore is completely derivative. The RPG mechanics simplistic and bland. The game is polished and inspired, but unfortunately not creative or unique in any way.

    • Jeremy says:

      Bummer, I must have terrible taste then.

    • Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

      I’m with Jockey. The Forgotten Realms is a cluttered, incoherent mess compared to Dragon Age. And while it doesn’t stray too far from the tropes it plays with, it does so thoughtfully and executes them well. This is a case of a familiar story told well and, frankly, those who aren’t hung up over the old post-Tolkienian cliche thing won’t mind.

      On another note:

      Though people have a lot of good things to say about the Witcher, in terms of writing and tone. I’ve never played it and so have no comment on that, other than that people are willing to compare the two favorably. There’s one thing DA:O has in its favor over the Witcher, however, and that’s the ability to design your own protagonist. Though I’ll be damned if I play the campaign a full 6 times.

      But seriously, Forgotten Realms is a mess. That Bioware was able to make as fine a reputation as they gained with the Baldur’s Gate series has less to do with the setting than it does with their own writers.

    • Larington says:

      I’m not sure it’s wise to judge the game purely on its lore, setting, etc.
      It’s the moments that matter to me – what happens to the characters, how they cope with the events in the world around them, the banter between the characters and so on.

      I certainly think it’s well written but I do agree the main monster villain could do with being a bit more interesting, the whole corrupted heaven thing doesn’t somehow seem like ‘enough’.
      But I haven’t spent any time reading through the codex stuff though so maybe I’m missing bits of information that could reveal a fair bit of depth that didn’t make it into the core game… Also I’m a long way off of finishing it so I haven’t seen the full story as it unfolds yet.

    • Psychopomp says:

      @Lobotomist

      I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over how much I’m enjoying myself.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      You know, for a website about games run by games journos, I’m always surprised by how hostile RPSers are to other people’s opinions.

    • Psychopomp says:

      I don’t know how the rest of the lot are, but I’ve no problem with someone stating their opinion. I do, however, have a problem with people like Lobotomist. People who flaunt their beliefs like fact, and sneer at all who dare disagree with them.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      @Alexander Norris: Really? Personally I find the passionate negativity so many posters seem to feel towards games much more surprising. I don’t have a problem with differing opinions (and I haven’t played more than maybe 10 minutes of DAO yet), but the constant bitching about how much any given popular game (or developer, or publisher, or Steam ) sucks gets a little old. I don’t want to go so far as to tell people not to express their opinions, especially since from time to time some of the more negative folks’ posts turn out to be pretty useful and interesting, but is it really so unreasonable for folks to be tired of wading through several complaint posts on every fucking thread? I don’t care for most of the indie games posted about here, but I don’t feel the need to complain about them every time someone posts about it. I think that there’s some kind of critical balance to be found here between offering reasonable dissenting opinions and just being tiresome, and I think that the RPS community as a whole hasn’t found that yet, at least when it comes to popular mainstream games.

    • Lobotomist says:

      When i said Forgotten Realms i was referring to games like Baldurs Gate. Good thing about FR although its generic mish mash , you can place almost anything in it. And it has real good “old school adventure feel”

      DAO tries very hard to be “modern” but ends up average and bland.

      People say “I am enjoying the game” , “Having fun”

      Yes. Its fun game because its old school tactical RPG mechanic. But its hugely over rated – just as Oblivion was.(When Oblivion came out it received the same praise. Both from players and press. Today is considered to be example for bad rpg design.)

  13. panik says:

    My problem with the game is it was just too easy.
    Nightmare was not nightmarish at all…..it was easy peasy lemon squeezy.
    I will try again some day without the use of mages.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      what the

    • Boldoran says:

      If you optimize your party composition and the characters the game is indeed easy. There is a lot of CC available and some of it is just bordering overpowered (Cone of Cold comes to mind). If you really want to you can pretty much fight one enemy at the time and focus him down very fast.

    • JKjoker says:

      i agree, the game is painfully easy once you get the “trick” (and even easier if you have the dlc/collectors ed items), the fact that so many are having problems is more because the skill/spell descriptions and overall ruleset suck than difficulty, the only “challenge” the game can throw at you is bigger numbers once you know how to deal with them (like mass paralyze or cone of cold) you can steamroll though them

    • Dean says:

      Also try using brain rubbers to delete everything you read before you started playing and while you were playing on the Dragon Age forums and wiki, then play through it.

      Because DA doesn’t give enough info for you to figure out the really optimal builds and progressions on your own without a lot of trial and error. Some people did it anyway, posted all the best spells and talents on the intertubes, then other people copy them and moan the game is too easy.

      Honestly, you can’t be the power-gaming min-maxer and expect a challenge too. Otherwise the other 99% of us are screwed.

  14. Mac says:

    Gonna start again with an Elf Mage as main this time … gonna try for 2 mages and 2 warriors in group this time, and use one mage as healer. Can’t be bothered with looting all chests again in any case.

  15. Premium User Badge

    abhishek says:

    I’m in something of a conundrum regarding this DLC. While playing the game, and after passing Ostagar, the first time I heard about the possibility of returning there I was quite interested. However, since then I have completed the game, defeated the Archdemon and done pretty much everything there is to do… To me now, there is little value to getting King Cailan’s armor or new talents/skills or whatever small bonuses they add on to the actual story of the DLC itself.

    A small break here to explain my position on Warden’s Keep, which I bought. The quest lasted me almost exactly 1 hour, and for the price I wouldn’t have said it was worth it (even though I actually enjoyed the story of Sophia Dryden). It was the small additions that made the price of Warden’s Keep tolerable for me… the party stash (which should have been in the game in the first place, and yes I know it was modded in soon after release), the blacksmith who made Starfang, the new abilities and of course, the new gear (Warden Commander set, mage items etc).

    Now coming back to Return to Ostagar, none of these additional perks to buying the DLC will mean much to me, and thus it’s only value lies in the story and amount of gameplay it will offer. A Bioware developer has mentioned that if he rushes through everything, he can complete it in 15-20 minutes. For a first time experience, it will obviously be longer, but how much longer?

    I find myself in a strange position where something I was actually anticipating while actually playing the game has now lost much of it’s appeal after I’ve finished it. Does anyone else feel this way?

  16. Vinraith says:

    If Ostagar is of similar scale to Warden’s Keep it’s an easy pass (just like Warden’s Keep was), but I quite like the prospects of a real expansion pack with 15-20 hours of content. THAT I’ll buy.

    • Pace says:

      I can’t tell you how many times I used fireball on that Levi Dryden motherfucker in my camp. He just wouldn’t go away.

      (Annoying salesmanship aside, this is the first game I’d be quite interested in buying (worthwhile) DLC for.)

    • Premium User Badge

      Carra says:

      Wardens keep kept me busy for about an hour, two hours tops.

      I’ll pass it if it only gives one hour for my $5.

    • Choca says:

      Exactly. Give me 15 to 20 hours of new stuff to do and I’ll gladly pay 20 to 30 bucks for it, but 30 minutes of dungeon bashing with a dose of extra overpowered items isn’t worth 5 bucks to me.

  17. Mashakosha says:

    I’m sad to say it, but Dragon Age can not possible take another hour from me. I am sick and tired of this memory leak or whatever it is that’s causing the STUPID loading times. Until they fix that, I can’t bring myself to play it.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s an amazing game and I want to play it more. I just can not physically do it. Waiting 5-10 minutes between areas is a joke and I just can’t concentrate on such a choppy game.

  18. Premium User Badge

    Carra says:

    I’d better let the game take up its 15 gigs for a bit longer then.

  19. Dean says:

    Of course, the reason a 2-hour quest for £3.10 seems overpriced is that Bioware went and put in about 100 hours of content for £30 in the original release. Against that it’s a rip-off. Against the 8 hours it takes to play through Modern Warfare 2 it’s a bargain.

    Interesting that the Mass Effect DLC never got such a bad rap (there were complaints, but not like this). They were of similar length and price, the difference being that Mass Effect itself was tiny compared to Dragon Age.
    (For what it’s worth, on 68 hours and finally gathered all the armies and heading towards the endgame).

    • Psychopomp says:

      The pc version got the first DLC for free

    • invisiblejesus says:

      And the second was widely thought of as crap, I only know one guy who actually bought it and another who got it free through some promo thing. Neither were terribly impressed, and I haven’t seen any positive reviews of it.

  20. Danarchist says:

    I loved the game but didnt buy any of the DLC. Myself I feel like DLC a few months after release is great, DLC available at release is greedy and content that SHOULD have been in the game.
    As for story, I think I really enjoyed it more as I didnt play a good guy or bad guy but made decisions based on how I thought my “character” would have responded in the real world. The end result was what I think the game was shooting for. Making seriously immoral calls for the greater good.

    Whenever I read a fellow forum monkey degrading a game because they felt it lacked something, or was like something else I keep thinking back to the original baldurs gate. I didn’t play it for a couple years because one of my favorite forums at the time was full of siskel and eberts saying the story sucked. I would really like to go Jay and Silent Bob on them now! (which btw siskel and ebert hated….) I think if you dont like it doesn’t mean it sucks, it just didn’t relate to you at all. I will go on the record as saying I have never managed to make it more than 3 hours into The Witcher but I absolutely LOVE Mass Effects story. Maybe it is because allot of the story and choices I made as “sheppard” were the same ones I was faced with in the desert.

  21. Saul says:

    The game’s already too big. I enjoyed the first half of the (maybe a bit more), but I just burned out on the repetitive and not-very-fun combat. MINOR SPOILER I’ve recruited all the armies bar Dwarves, and I left the game somewhere early in that section, with barely any interest in returning. I’d like to see the ending, but I know that there are many hours of grinding to go before I get there, so I doubt I’ll return.

  22. Richard Beer says:

    Dragon Age was immensely enjoyable but the story and the world are completely derivative and unoriginal. Where it succeeds is with its characters.

    I cared about Alistair on my play-through. He was my bulwark in combat and I was his when he was all self-doubt and stuff (at least in role-playing terms. He’s not a real person, see!).

    Anyway, I suppose the point is that DESPITE being an unoriginal, cliched story about good vs evil, it is a great, immersive game that is beautifully written. The writers knew what they were doing with the characters and the world, and they brought it to life in a contemporary and amusing way. You don’t have hidden tribes living deep in something called the Brazilian Rainforest – sorry, Brecilian forest – unless you’re quite self-aware about the parallels you’re creating or the conventions you’re paying homage too.

  23. Dean says:

    DLC delayed, expansion confirmed.
    Although at $40 for 15 hours it’s also fairly expensive, comparatively.

    • Mac says:

      Especially when a Developers 15 hours really means ~10 hours in reality

  24. Dean says:

    Incidently, when people say the plot and world of Dragon Age is derivative – derivative of what exactly? These are not Tolkien’s Elves and Dwarves. The only game with a similar setting (clashing fantasy cultures, racism, etc) is The Witcher.

    Now if you’re talking books… yes the world is a hodge-podge of ideas from numerous fantasy authors. But they are ideas that have never been done in a game before.

    It’s like if a game came out set in a prison, a freeform living world where you had to plan an escape, working other inmates socially, not alerting the guards, etc. Entirely derivative of Shawshank, Prison Break, Oz and a dozen other things. But it’d still be awesome and new in games (Riddick aside).

    • Lobotomist says:

      For me it was to much derivative of real world history and events. All point of Fantasy is to be set : “Long time ago in a land far far away”

      Making elves similar to Jews , Andraste similar to Jesus – it just rings to close home. To familiar.

      It just seems like Bioware writers were trying to hard to make it modern , and forgot along the way why people love to read (or play) fantasy
      -

      True , Witcher does pull same thing off. But Witcher is more Steam Punk than High Fantasy (with all genetic engineering and similar sci-fi elements)

    • Umpaidh says:

      @Lobotomist
      So because you can draw parallels to real life it sucks as fantasy?
      I will go burn all my Terry Pratchett then, cheers for letting me know.

  25. Mac says:

    All I want is a Tab toggle option – pain in the ass to hold it down most of the time !

  26. Maroussia says:

    It will be great to watch We Will Rock You, i have bought tickets from
    http://ticketfront.com/event/We_Will_Rock_You-tickets looking forward to it.