Eurogamer: Dragon Age Awakening Review

By John Walker on March 16th, 2010 at 6:12 pm.

Never poke an angry Dalish Elf.

Dragon Age: Awakening is out today in the US, and Friday in the UK, because the European internet is three days slower or something (PLEASE STOP DOING THIS). And it’s fantastically good. To find out more you can use either or both eyes to read my review of the 25 hour expansion over on Eurogamer. You may be assured it contains passages that look like this:

Let’s remove any confusion from the start. Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening is not another piece of crappy DLC following the dismal inclusions we’ve seen since the BioWare RPG’s release last November. This expansion is 25 hours of full-scale new content, essentially an entire new game, that picks up the story however you may have left it. It has a new setting, a (mostly) new crew of companions, new abilities, skills, spells and talents, and most importantly, a re-imagined approach that’s appropriate to a shorter format while still achieving the necessary sense of scale.

Then carry on here.

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138 Comments »

  1. Vinraith says:

    Sold. Then again, I think DA is the best Bioware RPG in a long, long time so I’m an easy sell. I always appreciate an RPG expansion that adds new options back into the original game.

  2. Dominic White says:

    Meanwhile, Bioware are also releasing a sizeable free addon for Mass Effect 2, adding a new hovertank (that looks a lot like the ones from the Battlezone FPS/RTS series) and five missions to drive it through, thus setting me up for my planned New Game+ playthrough.

    Bioware are trying to kill me, or at least devour every last second of my free time.

    • Andrew Dunn says:

      Yep, it’s nuts. Bioware have shot right up to the top of my Favourite Developers list, and I didn’t even know I had such a list.

      You’ve convinced me to buy Awakening there, John.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Andrew Dunn

      I know how you feel. Hell, I was actively indiffrent to Bioware for a long while, as I didn’t really care for KOTOR (I’m going to have to retry it, though) and Jade Empire. Nevertheless, Dragon Age is the best thing they’ve done in ages, and while I have my reservations about the design of ME2 I can’t deny that both ME games are quite good as well. In the span of a few months, they’ve gone from a developer I paid little attention to to one of my favorites.

    • Dominic White says:

      I thought Bioware last peaked with the Baldur’s Gate trilogy (or Duology and a half), and have been kinda just meandering along – Jade Empire, KOTOR, ME1, etc – nothing really held my interest until just recently. Dragon Age and ME2 are my two favourite games from them, now.

    • Pace says:

      Perhaps being bought by EA gave them the resources to do everything they wanted?

      (cheers John, I guess I’ll have to be buying this now..)

    • Bonedwarf says:

      No love for the wonderful Neverwinter Nights? (The first one.)

    • dancingcrab says:

      Neverwinter Nights is a stinking pile.

      I said it.

    • Klaus says:

      I enjoy Neverwinter Nights in a very shallow manner. I play it expecting nothing and I’m not really disappointed. I enjoyed the expansions a great deal though. Mephistopheles is my servant. <3

    • Dominic White says:

      Holy shit, how did I forget Neverwinter Nights? That thing stayed installed on my PC for like five years straight. The out-of-the-box campaign was dull, but every preview I’d seen leading up to release had repeated endlessly that it wasn’t Baldur’s Gate 3 – it was a D&D toolkit.

      And wow, what a toolkit it was. I’ve had some of my best multiplayer moments EVER in properly DM’d games of NWN online. If the DM was halfway prepared, and was fast on the draw, they could pretty much create anything on the fly. Better than tabletop D&D in some cases.

      A lot of the singleplayer scenarios made by other users were fantastic. Planescape: Torment level greatness, with interesting characters, cool environments, actually intelligent puzzles and even some nice voicework in some of them.

      Amazing game. I guess forgetting about it when thinking about Bioware means that I just file it away in its own seperate mindspace, where the special things go, like the early days of Ultima Online, and Planetside when it had a community worth a damn.

    • Dominic White says:

      Seriously, if you never played NWN online, you never played NWN. Multiplayer with a DM was literally how it was designed to be played from the ground up. Everything is geared towards it. Saying it’s a bad game if you only ever played the campaign is a bit like writing off Battlefield 2 because you played against the bots a couple of times.

      My most vivid memory is somehow coming up with the bright idea of trying to negotiate with a green dragon to convince it to help fight against a demonic horde, which would undoubtedly scour the land, removing its food sources and forcing it to migrate…

      Between falling over my own logic a few times, and flubbing some diplomacy rolls, the dragon decides it would be a far better idea to cut its losses and gorge itself while the going is good, then fly off to pastures greener and meatier. By the time I and the party stumbled back to the villiage we were sworn to defend, we found most of it on fire, and most of the villagers either crispy-fried or partially chewed on.

      And THEN the demons arrive, look around, see that there’s nary a living soul to corrupt anymore and basically say ‘Fuck it’ and go home…

      Well, we saved the kingdom. Kinda. Oops.

  3. Langman says:

    I’m undecided.

    I’m in the camp that thought you overpraised the original game by quite some margin in your PCG review last year (no offence, I just didn’t get the same experience as you), so I need to weigh up the cost of this content, listen to further opinion and work out if it’s really worth it for me.

    I’m glad it actually has some decent length for DLC though. That’s certainly one thing it has going for it.

  4. Hex says:

    PSA: Steam currently has 33% off on Dragon Age: Origins.

    • Colthor says:

      @Hex

      PSA Caveat: In the UK it’s still a fiver cheaper to buy it from Amazon or Play than from Steam.

    • Clovis says:

      If one hasn’t bought D:AO yet, does it make sense to get both now or to play through D:AO first? Does the expansion actually affect anything in the original?

    • sebmojo says:

      Play DA: O it’s a stunning game, if you’re at all fond of Baldur’s Gatey RPGs. Close to my favourite game ever, surpassed only by (ironically) ME2.

      One caveat – play them on PC. It’s not a great console game by all accounts.

  5. Dreamhacker says:

    I agree! SIMULTANEOUS US-EURO RELEASES NOW!

    • Jad says:

      Basically Europe needs to get its retail stores to stock new releases on Tuesday like the United States, or the United States needs to push back its releases to Friday. I don’t care which way it goes, but someone needs to get on that. Obama, Brown, Sarkozy, et al to call high-level talks?

    • jsutcliffe says:

      Easier solution: When the UK (and Europe) switches to British Summer Time or the European equivalent, instead of changing the clocks by an hour, change them by 3-4 days. Tuesday in the States = Friday in Europe. Then nobody has to mess with retail schedules.

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      Flimgoblin says:

      Or we release games on the Friday, then the states can release them the following Tuesday, no?

    • Corporate Dog says:

      @Flimgoblin: Our health care system is a shambles. Don’t take away the last distraction we have, while we wait for the insurance company to give us a thumbs up or a thumbs down on a new spleen.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Carra says:

    I’m glad to see that it has dragons.

  7. Choca says:

    Before I star my post I will state that I mean no offense at all.

    But the fact is that I can’t even begin to comprehend how someone can think Awakening deserves a 9 out of 10.

    I’ve spent around 200 hours in vanilla Dragon Age and this expansion doesn’t deserve the same amount of praise as the original game in my opinion. It’s not horrible, because the core Dragon Age mechanics are still there, but I found it extremely disappointing.

    The “De’Arnise reloaded” castle management is poor (especially compared to Neverwinter Nights 2′s take on the same tribute), the game’s architecture could be sum up to “go to the three zone and kill everyone then get back to your castle to unlock the next three zones”, and you could complete it without listening to any of the dialogue or cut-scenes because you just can’t go the wrong way.

    The game also suffers from “overpowered syndrome”, your character being so powerful by the end that you simply steamroll everything, and doesn’t offer any challenge to a seasoned player (I only reloaded once on my second playtrough – which only took about 7 hours btw – and it was against the final boss).

    The only things I liked were the new group members, definately better than the original crew in my opinion, and the plot, which was a bit less “straightforward” than the “army of darkness with huge dragon on top” of the original game.

    So yeah, I know disagreements with reviews are bound to happen, but I would still recommend some caution to people who aren’t sure about buying this.

    • Choca says:

      Oh yeah and I forgot : the fact that a grocer sells the Blood Mage unlock manual for about 8 sovereigns in Amaranthine’s marketplace when it took hours to unlock it in the original game just seems hilarious to me.

    • Wulf says:

      The primary thing I’ve noticed with John’s reviews is basically that he’s got some great character attributes that might not be always so beneficial for games reviews; he’s a very generous and charitable soul, he’s willing to see the best in things, and he’s not that critical. That’s what I get from him as a person, mostly from his posts here, and truth be told I do like that about him. I have to admit some amusement at some point because I remember a recent post about Walker-malice, and how such a thing simply couldn’t exist. That’s quite true. He’s a better person than most of us.

      And frankly, given his mindset, the reviews of Dragon Age: Origins and Awakening make much more sense, because he looks at the better aspects of the game and feels less dragged down by the parts that annoyed me, whereas in my case, I — like you — tend to find that the negative aspects do tarnish my appreciation of the game.

      At the end of the day, you said something insightful there: It all is about experiences, and we’re not all going to have the same experience because we’re all different people, all we can do is write about the experience we had. This, again, though is why I feel that attaching an objective score to a review (rather than just a thumbs up/down) is silly, but that has nothing at all to do with John and more to do with a broken review system that I’ve always taken umbrage with.

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      skalpadda says:

      To Wulf, Choca:
      In John’s defence, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being too nice or just seeing the best in things, I’ve seen him (and heard on the podcasts) absolutely trash things he didn’t like, but if you read his other writings you’ll see he cares a lot about stories in games and the stories and characters were what he kept coming back to again and again in his original Dragon Age review so it’s understandable that he adored the hell out of it (I did too although I don’t think I’d give it a 10/10). I guess the point being different reviewers will look at different things in games which is why I really love that RPS does the occasional 4-way review where John judges the story, Jim the spaceships and radioactivity, Alec the cats and funny hats and Kieron the potential for deviant behaviour. :)

    • Dean says:

      Yeah lets not forget when John single-handedly killed the Adventure genre. After it was dead. By giving a bad review to a bad game. I read it on a forum.

  8. Koozer says:

    Damn you final year of university getting in the way of all this game playing malarkey.

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      Lambchops says:

      I feel your pain. Totally going on a game playing blowout when my exams are done with.

  9. Aganazer says:

    Considering that +2 Score that all Bioware games get by default, I’ll consider this 7/10 to be a mediocre release.

    • ExplosiveCoot says:

      So the highest possible score for a Bioware title would be 8/10 on your scale?

    • Bonedwarf says:

      Why is 8 out of 10 so low? I get sick of overhyped reviews. The amount of games I seem to see on Metacritic where someone has given games 10/10, 100% etc…

      Bioware should be smacked down for their DLC whoring if nothing else.

    • Starky says:

      @Bone Dwarf

      You realize right that almost all of those “100″ scores in metacritic are because the site reviewing them operates a 5 stars system right?
      So when something gets 5/5 stars, that as far as metacritic cares is a 100.
      That site that gives it 10/10 – 100

      Does Half-life 2 deserve 100/100? Maybe not, but it does deserve 10/10 because it is closer to a 10 than it is a 9.
      And you can be very sure it is much closer to a 5 than a 4.

      Also, to the above posted and his theory of +2 for bioware, well that is quite probably the silliest thing I’ve read on RPS in a while.
      But hey, numbered scores for subjective like or dislike of a game is a stupid practice anyway, so you adjust those numbers however you like.

      My personal scale goes all the way up to 11

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      drewski says:

      Mine goes up to 23. Why 23? It’s a prime number. What difference does that make? None.

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    James G says:

    Ordered.

    In the ME2 DA:O showdown, ME2 won hands down, dropping in to my top games of all time list and genuinely surprising me. Had you asked me six months ago which game I’d be championing, DA:O would have been my guess.

    But DA:O wasn’t a bad game, although I’d probably knock 10% off John’s score for my purely subjective rating. Mechanistically it was excellent, and the general approach was competent enough, it just lacked the fairy dust that means a game truly clicks. Who knows, this may have that fairy dust. (Fairy dust being entirely subjective and hard to predict. Yet its easily capable of adding 30% to a subjective score. Strange stuff.)

    Oh, and I hope you’ll excuse me for not reading the review. My media blackout on ME2 worked well, and I’ve had a similar thing going for Awakenings, pretty much by accident. I figure it would be silly to break it at the last moment.

    • Corporate Dog says:

      There is no fairy dust in DA:O.

      You’ll get sprinkled with blood and gizzards, and you’ll LIKE IT!

    • FunkyBadger says:

      I restarted a game of DA:O just recently – and when its good, its brilliant. The origin and battle of Ostagar are superb, utterly spellbinding. The ending is brilliant and there are pockets of brilliance in-between (like basically anything Alisdair or Zev says) but there’s so much “other” stuff… if they could have cut down the running time, to something a touch more sane, like maybe 30-40 hours, but kept all the genius you’d be talking about one of the best ever…

      Mordin Singing >> Leilani (sp?) Singing.

    • Corporate Dog says:

      @FunkyBadger:

      “Mordin Singing >> Leilani (sp?) Singing.”

      Heh. It’s the difference between actual laughter for a few minutes, and “Oh, wow. This song goes on forever. Plus I already hate it, since I hear it all the time at the start menu. I think I’ll go get a snack. What? She’s still singing? Jesus. It’s like Enya showed up uninvited.”

    • karthik says:

      I had a media blackout on ME2 as well, and it worked wonders! WONDERS!
      ME2 was full of surprises and tension.
      The only trailers I saw were those detailing the playable classes, because I had to make a decision.

      I have had a media blackout on DA:O ever since it was claimed to be a spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate. Dunno when I’ll get to play it; now I need to add Awakenings to the Blacklist. Damn.

  11. Kits says:

    Should have spent today studying for an exam on friday, but ended up playing this instead. Went all the way through in one sitting..took me about 11-12 hours.
    Was really good fun. I did run into a few…inconsistencies, the main one being I carried on with my character from the main game..despite her having died, but nothing that detracted from it in general.

  12. jsutcliffe says:

    Arg! How can people like Alistair and Zevran? I gave Zevran the boot as soon as I was able, and though I agonised over killing Alistair or letting him live, I was glad to note at the end that by letting him live and renounce any claim to the throne I had left him a Broken Man™. Ha!

    I would rather have the traditional Bioware blandmasters (Ashley, Kaidan, Carth) than those horrible, horrible people. Ohgren was a twit too, and Morrigan needed to take her weird nose shadow and bad attitude on the road. Worst collection of characters in a Bioware game ever.

    I think I only genuinely liked Leliana and Sten, though Loghain was an interesting addition to the team — his argument against bedding Morrigan was heartfelt enough to make me reconsider that particular meanness. I would have made Alistair do it.

    • sebmojo says:

      You are wrong, but we are merciful. Go. And take your limbs with you.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      You had me going up until the point you said you liked Leilani.

      Heh, nice one.

    • Corporate Dog says:

      Well, Zevran turned on me, so I never really got a chance to know him, apart from his leather fetish and flexible sexuality.

      Loghain ended up as a shishkabob.

      Allistair’s a fun character to have around, so long as he’s not whining about his kingly duties. His dialogue is great.

      And while I hated Leliana at first, I later decided that I’d rather have my character sleep with her than with Witchy McBloodMagic. Something in my Catholic upbringing, I suppose. Alas, my decision was made way too late in the game, and my character ended up celibate.

    • jsutcliffe says:

      @FunkyBadger

      Leliana was at least polite. You have to admit that much.

    • Andrew Dunn says:

      I really liked Alistair. I had a buddy-movie thing going with him, we’d take the piss out of each other and then slaughter the forces of evil.

      Garrus fulfils a similar role in Mass Effect but Alistair is even more self-deprecating.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      jsutcliffe:

      I just hated Leilani’s introduction – just as my dwarf commoner was about to finish off a couple of Loghain’s men who’d tried to kill him:
      L: ‘Ello! Pleeze do not kill zeese men!
      Me: Eh? Who’re you?
      L: I ‘elped you in ze fight you just ‘ad.
      Me: Err, you shot one arrow before I beat them up. Anyway, buggerof, they’re dead.
      *kills men*
      L: Zo, can I join you now?
      Me: Eh? What?
      L: I ‘ave seen ze vision, pleeze let me join…

      I only repented because there were lots of boxes scattered the town and I couldn’t pick locks.

      And lets not get into her self-righteous strop when she finds out I’ve become a Ravager…

    • jsutcliffe says:

      @FunkyBadger

      I think your Allo Allo plugin might be harming your enjoyment there. ;)

    • Klaus says:

      >:(

      Shush you! Alistair is awesome! But Sten is great too.

      Morrigan; Eh… her constant bitching about the littlest things annoys me, when she isn’t doing the aforementioned, I tend to like her. I agree on most of what she says regarding the game world. From what I’ve seen of Loghain, he is going to die every time and I’m sad that I can’t execute his daughter.

      Aside for Anora (who isn’t a companion) I don’t strongly dislike anyone.

    • Klaus says:

      It sounds like you’ve recruited Pepe La Pew. Which would be great, I’d romance him.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      I tried to have a quiet word with Zevran to see if he’d assassinate Anora. No dice, unfortunately.

    • Klaus says:

      And that’s a shame. Though it occurs to me she is needed as a backup monarch in case you make Alistair king and he goes off to slay the archdemon.

      Which is why Ferelden should screw policy and make my mage the new king, allowing a new age magical tyranny.

    • TCM says:

      Couldn’t you just move to Tevinter, or something?

    • Klaus says:

      I like the Mabari.

    • Wulf says:

      @jsutcliffe

      I agree, I strongly disliked the same characters you did, and for much the same reasons. I also agree that Leilana was at least polite.

      Annnd that’s really all I want to say… because I fear the Zealous Fan Rage™. Zealous Fan Rage™ which usually involves torches and pitchforks. At this point, I think that some large publisher or other should actually trademark Zealous Fan Rage™ as a valid marketing tactic, since it works so well at totally shutting down any and all dissenters by the sole merit of being legion. Zealous Fans are Tyranids. x.x

      /shudder

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    Hanban says:

    Oh man, looking forward to this! Gosh darnit, I shouldn’t have wasted my money on Final Fantasy XIII! It’s been a disappointment!

  14. Darren says:

    I will say the same thing that I have always said. Not just on forums but also to mates.
    In Bioware we trust.

    It is great to have faith in a company and then have it repaid in full. This and Mass Effect 2 DLC feeds. I tell ya what, I have never spent better money….well other than when me and the wife got married of course :D

  15. Jimbo says:

    *Dragon Age SPOILERS*

    Does anybody know if it’s possible to import Dead Warden’s choices and then play as New Warden?

    I don’t want to retcon my old character, but I don’t want to play from whatever the default settings are either.

    Thanks

    • Pace says:

      I wonder if any of the choices matter? It’s a new cast and new location, so they may not. I noticed there was no mention of whether or not Morrigan makes an appearance. Didn’t they say she’d be back? Seemed to be hinted at.

    • Ian says:

      @ Jimbo: I’m waiting for this to be confirmed too, but last I saw they basically said there was some technical issue that stopped them allowing this. So the last I saw was if you try to use a save with a character who made the sacrifice then you play the Orlesian Warden and your choices in DA:O never happened.

      If that’s definitely the case I’ll be going back and changing my Last Battle decision methinks, as much as it’ll annoy me to do so.

    • Bobsy says:

      I would say that you definately could…

      …except we’ve been burned before, with ME2′s insistence to default your choices if you hadn’t imported a save game. So we’ll see.

    • Klaus says:

      ME2. I felt like they were punishing the players who didn’t import.

      Left the Council to die? Chose Udina? Bleh.

      Feels like Default Shepard was very expedient.

    • Kits says:

      I played as my dead warden. The game just seems to pretend your sacrifice never happened. It doesn’t give any specifics as to what happened instead, but rather avoids the subject entirely. You’re the hero of Ferelden, and that’s about it. There are a couple of minor references to choices in the main game, but nothing you’ll be terribly sorry to miss if you just go with a new character, I wouldn’t think.

      Ohgren mentioned my dog, Loghain showed up to deliver some items and in the ending there was mention that my should-be-dead character went off to adventure with her love interest from the main game.

    • Psychopomp says:

      “I played as my dead warden. The game just seems to pretend your sacrifice never happened.”

      And with that, any interest I had in Awakening is gone. One of the ballsiest player choices I’ve ever seen in a game, and they pretend it didn’t happen.

    • Klaus says:

      Dragon Age Awakening FAQ

      2.3 – If my PC died at the end of Dragon Age: Origins how are they alive in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening? (Back to top)

      If a player wants to, they can import their “Dead Warden” into Awakening and play as them. For the story it’s assumed that they didn’t make the ultimate sacrifice, instead somehow survived. A player would start as the same level with the same gear as their “Dead Warden”. Essentially, if a player doesn’t have a problem hand-waiving the story in this regard – neither do we.

      I have to say I agree with Bioware.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Klaus

      Indeed, I have no problem with them giving players that option, especially considering that many people might not have made that particular choice if they’d known an expansion was coming. Personally, it’s not something I’d do, simply because it does “cheapen” the whole thing, but if others want to do it that’s no concern of mine.

      Hell, if it hadn’t been for this discussion it honestly wouldn’t ever have occurred to me to TRY and import a dead Warden into the expansion.

    • TCM says:

      You’re not going to be able to import Dead Shepard from ME2 into ME3, I am trying to figure out why people thought DA would be any different in that regard.

      Granted, it is a cop out – but ask yourself if DA2 will allow such a thing. Possible? Possibly.

      Or something.

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      HermitUK says:

      The reason I, and I suspect many others want to, is because that was my character’s story. It seemed to me that Orlesian Warden is essentially a replacement for my character, but just because I’m dead doesn’t mean my decisions don’t count. They say it’s “technically difficult” to keep your choices with a new main character, but that basically boils down to a decision not to put in extra effort (in terms of scripting, voice acting, and so on) to put it together. Maybe for only a small number of players, it’s not worth it. But even playing as the new bloke, I’d like to see how my death has effected Alister. I’d like to see how my choices throughout Ferelden changed things. Instead you’re basically stuck with whatever Bioware picked.

      If they already knew that Morrigan’s ending was the canon one, I wish they’d said something before. As it stands now, this would have been a day 1 purchase, but will now need to wait until I go back and replay the end stages of the original game.

    • Jimbo says:

      @TCM

      “You’re not going to be able to import Dead Shepard from ME2 into ME3, I am trying to figure out why people thought DA would be any different in that regard.”

      Let me try and explain then:

      *The Player Character dying is far more likely in Dragon Age than it is in ME2.
      *They have already created a brand new character to take the place of Dead Warden.
      *The PC is voiced in ME, meaning it is far more work to switch the PC character. That isn’t the case here – as evidenced by the option to play as the new guy.

      Given that people have the option of importing their existing character and their choices, it seems weird that you can’t import your old choices and then play as the new guy. The identity of the monarch seems like kind of a big deal for example.

      I’m fine with people retconning their ‘dead’ character if they want, but for those of us who chose the sacrifice ending – and I imagine there are a lot of us – it seems like the only alternative available is to retcon the entire universe. If so, this hardly seems up to Bioware’s recent standards.

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      HermitUK says:

      Jimbo is spot on. I chose not to take Morrigan’s option, since I’m frankly concerned what she’d do with her mother’s book of Spells for Possessing Kids and a god damn evil God trapped inside a small human child.

      I fail to see why making this choice renders all my decisions and actions moot, and why Bioware essentially think that’s the story over as far as I’m concerned. If the option is there to import, why not allow for importing decisions? At a guess, it’s due to the fact that it would have needed another couple of months of development time.

  16. dadioflex says:

    Hmm. Okay. A game I tried to like, honestly attempted to encompass, but that hugged me in an awkward embrace before spinning me away to other, better things… THAT has an expansion that is worth… sorry. Worthy?

    Ridiculous.

    Positive reviews? Baffling. For the original, and doubly so for the expansion. Making games must be easier than everyone thinks. Apparently the same shit gets bought time after time and the only thing that changes is the consistency. The taste remains the same.

  17. Casimir's Blake says:

    Good writing, acting, some fairly interesting characters and a solid combat system…

    …in a completely and utterly generic fantasy world with little to distinguish it from other western fantasy creations.

    I haven’t played Awakening yet, obviously, but having stopped with Origins after 20 hours and no end of it in sight (!!) and feel absolutely no compulsion to continue playing, I’m left torn. Bioware released only a little while ago one of the very best games I’ve had the good fortune to play, Mass Effect 2, and yet despite all the obvious talent and creativity that has gone into Dragon Age, it leaves me bored.

    Anyone else?

    • TCM says:

      It’s honestly not as generic as it first appears. Codex entries go a long way, there, as do some of the smaller sidequests.

      Not to say it isn’t generic, but it’s difficult to deviate much from western fantasy without losing the whole “high fantasy” feel, or appearing to go for novelty of setting over decent writing (Morrowind).

      But then again, I really dislike the majority of Western Fantasy, so I barely read it. I’ve read Tolkein, and a few other authors, but that’s about it.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      It is too long, so the genius bits are so spread out it dillutes the feeling a bit. But there is genius in there.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this game for those looking for such a game. Because all the other alternatives I can think of are even worse. Bethesda? Hah, don’t make me laugh.

    • Wulf says:

      That’s simply not true. If someone hadn’t played that many recent RPGs but wanted more, there are quite a number to choose from which are fairly competent. Avernum VI for one, GeneForge 5 for another, and then there’s Eschalon which was pretty good as well, so there are definitely competent old-school RPGs still around, some of which are better examples of faithfulness to the aforementioned old-school, too.

    • Corporate Dog says:

      TCM’s got the right of it.

      I mean, if you’re really jaded, there’s nothing new under the sun. Everything’s a Tolkien pastiche.

      But I kinda dug the real-world, historical/cultural flavorings they mixed in with it. I also thought the way magic worked in this setting (and how it’s kept on a short leash) was particularly unique.

      But then, I don’t exactly devour fantasy novels, so they could be ripping off the author of ‘The Dragonspire Codex, Volume 19: War of the Wizardspawn’ and I wouldn’t be any the wiser.

  18. TCM says:

    First impression of Awakening certainly isn’t as strong as Dragon Age’s first impressions, but I like it just the same. Well, I guess we’ll see.

    (My mind is actually boggled at the number of people in this thread who dislike the original. And there’s not a lot. I guess that probably says something.)

    I mean, everyone has their own tastes, I guess. Me, I racked up 130 hours on Dragon Age in the first week or two, and I still continue to play it. I constantly find something new, a bit of dialogue here, an item or miniquest there, and I thought my first run was pretty well 100% complete.

    • Langman says:

      I can’t say I’ve seen many saying they really ‘dislike’ the original.

      It’s more a case of simply not appreciating it as the classic some say it is. The game has a number of issues, as well as strengths. It comes down to how your overall view of the game is tarnished by those issues.

      For me, it kind of evened up resulting in a fairly decent but flawed 80%-worthy RPG. I certainly wouldn’t say I disliked it.

    • TCM says:

      Metaphorically, I am made of Hyperbole.

    • Wulf says:

      I didn’t like the story Dragon Age was trying to tell, and I didn’t like how it was trying to tell it. I won’t begrudge the game its mechanical problems because every game has those, even games I love, and those have been fixed in past games by mods just as they’ll be fixed in Dragon Age by mods.

      For me though, I felt like a foreigner in Bastard Land, all the good things I wanted to do I simply couldn’t. I felt that my choices were Bastard, Bastard, Bastard, Bigger Bastard, Slightly Less Bastardly, and all resulted in Bastard. This is why I prefer Mass Effect, really, because I feel like I can pick a good choice and it’ll have a visible impact, so I really do prefer Mass Effect.

      I don’t know whether anyone’s going to understand that, but hey, I did really like Mass Effect 2, even more as I continued to play it. There were undertones of ‘Bastard’ in Mass Effect 2 as well, but I found them tolerable because it was broken up by moments where I could be myself. But overall, I prefer a game where Bastard, Average Guy, Philosopher, Realist, Idealist, Pragmatist, or whatever else is my choice.

      With Dragon Age, I felt like the game was playing me, rather than I was playing the game.

    • Corporate Dog says:

      @Wulf: Really? I’m the RPG Boy Scout. My characters are all shining beacons of humanity, whose bowel movements smell of roses and heroism.

      Being good in Dragon Age was a pain in the ass, but it was certainly possible. Most of the “Where are They Now?” story fragments that played after my victory, put the world on much better footing than it was in the beginning. The only quasi-bastardly thing I did throughout the entire game, was the one thing that ensured my survival at the very end.

      Even so, if you fully explore the ramifications of that decision through conversation, I’d call it more of a grey area. So as not to spoil it for others, the person who drives that decision says she’s doing it to fix something that became corrupt long ago. Even a person with bulletproof morals might find something admirable in that.

      So I guess I didn’t see what you saw. Dragon Age isn’t really a world of goodness and heroics. It’s really quite morally ambiguous. But I appreciated that there WAS still room to play the atypical good guy.

    • Rinox says:

      @ Wulf

      Interesting. I think it depends on what one expects from his game, I suppose. For my part, I played DA:O as a very pragmatic character and made some tough choices that were definitely made with the head, not the heart.

      SPOILER For example: being a dwarf commoner, I sided with Branka vs the Golems and lost Shale in the process, and put my brother-in-law Bhelen on the throne while knowing he was a bit of a bastard. The former was for the greater glory of the dwarves AND having stronger allies for the final battle with the darkspawn, which I felt weighed up against any personal morality issues I may have had, even vis-à-vis Shale who I liked. The latter was clearly personal.

      For all the morally questionable and tough decisions he took, my character came out alive and a hero to both Ferelden and the Dwarven people alike, managing to rise above his lowly casteless origins and lifting Orzammar from the rubble into a new golden age. My friend, who played mostly as a nice guy – with a mortal grudge towards with a certain NPC – died and his decisions largely didn’t change the status quo much.

      To me, that was a revelation. Was I comic book evil, cackling while eating babies? No. But I did some things that were ‘necessary’ in my eyes that worked out in the long run. Which makes sense to me. If you want to be nice all the time in an unforgiving world, you’re gonna end up having to make sacrifices and get caught in impossible situations, I think. Playing as a second character now, I don’t feel it’s impossible or hard to be nice iN DA:O – it’s just that the price will tend to be higher for you, your friends or the people around you when you make a few unlucky choices.

    • Klaus says:

      Branka; When you first encounter her it’s pretty clear that she does not respect dwarven sovereignty and is more concerned with their ‘legacy.’ I had no reason to believe that she would give me an army other than ‘game logic.’ She might have taken some unfortunate casteless and some other volunteers and just made herself “Queen of the Golems”. (which I think she does in one of the epilogues)

      I am very ambivalent about that part in the game, and it felt like I would have to be mustache twirling villain to support her. Even Morrigan – The Eternal Pragmatist – reconsidered her support for the anvil once I asked ‘Would you like to be a golem.’

      I think if the game implied that you weren’t giving a crazy person powers to make their insanity come true then I could like that part. I’m not saying it should be an optimal situation of happiness forever. The Blight is certainly important but a Golem invasion sounds completely worse.

    • Rinox says:

      Mm, good points. Maybe I had a different perspective as a dwarven commoner? Where you a dwarf?

      I realized that Branka was unstable, but I also saw the enormous potential for the resurrection of the dwarven people. I won’t say it was an easy choice, but she did deliver me my golems for the final battle so she kept to that end of the bargain. But yes, in my epilogue she tore away from Orzammar and isolated herself in the Deep Roads, holding off the forces of Bhelen with ease. Still, if she’s killed the Anvil will still be intact and ready to use for more golems (preferably volunteers).

      Funny thing: my warrior was too thick to talk the Shaper into helping the Temple missionary to set up shop in Orzammar which, I have learned now, also was a good thing because if he does install a temple it’ll create tensions between humans and dwarves. Oh and I asked Anora at the afterparty to send for human troops to be sent to Orzammar to help reclaim the Deep Roads, which was a success. :-) It’s funny that it all turned out so profitable for the dwarves, apart from the final request which was pretty obvious.

    • Rinox says:

      *looks at enormous spelling error and cries*

    • Lilliput King says:

      I didn’t really like any of the party characters for some reason, and the combat system was fairly weak.

      Apart from that, it was really pretty good. That said, it’s a personal thing but I found the roleplaying/choices (like the aforementioned dwarf decisions) to be overly moral. “Kill the child to expunge the demon or do some goddamn work for once and get the same result sans infanticide!” etc.

      I’m not really a fan of that. ME2′s choices were by and large more sophisticated, and focused on pragmatism. It was taken as a given that Shepard wants to save the universe, so what’s up to the player is how he does it.

    • Rinox says:

      @ Liliput King:

      I think that renegade extremist Shepard’s position was more ‘I’ll save the universe if I have to, simply because I’m in it too’ than anything. I don’t think he’d care about anyone else making it. I mean, what you say is true, but I just mean that there are huge differences between the noble and not-so-noble motivations of Shepard in ME2.

    • mrmud says:

      I think paragon vs renegade in mass effect 2 often (but far from always) comes down to utilitarianism vs kantism and that is something that I would like to see more of in games.

    • Klaus says:

      @Rinox

      I was a mage and I admit I wasn’t too concerned with the dwarven plight all too much, I felt bad for them but that was the extent of it. I’ve never encountered Branka as a dwarf. Even though, I think Bhelen + Golems = Bad news.

      From what I understand of the chapel situation; it’s only useful if Dagna goes to the Circle, it stops the Chantry from getting too angry when they believe that Orzammer has a cache of unregistered mages.

    • Corporate Dog says:

      @Klaus: Really, Orzammar was the only place that my Boy Scout character utterly botched. How? Let me count the ways…

      – I fought Branka and destroyed the Anvil.
      – I installed Harrowmont as king, handing him the crown that Corradin made for me.
      – I helped set up the Chantry.
      – I sent Dorna to the Tower.

      According to the coda, the Assembly never fully trusted Harrowmont. They became more isolationist under his short rule, and then when he died of a heart attack, they were back to squabbling for the throne.

      The Chantry didn’t exactly click with the Assembly either, and they took great pains to shut it down. The dwarven priest who started it all was killed by Orzammar troops during a peaceful protest, and the rest of the Chantry decided that they were going to send some of their own people to the dwarven kingdom for an inquiry of sorts.

      Really, Dorna was my only success there. But, at least in my sequence of post-game events, it appears that the Chantry is still angry, and intends to investigate. Maybe things work out differently with a King Bhelen/Dwarven Chantry/Dorna at the Tower trifecta?

    • Rinox says:

      I couldn’t tell you – but seeing as Bhelen proved to be a reformer (if a dictator) and loosened the caste system and opened up towards the surface and other races in general, I can imagine that the Chantry would have had more room to manoeuvre under his stable and open reign than in a divided, isolationist Orzimmar. Would make sense anyway.

    • Klaus says:

      I thought the priest lives under Bhelen’s rule but now I’m not so sure. If he can live it would make sense for it to be with Bhelen.

      Harrowmont is a traditionalist and he doesn’t inspire or want too much change so I imagine the Chantry would chafe under his rule.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      Wulf: one of the most interesting things I think they’re doing with the ME story is showing how making the “good” choice can be the better choice, long term. No spoilers, but my paragon Sheperd has picked up certain allies that are absolutely not going to be there for my renegade.

      All your stuff about DA is wrong, mind. Politics is choosing the least shit option, which it seems to capture well (aside from botching the theme at the Landsmeet…

    • Hidden_7 says:

      @mrmud

      I agree completely. This is one of my absolute favorite moral debates when it crops up, and it seems to be cropping up a lot more often these days in Bioware RPGs. Games like KOTOR (and understandably since it’s the Star Wars mythos) tend to have the morality come down to the classic “Save the baby” / “eat the baby” dichotomy. It’s is far more interesting to have a choice where either side could be argued for as the “right” choice. Basically, do ends justify the means or not.

      As someone with a useless degree in philosophy I love analyzing some of the more complex decisions in these games from different frameworks. ME2 had a couple really great ones, specifically I’m thinking Mordin’s loyalty mission, and the loyalty mission of the last squad member you pick up. The latter one in particular I probably sat there for a good five minutes trying to figure out which option squared better with a rights-based morality, and then, on finally deciding, was a little annoyed that they decided that was the Renegade option, though I can see that perspective. Which is why I love Dragon Age, because it presents complex decisions and then has the good graces not to tell you whether you were Right or Wrong for doing so. I thought Mass Effect 1 was pretty good at that, despite judging actions, it’s not super explicit that Paragon is “good” and Renegade is “evil”, though making a Renegade Shepard in ME2 look all evil and glowing was a bit of a step backwards in that respect.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      Not really in a state to make a complex argument, as I am full of whiskey, but I must say. I approve of the Utilitarianism versus Kantianism vibe, and of the balls Bioware has had in making those decisions difficult rather than cheap and easy. I actually found them more challenging in Dragon Age than in ME2, but that may have to do with the space opera genre feeling more natural to me. ME2 seemed more informed by mainstream action films and superhero comics, whereas Dragon Age didn’t seem to rely on the tropes of other genres as much. Someone who isn’t as into action movies and superhero comics as I am might very likely have had a different reaction.

  19. Starky says:

    So, is it just me (and this isn’t aimed at anyone specifically just a general observation)…

    Or is Dragon Age the new Fallout 3 for gamer popular counter-culture hate?

    I think it ticks all the correct boxes…
    Sold really well.
    Gained great critical acclaim.
    Gained great word of mouth, and player acclaim.
    And, has managed to stay in the media thanks to DLC/expansions.

    I predict that with coming months, and posts on RPS about Dragon Age (DLC/Expansions) the amount of dislike (to downright hate) for Dragon Age will increase.

    • TCM says:

      Dragon Age is just Mass Effect with swords.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      Good work there, TCM.

    • Clovis says:

      It’s pretty much unplayable without mods …

    • Wulf says:

      Words of wisdom: Anything that’s incredibly popular will have dissenters, not because of counter-culture hate or any pseudo-intellectual bullshit of the sort, but simply because everyone is different and enjoys different sorts of entertainment, therefore it is highly improbable (if not impossible) that everyone could enjoy the same thing. It is also true that there’s going to be people who will dismiss those who don’t (or perhaps even can’t) share the same experience of enjoyment as ‘counter-culture haters’ in order to bash the people who disagree with them whilst trying to look intellectual at the same time.

      Not aimed at anyone, just an observation of what happens whenever an incredibly popular game comes along.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      There’s “different” and there’s “so batshit crazy it couldn’t possibly be rooted in anything resembling actual experience”.

    • TCM says:

      @Wulf:

      The funny thing is, I thought completely differently. Dragon Age has more opprotunity to act out any particular role, or justify any particular action, than any CRPG in recent memory. Almost every choice has a noble option, but the game also lets you know that the “noble” and “good” option isn’t always the “best” option. The game made me feel as if I had more control in how my character acted than any game I have played.

      I dunno how you could get the impression you did, perhaps you were trying for something unrealistically optomistic that makes everyone happy forever?

    • TCM says:

      Uh, supposed to go up a ways.

    • Lilliput King says:

      There’s “different” and there’s “so batshit crazy it couldn’t possibly be rooted in anything resembling actual experience”.

      Indeed. There’s “didn’t enjoy the game” and there’s “worst thing to have ever happened.” Not difficult to distinguish between counter culture hate and genuine dislike, really. Interestingly, “not enjoyed” can slide into “worst thing” as the person with the original moderate opinion feels increasingly on the defensive amongst those who did enjoy the game.

      Personally I’m not really above this though. Oblivion is literally the worst thing to have ever happened. It was just so… ugh. Ugh.

    • Klaus says:

      Personally I’m not really above this though. Oblivion is literally the worst thing to have ever happened. It was just so… ugh. Ugh.
      Oh yes. This.

      I waited so long to play it because I didn’t have a decent computer, then when I did I was so disappointed. I still feel disappointed. At least Shivering Isles wasn’t that bad for me.

  20. TheSombreroKid says:

    bioware are the new valve!

  21. RedFred says:

    Dragon Age is turn based combat right? Like other Bioware games.

    • Andrew Dunn says:

      Yes, just like Mass Effect.

    • RedFred says:

      Oh that’s a shame. I really struggle with turn-based combat in RPGs. I just find it too damn boring.

    • Wulf says:

      I don’t think he means turn-based so much as ‘a simulation of turn-based that’s created by the AI being so horrible that you frequently have to pause the game and issue them orders, which almost turns the game into something that very closely approximates a turn-based strategy game, due to having to micromanage the every move of your party’.

      This is a problem that was fixed with mods in previous Bioware games though, so I’m expecting to see Tony or someone release a mod for Dragon Age eventually, but until that happens, having to micromanage every little thing remains true.

      Also, coincidentally, this isn’t true about Mass Effect 2 since the AI didn’t need to deal with so many variables and actually performed much, much better.

    • Andrew Dunn says:

      I was being facetious, since neither Mass Effect nor Dragon Age are turn-based in any way.

  22. Atalanta says:

    Sold, downloaded, started. I’ve played a truly embarrassing number of hours of Dragon Age anyways and loved it pretty much without reservation; even if I don’t like the expansion I’ve certainly gotten 80 bucks’ worth of entertainment from DA:O alone.

    It occurs to me — is Oghren the only party member whose survival is guaranteed to the end of the game? I’m pretty sure every other party member can either not be recruited or can be forced to leave.

    • Klaus says:

      Morrigan is guaranteed to survive. I hear she comes back at the end even should you expel her from your party, everyone else can be killed in one way or another though.

      So I guess Morrigan and Oghren are guaranteed.

      I played the beggining of Awakening just to ‘check it out.’ I died but I liked what I saw.

    • Klaus says:

      Actually I did read that you can turn Morrigan in for being an apostate, but I have never witnessed this myself.

  23. Psychopomp says:

    I loved Alistair, but that didn’t stop me from playing one last cruel joke on him. EVEN IF IT MEANS MY DEATH, YOU WILL BE KING ALISTAIR >:D

  24. G Morgan says:

    It seems, given a multitude of reports, that the average completion time for Awakenings is hovering just short of ten hours, not twenty-five. I’m not much interested in a ten-hour module with a decently weighty price tag – the presence of Oghren pushes this further into ‘hell no’ territory.

    • TCM says:

      I am attempting to figure out the dislike for Oghren. He’s a vile, drunken wretch, but darnit if he isn’t hilarious. His prison escape sequences alone are awesome. Especially when paired with Zevran.

  25. Saul says:

    Gawd, I couldn’t even finish reading the review. The idea of going back to Dragon Age makes me nauseous. It is too long, and there is too much boring combat. My party is still lost somewhere in the Dwarven catacombs, and I suspect they shall remain so forever.

  26. bleeters says:

    @ Saul

    If you found the concept of more Dragon Age so repulsive, why would you read up on it’s expansion?

    • Wulf says:

      @bleeters

      Maybe for the reason that I did: In the hope that they’d learned from past mistakes, I haven’t quite established my personal truth either way about that yet in regards to the expansion, but it does seem like the characters aren’t wretched, and that’s a start.

      The thing is, I do like some of the games developed by Bioware, Mass Effect was okay, and Mass Effect 2 fell into the realm of “Hey, this is actually surprisingly good!”, which pleased me. Plus I liked Baldur’s Gate. I just didn’t like what they were doing with Dragon Age: Origins, though, but that doesn’t mean I’d automatically hate all expansions for it, as that would be idiotic. There’s hope for redemption in everything.

  27. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    I really need to play the original.

    I really need a PC which will run the original.

    I really need money to buy a PC which will run the original.

    I really need a job.

  28. Premium User Badge

    mrpier says:

    Perhaps it’s time for me to finally finish DA:O.

  29. Mac says:

    It’s a shame that it was released to the world yesterday, yet we have to stick to the bizarre Friday release for all games in the UK

  30. Gap Gen says:

    I still think Dragon Rising would have been better with actual dragons.

  31. bleeters says:

    @Wulf

    Fair enough. I’ve generally held the belief that whilst expansion packs can (and should) introduce improvements to the game as a whole, the basic experience remains the same as the first time around. Definitive overhauls always seemed more of a sequel thing, ala Mass Effect/2. Just my perception, of course.

    Which isn’t to say don’t check up on expansions to games you had nagging reservations on, I had my fair share with Dragon Age to begin with (I’m looking at you, rigid-party-setup-why-do-I-absolutely-need-a-mage-I’d-rather-bring-my-dog), it just puzzles me when people largely despised the first game and then become suprised and disgusted when the expansion offers more of the same.

    • Wulf says:

      @bleeters

      I didn’t despise the first game, not as much as I originally thought I did, anyway. I just didn’t like how much I felt restricted by it. *points at his foreigner in Bastard Land comment.* When I play an RPG I’m just used to having more freedom than that, so having only unpleasant choices, and not being able to rehabilitate my comrades was just grating for me. But there’s no saying that things like that couldn’t be improved upon with a sequel.

      The thing is, Neverwinter Nights 2 is a prime example. The original campaign was fun, it had some really charming moments with the characters, but it never wandered outside the area of being average, it was a fun sort of average, but still typical fantasy fare. Then there was Mask of the Betrayer, which is one of the most phenomenal things I’ve ever played. So what I’m getting at is that there is hope with expansions, and hope that an RPG might get its Mask of the Betrayer story, character, & choice driven expansion.

      I’ve learned that an expansion can take just about anything and really improve on it, and Bioware has proved to me that they have the ability to make something special with Mass Effect 2, they just need to carry their Mass Effect 2 lessons learned over to Dragon Age. Does Awakening contain those lessons? Not sure yet! I’m watching lots of opinions to learn what I can.

  32. bleeters says:

    …the reply function continues to defy me :(

  33. HairCute says:

    @wulf:

    So…are you done saying the same things about DA:O over and over or can we expect more from you in the future? Maybe you could mention Mask of the Betrayer some more since I don’t think any of us have seen you do that too much.

  34. jsutcliffe says:

    @wulf:
    So…are you done saying the same things about DA:O over and over or can we expect more from you in the future? Maybe you could mention Mask of the Betrayer some more since I don’t think any of us have seen you do that too much.

    Off-topic, and ignoring for a moment the idea that 88.2% of statistics are made up on the spot, 98.7% of rude comments are made by unregistered users. It’s one of the downsides of the site growing in popularity, I suppose.

  35. bleeters says:

    @HairCute

    He’s replying to me. It’s hardly his fault that his point remains valid, now is it.

  36. plant42 says:

    Good game, awesome voice acting, decent dialogue, characters interesting if a little annoying at times. Story obviously pretty derivative, side quests decided to take their cues from MMOs (wtf?) and were awful. Mostly, the game needed to be edited down about 20%. Second complaint – everything (particularly dungeons) were so damned linear.

    I hope they tweaked the difficulty. It was all I could do to drag my inept assassin rogue through the game switching to Easy for key battles. Meanwhile my blood mage soloed the entire game on Hard with zero help from the rest of the party (unless you count using them as human batteries). The only difficulty is mustering the patience to wait for Blizzard to finish killing everything.

  37. Dean says:

    For those worried about not being able to import your decisions if the Warden died. Give it a few days. This is Dragon Age, not Mass Effect. It’s open for modders, not locked down. There will be a mod to set any choices that carry over to whatever you want in a few days.

  38. GRIMDARK says:

    About this if the Warden died stuff…

    I have no idea what happens in Awakening, but it sounds like to me that if your character made the sacrifice, none of what happens in Awakening (talking Darkspawn and all that) would never happen in the first place. Essentially, everybody lives happily ever after with the endings the game provides.

    However, if you took the cowards way out, you get the chance to spend $40 to live a little longer in Ferelden and try to fix your mistakes.

    The coward dies many deaths, the hero only one!

  39. bleeters says:

    @Grimdark

    Well, no. Not really. My warden survived, for example, because another warden insisted on sacrificing himself instead, rather than any attempts to wuss out of duty on my part. It’s not as if your choice at the end involves either death or blood magic. Or, for that matter, why the importing of a death warden is a little suspicious. It’s the fact you mysteriously and inexplicably return to life that’s raising eyebrows, especially since it sort of cheapens the ending a little.

    Incidentally, what-happens-in-awakening, with regards to the blight being over but the darkspawn not running back underground with their tails between their legs like they’re supposed to is sort of the starting point to the story. So no, even if you did sacrifice yourself to end the blight, it’d still be going on.

  40. Tyshalle says:

    This game was shit. An utter disappointment. Light Spoilers below, so watch yourself.

    I LOVED Dragon Age, by the way. I seriously rank it as quite possibly the best RPG ever made, maybe. But this was just a bland, generic, pointless expansion. Nothing you did in the previous game matters. Only three of your former companions show up in this campaign, the most useless one as a companion, the other two as extremely brief cameos. One of whom I couldn’t care less about, and I imagine you won’t either, and the other, who was like my character’s best friend in the previous game, treated me as if I were just his former Commander this time around.

    I performed the Dark Ritual in the previous game, and vowed to seek out Morrigane and my love child, but this was never addressed in this campaign. My character also developed a relationship with Leliana, and at the end of the game it said that we went off to travel and adventure together. Where the fuck was she during this entire game?

    All of the characters in this campaign are sterile and uninteresting. You don’t really get to know any of them, and the game seems to realize that it’s just a shallow, vapid, “more of the same” experience.

    Except “more of the same” is a major overstatement here. If this game were more of the same, that would be an improvement. For $10 less than the original, you get an experience that is, bare minimum, 50 hours shorter than the original. With writing that is of far worse quality, and much, much more shallow. In fact, all you really get is 4 or 5 pretty boring dungeon crawls, which is little more than just constant combat, nonstop. You will go probably half the campaign with your imported character’s original equipment before you find anything worth upgrading to, and even then there’s only like one or two additional things to upgrade in after that, equipment wise.

    The new abilities and skills are great. Yippy.

    The game is also significantly less stable. The original crashed to desktop maybe two times over the course of the 70 hours I played it. This one crashed probably 5-6 times in 17 hours.

    And yes, that’s 17 hours to completion. I have no idea how anyone’s pulling 25+ hours out of this. I completed probably 95% of the quests in this campaign, did all the dialogue options, tried to do everything I possibly could to suck as much life out of this game as possible, and it was over in 17 hours.

    At least Mass Effect 2, despite the rather shitty main story, had fairly interesting characters and some pretty epic moments. This has nothing going for it. Nothing to make it worth the $40 bucks you spent on it, anyway.

    • Tyshalle says:

      Oh, and seriously. Every single goddamn random encounter takes place in the same tiny farmstead map. In fact, like 2 or 3 of the missions you’re sent off on take place in this same tiny map as the random encounters.

      Lazy. Very, very lazy.

      And this map is tiny. You really will be surprised. There’s one small city, then your Helm’s Deep area that is very small and consists of like two small zones, one of which is just a single room in a castle that serves as your “camp” where all your companions chill. Aside from these two areas there’s just like 4 dungeon areas where your pointless dungeon crawls occur.

      Seriously, unless you are just itching for more Dragon Age combat, don’t get this game. Especially don’t get it if what you loved most about the original was its storytelling and strong characters and your interactions with them. There’s none of that shit here.

  41. Viz says:

    Dominic – I am glad you are one of the few players that understood how incredible Neverwinter Nights was online. I played DMed games and also DMed my own campaign for a year. When you LIVE in another story with a DM shaping it and even better, create your own adventure and a group of players lives it, all other RPGs pale in comparison.

    There were/are also some amazing NWN SP modules as well – OMG you’re making me want to fire it up again. Its permainstalled on all my PCs – while my online gaming time in NWN is over, I really got the best of it over 4 or so years but I still want to go abck and explore more of the best SP community mods available (I loved the Penultima series back then).

    Shows how amazing NWN was when there are countless more mods for that game than NWN 2 which trickles single player mods and has a fraction of the community NWN has. NWN persistant mods still flourish to this day.

    Dragon Age is a fantastic SP game that I am playing right now but obviously it can never compare to some of the campaigns I played in Neverwinter Nights and the adventures I had.