Dragon Age Tour Guide: Denerim

It's avuncular Grey Warden Duncan.

As Dragon Age edges ever closer more details about the game world are beginning to appear. Now we are given snippets of the city of Denerim, a capital city rife with corruption. Ooh, and you get to hear Tim Curry for a bit.

There’s a rapid mix of cut-scenes and fighting as we’ve come to expect from these trailers. It’s always going to be tough to edit together something PUNCHY and representative for a 100 hour RPG, and this one gives a decent sense of the political complications for just one of the game’s cities. Of course, be sure to stop it ten seconds from the end to avoid the increasingly incongruous Marilyn Manson sting.


  1. Michael Bay says:

    This looks slightly worse than Transformers 2.

  2. Tei says:


    Is not like there are one billion marketed-as-baldur-gate-ish RPG games. There are The Witcher and Mass Effect, and that was a million years ago.
    Release the damn game, we will buy it, add GFWL-aids, DRM-ish, Steam-porn, Social Club-sickness, Impulse-turd,.. whatever… A-Mortal-Disease that will kill use in 3 hours, we don’t care. Release the damn game now, we want to play it :-)

    And DON’T release the game for XMAX. Then… yea, theres 1 billion titles released, so is hard to have money for all, so we have to release one, and we can and we need to be more picky. So release it NOW, please.

    • Turin Turambar says:

      Mass Effect was anything like Baldur’s Gate?

    • Tei says:

      Yea, Mass Effect as lots of “social quest”, that are just problem you solve with your imagination. There are two types of RPG’s. The dungeon siege type (or diablo type) that are mass hack-slash games, with quest that are travel quest, or kill quest.. all MMORPG are of this type. And the baldurs gate quest type, that have some killing, but his quest are more social and some need imagination to solve. Mass Effect is of this type.

      We are tired of the dungeon siege type of CRPG. Since we have played a million times a elf wizard shotting firewalls and shockwaves.So ha guy thas has to talk to solve a quest is like a novelty. Probably creating a hack&slash RPG is much easier than a baldurs gate like. With the hack & slash one you just put powers and a healthbar to the monsters, and weapons and a healthbar to the player, and put a lot of moster on the map. On a baldurs gate game you do that, but is just the start to build the game.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      >”Probably creating a hack&slash RPG is much easier than a baldurs gate like.”

      No probably about it… a dev (forgot who, someone on Gamasutra) explained that to make really good dialogue, especially when you start throwing in branching choices&consequences for combinations of different races, genders, skills, alignments etc, you can spend a week or two to create something that the average gamer will click through in 10 seconds without ever knowing how much cool stuff he misses.

      If the combat mechanics and dev tools are already in place, you can create a pretty big hack&slash dungeon in the same development time, and that will take gamers hours to play through.

      So it is kind of understandable that deep, plot heavy RPGs are rare. I love them though.

    • TCM says:

      That kind of branching choice is what I live for in CRPGs. I am almost willing to play with every possible combination of character just to see the “cool stuff every gamer misses”.

    • Funky Badger says:

      Impulse-Turd is magnificent… dunno what it means, but it is magnificent.

  3. Mort says:

    Is it me or do the graphcs/animation look a bit dated?
    Quite fancy this despite my pitiful record in completing such games.

  4. Bossman says:

    The graphics look just fine when you play the game from the top-down perspective.

  5. klumhru says:

    I harbor tentative hope for this game. As for the graphics, I think I’ve yet to see any screens or trailers that are confirmed as depicting action on the PC platform. Most seem to be taken from consoles, which are increasingly inferior to the PC hardware-wise and therefore not representative. Graphics are a secondary matter anyway, as it’s the gameplay and RP elements that make or break this sort of game for me. If those are good enough, I might buy it, despite its nigh-unforgivable lack of coop MP.

  6. Psychopomp says:

    Yes, I am motherfucking ready for the new shit.
    Stop yelling at me.

  7. Wacky says:

    A fantasy-world capital city filled with corruption?:O i have never seen something like this!

  8. mrpier says:

    I’m so gonna get this

  9. wm says:

    Wanting to feel it — still not quite able to.

  10. James G says:

    Sorry to hijack, but is anyone else having issues accessing the forum?

    • Alec Meer says:

      Yeah, it’s comatose at present. We’re looking into what’s expodydied at the moment – please bear with us.

    • James G says:

      Ahh no trouble. Just thought I’d check before I went ahead clearing caches, deleting cookies and the like.

  11. Sporknight says:

    The graphics are fine by me – it’s the lip synch that’s throwing me off for some reason…

  12. Chaz says:

    Some of the racial tension stuff I’ve seen in some of the other videos, make it seem rather like they are trying to match some of the more adult and grown up themes of the Witcher. Bet you don’t get playing cards for buttering the local crumpet though.

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    ChaosSmurf says:

    The lack of a shot of a whorehouse seems odd.

  14. Lilliput King says:

    Is any RPG city actually not rife with corruption?

    How do they get anything done?

    • Spacewalk says:

      Corruption in RPG cities is like murder in Midsummer. They seem to get along quite okay and eventually you stop asking questions and go along with it yourself.

    • DK says:

      Baldurs Gate in Baldurs Gate seemed rather non-corrupt. Atleast compared to Amn and other corrupt-fantasy-city standins.
      Oh and the Elven City in the treetops – that one was non-corrupt apart from the invading demons/dragons/devils.

    • Bobsy says:

      Baldur’s Gate? It was being insidiously undermined by a massive trade cartel, which was placing key members in positions of power through both politics and assassination. It’s the goddamn epitome of a corrupt fantasy city.

    • Arathain says:

      To be fair most medieval cities were hotbeds of corruption and crime by modern standards.

    • Funky Badger says:

      I’m glad we got through that phase in medieval times. What? Eh? Oh.

  15. toni says:

    i don’t care about the animations/dated looking engine, but everything they released sofar is NOT aimed at RPG fans (or Baldurs Gate fans for that matter) at all. they won’t get “older” gamers with juvenile sexscenes, women portrayed as always “willing” and boring white dudes stomping around using bad written “shakespearan” dialogue. this does not define character for me. Hell, compared to those scenes CallOfDuty4 (which I hate) had more memorable dialogues and characters.
    anyways, RISEN is out since a few days and is sofar much more engaging.
    And MassEffects is more like a bad 3rd person fps with clunky controls and a few dialogue options thrown in.

    • Okami says:

      Could you please refrain from talking for some sort of non existing collective of RPG fans? I’m quite looking forward to Dragon Age, thank you very much.

    • Wooly says:

      I agree with Okami! I loved BG1&2, Fallout 1&2, and PST, but I also loved Mass Effect, and I can’t wait for Dragon Age. You are in the vast minority, even among the minority of RPG players that is the traditional CRPG fanbase.

      The reason that they have not been releasing stuff to convince people like us (well, like me and Okami) is that we are already sold on the idea of a spiritual successor to BG2. You try selling that to a console gamer, and s/he won’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

    • Dante says:

      I third Okami’s resolution, I find it deeply annoying how this small minority of people who haven’t liked an RPG made since 1999 try and pass themselves off as the ‘true’ fans.

    • Klaus says:

      As much as I like BG, it’s too hard to sleep with any of the romance options. Hell, the females, all adults, even fight over you, which made me dislike all three funny enough.

      And I also want Dragon Age. So very badly.

      So forthed?

  16. TheSombreroKid says:

    this is looking more and more like the witcher with a god marketing department, hope it’s not.

    • bonuswavepilot says:

      You’d think God could manage His own PR, really. Hope they keep pushing back the release date on that whole second coming thing though.

  17. neems says:

    Clearly EA were impressed with the sterling work Ubisoft did with Prince Of Persia : Warrior Within. Why don’t more RPG trailers end with heavy metal riffs?

    • Chaz says:

      Well the Risen trailer features symphonic power gothic metal. Which as far as I can tell, is pretty much like normal heavy metal, thats gone all pretentious.

    • Ian says:

      Why must you remind us? The Dahaka chases could have been truly awesome if it wasn’t for them having Static-X or whoever the hell it was blaring over them.

    • Urthman says:

      Warrior Within is 3x better if you just turn the Music slider all the way off. (Bonus: I think that even gets rid of some of the horrid voice acting as well!)

    • luminosity says:

      There was awful music in the Dahaka chase scenes? I must have been too busy fleeing for my life to notice. I was so disappointed two thrones didn’t have anything quite the same.

  18. V. Tchitcherine says:

    Ugh. While I love the concept of Baulder’s Gate II in three dimensions, if this title is anything like Mass Effect in writing or presentation then it will be a 100-hours of glib and simplistic storytelling with the pretence of fulfilling choices.

    What is slightly confounding is the desire to waste energy on developing separate origin stories for the race and status of the character you create, this sounds interesting in theory and does contribute to a more unique sense of personal establishment however it seems like a hollow gesture. It’s like the choice to be either male or female in Deus Ex 2; minor dialogue and scenario changes requiring disproportionate effort (for a voice-actor to re-record a third of the game’s script).

    I would much rather that instead of x convergent beginnings there be x divergent paths with unique denouements. I also want the choices to matter and their effects to be porous in the game’s presentation, for instance if you fuck up in a previous area, people will comment on and react differently to you in another area.

    If I’m pessimistic it’s due to the ultrahype of Mass Effect which turned out, in my estimation at least, to be a horribly simplistic Knights of the Old Republic with wholly uninspired and abysmal writing and characters. Even the levels felt so small and simple; I’m standing in the pan-galactic equivalent of the U.N., why does it feel like a corporate lobby? Taris from KOTOR felt far more living and dense than the Citadel. Mass Effect was a highly regressive game though I hold out a glimmer of hope that this won’t be.

    • TheSombreroKid says:

      on the whole i agree with you but you are ignoring the tremendous leaps forward mass effect made, the stories were more mundane because the developers could present emotion in mass effects facial animations where in earlier games it had to be imagined by the player based on the extreame context.

    • Dante says:

      Okay, seriously, who are these people? How exactly can people like Baldurs Gate but not Kotor or Mass Effect? It’s the same bloody studio, writing in the same (excellent) way. By all means have a preference, but loving one whilst hating the other is, quite frankly, madness.

      Are you simply so married to BG’s incredibly clunky and un-user friendly interface that you’ve failed to move with the times at all?

  19. Ian says:

    I realise this is unrelated, but am I the only one the forums aren’t working for?

  20. Jim Rossignol says:

    We broke the forums. They’ll be back soon.

    • Ian says:

      Phew. For a horrible moment I thought I was going to have to navigate away from RPS.

  21. Guy says:

    I continue to be entertained by how much the Dragon Age story appears to be using the Tough Guide to Fantasyland as a model.

  22. Jeremy says:

    I’m pretty excited for this game, all of the marketing aside, which didn’t necessarily resonate with me. My guess is that once the game is released, a lot of the people who think the game is “trash” with their obvious precognitive powers, will slowly backpedal and get on board with all of the people who think the game is “great” with their obvious hands on powers.

  23. Digit says:

    I don’t think their marketing is having the effect that Bioware wish it to… >_>

  24. Spd from Russia says:

    dont like the looks of it at all (gfx, art, style) but its from bioware so it might be worth playing anyway

  25. toni says:

    yeah, i certainly look forward to play the x-th iteration of kotor, this time with swords and small bras.

  26. Tei says:

    The main character seems unlikeable. Hope the dev’s don’t notice that, or will delay the release to make him a new face.

    • K says:

      That probably just means he’ll be the one to go over to the dark side. But then finds redemption.

    • Chaz says:

      Does your main character not depend on who you pick to be your main character? I thought there was a bit of choice, not “you just play this guy here”. For instance some of the other videos have showed the Dwarf Noble, Dwarf Commoner, Human Noble, City Elf etc…. And they all look like gritty hard done by characters too.

    • K says:

      Yeah. I just assumed Tei meant the guy we keep seeing give speeches and such, and not the PC. Unless that guy is the player character.

    • ohnoabear says:

      That’s not necessarily what the main character looks like. You get to choose what he/she/it looks like yourself, Mass Effect style. Except, from what I can see, it’s harder to make a freaky looking character than it was in Mass Effect.

  27. V. Tchitcherine says:

    “…the stories were more mundane because the developers could present emotion in mass effects facial animations where in earlier games it had to be imagined by the player based on the extreme context.”

    That’s not really borne out in reality though, I don’t chastise a lack of ‘extreme contexts’ but of interesting and non-clichéd characters, narratives and stories. The fact that more emotion could be displayed should have magnified well written and compelling dialogue. The problem is mutually-degenerative concision and simplicity, characters voice only so many lines and those lines have to understandable to the broadest audience possible, probably to prevent pre-teen and teen boredom. To see how one writes compelling dialogue in a fully-voice acted game, consult Deus Ex or anything written by Ken Levine.

    “Okay, seriously, who are these people? How exactly can people like Baldurs Gate but not Kotor or Mass Effect? It’s the same bloody studio, writing in the same (excellent) way. By all means have a preference, but loving one whilst hating the other is, quite frankly, madness.”

    It was not clear in my comment, but I very much enjoyed eight-tenths of KOTOR (the final levels felt rushed). The problem is that Mass Effect further removes a good deal of gameplay sophistication from KOTOR, for instance the creation of easily-manufactured side-quests with limited templates (those barren and samey bitmaps known as ‘planets’). Baldur’s Gate was an intricate 150 hour+ tableau of numerous characters and conspiracies using a complex character-creation and combat ruleset (I believe it was D&D Third Edition, I remember my brother having the manual for that ruleset, about 250+ A4 pages). Night and day.

    I didn’t expect Mass Effect to be a sophisticated game and in fact was quite excited to play it, had joints ready… but it became apparent too soon that it was not to be. The ridiculous scores this game garnered are just mind-boggling.

    • Joshua says:

      I’m with you on ME. Overall I liked the game, but the scores it got were just ridiculous. Even the biggest defenders had to acknowledge the really serious flaws in the game. Like on Xbox, the interface was terrible and the engine was embarrassing. On both Xbox and PC, the sidequests were just laughably bad.

      I am not sure how I feel about Dragon Age. On one hand, the idea of a “spiritual successor” to Baldur’s Gate sounds great. And Bioware has been working on this one forever.

      On the other hand, everything I have seen from the game so far has been awful. I don’t know if the ads and trailers and presentations are just pandering to the 13 year old Halo fans or if the game really is that pandering and beneath all the sex, violence, and “dark and gritty”-ness therein lies just some crappy generic RPG.

      In other words, I’m not sure who to trust, Bioware or my lying eyes.

    • Tei says:

      You guys are right. Mass Effect is not a perfect game. But are still a baldurs gate type of game (probably theres a better name than this). So stop moving the definitions!
      Is strange that ME got shiped with these undetailed planets :-/

  28. Eschatos says:

    I really liked Mass Effect, though it didn’t live up to my expectations. Mass Effect 2, on the other hand, looks like it might actually have decent combat, and even if it only has a story on par with Mass Effect’s will be a great game. As for Baldur’s Gate, I’ve never been able to play it for long because of the shitty interface.

    • JKjoker says:

      DA and ME2 will have a pretty easy time fulfilling my expectations, i have touched bottom, i think the only way they could go any lower is if they added QTE scenes

  29. Phried says:

    The trailer was actually making itself out to be something somewhat respectable… and then the heavy metal cut in.

  30. We Fly Spitfires says:

    My excitement over Dragon Age is rising rapidly. I just read somewhere else that they are releasing the character creator a few weeks before the game comes out! Awesome!

  31. bill says:

    The IDEA of this game is so great. A gritty SongOfEarth&Fire style fantasy world.
    The developers of this game mean it SHOULD be great.

    But so far i’m not really feeling it at all.
    Instead of coming across as grown up, realistic and gritty, it’s coming across as “teen grunge”.
    Instead of seeming like a SongOfEarth&Fire style world, it’s basically WORD FOR WORD ripping off Wheel of time.
    The writing, voice acting, lip syncing, facial animations and graphic design just don’t seem up to the usual bioware standards.

    BUT, if they pull off what they are going for, it could totally rock. I guess.. maybe..

    • bill says:

      Just to emphasis the amount of ripping off of WoT: Warders->Grey Wardens, Blight->Blight, Shadowspawn->Shadowspawn, The Ways->Deep Paths.

      My one hope is the number of units on screen at a time. the way i’ve always felt CRPGs fell down was that you couldn’t be a hero in a Minas Tirith size battle. Virtually every fantasy novel ends with the heroes controlling a big battle.. but in crpgs it’s usually the heroes fetching some eggs for someone or something. Hardly epic.

  32. hitnrun says:

    One problem I’ve noticed, that stands out for me as the worst (aside from the shit rock and puerile sex, which can be brushed by or endured), is the poor development of the adversary in this game.

    The “blight?” The “dark spawn?” The – are you kidding me – “Archfiend”? Isn’t that the rogue’s gallery from Ninja Gaiden? Wasn’t that the worst story of this decade (deliberately so, since it was a totally awesome ninja action game and didn’t need a story)?

    It sounds like they just drew up the archetypes for the story and forgot to flesh them out. It’s fine to be derivative – we can’t all be first – but to not even distinguish your people and things even slightly is pretty embarrassing.

  33. James G says:

    I'm not entirely sure that the Darkspawn are meant to be the ultimate badguys though. I get the feeling that they are just to provide the catalyst, either as a natural 'plague' that the real enemies are going to be taking advantage of, or else as something vaguely triggered by them to act as a smokescreen.

  34. Dante says:

    I guess I must have missed all those glowing Mass Effect scores, mostly I read a bunch of ones that gave it the standard good but not great rating and completely failed to ignore how much ground it broke in it’s fantastic cinematic conversations.

  35. UK_John says:

    Beware: There seems to be a bug in the final battle of Denirum – it’s similar to a problem I had in Oblivion, where the quest doesn’t close properly. You’re supposed to kill all the Darkspawn then talk to someone who asks what team members you want to take into the city for the final battle. The problem is, he still thinks there are Darkspawn and so says ‘press onward’, while everyone stands around! This means when you try to transition through the Gates, you get a ‘Cannot use item’ message!

    The Oblivion problem I had was almost identical. It was also in courtyard of a destroyed town (Kvatch), it also involved clearing out a load of creatures (Deadra), and it also involved a General that didn’t recognise the battle was over and insisted on ‘pushing forward’ too! Luckily in Oblivion there was a console command to get the game to finish the quest so you could continue.

    Unfortunately there is no such cheat for Dragon Age – so 5% from the end of the game (or thereabouts), I have this game stopping bug!

    • damien says:

      i hate to be the ass who asks “are you sure you killed all the darkspawn?”, but are you sure you killed all the darkspawn?

      in that scene, from what i remember, they come in waves and often (depending on how slow your CPU is) there might be lag in how promptly the next wave appears.

      i say “from what i remember” because i finished it for the first time last week and that part of the game is mainly a blur (because you know what’s coming and kinda chafe at the bit to get there). but i know its completable, per-se.

      i’d suggest reloading and making absolutely sure you’ve killed all the darkspawn…