There's a new Dragon Age on the way, according to the moody teaser shown during December's Game Awards. Forgot where you left off? Best start catching up with Dragon Age: Origins then, with the rather lovely Qwinn's Ultimate DAO Fixpack mod. As the title suggests, it's your one-stop shop for polishing up the game and fixing up all the little issues Bioware never had the chance to officially patch. It even reinstates a handful of lost dialogues and events to the game - nothing too dramatic, but a good foundation to start with, though you may want to buff it up with a few more choice mods before starting.
As the extensive documentation for the Fixpack mod explains, it's solely focused on bug-fixes aside from a handful of scenes, voice lines and events restored to the game. The bad news is that means that the wonky balance and occasionally naff textures will still rear their ugly heads. It's still a fine sixty-odd hours of comically blood-drenched fantasy adventuring, but it could be a little better. The good news is that the Fixpack mod is fully compatible with most graphical and mechanical overhauls available for the game - here's just a couple that don't alter the feel of Origins too much.
For visuals, the Theta HD mod by "Rennn" is essential. Not a complete overhaul thanks to many of the game's textures being perfectly acceptable, it bumps up the quality of many of the most conspicuously blurry objects in the game. For tuning up the action, Dennis Lee's Combat Tweaks mod doesn't make any sweeping changes, but hammers out the worst of the weird kinks in the game's balance. Formerly useless skills are now viable, and wildly overpowered go-to powers are a little less overwhelming. It also provides options to tune the game's level and stat scaling to personal preference, though I'd leave those be for a first playthrough.
All of these mods can be installed via Vortex, the new Nexus mod manager. Just install Dragon Age: Origins from your store of choice, grab Vortex, install that and point it to your Dragon Age: Origins directory if it doesn't automatically detect it. From there, just hit up the Ultimate DAO Fixpack, Theta HD and Combat Tweaks pages and let the manager handle installation for you. Failing that, each mod has its own installation instructions on their respective pages.
As for the characters being slick with gore, there's a menu option in-game to clean them up when going into dialogues. You may or may not want to turn this on, depending on how hilarious you find cheerful Whedon-esque banter between blood-sodden heroes to be. Alright then, hop to it - there's dragons to be bothered, and if you start now you might have caught up with Dragon Age: Inquisition by the time the next game arrives.
Credit to PC Gamer for spotting this lovely collection of improvements.