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Dragon Age Origins – Revisiting My First Taste of BioWare Magic

Context: I played the original wayyyyy back in university (2010, 2011?), I remember how in love I was with the choices and the world, Morrigan's character arc and voice, how difficult I found some fights until I learned to always include a healer in your party, and how, after 60 hours, I reached the ending and thought to myself "what an epic adventure this has been…!!".

Knowing what happened to BioWare after (my NEXT taste of a game with magic was Mass Effect 2) all these years and how Dragon Age and Mass Effect turned out, I remembered that there were further expansions and DLCs that I never got to play. So I got a copy on PC with all DLCs included, and just finished my playthrough of the main campaign again – typing this eagerly after spending 70 hours with it and really looking forward to the DLCs and expansion.

Have not played The Darkspawn Chronicles, Leliana's Song, The Golems of Amgarrak, and (leaving this for last) Witch Hunt.

tl;dr: If you:
enjoy great stories (love for fantasy a plus),
love choices in games that matter ,
love building RPG parties with lovable members each with deep skill trees,
have a slightly better than potato PC ,
have never played or enjoyed a BioWare game especially those from before 2011,

I implore you to give Dragon Age Origins a chance.

I will highlight a few of the game's strengths that still wow-ed me even after I first played it a decade ago, before I hop back to it and mop up those DLCs. 🙂

– The Great –

Dragon Age Origins goes beyond just strong world building, great music and sound design, intriguing characters and moral dilemmas, top tier cutscene direction, it was a game with an unmistakably immersive identity.

To enter into Thedas and to know the world of Dragon Age, means that one learns of the elves, dwarves, Qunari, mages and templars, all carrying their own struggles, hopes and fears – navigating their politics to secure their help in facing the threat that may be the end of them all.

It means that you enter the battlefield either top down or zoomed into the midst of the action, hearing the clashing of swords on shields, whizzing arrows, explosive spells and tactically employing spells, skills, items and retreats – all the while orchestral horns blare alongside majestic choirs spurring on your every move, as you face off against enemies both living and undead.

It reminds you of a time when social links and confidants were just war buddies with no fancy name, when Western developers were actually capable of writing supporting characters who felt real, have their own quirks, expose their tender side and were capable of falling in love. Tempt your fate a little too often and too hard around them, and they might just leave you with all the gear you placed on them, never to return.

It was a time when BioWare worked their magic the best, and 10 years later, this is still widely regarded as the best Dragon Age game out there.

Caveat Emptor – Choices, Choices, Choices

Players can choose who to include into their party, what class specializations their companions can be, how the entire party should be controlled and played, which equipment goes to who and what sorts of tactics you can employ for your AI companions when you are not directly controlling them.

So far so RPG.

But then your choices during the main story affects who will eventually join your army, how prepared they can be when employed onto the battlefield, and your companions on hand will not always empathize with your decisions and expect you to take their side instead – or else!

So far so great RPG.

But then! Your choices actually affect the world state in following sequels! They bear fruit when you see returning characters! The word fruit is literal when there he is, standing and playing around, that's your son! The devs actually created a website that allows you to create a world state that you want (based on what you remember, heh) on an official website called Dragon Age Keep.

Side quests themselves have multiple endings based on the choices you make, their rewards can change also depending on whether you play your cards right, but price yourself out and you might not get anything at all.

When talking to your companions to try elevate their loyalty/liking/relationship levels, you only get one chance with certain dialogue options when they open up, and if you chose the wrong option the conversation just comes to an abrupt end – worse, you might OFFEND them. No do overs, you will need to look for another way to improve your relationship, because when you speak to them again the option will simply no longer be there.

Companions you have with you will start up dialogue with each other on their own, and every little interaction drips with personality and gold, not only are they your trusted fighters, you will get to know what they think of each other, more of their backgrounds and worldview, and if you really don't like having them around, you can just swap someone else in and explore their interactions instead!

And… if you don't want to become a hero everyone else loves and respects? Go ahead, be the bad boy/girl/they you always wanted to be and play the game how you want!

This is an amazing RPG for the ages.

– The Slight Nitpicks –

Why does Lockpick give experience but not Persuasion?? 🙁 (Balance, definitely for balance..)

Mages have too many spells and too little points to spend on them.

Why is there no respec option anywhere to be found?

The graphics are slightly showing their age now, but still really great for an RPG.

There aren't enough slots on the hotbar for everything a character can learn, much less find room for balms, bombs, skills, coatings and potions.

Not all "Sustain" skills (a self applied buff?) can be switched on at the same time, so investing heavily into a tree only to find that you can't have both on at the same time may surprise you, and it hurts more when you cannot do respecs (you CAN make a rollback save though) .

– The Close –

So… Anyone else here had experience with Dragon Age Origins? Were they good or bad? Or did you prefer the Mass Effect series?

The multiple endings with branching choices gives this expansive game an infinite replayability, and I did not regret a single second jumping back into this game after 10 years. I binged it the entire way through and it has proven itself to have stood the test of time.

Sure, some aspects of the game like graphics and quality of life issues may betray its age, but Dragon Age Origins holds a special BioWare magic that similar titles like the Divinity series or even its own sequels could never recreate.

The main storyline may be just a simple tale of uniting the lands in order to face down true evil on the battlefield, but the twists and turns, the human emotions and wonder, the dilemmas and hard choices, the beautiful quiet moments, the triumph over dragons, cements this game as a PC must-play for RPG, fantasy, and tactical combat enthusiasts alike.

And with that, I think it's time I loaded up the first DLC I have lined up. Back into the fray I go.
If you made it this far, I really appreciate it. Thanks for reading!

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