Posted in General

Dragon Taming: A Primer

19664So I guess the big thing today will be the gushing/talking/ranting/nitpicking of Dragon Age: Origins, BioWare’s latest RPG experience, and I must meekly fall into line to share my thoughts.  I am a number!

Of course, other regions around the world may still be waiting for their copies to arrive, and thus I must say, with all tact and sensitivity, na na na boo boo, I got mine first!

In all seriousness, from my first six hours or so in game, this is shaping up to be a truly memorable title.  I’ve loved BioWare ever since Baldur’s Gate 2, which I completely played through at least four times, and it’s great to finally see them revisiting a straight-up fantasy world, albeit with their trademark BioWare twists put on it.

I mean, at a glance, the world of Dragon Age is as cliche and generic as fantasy tales go: you have knights, wizards, dwarves, elves, humans, dragons, the fighter/rogue/mage class selection, and health potions.  We’ve been dealing with these sorts of things for so long that it’s hard to remember when any of it felt fresh and exciting.  But oddly enough, it does so here.  In almost every way, your expectations of the fantasy conventions are due to be reversed.  The good guys might really not be that good, the immortal elves are pretty much just street trash, and powerful magic users are prisoners under the watch of Dragon Age’s version of the church.

It’s also a LOT more brutal, more in the vein of George R.R. Martin than R.A. Salvadore.  In fact, DAO’s Grey Wardens pretty much are Martin’s Night Watch — a dwindled group of men conscripted from every nation, tasked with preparing against an eventual resurgeance of ancient evil.

What’s really neat are the six origin stories that DAO offers.  I had a hard time progressing in the game, because I wanted to experience all six.  In the end, I did three: the city elf, human mage, and human noble, the latter of whom I stuck with (as a rogue/ranger class).

Some of the comments I’ve read about the combat suddenly spiking in difficulty is certainly true — I had to endure 11 attempts at the game’s first major boss to beat it, especially since it could insta-kill any member of my party.  I’m really hoping I’ll come across a healer-type character, because going through potions (and their scarcity) makes for cautious gameplay.

But the combat itself is pretty glorious — it just feels more fluid and natural than in most MMOs and SPRPGs I’ve played.  It’s always fun to pause in the middle of the action and rotate the camera to see bodies in motion and blood hanging in midair.

Still, as always, I play BioWare games for their story and characters, and here I’m not disappointed so far.  You can play a mean character, a saint, a sarcastic quipper, a coward, or pretty much anything else you like.  I have a hard time being an utter jerk to everyone I meet, so basically I’m nice — but I have a bit of a ruthless side when I feel a NPC is yanking my chain.  I met a prisoner at one point who offered to trade me a key to a chest for some food and water, but I couldn’t peacefully procure him a meal.  So I took the option to kill him to snag the key instead.  Brutal, especially for my guy, but it was either that or walk away from treasure.  And I can’t say no to treasure!

And for the record, this game’s made me laugh out loud at least six times, along with a couple situations that had me cringing.

Oh, and your dog can retreive you items, if you ask nicely.  Mine dug up a pair of dirty pantaloons, because nothing says “man’s best friend” like “here’s some soiled undergarments!”

22 thoughts on “Dragon Taming: A Primer

  1. Put my Fallen Earth subscription on hold to play this; I simply don’t have the time to commit to more than one other game (WoW raiding a couple nights a week). Not disappointed in the least; what a captivating story so far, and I love the combat style. Also, there’s nothing better in an RPG than having the choices you make change the game (and world) around you – that’s immersiveness.

  2. Just FYI not sure if you knew this but the combat always scales to your level, so you cannot go and just PWN older content etc etc.

  3. @ Angry – I kind of assumed so, but I didn’t know for sure. That makes sense, since the game lets you choose your path.

    @ Werit – Normal. I refuse to easy it.

  4. “Of course, other regions around the world may still be waiting for their copies to arrive, and thus I must say, with all tact and sensitivity, na na na boo boo, I got mine first!”

    I hate you Syp.

  5. @Drew: I did the exact same thing.

    I had a blast with it last night. Looking forward to more game time today. I’m currently just playing a single character. I’m trying to figure out if I want to play through the other origins early (now) or later (after I beat the game). Hard to decide.

  6. Man, I’m so tempted to go drop the $ on this game. The only things stopping me are:

    1 – I’m playing AION and know it would come down to having to choose between the two as to which gets my limited playtime.

    2 – PC or PS3? I’ve always been a PC gamer, but I recently played Batman: Arkham Asylum on the PS3 and loved it.

  7. I assume this is on PC?
    For a change its the console owners getting stiffed with only the overshoulder view from Mass effect – means friendly fire is turned off so bit easier to play through.

    Good that it uses George RR Martin for inspiration – just re-read the series in anticipation for “Dance of Dragons” (which sadly was delayed again) so really in the mood for brutal and dark fantasy.

  8. I’ve got my pre order sitting on a cold shelf somewhere. I can hear it calling me in seductive crescendos when I try to get to sleep at night.

    It’s been too long since I last played a Bioware game (KOTOR 2 being my last) and I am quite simply pining.

    I told my girlfriend that she will loose me this weekend. And I said it without a seconds hesitation, or doubt in my resolve. Some things are just more important than eternal happiness…

    😀

  9. Oh yeah. I know you’re having fun and all what with NaNooNaNoo story telling and an early start with DA:O (all you Yanks may as well have stolen the game from me!!!): but I went through an entire day at work without getting to read Bio Break!

    My sandwich tasted of emptiness and my F5 key is broken…

    Moar blogs pls, thnx. 🙂

  10. @ Spinks – I really got into the groove of the human noble, because it felt like a great beginning of a novel. But they were all good, and the mage one was absolutely twisted (in a good way).

  11. @Mojeaux – PC of course! Nothing against the PS3, but when a game comes with this robust a toolset, you don’t want to get the poor version that is the PS3.

    You’ll get a good game either way, but on PC this just might be something that keeps coming back for years.

  12. Also playing it now, City Elf Warrior here. 🙂 Game is tons of fun, but scary in how there is no walkthroughs and whatnot for the game yet.

    I’ve never blazed a trail before. LOL. 😀

  13. Also loving it.

    I have the Xbox version and I can whole heartedly recommend that anyone comfortable with playing this long of an SRPG on the PC get it. Not only do you get the toolset and future user-generated content but, as I’ve played, I’ve thought many times about how the game just feels like it was meant for the PC. It works on consoles and is a pleasure to play from your recliner but if you’re torn, go PC. It’s the better choice if you’re a PC gamer.

  14. I’m loving this game as well – have a Human warrior and a daeish (sp?) elf rogue. I’ve taken them both past joining the grey wardens and my biggest problem is deciding which to play! I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the tactics system as I really hope it will allow me to stop micromanaging my group as much.
    As for the dog, he might be my favorite companion but I didn’t realize he could dig and fetch things 😉
    I may have to re-roll my warrior now that I understand a bit more of the skills and such, but we’ll see.

  15. This game is 100% win so far. Playing the dwarf noble line, and my wife just couldn’t figure out what I was up to last night… in the first hour or so, I had won the proving (arena), challenged another lord to battle and killed his son, had a 3-way with 2 chicks from the merchant area, murdered my brother, and got thrown in jail. And cackled the entire time.

    Can’t wait to get home and keep going, but also feeling the urge to check out the other beginning stories…

  16. This game is great! Like Syp my guy is nice with a few evil quirks in him. I have only tried one origion story (Human Rogue) and really enjoy it, I cannot wait to try out the others.

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