Dragon Age: Adventures in Non-Consequences

Lately I’ve been feeling a bit listless with my gaming time — LotRO and DDO are all well and fine, but I’ve needed a bit of non-Turbine games to even out my play.  Unfortunately when it comes to other MMOs, I either don’t feel a pull to go to them (my re-entry into City of Heroes lasted a mere week) or I know that they require far more time from me than I currently have.

So, for right now, that leaves single-player titles.  Again with the listlessness, because nothing’s really appealing.  I will go back through Mass Effect 2 some day, but it’s too soon for that, so I reinstalled Dragon Age for another run-through.

This time around, I’m a psychotic yet cute dwarf named Echoes who never hesitates to say the worst thing or make the worst decision and giggle about it later.  I had fun tormenting an elf servant who was trying to deliver a sword to his master — I first lied and said that I was there to pick up the sword, then blackmailed the elf into giving it to me, and finally killed the elf just because.  You know, elf.

(It’s hilarious to me that Dragon Age tries to make elves all sympathetic by having them as a secondary class — something The Witcher did as well.  It’s about time someone put them in their place.)

Anyway, Dragon Age isn’t really thrilling this time around, even with crazy dwarf taking the lead.  While BioWare did an excellent job in Mass Effect 2 with giving us tricky moral dilemmas and two approaches — nice guy or ruthless — that equally worked, Dragon Age’s situation is much more cut and dry, and obviously tailored for the nice guy approach.  Listen, I understand that it’s easier to come up with reasons for nice guys to accept quests pro bono and help out the world just because, but I’m still looking for the game where characters of other personalities (evil, insane, quirky, anti-hero, self-centered, etc.) are rewarded with as rich of a story and gameplay.  BioWare’s heading in the right direction with ME2 and (hopefully) TOR, but Dragon Age wasn’t it.

Being bad in Dragon Age does one of three things:

  1. I get away with doing something awful with little or no consequence, and benefit only slightly through it.
  2. Makes most of your party grouse at you and force you to feed them gifts so they won’t leave.
  3. Takes away dialogue, options, choices and even quests.

This last part is what annoys me.  If the game punishes me for being bad by taking away content, then I have no incentive to roleplay that style, and every incentive to go the Nice Guy route.  I haven’t seen quests open up because I’m a jerk, and often have to reload the game due to a botched conversation that ended up screwing me.

Anyway, I’m 1/5th of the way through a new campaign and have lost most, if not all, interest in finishing simply because the bad guy route is so lackluster and narrow.  Maybe Mass Effect 2 does deserve another look…

12 thoughts on “Dragon Age: Adventures in Non-Consequences

  1. You know, I just started playing through it again and am running into the same thing. If you’re even a sarcastic player – not even bad, really – most of the NPCs won’t let you quest for them.

    I’m disappointed but not sure quite what else to do. Sometimes an MMO just loses its magic for a while and you need a break. For me, it’s DA:O or MW2 – and I’ve already beat Modern Warfare.

  2. I’ve played through the game several times now, but only once as a purely evil SOB. It can be entertaining as you play through the game being sadistic. You get the best bang for your buck being an evil, blood mage from my experience.

    Though playing the good guy in this game is more fun.

  3. Do you have a PS3/360/Wii? The wife’s got her eye on the new LEGO Harry Potter game.

    As for PC, I thought I saw a new(ish?) Monkey Island game on Steam the other day. Might be a fun blast from the past!

  4. Even after half a year I can’t help but be nonplussed whenever I see “Mass Effect 2” and “tricky moral dilemmas” in the same sentence without some form of punchline. I can’t really say that I faced any true ethical quandaries in that game. Usually the choice seemed to be between being a stick in the mud and/or boy scout or being a smug, sarcastic jerk.

    Truthfully the only Bioware game I can recall having any decisions that made me think beyond “I need to get some light/dark side points” or “I wonder which of these will be more amusing” was in Jade Empire. Which is bizarre in the extreme ’cause I can hardly remember anything else about the game besides the tedious combat and obnoxious bugs. And even then I can only really think of two instances.

  5. @ Snaffy – I still need to play through the first Monkey Island, unfortunately it’s on my iPhone and has really annoying controls.

  6. 3 words, War Endless Trial. I know it’s been a while since you played War, but there’s always action in T1 now and my trial account is the first thing I log in to if I only have a limited time to play. Also, in T1 the class issues that people get so worked up about aren’t nearly as bad, and I have fun with all of them. What do you have to lose?

  7. Lol; i liked playing evil (and didn’t find much was taken away from it).. i found it hard to go back and play a second time though, the problems with playing a completionist way the first time

  8. @ Syrioq – I’ve actually thought about it, but a third fantasy MMO isn’t what I need right now.

  9. I like ME’s take on the ‘moral dilemma’ – Shepard is going to save the galaxy, one way or another; what is left up to the player is how Shepard saves the day. It removes one layer of the ‘moral dilemma’ that is rarely there and even more rarely implemented well, that of the overarching motivation of the character. I mean, within the logic of any game, why would an evil character embark on what is mostly construed as an attempt to save the world?

    I really dig the ME franchise, and those God damn Batarian terrorists have forced me to make some tough calls (admittedly, others probably didn’t bat an eye at these so-called tough choices). Unfortunately for me, posts like this make me ever more concerned that I’m not doing to like DA when I finally play it.

  10. You summed up pretty well why I lost interest with dragon age. It seems like a good, open game when you play as a good guy and wonder what would happen if you were a jerk. Then you play as a jerk and its exactly the same and I wonder how this is an RPG.

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