Home > Gaming > Dragon Age: Origins First Glimpse (PC)

Dragon Age: Origins First Glimpse (PC)

I’ve picked up Dragon Age: Origins, FINALLY, and have gotten some time to really get into the nitty gritty of the game.  Now this game has had a lot of hype building up behind it for a while.  The potential of this game is staggering when you look at what it has to live up to.  It’s intended as the spiritual successor to the Baldur’s Gate franchise, which is one of the greatest European RPG series ever developed.  These are some big shoes that BioWare’s trying to fill.

I have to say though, after getting to play it for a while, that it truly lives up to its expectations.

The setting is amazingly well woven.  This is the first fantasy RPG that doesn’t take place in the Dungeons and Dragons universe for BioWare.  Here we have an original license where everything had to be built up from scratch basically.  As you play the game though, you can see all the effort that went into making this world feel just as alive and real as any other.  The people and creatures all have a sense of belonging to the environment around them in the sense of the story.  You can also see how this time around they tried to take more of a focus on Dark Fantasy.  That is, Fantasy that’s more akin to violence, war, horror, drama, sorrow, and other such things.  The world of the Dragon Age is not a pleasant one, and early on you will find it hard pressed to see anyone who lives happily.  This may seem a bit bleak, but I assure you that in the purposes of the story it all flows very well.  The creatures and races aren’t anything too brand spanking new, but some of our favorite archetypes have drastic changes to them.  Elves, for example, are nearly non-existent and basically are treated as slaves with the exception of a few clans who are constantly in hiding.  This is a nice change of pace from their perfect being viewpoint that they are normally given.  There are even some Dwarves in this world who don’t have beards!

Probably one of the most interesting aspects of this setting is the treatment of mages.  A mage in this world is persecuted horrendously.  Anyone with magical talent is sent to the tower of the Circle of the Magi, or killed in some cases.  Once at the tower they are trained to control their abilities to help people.  The issue falls with the fact that if they show too much talent, or are too capable, then they are basically lobotomized or killed.  Those who are lobotomized are then used purely as a tool to enchant weapons.  It’s a very dark place and it makes me eager to make a new character who is a mage to see their origin story.

Speaking of Origins, that is truly the name of the game here.  You can customize your character as you see fit, but in the end you will have to choose from a set of origins based on what race/class combination you picked.   This origin represents how the game flows and how everyone in the world will interact with you.  By doing this, you can take a customized character and really insert them into the story much better.  These origins allow for you to have reason to do anything that you do regardless of play style (good, evil, neutral, etc).

The characters that you meat in the game and join your party are full of life.  By that I mean you really believe these characters feelings and motivation are true.  They all feel like real people in regards to their actions, choices, and conversations.  I find myself greatly intrigued by the incredibly well constructed pasts of all of my party members.  Even the dog you get feels like an active part in the story that goes on around you.  My only concern is that by playing a heroic/good character I lose favor with certain party members and thus limits my interactions with them, but that’s why I look forward to my second play through already.

Relationships are present in this game.  By that I mean friendships and romantic entanglements.  Though you can’t romantically chase any character in your party, you do have some options.  As either gender character you are able to pursue relationships both heterosexual and homosexual in nature.  My only concern is how well this plays out in the writing.  There are no NPC’s in the game that are actually gay, but there are some who are straight.  So I imagine that if you pursue one as a male, then pursue again as a female that you will get similar conversation paths.  Yes there are sexual moments in the game, but to be true Baldur’s Gate had those moments even if they weren’t explicit.

Gameplay is great.  They managed to kind of bridge the gap between having too much to explore and not having enough to explore.  I still think that some areas could make due with a lot more exploration.  One of my favorite things in Baldur’s Gate was being able to spend almost a week playing and never leave a city because there’s just so much to do and find.  Though I find that this game focuses much more on the story, which is fine with me because otherwise I’d never finish the game.  The controls are fantastic and fluid.  The camera never becomes a hindrance and with so many different angles to choose from you are certain to find one that suits you best.

The only complaint I have for the game at the moment is the difficulty.  The difficulty curve is more like a roller coaster for this game at first.  I found myself having encounters of a small group of three to five mobs and handling them without much issue only to have my next encounter be with fourteen to twenty mobs and getting destroyed.  At one point I was attacked by a pack of wolves where one knocked me down and all the others jumped on my character and basically tore him to shreds literally on screen.  I was equal parts amazed and furious.  You really have to take the time to stop and think for each battle you encounter until you get the hang of it.  Pausing is just about mandatory to get through any encounter.  Often times you will have to pause and take time to determine each characters next action, only to unpause long enough for that action to take place where you can pause and determine the next steps.

There’s really a lot more to this game, but instead of taking my word for it you should honestly go out and get it.  It’s a wonderful game and will keep you busy for a long time.  BioWare says that you’re looking on an average of 80+ hours per origin of gametime, and there’s already downloadable content out there to keep the gaming going on even longer.  I’m gonna get back to the world now.  Good luck future Grey Wardens.

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