Author Topic: Dragon Age  (Read 125 times)

Jubal

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Dragon Age
« on: May 14, 2020, 11:38:24 PM »
I'm finally playing through Origins. Anyone got thoughts/want to flail at me excitedly about the series?

I'm finding it fairly enjoyable. Thoughts so far:

Overall likes:
  • Small group combat. Gives a nice mordheim-y feel to it at times.
  • Range of skills and specialisations is fun, I feel like upgrading my character is something I generally look forward to.
  • Companions. Broadly an enjoyable and well written bunch and most of them are narratively fairly interesting, although there are also a fair number of NPCs I'd prefer taking with me to the ones I actually get to.
  • Decisions feel meaningful, morality doesn't feel super railroaded. I think this is one of the main playthrough things. The game does a good job of leaving you in some actually quite valid "here are your options, none of them are perfect, what do you think is right" scenarios. The endings of the Daelish and initial Redcliffe sections I thought worked pretty well in particular.
  • Generally the different areas and mission sections manage to vary the theme and pace a fair bit. It feels like a very classic dungeon crawl a lot of the time, but one at least where you're faced with a series of fairly varied encounters rather than just "chop your way through 500 darkspawn one by one".
  • Lots of content to explore, with a minimap system, so I'm not too often left feeling the classic RPG thing of "everywhere is absurdly small and I don't know why there's so little distance between places".
  • The setting has a good amount of whimsy in it, though I would personally lighten it a bit more, possibly because its main existential threat and sub-villain are both kind of tropey. I'm not suggesting taking away the moral decisions or any of the darker elements, I'm mostly just saying that the tree that talked in rhymes was lovely and I would like some more things in Ferelden like that which genuinely give me hope for the place.
  • There is a Very Good Dog.

Overall dislikes:
  • Like most RPGs, terrible at portraying politics. It always winds up as "here's some no-good-option sidequest choices that make you hate yourself whatever you pick" which I mean is a viewpoint on politics but it just frustrates me.
  • Inventory space issues, constantly, all the time. I keep having to do two extra runs round a dungeon area to ensure I've picked up every damn shortbow and veridium mace and got them to a merchant. It's quite a pain.
  • I don't enjoy micromanaging equipment so much as I feel the game is asking me to. It's really hard for me to work out what the balance of stats and nominal tiers means in practice, even 50% or so of the way through the game.
  • Four in the party feels restrictive sometimes, especially as one of them has to be me and one of them more or less has to be a healer.
  • Battles can get very micromanagey - like, I'm at times pausing so often to adjust what every character is doing on perfect timing in order to win that it may as well just have turn based combat.
  • Not always good at flagging up things that can have large consequences - I've missed moderately interesting or important sidequests because it wasn't made explicit that I had to do them before X other thing. And I've done a couple of reloads after giving things to party members that appeared to be in their theme for gifts but they hated and got -50 relation from. I guess that's life, but even so. losing a quarter of the scale from one bad gift seems OTT.
  • Tactically, 90% of what I'm doing is kiting and then piling on half the enemy party most of the time. I pretty frequently feel like I'm meant to end up in some giant stand-up fight but then I just kite small blocks of enemies away from it to the point where it's sensible but immersion breaking.
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...

Clockwork

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Re: Dragon Age
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2020, 03:56:58 PM »
Hi Jub,

Got your facebook notification today (not been checking my emails :P)

Hope things are going well and everything :)

Just a couple things about Origins in general, might be interesting, might not.


When it came out there was nothing like it. Older gamers loved it as a clear throwback to BG, NWN, IWD type game and newer gamers loved it as a fresh take on medieval fantasy (for those that don't read a ton of this style fantasy anyway as writers have been doing it for years, esp Pillars of the Earth novels). It was gritty, 'political' and subverted *most* tropes.

At that time, Bioware had a ton of credibility and EA were even in a bit of a hate-slump, they hadn't portugaled up royally in at least 10 minutes.

Everything looked real and characters felt realistic, especially as the previous big western RPG was Oblivion where the characters felt flat and insipid for the most part.

It was most definitely the right moment for the game to be released. Since then there's been a glut of old-school rpgs, dragon age imitators and not least of all, more dragon age games (DA: II, mobile games, clicker games, TBT game, card game, DA:I. In addition to this, DA:O spawned comics, a web series, a tabletop game, six novels and three lore books. Game of Thrones has it beat in terms of popular take-up and probably length and breadth of lore as well, politics has become much more mainstream in gaming since 2009. None of what it does is now unique, nor is it's package of things it does unique.

Having said that; it's a solid game with really fun character progression and a ton of great dialogue both to and from your player. Most of what you say is just flavour text and has the same outcome but it's that thing that shapes your character in your own head. The options to really play into your ideas is great for a video game RPG.
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Jubal

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Re: Dragon Age
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2020, 08:53:26 PM »
Yeah, I think it's often underrated in story driven games the importance that flavour can have, even if it involves the player doing seemingly pointless actions. There's points in the Exile Princes where I realised that I could (and actually did in a couple of them) include points where there'd be a decision popup screen where the result of the decision was so irrelevant I didn't even have to log it anywhere, but the game could still make it feel like a meaningful moment.

As to my eventual choices and outcomes at key moments, a list:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

I guess at some point I might play the other games. Don't feel DAII seems appealing right now, but partly that's because the later parts of DAO were so glitchy (the other part is that it feels like having a single main character as I understand that has might be less fun for me?)
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...