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    dkirschner's Dragon Age: Origins (PC)

    [December 5, 2014 05:41:10 PM]
    Finished it! Yaaaay! I did enjoy it a great deal. The story, setting and characters were wonderful throughout. But, as happens with long games (nearly 70 hours for this one), some things start to grate and drag. DA:O has too many inventory items. I spent hours just sorting through my inventory, trying to figure out which items to keep, sell or stash in the vault. With like 8 or more companions, you wind up having to do a lot of equipping and rearranging. Looting also became incredibly tedious by the end. Not as bad as Bioshock Infinite, but bad.

    One funny thing I did was woo two romantic partners. I'm not sure I've played a game that let you have two. Usually either the second one won't be interested until you're monogamous or the first one will get pissed and break up with you if you make a pass at a second person. In this game, neither Morrigan nor Leliana mentioned the other one. Sort of weird.

    For a while, I thought DA:O was very difficult. This was partly because I may have chosen some harder quests first, and partly because I think mages begin relatively weak. About 1/3 of the way through, my party became a powerhouse. I stomped enemies and steamrolled questlines for most of the rest of the game. For whatever reasons, my party ruled. I stuck with Shale (tanking golem), Sten (berserker), Leliana (rogue...because playing a game without being able to pick locks sucks!), and my mage, which I specialized in fire and healing. I became a great healer and kept all my melee companions alive.

    There were definitely key skills that I learned which made combat noticeably easier. One was when my mage finally learned healing magic. The Group Heal spell is amazing. Another was when my mage began learning mana replenishing spells. This made me able to rely less on potions and more on better healing spells. Sometimes when I'd find a great weapon or get some end-of-the-skill-tree talents, my characters seemed to jump in usefulness.

    The final fight wasn't even that hard. Epic, by the way, doesn't begin to describe the end of Dragon Age. The "final fight" is spread over a couple hours of gameplay (maybe an hour if you don't die as much as me) and involves killing darkspawn generals, fighting through Denerim, and finally facing the archdemon, which was a fun battle.

    Story choices, Bioware, outcomes, blah blah blah...roll credits.

    I've got whatever DLC came with the Ultimate Edition, plus the Awakening expansion. I've already downloaded Dragon Age II as well. I'll burn through some random Humble Bundle games for a change of pace first, then return to Fereldin to clean up the remaining darkspawn. Great game, totally lives up to all the hype five years later.
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    [November 3, 2014 05:04:25 PM]
    Alright, I have played a good amount of Dragon Age since that last entry and finally feel like I've had time to get into it.

    In looking at my previous entry, I definitely was doing the main quest out of order. You're supposed to go to check on Arl Eamon, not go check on the Elves. But it is cool that the game didn't block me from exploring what I wanted to. The difficulty of the Elven forest was all the sign I needed to realize I should go somewhere else first. After having corrected myself, I'm working on the second part of the Arl Eamon quest line to find Brother Genitivi, I've completed the Elven quest line (and got some surprise allies!) and the Magi quest line, and done a bunch of DLC and side quests.

    The game is still not easy, but it is no longer punishingly difficult. Encounters vary widely, and their difficulty is certainly influenced by your party makeup. For instance, I found myself in one battle against a bunch of Greater Rage Demons and some other powerful demon. Apparently these were all immune to physical damage, or took very little and regenerated health to make up for it. I had 3 melee classes and myself (wizard/healer). Two of my melee characters died, and it was all I could do to constantly heal the remaining one, but the enemies were taking no damage. I finally figured this out and activated Flame Weapons, so my warrior's weapon began dealing fire damage and he killed the enemies. Other battles/enemies are stronger or weaker against ranged, magic, specific schools of magic, and so on. The variety is great.

    Once I realized that a varied party is a strong party, I began to favor party members with multiple specialties. I use myself as a healer (last time I played I *finally* found a tome that let me specialize in healing, so I will have some powerful new healing spells soon!). I also have all the fire spells, so I can lob fireballs and create an inferno if need be, as well as cast an insect swarm. I use a rogue. You've always gotta have a rogue to pick locks, disarm traps and find treasure. My rogue also is good with a bow, so she can be melee or ranged depending. I use a pure two-handed weapon warrior for tons of damage. Finally, I did a DLC where I got a stone golem. This golem is an utter badass. It has tons of health, and it can, at any moment, switch from being a tank to a melee DPS to ranged DPS to a support caster. I use it as a tank, replacing my previous human tank, who has sadly been on the sidelines ever since. The other two mages you get are cool, but I find they tend to pull aggro and get killed too easily. I'd rather just heal beefy warriors than micromanage another mage on the field. Then I have a war dog, which I guess is like a warrior. I never really used it, but I did put a neck cone on it, which lowers its morale. Haha.

    Your party members banter back and forth. Some of them are quite funny, most notably the stone golem, Alistair and Morrigan. I used to put Alistair and Morrigan in a party together just to listen to them make fun of one another. They started repeating themselves though, and I got the golem anyway. The golem hates birds. It spent 30 years sitting in a field in the middle of a village getting pooped on by birds and stared at by villagers, and it always mentions "demon birds" and "winged fiends" and whatnot referring to birds. It's hilarious. There have been many, many laugh-out-loud moments. The writing is excellent. In particular, I remember Sten, the qunari warrior, talking about cookies being his favorite thing in Ferelden. They don't have cookies where he is from. He is a very serious character, so hearing him answer that "the food..it is crumbly and sweet..yes, cookies, I love cookies" is unexpected and charming. There was another scene I remember. When you're preparing Redcliffe against the attack from the castle, you can basically steal ownership of a local tavern. There's a waitress there you can flirt with, and eventually you can steal a kiss from her. When you do, all the other men in the bar can't believe it and they have very shocked expressions on their faces as they watch her plant a kiss on your lips. Pretty funny.

    I'm not sure what else I intended to write about...I just wanted to note my progress and how my thoughts about the game have changed since my earlier hours. The story is still riveting and there are tons of quests to do. I really enjoyed the few DLC campaigns I did off the beaten path. I hear one is supposed to reward me with like a base inventory, like a chest to hold my extra items. I cannot wait to get that because Dragon Age is sometimes too much of an inventory management sim. I often run out of space to hold things. I have all these extra special items now from DLC and have a lot of gifts (of which I thin many are DLC items), so I think I have extra stuff clogging my inventory that I wouldn't have had playing the vanilla game. I've discovered most of the Codex entries, which contain fascinating lore. Sometimes it is best to read the entry when you get it because it contextualizes whatever is currently happening. Other times, it would probably be best to just save up until you found all parts of a particular story and read them at once. But still, the world and history are very elaborate. I particularly like all the myths, folklore, and religious stories. Those really build up people's beliefs about the world.

    So yeah. That's about it for now! I will just continue on! OH YEAH. I found a dragon. It demolished me. Dragons are the most scary creatures in the game so far. Yay dragons!
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    [November 3, 2014 04:32:56 PM]
    I wrote this several days ago…next entry forthcoming.

    I told myself I would write a gamelog for this first thing Wednesday morning. I’ve been uncharacteristically getting few hours of gaming in for a while now – about 15 hours of DA in the past month, most of which has come recently. I actually have a DAY OFF today though and I am going to get my fantasy RPG on. This will be a two-part log, the first part being pre-play today, and the second part being either later today or perhaps over the weekend (or 5 days later, woops). I anticipate having some more free time this weekend.

    So, part the first. I have some impressions. DA is hard. I *think* though that I am doing things out of order. I traveled to a town after completing my origin story and received a few quests, including the main quest that is of the “go to these four places and do these four things” variety. My party and other NPCs were directing me toward one of the places, but the side quests I received in town seemed to direct me to another place. I went with the side quests, but wound up in another main quest location, not the one my party suggested. I have died at least 20 times. I managed to make it near to the end of that part of the main questline, but my party was so beat up and debilitated from resurrection penalties, and I was just dying over and over to a huge amount of skeletons in one direction and some miniboss in another direction, that I have given up and returned to camp.

    In camp, all your resurrection penalties (penalties to stats that accumulate from dying in battle) are washed away, you can chat with your party members, change party members, and give them gifts, which I find odd. The gift-giving itself isn’t odd. That makes sense. You give party members gifts and they will like you more. But there are gifts (I’ve found 3-4 already) that give HUGE bonuses to party members’ favor, like 50 points worth. So…most of my party members already *really* like me and have gotten all kinds of little stat bonuses. It seems like too easy a thing to have them like me.

    While in camp, I finally set battle tactics. Tactics represent the party members’ AI. These are nice and extensive. I’ve set my character (David the Elven Mage, haha) to be a healer. If Self -> Health below 50% -> cast Heal; if Party Member -> Health below 25% -> cast Heal; If Any Enemy -> in range -> cast Lightning bolt; if Enemies -> Group of more than 4 -> cast Fireball. Tactics are super cool. There are some good defaults, and I’ve modified all my party members’ tactics to tailor them to what I want. So whenever I’m not controlling a particular character, they act according to their tactics. I also figured out how to set party members to be aggressive and attack enemies on site. They would just mill about before and wait until I attacked, which was lame. After setting tactics and aggressiveness, I have noticed having an easier time. I really have no idea what my party members were doing before I set tactics! I think they were just auto-attacking, but I didn’t know!

    I continue to be extremely impressed with the story (and stories). The game has a lot of optional text lore to read, which is cool, but all the quest lines, party banter, environmental lore, and all that are fantastic. That’s why I am so glad to finally have a day to sink a lot of hours into the game, so I can get absorbed in it. It drives me nuts not being able to engage with an in-depth RPG! Thus marks the end of part the first. Let’s see how I get on today.
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    [October 7, 2014 08:30:04 AM]
    I'm way late to the party on this one, even though someone gave me the game upon release...5 years ago. My reason, and the reason I have other similar games sitting for so long, is twofold: (1) I know I will love it, and I tend to follow the saying "save the best for last," and (2) I know it will be a long romance. It is daunting to start a 70-hour game. But, it's a good time to start since I don't have any other huge, complicated plots floating in my head right now.

    I chose an Elven Mage. Most any race/class combination presents you with an "origin story," which in my case I managed to do in about 4 hours over 2 weeks. The Mage's origin story involves going through a deadly trial called The Harrowing to move from being an apprentice to an actual mage in the Circle of Magi. There is so.much.lore. It is overwhelming, and since I've barely been playing, I'm losing some detail over time. But last night I played about 3 hours straight and was starting to finally get into the game. I like a lot of good lore, and this is delivering.

    A friend I met at a convention this past weekend raved about Dragon Age. She said she's played it all the way through four or five times (!) to see all the origin stories and to experience the game from different perspectives (races, sexes, classes, conversation choices). I got the bright idea to do all the origin stories before beginning the main game, and then take my favorite character and play the rest of the game with them. But after finishing the Mage origin story last night, I am totally ready for the main event. Perhaps I will sprinkle other origin stories throughout the main campaign.

    DA:O reminds me (obviously) of the old D&D games like Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights. The most interesting thing to me is the camera. You can switch it between the top-down or isometric Baldur's Gate style and the 3rd-person Neverwinter Nights style. They call them the "tactical view" and "exploration view" respectively. I've been bumbling around both views, and generally prefer a zoomed out exploration view, a middle ground between the two. I think as I gain experience controlling my party and moving during battle, I will make more use of the tactical view in combat.

    My other big surprise so far is that I've already been able to outright murder three NPCs. I generally don't do that due to repercussions with townsfolk, party members, or impact on questlines, but I was curious because it seemed like there WOULDN'T be any such repercussions...and there weren't. I got a quest from a prisoner being held in the middle of a camp. He was wrongly imprisoned (sort of), starving, and just wanted food and water. He also had a key to a locked chest nearby. I could either find him food and water or kill him and steal the key. Being a nice Mage, I tried to find him food and water, but the guard wouldn't give me his. I searched the camp, and gave up. It's possible that, later, I could get some somewhere else for the man, but I opted to knife him instead. The guard turned around and said, "Hey, what did you do that for?!" I said, "He lunged at me! I protected myself!" And the guard said, "Oh, well, okay." And that was that.

    The other murder I committed was even more blatant. I don't even remember the circumstance, but the victim was in the middle of a populated area in camp. I killed him, and no one so much as blinked at me. "Weird," I thought. Then I had the opportunity to do another guy in, but I opted to blackmail him for a sword instead. I felt bad about that one because he was supposed to be bringing the sword to someone else, and the camera zoomed to his face, his lip quivered, and he sobbed, "You're such a mean man." :-(

    I find these interactions interesting, even though killing people in the streets without repercussions is highly unlikely to me, even in fantasy-land. I'm going to invest my next bunch of skill points into Cunning so I can learn the Persuade trait to have a silver tongue in conversation. I always like exploring all the dialogue choices, and seeing the range of ideas that NPCs have, the range of things they will say. It fleshes out characters and situations.

    Anyway, I'm going through my trial to become a Grey Warden now. Still getting used to the combat system and dying a little bit, but figuring it out. Totally intrigued and impressed overall. Looking forward to finding some free time this month to hurl fireballs at Darkspawn.
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    Status

    dkirschner's Dragon Age: Origins (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Sunday 21 September, 2014

    GameLog closed on: Friday 5 December, 2014

    Opinion
    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    SO EXCITED. Great game, lots of micromanaging inventory though and pointless looting items though.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

    Related Links

    See dkirschner's page

    See info on Dragon Age: Origins

    More GameLogs
    other GameLogs for this Game
    1 : Dragon Age: Origins (PC) by PsychoHD (rating: 5)
    2 : Dragon Age: Origins (360) by wongwy (rating: 5)

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