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Dragon Age: Origins

aka: Dragon Age: Początek, Dragon Age: Vérvonalak
Moby ID: 43297
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Four hundred years have passed since the last Blight was successfully prevented by the Grey Wardens. Now once again the fearsome Darkspawn under the rule of the Arch Demon gather and are about to invade the land of Ferelden. The first battleground: the destroyed city at Ostagar, where the Grey Wardens meet the army of Cailan, king of Ferelden, to try and stop the Darkspawn, preventing death and destruction before it has even begun.

However, during the battle, the forces of general Loghain inexplicably abandon the battlefield. As a result, the Grey Wardens, the king, and most of the human warriors are killed. Among the few survivors is the hero, who had joined the Grey Wardens just before the battle, and must now find a way to unite the races of Ferelden in a struggle against the common enemy.

Dragon Age: Origins is a party-based third-person perspective role-playing game. Similarly to Baldur's Gate, combat is in real time, with the ability to pause at any moment. Tactical options include an editor which allows the player to give the AI detailed instructions on how to behave in every possible situation. Nonetheless the player can also control the party (with up to four active combatants) one by one, switching between the characters, using their special talents and abilities to overcome the many different enemies. During the course of the game, the player will have the opportunity to invite up to nine players to his party. While only four can leave the party camp at any given time, the experience points earned by killing enemies, fulfilling quests or simply opening a chest are granted to each member of the group.

At each level-up a character earns three attribute points and one talent point. The talent point is used to unlock new spells and abilities in the extensive talent tree differing greatly between the three available classes: warrior, rogue and mage. Every three levels the character also earns a skill point allowing him/her to learn or get better at herbalism or increasing survival skills. In addition, at level 7 and 14 characters earn a specialisation point which allows them to learn two of four class specializations, such as for example shapeshifter and spirit healer for the mage class. These specializations give instant bonuses to certain attributes and unlock five exclusive talents. However, in order to learn such a specialization, it needs to be unlocked first. This is either done by buying the corresponding book from traders, or by learning it from another character, may it be a non-playable character or a party member.

Not everyone is willing from the start to teach the protagonist. In particular the player's party members have to have a certain level of trust and satisfaction. Satisfaction can range from -100 to +100 and is influenced heavily by the decisions the player makes during the game. Talking and giving gifts to the party members also increases their satisfaction. A high level of satisfaction then grants the party member a bonus to specific attributes and unlocks additional quests as they open up and tell their past. In addition, it is possible to have a romance with up to two of the party members if the player character is of the right gender and makes the right dialogue choices.

Although the main part of the game is the same for every character created and will only differ in what the player decides to do first or what choices he or she makes, the game features six unique prologues (called "origin stories" in the game) - two for each race, except the humans who share the magi origin story with the elves. They all tell the story how the player's character met the Grey Warden Duncan and ended up at the battle at Ostagar.

The console versions lack the tactical overhead view available in the PC version. The controls are designed in such a way that it is easier to control one character and let the AI handle the rest of the party, as opposed to the PC version, where the entire party can be handled with more ease. Also, the default difficulty level on the consoles is lower than on the PC.

Spellings

  • Dragon Age: Начало - Russian spelling
  • 闇龍紀元 (序章) - Traditional Chinese spelling
  • 龙腾世纪:起源 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

1,052 People (1,031 developers, 21 thanks) · View all

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[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 89% (based on 78 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 150 ratings with 5 reviews)

Enchantment? Enchantment!

The Good
Recent BioWare products such as Jade Empire and Mass Effect made some RPG pundits frown. Simplification and streamlining seemed to have infiltrated the camp of the creators of Baldur's Gate. As a minor character from Brothers Karamazov eloquently put it - "Pfeh! A pfeh!". I can relate to those sentiments: even though I enjoyed playing Mass Effect, a big part of me missed wearing Leather Gloves of Arcane Horror +3 with increased damage to half-hobgoblins or whatever.

Dragon Age can be considered a return to the roots to a certain extent. In terms of depth and complexity it is somewhere halfway between the company's first master series and Knights of the Old Republic, and generally comparable with Neverwinter Nights 2 in the way it approaches the genre.

Dragon Age builds upon the real-time-with-pause battle system popularized by its creators' earlier games. The game makes full use of it, and on harder difficulty levels it is a real tactical challenge. Smart enemies force you to plan and experiment. Sending a thief to backstab, putting archers far away, luring enemies one-by-one with your tank, ordering mages to cast delightfully treacherous spells that would render enemies helpless while you hit them with melee weapons - everything is back with a vengeance.

The game introduces its own character-building system, which works very well and provides a nice breath of fresh air after the omnipresent D&D. Lack of variety in initial character customization is compensated by extensive ability trees, which are particularly interesting for spellcasters. Items, equipment, spells, abilities are plentiful, and naturally your companions can be customized the same way as the protagonist.

A new fictional fantasy world was created specifically for this game and its future sequels. This world is believable, and a lot of optional background information makes it truly come to life. It has a developed religion, racial conflicts, political relationships, various cults and factions, etc. The schemes of human nobility, the stubborn secrecy of the elves, the brutal caste system of the dwarves - everything is stored in the Codex, which is a pleasure to read.

The writing, like in most BioWare games, is excellent. Some of the dialogues in this game surpass even the highest achievements of their earlier works. Your sharp-tongued companions provide too much witty banter to mention, but sometimes you'd bump into such thought-provoking conversation that you'll forget about the rest of the game and immerse yourself in a discourse about God and the world.

What would a BioWare RPG be without party members? Actually, we have an answer to that question. Luckily, companions make a triumphant return, having much more important gameplay-related roles than in the company's recent titles. Each and every one of your party members is a fully developed, interesting character, and much attention was paid to their relationships with the protagonist. Romances are for the most part convincing, and you must study your potential partner's psychology thoroughly to have success.

Quests in the game often come with tough moral choices. Does a man whose family was brutally killed still have the right to exact revenge on the culpable nation after generations have passed? Should we keep a powerful invention to protect an entire nation if it requires to turn people into mindless slaves? There are several "to kill or to forgive" situations where I honestly didn't know what to do - the "pro" and "contra" were both too heavy.

The formulaic story is made more appealing by convincingly portrayed characters and interesting sub-stories. The process of getting to know the different races and organizations in the game is more exciting than the schematic fight against the Darkspawn. Dramatic, well-directed cutscenes help to enhance the story as well.

The Bad
While I was playing the game (and enjoying it), a tiny voice inside me kept saying: "been there, done that". Even though Dragon Age honestly avoids the alarming over-simplification characterizing BioWare's recent work, it is still very careful and doesn't like taking chances. I can't help comparing it to Baldur's Gate II, that went on to expand and enhance; Dragon Age, on the other hand, is comparatively low-key. I'm thankful that it preserves crucial elements of the genre, but in my opinion it could have preserved more and be more generous with them.

Yes, there is exploration and there are choices, but they are done in a somewhat convenient fashion. One thing I didn't like in Baldur's Gate II was the elimination of seamless traveling; Dragon Age follows the same route, but reduces the amount of side quests that would take you to optional areas. The locations themselves tend to be a bit too small and straightforward. I haven't encountered a city I could be lost in for days, running around and hunting for quests.

Dragon Age is also too "hands off" for my taste. There are no physical activities in the game, and you can interact only with those highlighted objects that serve a clear gameplay-related purpose. I don't think this is the right direction of RPG development. In particular, 3D games naturally call for more realistic interaction, serving to immerse the player into the world.

The Bottom Line
Dragon Age is an attractive game, and its sincere desire not to cater to casual players too much is commendable - at least from the point of view of those who want a serious RPG. It recreates much of what we value in the genre, and even when it doesn't do it flawlessly we can feel that its heart is in the right place.

Windows · by Unicorn Lynx (180476) · 2014

Replayed it way too much.

The Good
The story is very interesting to follow and you meet many creative characters along the way.The story is full of great moments and plot twists and the sidequests are worth doing as well. Also be sure chat with your party every now and then.

The combat is very tactical and sometimes you need to make decisions very quickly. I loved how opening the menu pauses the game, so you can plan out a strategy without dying at the same time.

Ferelden is a very nice place with much variety. It reminds me a bit of World of Warcraft; you have a lot of different areas, each with it's own theme (elven woods, icy mountains, dwarven mines etc.). It's simple, but functional at least.

I like it how you travel between places by picking a location on your map and then warp there, rather then walking all the way. Normally this would make the world feel small, but they fix that by characters constantly mentioning countries and cities you can't visit. It's hard to explain, but it works.

There is a lot of RPG here and that is just a barrel of fun. You get to decide what armor your party has to wear, you can also upgrade that armor and you can also level up all your party members (you have like a dozen of them) and decide what skills they learn. There is a lot of RPG element in here. For newcomers to the genre this might be a little overwhelming though.

The Bad
Sometimes the game was way too unpredictable and tiny conversation options could lead to party-members turning on me or losing a ton of friendship with a character.

The game is unreasonably hard and I can imagine a lot of people will be turned off by that.

The game is not really fun to replay because a lot of parts are very repetitive and you have to go through all the conversations with characters again. This is a bit of a problem because the achievements demand that you play this game almost all the way through a minimum of three times.

The Bottom Line
Despite some massive problems I replayed this game a lot. I really like this game, but at the same time I know that this is more for the hardcore-RPG-fan. Newcomers might want to stay far away from this game or store it away for later because this game is amazingly complex.

Xbox 360 · by Asinine (957) · 2011

I’m a Grey Warden, And Together We Can Save This World…

The Good
Let’s get something strait. I am a huge fan of Bioware’s games. Ever since Baldur’s Gate. So when I heard that Bioware, was making a game the hearkened back to those good old days, I knew one thing: I had to play it.

A Word Or Two About The Different Versions….

So, I bought an Xbox 360 to help alleviate some of the gaming burden from my PC’s proverbial shoulders. (As well as for some kick-ass exclusives!-MM-) So I got Dragon Age. For Xbox, not knowing how much better it’s PC brethren was.

Not, that there is anything wrong with the console versions of the game per se. It is just better on the PC. And there are a few differences. For starters, the PC version looks better in every way possible. Also you can zoom in and out at will. In the console version, you are stuck with a KOTOR esque 3rd Person viewpoint. I might have to suck it up and also get the PC version.

Once Upon A Time In Feralden….

In Dragon Age: Origins, you pick your background story. I played as the Human Noble. There are several others. From there, you make your avatar. The character creation system is very deep. You can alter your appearance, in just about every way imaginable. Of course you also pick your class, Warrior, Rogue, and Mage.

No matter what Origin you chose the end result is the same. However, your origin, will change some things in certain parts of the game. You are recruited into the Grey Wardens. An ancient order, that protects the world from blights. A blight occurs when one of the ancient Dragon gods awakes.(Great Cthulhu?-MM-) These arch-fiends lead hordes called darkspawn, against the world. Four centuries have passed since the last blight. The Grey Wardens are then betrayed in the first battle, against the darkspawn. From here it is up to you, the fate of Feralden, and all of Thedas, is on you.

Bioware, did an excellent job of making Thedas, and the continent of Feralden seem like a real place. This is were so many RPGS fail. But here, there is a long history for each area in the game. And it feels lived in. In the game you come across a lot of back round info on the world of Thedas. As well as on the Dragon Age website, and in the strategy guide. I was very impressed by the sheer amount of information they provide, it’s almost as good a reading a good fantasy novel.

The way you interact with your companions is also very well done. Unlike in Baldur’s Gate, where it seemed as if you just had a party of strangers with you. That was somewhat remedied in the sequel, but it was still not as well done as it is in Dragon Age.

Each of your allies has there own persona. And you can win their friendship if you talk to them regularly. Some of the characters can also be made harder, more cynical, if you make them. You can also gain the trust of the party by giving gifts. Some gifts are special, and are only for one person. And these will lead to a special scene. For example, Alistair will tell you about a pendant he lost. From his mother, you can find it and return it. For a boost with him. Eventually they will have a task they want your help with. If they like you enough. Completing the task is often the final step to becoming friends or something more.

On the flip side you can piss them off, and they will leave the party forever. And unlike in Baldur’s Gate, they will NOT leave in the middle of a battle. But wait until back at camp. Watch out, because some of your allies are easily pissed off. Morrigan, will often get angry with you if you do not agree with her. And seeing as she falls on the more on the “evil” side of the line, a good hero will have a hard time not disagreeing with her. Some of your party members will like you no matter what. Like your faithful war hound. He is always at 100%.

You can also be romantically linked with several of your party members. With some it’s just about sex. Others will actually fall in love with you.(Don’t worry conservative creeps the scenes are very tame, like PG-13.-MM-)

I, of course tried to romance both Morrigan, and Leliana. It was going well, until they forced me to choose between them. I choose Leliana, but was still able to stay on fairly friendly terms with Morrigan.(Why can’t it be this easy in real life?-MM-) How much your friends like you changes things in the course of the game when you are captured, the two party members that like you the most will come to save you. For me, it was the two hotties.(I’m a chick magnet…just like in real life…or not.-MM-)

You can even have a 3 or 4 some, with this hot bard chick, that flirts with you in a brothel. Or pay for it at the brothel.

All and all, Dragon Age, has a great cast of characters. Among your allies, there is: Shale, a foul-tempered golem, that insists on calling you, “it”.(He kinda reminds me of HK from KOTOR.-MM-) The raven haired, sorceress Morrigan, the drunken dwarf, Oghren, and Leliana, the red-haired rouge, with the sexy accent. And that’s just a sampling of them.

The supporting cast, is interesting as well. Like one of the villain’s Loghain. As well as Rendon Howe, voiced by Tim Curry.

There are also a lot of moral dilemmas to deal with. One part has you decide if werewolves are just mindless killers, or deserve sympathy. Often the fate of a whole group rests with you and your party. Sometimes just a few people. What would be the point of choices without consequence? Sometimes, it will result in a character disliking you. Or it can cause a “crisis” moment. In which the will threaten to leave the party, or try to kill you. Or it will determine your allies at the end of the game, when you battle the darkspawn in a final showdown.

There are also several endings. Four main ones. That change slightly depending on your deeds during the game. Like in Arcanum. I got the, “A Dark Promise” ending. I plan to play through again eventually. And will try for another ending. Or perhaps just load a game and view them? Even though that will take some doing. As I will have to load a much earlier save file. The game itself, will take between 50-100 hours. It took me about 62 or so. If that’s not enough there are several DLC’s for the game. And more on the way.

Vae Victus!

The combat in Dragon Age, is very tactical. Very much like in Baldur’s Gate. Only more so. If you do not plan your attacks, you will fail, it’s that simple. Some people have compared it to Final Fantasy XII. I find it a little more advanced than that besides, this system is technically older.

You can pause the action, and give orders at any time. Furthermore you can set your allies A.I. and tailor them, to behave as you wish. One winning strategy is to have a “tank” that is a fighter that can take and deal heavy damage, a support fighter, and two mages, one to attack, one to heal. A heavy mage team, is also a good strategy. It takes a little more diligence however, and much more pausing of the action. But if you train a mage as a arcane warrior, its not as hard as you may think. In the end it’s up to you. I usually have my avatar as the tank, Leliana, for unlocking chests, and sniping. A support mage, to heal and cast buffs. And the last member is optional, I either go with another warrior or mage.

Speaking of which, there are several specializations, or sub-classes to learn. A warrior can become a champion. A rouge an assassin. A mage a blood mage. These have to be unlocked first by either being taught, or reading about it in a tome.

There are lots of weapons styles and skills to learn. You can use a sword and shield, one large sword, or dual-wield.(And that just covers warriors.-MM-)

Among these, you can learn many special attacks: shield bash, and dual-sweep among others. There are also buffs, like war cry. These are some of the most useful abilities in the game.

You can also make potions, poisons, and traps. To be used it battle, the traps, and poison can help to turn the tide in a difficult battle.

You are going to need all the help you can get, as there are some very difficult battles in the game. But never unfairly so.(If you are playing on the Normal setting.-MM-)

Sights And Sounds Of Feralden

The graphics are good in the console version, not great. Oddly there are some amazing effects, like the reflection in real-time off your suit of armor, or on a lakes surface. There is also a lot of expression in the faces, of the characters.

Yet, in other areas the game looks dated. It’s quite strange. But at least it excels in the music and sound department.

The music in Dragon Age, is quite nice. Many tracks stick out in my mind, but they are all good. Even the songs with lyrics. There is also a song at the end of the game, by 30 Seconds To Mars.( If you are into that kind of thing-MM-)

The sound effects, are also very good. It all sounds realistic when needs be. And otherworldly when needs be.

The voice acting is excellent. As we have come to expect from Bioware. It is also very well written. There are films, hell, even books that do not have dialogue this good. I particularly enjoyed the banter between PC’s. Zevern talking to Wynne. And Morrigan and Alistair’s back and forth is very funny.

The Bad
The difficulty levels, are a bit askew. Easy offers little challenge normal can be to hard, and it is almost impossible on the higher settings.

I wish, that Bioware, would have buckled down and given all versions the same amount of polish. Then again, it’s most likely EA’s doing having the game rushed. Why did that shitty publisher have to buy Bioware?

I would have liked it had you gotten to see more of Thedas, not just Feralden. Oh well, maybe in the sequels?

The load times are a bit long, and occur to often. If you thought that Mass Effect had long load times, just wait till you get a load of these.

The Bottom Line
Overall, Dragon Age: Origins, is a game worthy of the Bioware name. And an excellent successor to the Baldur’s Gate linage. If you have the ability get the PC version. Otherwise the console version, is a good substitute.

Xbox 360 · by MasterMegid (723) · 2010

[ View all 5 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Free on Origin chirinea (47064) Oct 10th, 2014
Question (warning spoiler!) Indra was here (20633) Mar 18th, 2010
Just got this game ... Jeanne (75367) Feb 27th, 2010
SP3 Spec Indra was here (20633) Feb 21st, 2010
Sex questions VIII sexy edition mobygamer (92) Dec 23rd, 2009

Trivia

1001 Video Games

Dragon Age: Origins appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

DLC

The standard edition includes one-time use codes for The Stone Prisoner downloadable content (adding a quest for a new party member), as well as a code for Blood Dragon armor - which unlocks for both Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2 (as a futuristic version).

References

  • One of the loading screens in the game features the following sentence: "If all else fails, go for the eyes". This is a wink to the fans of Bioware's own Baldur's Gate 2. A character from that game, Minsk, urged his hamster companion Boo into battle with the same utterance.
  • During the game the player can stumble across hints which lead him to an optional and powerful foe: Gaxkang. This is a reference to Bioware's Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn in which the player could fight the Demi-Lich Kangaxx who brought headaches to a multitude of players because of his sheer difficulty.
  • During the random encounter "The Crater", the party of adventurers meets an old couple standing at the edge of a crater, freshly carved by a meteorite. The man says: "How could a boy survive that? The crater is still smoking. It's a boy--five fingers, five toes, that's all that matters to me. The Maker has answered our prayers. Let's go home, Martha, and raise the tyke as our own." This is a reference to Superman.

References to the Game

Dragon Age: Origins was parodied in an episode of "Die Redaktion" (The Editorial Team), a monthly comedy video produced by the German gaming magazine GameStar. It was published on the DVD of issue 04/2010.

Sales

On February 8, 2010, EA announced the game has sold over 3.2 million units worldwide.

Awards

  • 1UP
    • 2009 - Best PC Game (Readers' Choice
    • 2009 - Best RPG (Editors' Choice)
    • 2009 - Best RPG (Readers' Choice)
    • 2009 - "Great Start" Award for Best New Series
  • 4Players
    • 2009 – #2 Best Game of the Year
    • 2009 – #2 Best Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)
    • 2009 – Best PC Game of the Year
    • 2009 – Best Role-Playing Game of the Year
    • 2009 – Best Story of the Year
    • 2009 – #2 Best Localisation of the Year
    • 2009 – #4 Best Trailer of the Year
  • AceGamez
    • 2009 - PC Game of the Year
    • 2009 - Best RPG
  • Cheat Code Central
    • 2009 - PC Game of the Year
    • 2009 - Best RPG
  • Game Informer
    • 2009 - Best PC Game (Editors' Choice)
    • 2009 - Best PC Game (Readers' Choice)
    • 2009 - Best Role-Playing (Editors' Choice)
    • 2009 - Best Role-Playing (Readers' Choice)
  • GamePro (Germany)
    • February 5, 2010 - Best Console Game in 2009 (Readers' Choice)
  • GameShark
    • 2009 - Game of the Year
    • 2009 - PC Game of the Year
    • 2009 - Worst Use of Blood
  • Gamespot
    • 2009 - Best PC Game (Editors' Choice)
    • 2009 - Best PC Game (Readers' Choice)
    • 2009 - Best Role-Playing Game (Readers' Choice)
    • 2009 - Best Story (Readers' Choice)
    • 2009 - Best Original IP (Intellectual Propery) (Readers' Choice)
    • 2009 - Best Writing & Dialogue (Readers' Choice)
  • GameSpy
    • 2009 - Multiplatform Gamers' Choice Award
    • 2009 - The So Much Blood Award
    • 2009 - The Unlock Your Creativity Award
    • 2012 – #4 Top PC Gaming Intro
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • February 5, 2009 - Best PC Game in 2009
    • February 5, 2009 - Best PC RPG in 2009
  • GameZone
    • 2009 - Game of the Year
    • 2009 - PC Game of the Year
  • IGN
    • 2009 - PC Game of the Year (Editors' Choice)
    • 2009 - PC Game of the Year (Readers' Choice)
    • 2009 - Overall Best Role-Playing Game (Editors' Choice)
    • 2009 - Overall Best Role-Playing Game (Readers' Choice)
    • 2009 - Best Xbox 360 Role-Playing Game (Editors' Choice)
    • 2009 - Best Xbox 360 Role-Playing Game (Readers' Choice)
    • 2009 - Best PC Role-Playing Game (Editors' Choice)
    • 2009 - Best PC Role-Playing Game (Readers' Choice)
    • 2009 - Best PC Story (Editors' Choice)
    • 2009 - Best PC Story (Readers' Choice)
  • Spike TV
    • 2009 - Best PC Game
    • 2009 - Best RPG
  • Yahoo
    • 2009 - Best Role-Playing Game of the Year

Information also contributed by Big John WV, sgtcook and St. Martyne

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Sicarius.

Macintosh added by Zeppin.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, Jeanne, JRK, BurningStickMan, Zeppin, Spenot, Paulus18950, CalaisianMindthief, Patrick Bregger, katarn_88, Starbuck the Third, FatherJack.

Game added November 12th, 2009. Last modified December 2nd, 2023.