Thursday, June 3, 2010

Back from the Dead: Dragon Age Resurrected

Lately a third AAA giant has entered the ring, turning my game-time duo of Alan Wake and Red Dead Redemption into a full on three-way of awesome. This game is none other than Dragon Age, Bioware's fantasy opus that took the gaming world last christmas. I picked up the game for $37 new while you-know-where was engaging in some generous comping of the competition. I popped it in, played it for about 8 or 9 hours... and hated it.

Well, I didn't TOTALLY hate it. The characters and dialogue were awesome, but I couldn't wrap my head around the combat and leveling mechanics. Perhaps I should not have rolled a Warrior as my first character. I wanted to blast through everyone like I was playing Dynasty Warrior: Bioware Edition, and I got shredded for it. The game got put into the backlog and I never even looked back... until now.

Last weekend, I spent a couple off days in St. Paul, hanging out with my friends Ricky and Michelle. Early in the morning, while we were waiting for some other friends to stop by, Ricky booted up Dragon Age and I watched him play. Just through watching someone who knew what they were doing with the game, I saw everything I was doing wrong, and resolved to give the game another try, for several reasons:

1. While I don't obsess over my completion percentage any more (a fool's errand, IMHO, especially as it applies to me, an 80 of 1450 is just damn pitiful.
2. I was starting to feel the itch for some RPG action that isn't FFXIII. The only other option was to continue Divinity II, which I also enjoy, though that game is a poor man's Dragon Age.
3. I liked the characters and plot, so I figured if I could get good at the combat, everything would be awesome.

I forgot about my human male warrior and instead made a female elf mage. The mage's play style is suiting me much better than I thought it would. I get to feel like a badass chucking a ton of spells, and the mage's frailties counter my latent desire to treat they game like it's Dynasty Warriors. I think I can handle the other two classes now in future playthroughs, but the mage was definitely the right one for me in round one.

After completing Ostigar, the game's first non-origin mission, I took to the DLC with a vengence. I downloaded and completed Return to Ostigar, since in terms of storyline progression it felt right to go right back there, and not return after a bunch of other stuff has happened. I picked up a ton of items my characters aren't high enough level for, and 25 achievement points for the moderately challenging final battle of the module. All in all, it was rather disappointing... A 1 hour retread though old areas for a few items and 1 achievement... with little story contribution.

Next up was to start The Stone Prisoner DLC, which I got with my new copy of the game. This quest was a lot more entertaining, and Shale is certainly does not behave the way one might expect a golem to. He has replaced Alistair as my party's tank. (I roll with a party of Shale, Liliana, Morrigan, and me... so 2 mages.)

With my rocky companion in tow, the Warden's Keep DLC was next on the list, as I wanted the chest to store all those items I'm not high enough level for yet, so they wouldn't waste all my inventory space. For my $7, I wish this would have lasted a little longer, but it was far better value than Return to Ostigar, all things considered. More interesting battles and dialogue throughout. I'd rate this one as worth the download, despite my griping on the price.

Now, it's back to the main game. I plan on playing the story through before picking up the Darkspawn Chronicles. With all that out of the way, I'll focus on getting the game to 1200 before purchasing the Awakening expansion. That retail disc will only keep getting cheaper while I plug away at everything else I need to do in the game.

That'll do it for today... more tomorrow.


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