Dragon Age: Origins Updated Impressions - Consequences and Consoles

From cookies to deadly feuds, the histories of your party members play a big role in BioWare's upcoming fantasy RPG.

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For a lot of games these days, trying to make sense of the name's subtitle is nearly as big of a challenge as actually playing the thing. At first glance, Dragon Age: Origins might appear to have one of those cryptic subtitles, but the concept of "origins" actually plays a very big role in the game. Whether it's your protagonist or your party members, a character's history will significantly alter the adventure that plays out before you. That was the subject of a recent demo for this high-fantasy role-playing game as led by developer BioWare.

The demo's organization gave us a clear look at the differences that might arise between two typical parties. BioWare had a pair of monitors set up side by side, with what we'll refer to as Party A on the left and Party B on the right. Party A was led by a male human noble character, while the other was led by a female mage. Aside from the party member differences, the two systems were perfectly synched up, both picking up at a very specific point in the game. In this case, the two parties were attempting to cross a bridge to get to the Mage Tower, where they were seeking to recruit the help of friendly spellcasters to fight the scourge of the Darkspawn--the story's primary antagonist.

The trouble is that a guard was standing in the way preventing the two groups from crossing. This gave BioWare the chance to show us a couple of different negotiating strategies you might have depending on what type of party members you keep at your side. More specifically, how some of your party members' short-term and long-term histories can impact those strategies. Party B had a large, brutish fellow named Sten. It turns out that Sten stole himself some cookies from an overweight child in the last town the party had visited. It also turns out that this guard loves cookies, so they were able to pass before Sten had to get violent. Party A had a seductive female mage named Morrigan who was able to earn the guard's favor by, well, leveraging her sexuality in a way Sten was ill equipped to do.

Once in the tower, the pair of teams ran into another roadblock in the form of a mage named Wynne. She was something of a blast from the past to one of the parties and a complete stranger to the other. Because Wynne and Morrigan were mages, they were already well acquainted. However, the other party had no mages; thus, no one recognized this woman. Wynne's past with Morrigan was quite a rocky one, with tensions between the two quickly rising to the surface. Those tensions soon erupted as Morrigan's party and Wynne's group of mages got into a fight that left the poor old woman dead in her tracks.

What was the other option in this situation? About as stark of a contrast as you could expect. Party B didn't have anyone in its crew who had a history with Wynne, and after a bit of back and forth about the current state of the Mage Tower, which was being overrun by monsters, Party B decides to allow Wynne to join. Wynne winds up being one of the most powerful healers you could have possibly recruited into your ranks, which was clearly evident in the next boss battle. Party B was able to attack the beast head-on and let Wynne heal them from a distance, while Party A--the team that had Wynne killed--had to go at it with more of a cautious approach, having no skilled healers in its ranks. Yes, some of the consequences of having certain party members along with you can be as lighthearted as a joke about cookies or as powerful as being able to alter your entire boss-fighting strategy.

Morrigan and Wynne aren't such great friends.

With this PC demo completed, BioWare gave us the chance to spend a little time with the console version of the game running on the Xbox 360. Anyone who's played BioWare's last console effort, Mass Effect, should feel pretty familiar with the way BioWare's transitioned Dragon Age's controls from mouse and keyboard to standard controller. Specifically, that means you'll be pulling up a radial menu during the heat of battle that allows you time to examine your spells, equipment, and abilities while leaving the action paused. The targeting system was rather finicky, but BioWare was quick to point out that this was something that's still being heavily tweaked. Altogether, the console version looked solid and only a small notch or two below the PC version in terms of graphical quality.

The console demo was just a brief boss fight, so it didn't give us a chance to really get into the differences between each version of Dragon Age. We should have more of an opportunity to do that in the upcoming months leading up to Dragon Age's October 20 release date.

Discussion

180 comments
davonas
davonas

This game is really awesome, And have a cool gameplay

Karrotjuce
Karrotjuce

I love this game. My friend and I have two different games which have both spiraled off in radically different directions. The game is great, I love it, and it is a must buy. Great preview, mage Error aside.

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

After playing this (on PC) for about 20 hours, all I can say is the word 'Origins' has a lot more to do with going back to the 'original' Baldur's Gate type RPG's than the 20 minute Origins start, and a game, which at least for my Daleish Rogue, has just meant a couple of people looking down on me a little. I haven't felt, in any meaningful way, that the game is playing radically different because I am a Daleish Elf. Some conversations with party members, but that's about it.

CthulhuFhtagn0
CthulhuFhtagn0

@ pandaman1982 "Party A was led by a male human noble character, while the other (party B) was led by a female mage." "Party A had a seductive female mage named Morrigan" "However, the other party (party B) had no mages; thus, no one recognized this woman." So, I ask again: how can party B have no mages while being lead by a female mage? Perhaps you should reread this preview ; )

ohsogood8
ohsogood8

Come on, this is Bioware! Have they ever let us down yet?

pandaman1982
pandaman1982

@CthulhuFhtagn0 Perhaps you should reread this preview? They watched two separate feeds of the same section with different parties to show how party composition will affect gameplay. Anyway I'm looking forward to this, I actually enjoy being able to pause combat to decide tactics.

CthulhuFhtagn0
CthulhuFhtagn0

What a craptastic review. Where's the content editor? How can a party simultaneously have a mage while having no mages? Failboat. Bah. Anyway, the game looks good. I'll wait for a full hands-on review before I decide whether or not to buy it though.

mymelo15
mymelo15

This game looks fantastic!!

Hakud0ushi
Hakud0ushi

Still no actual gameplay video... Let's wait and see how it goes.

pollob13
pollob13

well .. its bioware .. so i can count on

TheTenth10
TheTenth10

don't understand what's great in having real time battle interrupted by popping a menu, thus killing the continuity and adrenaline of battle, and as in Mass Effect the view is Gears of war like, it's more a shooter than a RPG anyway

Sparten1009
Sparten1009

seeing the review first before spending my money...... really hope its goin to work duh.. its BIOWARe

Gioh
Gioh

Yes, by now im convinced. Definitely gonna have me this one.

thibbledorfP
thibbledorfP

A cookie? You can get past the guard with a cookie? That doesn't seem very professional behaviour from a guard defending a tower during a Blight.

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

@Trashface: I don't think anyone can say just yet that this game is going to be a 'good old-school, traditional fantasy RPG in the serious D&D style'. We can hope, but too early to say. There is always too much optimism a few months before release. We should all calm down and be a bit more grown up about games not due for months yet.

Sacif
Sacif

This game has been one of my top most wanted games since i heard about it. October..so...far...away :)

Trashface
Trashface

Actually, Batzy, it's been awhile since a good, old school, traditional fantasy RPG came out in the serious D&D style. I don't care for the girly anime style and strictly turn based play is pretty out dated. I don't remember a game like this since NeverWinter nights.

Trashface
Trashface

I think kids looking at bodies and nudity in games for jollies is pretty pathetic.

plapshapaul
plapshapaul

this will for shore have massive replay value

Vasot
Vasot

BIOWARE RULEZZZZ !!!

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

If Jade Empire and Mass Effect didn't come between Baldur's Gate/Planescape/NWN then I would be be gagging for this. But given the change from early Bioware to later Bioware, I will hold judgement until I see many user reviews. After all, I remember how Bioware talked about the Mass Effect quests and made them sound like they were like regular RPG quests. They never said the quests would all be linear battles on planets that looked the same. So everything they say about Dragon Age is still not necessarily what it will be.

English-Lion
English-Lion

Looking GOOD !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i will get it !!!!!!!!!! ^^^

Gioh
Gioh

okay..it looks awesome... Must be bad indeed to not make me buy it. ;)

Gioh
Gioh

Enenmies look very passive...is ther eany challenge in there? What enemy with meore potential then a group of players sits or stands in one spot to be killed??? Id buy it if the anemy ai is as lame as this looks. Else its the same as any of the others. Lookin good wont help, posing challenge will. Look at MonsterHunter, challenges galore. Fearesome too. BEtter have Bioware make MonsterHunter for ps3.

FoeCrusher
FoeCrusher

I have been lusting after this game for some time now.....3 more months to go, Sigh.

Lidocain
Lidocain

Can anyone remember a game made by Bioware that wasn't a hit? I never played Jade Empire, but every Bioware game I've played, I've thoroughly enjoyed.

NuKkU
NuKkU

This game looks very interesting but im not sure if ill get it yet

KillTank
KillTank

Stop trying to compare. If I compare this game with not playing this game, this game wins. I want this game, because right now i'm losing.

TheoleDominion
TheoleDominion

@Zerobeam-People "nickle and dimes" (gum,candy,fastfood, cigarettes,Starbuck's coffee..etc)" themselves everyday..not a big deal really.

Zerobeam
Zerobeam

DLC = nickle and dime. All the DLC stuff that they're working on now could still be added to the game. I remember back when all you had to do was buy a game to get the complete experience, nowadays you have to drop $10 each month to get additional parts of the game...

centuryslayer
centuryslayer

getting it. but I think I will enjoy Alpha Protocol & Mass effect 2 more tbh.

alyasfy
alyasfy

so i think im gonna buy this one here

alyasfy
alyasfy

i dont know about u guys but i think ALL the games u mentioned r pretty nice and i like rpg games

Batzy79
Batzy79

I dont see why this is so exciting. It sounds like every other game that lets you choose you own path. dont get me wrong, it looks like a great game, and im a sucker for RPGs. but it doesnt matter how you repackage it, its still the same old thing.

graavigala
graavigala

ive loved biowares game since... wayback :D but having too many options just make things confusing for me. i dont want to have itch on the back of my head going "i did that wrong but i cant do sh1t about it now" after i played +4hours of the game after the desicion i made. still this game looks nice and fun!

adarmus47
adarmus47

To aTRUEplaya, yeh because Oblivion and Fable were the first RPGs in a fantasy setting. BTW the two games you mentioned are very disimilar themselves. And Oblivion is real time combat and was not party based as well as having a very liniar main quest despite being an open world. The list could go on how this game is nothing like Oblivion but you get the idea.

RavenX08
RavenX08

Yeah how is this ripping off Fable? If anything its taking a page out of Mass Effect and takes it to a whole new level. This game will tide people over untill Mass Effect 2.

SeanD72
SeanD72

This is one of the games im most excited about in the upcoming fall release spree. To aTrueplaya, could you please explain how this game rips off of fable and oblivion, it may have similar mechanics such as a way to affect your story through decisions and gameplay choices but that has become a standard for most RPGs. It is also set in a fantasy setting where a dwindling good most fight back against a terrible evel, but if you say thats what makes it a rip off then you just alienated alot of games because apparently they ripped off of fable and oblivion. I dont want to bash fable or oblivion in this post i think they are both phenominal IP's and great games. I just want to defend developers. Too often great games get bashed early because of there similarities to famaous titles before the fanboy has a chance to play the "offending" game and realise what it too has too bring to the table. Each individual game has a story to tell and im very excited to see what Dragon Age Origins has to offer.

TheoleDominion
TheoleDominion

Base on some of the thumbs down on my previous comment, I forgot that there are "pervs" who want to see nudity in games...However that only proves there's something WRONG with YOU! Go to a porn site if it means that much to you,that's what they're for.

TheoleDominion
TheoleDominion

I'm all for realism in a game, but NOT to the point it becomes a detriment for other gamers who may not be able to play it because of it being banned. Just no real reason to get THAT graphic in a game.

Sony_Patriot
Sony_Patriot

The boxart looks so similiar to The Godfathers 2's boxart.

MuddVader
MuddVader

This game seems really really good... I want it now D=

t0g511
t0g511

I'd like to see how it plays out on the console for curiosity but i'm definitely getting the pc version in October.Can't wait!!

hassy94
hassy94

Okay, this article is a mess. It says at the start that Party B is led by a female mage. Then it says that "Party A had a seductive female mage named Morrigan". But then it says "the other party had no mages". How is that possible, if there is a mage in one and a mage in the other, how are there no mages in one of them!?