5 things I learned about Dragon Age

edited to add a link to the review: Read it here — it’s now up on the web.

PC Gamer this month features a glossy and rather glowing full review of Dragon Age — this one is notable partly because of the writing but also because the reviewer played the whole thing through to the end (he comments that it took him about 80 hours for his first epic playthrough). Even the editor notes:

The last two months have been excrutiating. We’ve had Dragon Age in the office for what feels like an epoch, and John’s been raving about how sensational it is almost daily.

There’s also a pre-review in Eurogamer. And as a sign of EA’s confidence in the game, they note:

It’s an important game, then; we got an indication how important (and how big) when publisher EA started distributing a complete PC review version to press months before its release. That never happens.

OK, enough of the behind the scenes stuff, what have we learned about the game itself.

  1. There will be two modes of play. Easy which is similar to MMO style play, and Normal where you can pause to set up actions for each party member repeatedly during the fight.
  2. In addition, you will be able to set up combat tactics for members of your party, similar to the way you could program behaviour into your party in FFXII. So you can set them to heal when they get low on health, switch from range to melee weapons, and so on. It sounds as though it can get quite complex if that’s what you want.
  3. Similarly, if you are interested in picking out a complex talent and skill spec for your character and party you can do it. If not, they can be set to skill up automatically along preset paths.
  4. Dwarvish culture — we’ve heard a bit about the elves, humans and mages. Dwarves have a complex caste system by which young dwarves take the same caste as their same-sex parent (ie. dwarf girls get their caste from their mother, dwarf boys from their father.) Then there are casteless dwarfs, unrecognised as members of society and with their ancestry removed from dwarven history (so presumably their children are fated to follow in their footsteps.)
  5. How your fellow party members feel about you will affect some romance options (apparently there are gay romance options too, my money is on the naughty tattooed witch for the female one because only ‘naughty’ girls are ever allowed to be bi in games, but I’d be happy to be proved wrong) but also give them gameplay buffs, unlock personal quests, and determine whether they leave or not.

If there was one comment in the PC Gamer review that really intrigued me, it was discussing  NPC vendors who follows you around:

Treat them as more than a shop, talk to them, and the details of their past emerge along with a surprising ethical quandary.

What I’d give for an NPC merchant in a MMO who rewarded you for treating them as more than a shop! In any case, the reviews sound as though the game is everything it has been described as and more. Reviewers praise the immersiveness of the setting and the sense of detail and having experienced a world, not just a game.¬† Phrases like ‘the RPG of the decade’ and ‘it feels like the consummate, traditional PC RPG’ are not bandied around lightly.

How will I survive the countdown to release date now, dammit?! I already decided that my first character will be the city elf fighter — the city elf beginning involves a wedding, an abduction, and possibly a rape, so I’ll try to model her on The Bride from Kill Bill. Anyone else got any ideas for characters?

[rhetorical question: I'll survive by playing Torchlight, clearly. And maybe playing Dragon Age Journeys, the free flash game that goes live tonight.]

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11 thoughts on “5 things I learned about Dragon Age

  1. I haven’t played a single player game on PC since Diablo 2. I might have to check out the journeys thing to see if it is my thing. So many people raving about DA and Borderlands. I’m feeling the peer pressure

  2. I’m torn between wanting to experience all of the origin stories, and simply wanting to crack on with the game.

    Knowing me, I’ll probably end up playing the ‘vanilla’ human noble story first time around, and if I can muster a replay somewhere down the line, I’ll try something a little more exotic.

  3. Bioware has been really good about including gay storyline options in their games, and not just for the female leads. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it with male characters as well. I have faith that they won’t make it a cheesy set up either.

    • There’s definitely at least one gay male romance option (bet it’s the elf :P ) because the reviewer mentions that he had different options with how to respond when the guy came on to him (ie. disgust, encouragement, etc).

  4. I just hope the postal strikes get sorted soon so these clowns don’t stop me from getting this on time. I am currently looking at either a true Elf mage or scout… undecided at the moment though.

  5. http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2009/10/dragon-age-journeys/

    “Dragon Age Journeys is a Flash-based browser game set in the Dragon Age world. Players explore the underground Dwarven realm of Orzammar. During their adventures, players of this light-weight web game can earn three items that will transfer to the Xbox 360, PC and PlayStation 3 versions of the game.”

    I won’t be playing this until I find it in some bargain bin in 2 years, not because it doesn’t look like a great game but simply because I’m snowed under with games.

    Have fun to those who are going to try it and I like the idea of browser-based freebies!

    • The browser game is great, actually. I wasn’t expecting several hours of RPG type gaming out of it, but you can control a party, level up, pick talents, get gear, explore dungeons, do quests.

      If they do decide to charge micropayments for future chapters, I’d happily pay for it (well, depending on how much :) )

      But this does make me think that one of the neat things about single player games is that they can happily live on the shelf until you have time to play them. It’s not like an MMO where if you miss the first wave of players, it can get really difficult to find groups for some content later.

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