Thoughts on Dragon Age

I’ve been meaning to write this up for awhile, since I beat the game a month or two ago, but only just now got around to it.

I quite enjoyed the first 10 or 15 hours, tolerated the next 35 or so, and then slogged through the last 20. I would say that once the joy of discovering a new world wore off, the rigid structure of the gameplay took over and gradually wore down my positivity. I played as a human mage, and after the first 20 hours or so, encounters devolved into one of two types:

  • the party’s alpha strike is successful in obliterating most enemies, and the rest of the battle is just meaningless mop-up which requires no supervision
  • the alpha strike doesn’t kill many enemies, forcing a long drawn-out battle where you cycle through your spells and skills, chugging potions as necessary.

The first portion of Dragon Age did a great job of introducing the world, and really selling the idea that not only was there a well-established world with norms, customs, and history associated with it, but that learning about this stuff would be necessary for navigating the storyline. Once the amount of “historical/travelogue content” began to slow, and once I had exhausted most of my companions’ dialogue, my opinion of the game began rapidly declining, as it had to hang its hat on its comparatively uninteresting quests and combat instead. It seemed like there was a lot of filler content and battles.

The character dialogues, while they lasted, were for the most part memorable and interesting. However, most of my party members spent half the game sitting at the campfire, with no further dialogue or quests associated with them, beyond “their” one quest – this was pretty disappointing. The voice acting was generally good, though – I only started clicking through the voiceover about halfway through the game, which for me is quite a lot!

My interest picked up a bit when I started the last third of the game (the Landsmeet), but the realization that it was mostly a bunch of FedEx quests to get through the final gate to the endgame was a pretty big disappointment. The endgame itself was also sort of unfocused, and unlike the Ostagar segment, didn’t do a great job of selling the cataclysmic battle that was supposed to be taking place. The fact that the final battle ended with my character unconscious and Alistair engaging in cheese tactics to slay the final enemy didn’t help either…

One thing I had blocked from my memory until now was the excruciatingly painful install sequence. I played the game on the PC, and wanted to link my new EA/Bioware account to a specific old Bioware account that I had already used. The process for doing this involved several rounds of deleting my account, and trying to recreate/relink it as I wished. This process took up two hours of my life that would have been better spent on other things.

Overall, I wasn’t disappointed with the game — I certainly had some fun with it, and got my money’s worth out of it — but at the same time, I feel that there were a lot of things that could have been better about it. I suppose I’ll have to wait and see about the sequel, which is supposed to be coming next year.

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