I've been playing through Dragon Age Origins again recently, having had my appetite for the franchise reignited following the latest videos for Inquisition from PAX. I have to say, I'm loving it.
As I started this blog after playing Origins I never really got around to writing about it. I liked Dragon Age 2 a lot, but playing Origins again has really highlighted the areas where it fell down compared to the original game.
The first thing that struck me was the scale and breadth of both the world and the story. The world of Origins feels huge compared to the world of DA2, and despite the relatively small, funnelled maps, it feels more open and expansive. The whole story is more epic in scale whilst retaining it's focus on the characters, with some truly memorable NPCs. There is also an absolute tonne of lore to find and read, much of it very entertaining and well written, with some items such as the love letters you find lying around simply there to make you laugh.
The story just seems more interesting than in Dragon Age 2 as well, with plenty of twists and turns. There is a great variety of quest design, and whilst the tactical combat makes up the majority of the gameplay there seem to be plenty of other quests that require something a little different. I particularly enjoyed the puzzle maps of the Fade (more so than the first time round) that require you to take on different forms to bypass different objectives, getting involved in Dwarven politics, and having a hand in deciding the future of the Ferelden throne. Very often there is no "right" answer to the various resolutions some of the storylines, just differing shades of grey.
I also like that Origins is a game where choice matters. This time playing through my decisions lead to me having to kill Wynne (a companion character I was actually looking forwards to obtaining). That was it, she was dead and is now not available to me in this play-through. I didn't even know I could kill her off! Sure, I could have just reloaded to an earlier point and made a different decision, but I like that I have to live with the consequences of my choices. There seems to be much more opportunity to make my mark in the story and the game.
The combat system is old-school RPG, but very tactical, far more so than in the sequel. I have had fights where I have had to try several different tactics before winning through, taking control of each character and positioning them in just the right places and using the right skills or equipment at the right time in order to claim victory. The DA2 third person action combat is still available for those times when I want to just smash my way through some trash mobs as well.
Anyway, despite showing it's age (relatively small maps, clunky animations and graphics in places, some fights can turn into a health pot race, etc.) I'm finding Origins to be just as enjoyable the second time round. I really hope Bioware can take the time and effort with Inquisition that they obviously took on Origins, and give us something really special, instead of another Dragon Age 2 (a good, but ultimately unmemorable game).
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