Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition

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Buy it on Steam here.

I’m not sure what made me decide to tackle Dragon Age: Origins as my first overwhelmingly long game in this project, especially since my prior attempts to play through the game were all varying degrees of unsuccessful. The things it does well, it does so very very well, and that’s really what kept drawing me back to it.  I also recently acquired a copy of Dragon Age: Inquisition, and wanted to go back to the beginning before even looking at the latest title in the series.

I decided a few things pretty early on.  The most impactful was that I would only do side quests that could be done incidentally; I wasn’t going to spend a lot of time exploring or trying to complete every single objective in the game.  This allowed me to both speed up my completion time considerably, as well as leaving some new-to-me content if I ever decided to do another play through.  Although this is completely contrary to my normal play style, I was concerned I’d get overwhelmed and not make it to the finish line.

Obviously, this means I missed a lot, and sometimes, I really struggled to stay on track.  Although I never had much interest in the party-relationship mechanics, I somehow developed a soft spot early on for Sten, which made me take the extra time to complete his personal quest.  I also decided that since I seemed to be playing the most Mary Sue-esque character that ever was (no joke, I kind of annoyed myself with my goody-goody-ness at times), I would romance the fair Alistair. Or maybe I just wanted to be half of a power couple.  So, with a couple of minor distractions, I did little more than needed to be done to get to the end credits.

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My save file after conclusion of the main questline listed a completion time of just over 24 hours.  I played on the easiest setting, and still managed to get my whole party killed a few times, so there was a few instances where I needed to revert to my prior save. For the sake of simplicity, I’m calling it a 25 hour run.

I want to get one thing out of the way before I start praising the game – I hate the combat. Every time I’ve quit playing, it’s been due to the combat. As far as I’m concerned, party-based real-time with pause combat is an abomination.  Now, I know some people enjoy it. but I am so very much not one of those people.

Because of the way the battles are fought, I used my previous knowledge to get the most effective healer for my party as early as possible, and never adventured without her afterwards if I had any choice in the matter.  While this alleviated a lot of my issues with combat micromanagement, it was also limiting in many ways – needing to have that slot taken up by the same character throughout the entirety of the game meant I was choosing the remainder of the party around her.  It also had an influence on the story choices that I made – I was unwilling to risk upsetting her and having her leave the party permanently.

Which the long way around to all the things I loved about this game.  Sure, I started off making choices because I felt like I needed Wynne in my party at all times, but before long, I found myself physically unable to make choices that I felt ran contrary to the character that I had built. I was a casteless Dwarven rogue, lifted from the darkest parts of Orzammar by someone who believed in me and I was given a mission, and goddamn it, I was going to prove myself worthy.  Yeah. The story gets to you like that.

I not only found myself caring about what the other characters thought of me – most notably both Alistair and Wynne, who both were very moral sorts, but what I thought of my character.  I knew that the game really had its hooks in me when despite desperately wanting Golems for my army, I found myself unable to make that choice – because damnit, it just wasn’t the right thing to do.

And so, despite finally having seen the tale through to the final battle, I still have an intense love-hate relationship with Dragon Age: Origins.  There are at least two other types of characters I would like to experience the story with, but right now, I cannot bear to go through all the things I don’t enjoy to do it. I may come back to it someday, but for now, I’m content to move onto something else with mechanics I find more enjoyable.

After spending 66 hours in total with Dragon Age: Origins, I have only managed to complete 38/109 achievements.  A single playthrough of the main story with minimal distraction took approximately 25 hours.  The Ultimate Edition includes the Awakening Expansion, as well as 9 smaller “content packs”, although I didn’t explore any of that extra content on this playthrough.

 

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