Dragon Age First Impressions

Now that I’ve spent a little time with Dragon Age: Origins, I thought I’d post a few impressions.

Initially, I didn’t think Dragon Age: Origins was going to do it for me. Things started out really slow. I didn’t care for what at first glance appeared to be a rather generic story. Some of the graphics were distracting. Controls didn’t feel right. I was not impressed.

Now that I’m about five or six hours into the game, I’m happy to admit things get much better. The story, now that I’ve read some of the background (via the Codex) has me buying in to what’s happening. I quickly became comfortable with the controls.

Graphics are still a bit of a disappointment. It’s probably nit-picky and petty, but some of the character models look really bad. I know the game has been in development for a long time, but it’s surprising that Mass Effect, a game two years older, looks just as good (if not better) than Dragon Age. Maybe that’s due to the fact that this game was obviously designed for PC first, consoles second, but some of the models are very distracting.

I had read in more than one place (Josh most recently) about how Dragon Age had a potentially steep learning curve but I thought I was good enough to start the game at a higher difficulty level. WRONG. After an hour of dying needlessly I set the difficulty back to normal and moved on. I don’t know why I have this need to do things the hard way but I’m getting better. I’ve decided that after I gain a few more levels I think I’ll give the next difficulty up another try now that I’m getting the hang tactics system and my guys aren’t as squishy.

And one last thing. Normally with BioWare games, I’m almost always go with the “good” options. In conversation I say the “right things” and when offered a moral choice I “do the right thing”. This game, I’m trying to be a “bad guy” or at least not a knight in shining armor. It’s hard. On more than one occasion I’ve felt a twinge of guilt as I send an orphan packing or see a “-10 Alistair” after I make a decision. If nothing else, that’s got to count for something in terms of emotions in a video game.


  1. Dragon Age is a game that is a beast on Normal. I shudder to think what it would be like any higher.

    The neatest thing in Dragon Age is that even if you pick the good answer, you’ll often have people in your party who are not very nice, if not evil, and they’ll get offended. It is pretty tricky to keep everyone happy in a lot of the circumstances.

    And while I think that the graphics could use a little bit of a polish compared to a lot of the other games out there, the character models are the one piece of really stand-out art… on the PC šŸ™‚

  2. I set the game on Casual, and at times it was almost too easy. Having said that, I haven’t had any frustrations with difficulty. Though oddly, one of my friends was also playing on Casual, and she tweeted more than once about dying multiple times during boss fights, which I never experienced–even in the very last boss fight of the game.

  3. I started on “Hard” and the last battle in the first quest was a bear. I tried every tactic I could think of but we were constantly rebuffed. I actually dialed the difficulty to Casual because I was so frustrated and we made it through rather easily. Since then I’ve been playing on Normal and haven’t had any trouble since.

  4. Casual is really easy – the gap between casual and normal is oddly large. You’ll still have character fall from time to time, but the cards are heavily in your favor.

    I think setting the difficulty up and down depending on the situation isn’t a bad strategy. I think about 80% of the game is actually “normal” on normal, with odd spikes here and there.

    Also “tactic” is slimly defined here. If you don’t want to read up on what’s expected here and there, or what X really means, etc., – be prepared to kick it back down to casual at some point.

    • Yeah, the tactics are actually quite involved and I’m not sure how deep I’m willing to go. I’ve been trying to set up some basic behaviors and tweak from there, I just can’t commit to nailing down every detail. Still, for the patient, it seems to be quite robust.

  5. There’s a lull in the middle, I’ve found, and then it gets awesome towards the end.

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