Golden Oldie - Dragon Age: Origins
Updated: Mar 27
Dragon Age: Origins made its first appearance on shelves 9 years ago on November 3rd 2009. This dark, gritty, tactical RPG has a warm place in many fantasy lovers hearts. The game was acclaimed for its interesting lore, varied (yet story intertwined) character starts, exceptional party banter, and fantastical setting.
DAO allows the player to choose from six different starts with three different races: dwarf noble, dwarf commoner, Dalish Elf, city elf, human noble, and Circle Mage (either elf or human). Each background ties into the main games storyline whether you picked that start or not. You see through your travels through the main quest where that character would have been had you not selected it.
The unique origins allow for an amazing amount of roleplay within this game. Players can craft unique mindsets that are actually backed by the games story rather than if everyone started the same way. The different origins can seriously affect how you decide to proceed on future quests and what decisions you will make regarding several factions. One of my favorite influencing origins is the dwarf noble origin. It’s got the most “meat” to it in my opinion. Whichever origin you decide to pick your Warden will crafted by all the choices you make in the world, and with the later two games in the series those choices can make a large influence in events proceeding DAO.
DAO had a fairly polarizing combat system. Many Dragon Age fans still love and swear by the tactical, strategic take that Origins used. Micro-managing your party and having the correct classes in your party were essential on any difficulty above normal (and even some fights in normal)! The combat is definitely no where near as engaging as Dragon Age 2’s combat, it required more thought and planning. Particular ability pathing was required. Mages were the most micro intensive and a party required a strong healer, and a strong damage/crowd control mage. There are several combinations to take this game through nightmare but as far as I know they all required extreme micro, and at least 2 mages.
If you’re playing on normal or easy difficulty you aren’t restricted quite as much. You can pick your warden, make sure you set the correct tactics on your followers and usually do pretty good with little to no micro. Mages aren’t as necessary, and you can play it out more like the following Dragon Age titles. If you’re just picking this game up now to enjoy the lore and history of the Dragon Age franchise and don’t want to really worry about the intense combat system take the easy route and enjoy it for the complex lore and interesting story it has to offer.
Origin’s overarching story is fairly common. You’re the underdog hero who is set on a quest to save the world. Not all that interesting in and of itself. The interesting part is all about how you go about doing it. You have to brave the Deep Roads infested with hordes of Darkspawn, finding the gruesome truth about why they capture dwarven women. Defeat a demon possessed child, decide if mages who might be harboring mages are worth the risk, take a stance on blood magic, and many other grim dark realities of Thedas.
The story is one of my main points I bring up to anyone thinking about going back and trying the game out. It’s a fantastical novel turned game. The choices you make in the game will affect the world in the future. Some of the games darker themes don’t appear in the later games. The tone of the future titles are more light-hearted. Origin’s really stands out from its peers, it’s a game that I often reference when I think about some of the best fantasy games.
The lore in Origins is fairly deep. There are hundreds of codex entries detailing events, items, and people. NPCs you find through your travels will constantly give you insight into the world. One of the best parts about Origins in my opinion is that even smaller characters tend to have their own distinct personalities. You can tell that different people in different standings view things differently. The player has to use the information from multiple sources to get their own opinion on certain things and events. There are multiple truths on events that the player has to piece together to get a better understanding of the world and it’s lore. Much of the future games events and topics aren’t understood unless Origin’s lore is explored.
Dragon Age Origins does face some technical problems though. It really doesn’t seem to like Windows 10. While the game is exceptionally better on PC due to ease of access with the UI running in compatibility mode doesn’t seem to help. Cutscenes and loading screens can have you losing lots of progress as the game doesn’t auto-save as often as newer games. Make sure you are saving after and before big fights, and always before a location change.
Origins has a large amount of DLC content to play through: Awakening, Witch Hunt, The Stone Prisoner, Warden’s Keep, and Return to Ostagar are the main ones. The extra content helps keep the game going and keeps you from jonesing for more content!
The games companions are all fairly fleshed out and help to bring this game to the next level. Companions will banter with each other during missions, comment about events going on, and change opinions on you depending the choices you make throughout the game. Some events can even make or break a companion for you completely! Using different companion combinations can bring a whole new set of dialogue to the table! Many companions have specific missions that they have special unique dialogue for. Make sure you bring Alistair to Redcliffe!
With all that said Dragon Age: Origins is one of my favorite fantasy RPGs! In my opinion it’s worth going through even if you don’t like the combat; just throw it on easy difficulty! It’s a game that I keep coming back to year after year to do another playthrough. With the amount of choices you can make, each playthrough can always be a little different! Dragon Age: Origins is definitely a Golden Oldie!