The GWJ CRPG Club - Game 5: Dragon Age: Origins (In Progress)

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For more information on the GWJ CRPG Club, go here.

Dragon Age: Origins is the GWJ CRPG's Club's fifth winner, as it just edged out Torment: Tides of Numenera to get the nod. Released on 2009, the games brings us more fantasy RPG goodness in a third-person perspective.

There is a standard edition and an ultimate edition of the game. The ultimate edition contains the DLC and Awakenings, the only expansion pack for the game. The game is playable on PC, Xbox One, Xbox360, Playstation 3, and Mac OS X. Any version or platform is good to go for the sake of this club.

We'll be playing this game until June 30, 2019 . This thread is for friendly discussion as we play through the game. Share your reflections, successes, defeats, tactics, wishes, impressions, and whatever here! The more conversation the better, so post away.

For BIG spoilers, please use the spoiler tag. (No! I am your father!) Tactics, strategies, general story progression likely won't need them.

Anyone and everyone is welcome to participate, and can start at any time, so join the fun! One quick favor: If you decide to play, make a post here along the lines of "I'm in!" to let us know. If you start and finish the game before the end, you'll level up your GWJ CRPG Membership.

Helpful Links
Steam Ultimate Edition ($29.99) (On sale until Jan 3 for $7.49)
Xbox One and 360 ($4.94 for base game, included with EA Access)
GOG: Ultimate Edition ($19.99) (On sale for 4.99)
Playstation Store ($19.99) (On sale for $5.99)
How Long to Beat (50-103 hours)
Wikipedia Page
Fandom Wiki
Achievements (only console, no Steam Achievements)
Achievement Guide (only console, no Steam Achievements)
Metacritic (94 metascore, 8.3 user score)
Walkthru
Mods on Nexus
Helpful Modding Video

Random Mods that Have been Mentioned Here or Elsewhere
Skip the Fade

Members Playing
tundra (completed)

LastSurprise
chromebison
GodzillaBlitz
ubrakto
beanman101283
pyxistyx
tboon
WizKid
tormodh
merphle
Sorbicol
ClockworkHouse
Clumber
Shadout
Eleima
imbiginjapan
RnRClown
Hardek
Malor
Redherring
Alien Love Gardener

I’m in!

I'm in.

Was hoping Tides would get it but still psyched to do DA:O.

Just recently decided to jump in in these here forums after jamming the podcast on the reg for about a year now.

Will starting rocking this as soon as I get God of War finished up.

I'm in as well, although I've got a good chunk of Divinity: Original Sin left to go. I'm really excited about this one, however!

Any suggestions for platform? I have both Windows and ... XBox360. I'd prefer to play in Windows if there aren't significant disadvantages.

My obligatory statement of "In!" is obligatory.

I strongly recommend the PC version. You get mods, and the tactical view camera (your traditional Baldur’s Gate/Divinity:Original Sin view) during combat.

It wasn’t a particularly attractive game when it came out, and it’s even uglier on consoles. On PC you can spruce up some of those textures.

Additionally, for those who’ve played the game before, you can install a mod to skip the Fade section. I wouldn’t recommend it for first time players, and even for those who’ve played it before I’d say it’s not that bad of a section. But it is an option.

Also, I’m in.

And my axe!

Actually I've got a BIT of a head start, because I started this last month and then drifted away from it. So rather than start from scratch again I'm going to jump into my game in progress. Providing i can remember what I was doing.

I'm in. Maybe I will finish this one. Maybe.

In
FYI: The GOG link, links to the wrong game.

Main post links are now updated, but if anyone has helpful links to add let me know.

I'm curious if there are must-have mods for the Windows version? Poking about on Nexus, I'm leaning toward a few to start with.

Dragon Age Redesigned
More Hairstyles
Improved Atmosphere
JB3textures

WizKid wrote:

In
FYI: The GOG link, links to the wrong game.

Whoops! Got it, thanks!

I'm in.

Would love if someone could make a note of links to mods that are recommended and how to install them on Steam version of the game. (edit: see names of show up, right. I'm not to lazy to google )

tormodh wrote:

I'm in.

Would love if someone could make a note of links to mods that are recommended and how to install them on Steam version of the game. (edit: see names of show up, right. I'm not to lazy to google )

I'm sure we can patch something together with some mod links. Nexus Mods (linked in main post) seems to be the happy home for them, and most come with semi-functional instructions. I'll add a separate category up top and add to it as things move along with ideas.

I'm guessing that people here will chime in with suggestions for mods too, as beanman has done.

I’m in, but won’t be starting until I finish with D:OS.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

I'm in as well, although I've got a good chunk of Divinity: Original Sin left to go. I'm really excited about this one, however!

Any suggestions for platform? I have both Windows and ... XBox360. I'd prefer to play in Windows if there aren't significant disadvantages.

The mods and tactical mod on the PC version are much better than on console. This is a rare instance where a (relatively) modern game was developed for PC and ported to console, rather than the other way around.

Edit: Oh. I think I’m in on this one after sitting D:OS out. Bit disappointed Tides of Numanera didn’t win but you can’t win them all!

Any tips for a new player? I'm playing on console and know very little about the game. Despite playing a bunch of Inquisition, I don't feel like I know much of anything about Dragon Age.

Thanks for the platform suggestions, everyone. I'll go with Windows.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

Any tips for a new player? I'm playing on console and know very little about the game. Despite playing a bunch of Inquisition, I don't feel like I know much of anything about Dragon Age.

I've started the game twice, but got distracted by other things so never got that far.

I'm in on this one. Thanks for your hard work Godzilla

I hope to start tomorrow. Will have to take a look at mods first.

Some people really hate the Fade section early on. There is a mod to skip it.

I’m out! Slightly relieved since I bought some non-RPG’s recently that I want to play. Will be following the thread though. Unlike Divinity, Dragon Age has yet to fade from my memory.

Anyway, for my two full playthroughs I did human mage and human noble. Plot wise I found them about equal. Mage was meaningful in terms of lore, which pays off even more in the later games. Noble had some satisfying political options toward the end that aren’t available to other origins.

Gameplay wise, I preferred the mage. I found I was generally wanting to run a 2 mage, 1 tank, 1 rogue party most of the time and my main combat decisions/inputs seemed to be spell-related even when my main character was a rogue.

I've played human mage, human noble and dwarf noble before. Honestly liked them all. The Origin concept really worked well in the game imo.
Think it will be an angry city elf this time.

It’s a spiritual sequel to Baldur’s Gate, with the real-time-battles-with-pause of that game along with its genre descendants. It features a much more cinematic presentation, third person navigation when out of battle, and battles can be zoomed out for an overhead tactical view.

If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy 12’s AI programming, you’re in luck, as this game features a delightfully robust system for programming your allies’ behavior in battle. There are of course odd oversights and limitations that will annoy you at some point. Nothing's perfect. You can also micromanage your whole party if that suits your style.

I would recommend having a tank and a healer in your party at all times. Sword and shield talents help draw enemy aggro, and enemies will generally go for those wearing the heaviest armor. Magic users can dish out a ton of damage, though, which will draw enemies to them. Early on, aggro management can be frustrating. Once everyone has a few levels, your options start opening up.

Dagger-wielding rogues should attack from the rear, of course.

Get in the habit of pressing the tab key (on PC, not sure how to do this on console) to highlight interactive items in the environment. This will help you find quests, loot, and lore entries. Money can be tight, so finding as much stuff to sell as possible can help a lot.

It’s structured like many BioWare games where, after an introductory period, you have your choice of destinations. Some of these are soft gated by encounters intended to encourage you to come back later if you have a hard time with them. If you’re outside of a dungeon and banging your head against something, come back later. When given the option, I’d recommend first making your way to the Mage Circle tower. You get several attribute boosts in this section that make the later sections of the game easier to deal with.

Alternatively, there can be times where you can hit a wall in a boss fight and have no easy way out. Keep multiple saves. Prepare healing items, traps, poisons, etc, as much as you can. Unfortunately people get trapped in situations they can’t get out of where they run out of supplies and can’t make it past a boss or encounter, and drop the game. This is a failing of the game, but try to buy/craft as many healing items as you can to avoid these situations. Don’t be afraid to drop the game’s difficulty. The default difficulty can be rough at times.

I’ll try to think of anything else I can and add more if I do.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

Any tips for a new player? I'm playing on console and know very little about the game. Despite playing a bunch of Inquisition, I don't feel like I know much of anything about Dragon Age.

It’s old school with a more modern interface. I’ll do a quick summary of what I remember:

1. You’ll need a fairly balanced team - a tank, a DPS, a mage who heals + whoever else you like. There a lots of options and you meet a fair few people on your journey so don’t worry about too much. The mage who heals though is essential.

2. Some of the origin stories are likely to be more impactful than others. The mages is meh, the human and dwarf noble quite good for the DA:O story. The elves (either) would be good for the overarching Dragon Age story of you intend playing the others.

3. Tactical mode on PC is essential, as is setting the AI for each party member. They completely ditched this system for all subsequent DA games and of all the decisions they made, this was the worst. It’s a good system.

4. There is a boatload of lore in the game - it’s everywhere. If you want to go through it all be prepared to read a lot of stuff. It’s quite good although half of it get ditched (again) for the sequels - all the dwarven caste stuff especially, which is a real shame - so it’s better not to ignore it completely.

5. After the battle of Ostagar (Ostegar?) the game sort of goes out of its way to make you want go to Redcliffe. Don’t!!!!! There is a really hard fight there you won’t be ready for. Cost me 20 hours of playthrough first time I played the game. Apparently it still rankles a little. Chose some place else, but save Orzammar (The Dwarven City) for last.

6. Spells. Mages are your only crowd controllers in this game - nobody else can tie down multiple enemies at once. It makes them the most powerful class in the game and you’ll probably need 2 at all times once you are through Ostagar. Messing up your mage build can be crippling. Get it right. This guide is a little deep, but isn’t too bad.

7. You can control anyone in your party at any time in combat. Do so. The AI isn’t that great at picking targets - but great for making your solider or mage drink the right potion at the right time.

8. Some spells combine to super-duper damage/effect spells. They are essential.

9. The fight at the landsmeet isn’t easy. Not much advice, just be ready for it.

10. The dragons aren’t essential but are relatively straightforward. It’s really easy to cheese one of them.

11. Orzammar and the deep roads go on forever.

I think that’ll do from my probably slightly old memories of the game. It’s an odd game that doesn’t quite come up to the sum of its parts, but definitely worth the experience. In the end it tries a little too hard to be a Baldur’s Gate beater, and Bioware never allowed it to settle to its strengths.

Edit: none of the DLC for the game is essential, although Awakenings is a very good (30+ hours) expansion. Are we playing just to the end of the base game? Not sure I can face all the way to the end of Awakenings, although I might change my mind once I get there.

Edit edit: the games economy isn’t there to make you money. There are only about 3 things you can craft that’ll turn a decent profit. If you want to buy every high level item you can find for your party, you’ll have to game the game. It also doesn’t really matter.

Just base game for club completion. Awakening is quite good, and two of the party members tie directly to Dragon Age II. The Witch Hunt DLC ends up being relevant in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Leliana’s Song is kind of interesting but doesn’t really matter. The ones that integrate into the main game, like Return to Ostagar and the one where meet Shake are good (and Shale is one of the best party members). There’s another standalone one whose name escapes me which is a terrible dungeon crawl. Avoid it.

beanman101283 wrote:

There’s another standalone one whose name escapes me which is a terrible dungeon crawl. Avoid it.

That the one about the golems?

I remember there only being one storage crate in the game and it’s tied to one of the Day One DLCs.

Thanks for all the info!

Some Popular & Recommended Mods
Skip the Fade

I never really understood the Fade hate. I loved that section, it was weird and different.

Sorbicol wrote:

11. Orzammar and the deep roads go on forever.

Hey mod makers, I just thought of something you could let us skip...

A replay is tempting but I'm not in just yet. In the next few weeks I'll have to make a call on whether or not I'm finishing D:OS.

Reposting from the main club thread:

If anyone else is interested in a little extra credit, I’m going to read The Stolen Throne, by David Gaider, one of the series’ principle writers. It’s a prequel to Origins taking place a few decades before, when Ferelden is still ruled by the Orlesian Empire. It provides extra context for the events and characters at the beginning of the game, and describes how the Deep Roads are supposed to look better than the game itself presents them. It’s pretty light, so shouldn’t take too long to get through. There’s also a book called The Calling which serves as a prequel to the Awakening expansion. If I make it there, I’ll probably read that as well.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

Any tips for a new player? I'm playing on console and know very little about the game. Despite playing a bunch of Inquisition, I don't feel like I know much of anything about Dragon Age.

From what I remember, here are a few:

1. Don't skip the Fade. It's important for the overall series lore, but mechanically, it's very significant for certain mage builds, and (IIRC) several permanent stat boosts are available inside.

2. When the game opens up, you should do the Circle Tower before Redcliffe.

3. At the first town after Ostagar, there are two companions who are permanently missable if you don't recruit them when you visit that town.

Spoiler:

Sten and Leliana.

4. I don't know how relationships worked in DA:I, but the relationship system in this game is different from DA2. Here, there's a scale for companions from hate to lovers or best friends; there's no "friendship vs. rivalry" thing. Each companion will gain a passive buff (or penalty) which scales with how much they like and trust you (or don't), and certain relationship scores may be necessary for certain side quests. There's no mechanical benefit to cultivating a bad relationship with someone, though it could be interesting for role-play.

5. Related to #4, you'll find gifts around the world that you can give to your companions. I found this a little inscrutable at first, but it helps to know: each type of gift is best directed at one person. So if one companion really likes beer, you should give that person all the beer. If another likes little animal figures, give that companion all of those. Trying to guess whether someone will like this beer or that figurine is a waste of time.

So it's a Japanese dating game. I can swing that.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

So it's a Japanese dating game. I can swing that.

Yeah. When you stop and think about it - it’s as weird as f**k.....

ClockworkHouse wrote:

So it's a Japanese dating game. I can swing that.

'lil bit, yeah.

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