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

ClockworkHouse wrote:

I finished the Magi origin story and have made it to Ostagar.

I wasn't surprised, but I was a bit disappointed, that for all that the game seems to give you multiple ways of navigating the major story arc of the origin, all roads seem to lead to Rome, as it were.

Spoiler:

Whether you choose to help Jowan or betray him to Irving, you end up doing the same dungeon crawl, and the end result is the same: Jowan escapes, Lily is imprisoned. Irving might be mad at you, or Jowan might be, but there aren't actually multiple solutions to the same problem.

I don't really mind that, but it's good to know that the choices are mostly illusory.

You're not wrong, but most decent - good* story driven RPGs are the same in this regard? Dragon Age Origins' bang for the buck is on the tin. Each Origin is different, almost all (all? it's been a while..) of them in varying locales under different sets of flaming poo circumstances.

Beyond that, yeah, a plot setup thread: most folks end up as Grey Wardens because they were survivors that hit dead ends with their respective lives, often due to circumstances beyond their control. The difference between "circle mage" and "city elf" or "dwarven noble starting in Orzammar" (etc) is still, in my book, an appreciable step up over the usual 'and we all woke up in the same dungeon cell'.

*the overall execution is fun and gives room for character flavor, not going to even try to weasel in an argument that the game isn't entirely derivative on the whole darkspawn swarm thing ;-P

I don't disagree. It's clear that the goal was one path through six different origin stories instead of six paths through one. It looks better on the tin that way.

It just struck me that for all that the game is really trying to convince you that you're making big branching decisions, you're really not. There aren't even meaningful mechanical differences: this path gives you these rewards, and this one gives you these; this route gets you better starting equipment, but this one gets you more XP.

I don't mean it as a knock on the game. Not every game has a lot of meaningful choices in how storylines get resolved. It just seemed odd that a game that puts so much emphasis on choices and consequences should have so many of the former with so few of the latter.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

I don't disagree. It's clear that the goal was one path through six different origin stories instead of six paths through one. It looks better on the tin that way.

It just struck me that for all that the game is really trying to convince you that you're making big branching decisions, you're really not. There aren't even meaningful mechanical differences: this path gives you these rewards, and this one gives you these; this route gets you better starting equipment, but this one gets you more XP.

I don't mean it as a knock on the game. Not every game has a lot of meaningful choices in how storylines get resolved. It just seemed odd that a game that puts so much emphasis on choices and consequences should have so many of the former with so few of the latter.

The choice and consequence all revolves around who you want to see nekkid. That's pretty meaningful if you ask me.

(In my case, the answer is of course 'everyone')

I think I'm in on this one. I've played Origins within the last couple years, but it'd be interesting to share the experience, so I can do it again.

BTW, the GOG edition is wonderful. It's got absolutely everything, save only one minor/useless ring that you got for preordering at Gamestop. It's entirely standalone if you want it to be. I don't know if the servers are still up, but if they are, you can log into the Bioware social network thing as well. Historically, the advantage this gave you was that unlocks from earlier playthroughs easily transitioned to later ones, that your discoveries and achievements were stored on their servers. (The game's really designed to be played multiple times.) But you can duplicate this exactly if you simply maintain a copy of your profile directory. Back that up, and restore it if you install the game on a different machine (or OS install), and any special classes you've unlocked will be unlocked from the very start. (like the Arcane Warrior mage specialization, as an example.)

And for five bucks, well... that's a stupid good price. That's a huge, AAA game for less than a burger and fries. I consider it my second-favorite RPG, overall, behind The Witcher 3, and about tied with Baldur's Gate 2. It has significant flaws and janky bits (the relationship system is laughable, for instance), but it's a solid, well-designed game with a genuinely interesting plot. In fact, the writing was strong enough in DA1 that nearly all the interesting parts of Inquisition came from the threads first woven in this game.

I don't really think it needs mods, so I have no opinion about them, but I'll review that video upthread and may install some. A no-memory-leak EXE sounds interesting, for example.

Some generalized tips, mostly combat-related:

  1. edit: this suggestion is wrong. I'm leaving it in for posterity, but ignore #1 here, because DA1 has no auto-pause options. (except pause on combat start.) I was apparently mixing up my memories of this game with those from Baldur's Gate and perhaps Pillars of Eternity.

    This is a pausable real-time engine, like Baldur's Gate. There's a lot going on, and when you get five or six bad guys, along with your four characters, it's easy to miss important things happening. Thus, I suggest making extremely liberal use of auto-pause settings. My normal approach is to turn most of them on, and then over time, turn off the ones that start to annoy me.
     

  2. Combat is a bit MMO-ish, in that you're thinking about threat management and trying to keep bad guys pounding on your tank. (either Alistair or your character, probably, in the early going.) There's a specific shield skill that's really really important to get. Most of the early fights are a struggle because it's so hard to manage aggro, and everyone that's not in plate will be knocked unconscious quite easily. I can't remember the specific skill offhand, but there's an early shield skill in Alistair's tree that will make him into a real tank. Figure out which one it is, and beeline for it. Getting that one skill transforms the entire early combat game, and you'll transition from struggling to prospering. It should be obvious which one I mean, but if anyone's confused, I can look it up once I get the game reinstalled.
     
  3. You will find that you'll be doing a lot of the same things repeatedly. Pay attention to this. If something is getting routine or boring, then it's probably time to automate it using the Tactics system. You don't have to use Tactics, it's totally optional, but it's basically a method to teach your characters how to fight intelligently.
     
    It's just a series of condition/action dropdowns, like "if character under 50% health, heal that character." They get evaluated in the order they're listed, and the first one that's true gets chosen. This lets you offload routine/simple decisions to the characters, so that you don't have to deal with it. This is particularly handy with your tank and your healer, because the stuff they do is awfully repetitive. Just like with actual MMOs, dealing the damage is the interesting part. If you set up your Tactics well, you can put most of your focus into one or two characters, while the remainder keep acting in an intelligent way without needing their hands held.
     
    It's a great system, and they butchered it in later editions of the game, something that I'm still irked about. They got that idea perfect in the first game, and then steadily broke it afterward.
     
  4. Combat balance is a little lacking. Mages are extremely powerful in Dragon Age, absolute juggernauts of destruction, particularly by late game when you've learned some of the better spell combos. Fighters and dagger rogues are well balanced, one being tougher and the other doing more damage, but they're pretty comparable. Arrow rogues, on the other hand, are nearly useless. They do some debuffs, but not much actual damage, so little that it's kind of a waste to bring one. They fixed this in the Return to Ostagar expansion, there's a talent there that buffs their damage output to a reasonable level, but despite the theming of the character and background, fielding Leliana with a bow on her back will make your game substantially harder.
     
  5. Even regular mode will be fairly challenging at first. Once you know what's going on, cranking it up to Hard difficulty really lets the combat system sing; IMO this is what fights are really tuned around. You might want to wait until your second playthrough to go to Hard mode, but if you enjoy good tactical challenges, doing that even on the first run might be enjoyable. But it does take a pretty thorough understanding of the combat system to prosper on Hard difficulty. Mistakes will be harshly punished, and the game expects you to be extracting most of your characters' capabilities, even in routine fights. Normal mode is a far more reasonable place to start. It's still pretty hard when you're starting, but you'll be coasting along fine in midgame, not too much attention required most of the time.

Again: this is a great game. I'm looking forward to seeing how people in 2019 react to a game from 2009. I'm suspicious that many of you will end up enjoying it very much. The interface is thoroughly modern, and while the graphics are several generations back, they're still pretty acceptable.

Choosing between the awesome talking stone tank, and that other annoying talking stone tank, is more difficult than it ought to be. Guess the one who is not a former templar wins.

Dagger rogues are underrated in Origins. They get ridiculously strong single-target damage.

Tips: Dont miss the backpack in Ostagar. I missed it The others cost 10x as much.

Welcome aboard, Malor, and thanks for all the tips and thoughts!

Malor wrote:

Combat balance is a little lacking. Mages are extremely powerful in Dragon Age, absolute juggernauts of destruction, particularly by late game when you've learned some of the better spell combos. Fighters and dagger rogues are well balanced, one being tougher and the other doing more damage, but they're pretty comparable. Arrow rogues, on the other hand, are nearly useless. They do some debuffs, but not much actual damage, so little that it's kind of a waste to bring one. They fixed this in the Return to Ostagar expansion, there's a talent there that buffs their damage output to a reasonable level, but despite the theming of the character and background, fielding Leliana with a bow on her back will make your game substantially harder.

So, my Skyrim tactic of starting as an (anything) and morphing into a sneaky archer is OUT! I'll actually stay as a mage! Nice.

Malor wrote:

Even regular mode will be fairly challenging at first. Once you know what's going on, cranking it up to Hard difficulty really lets the combat system sing; IMO this is what fights are really tuned around. You might want to wait until your second playthrough to go to Hard mode, but if you enjoy good tactical challenges, doing that even on the first run might be enjoyable. But it does take a pretty thorough understanding of the combat system to prosper on Hard difficulty. Mistakes will be harshly punished, and the game expects you to be extracting most of your characters' capabilities, even in routine fights. Normal mode is a far more reasonable place to start. It's still pretty hard when you're starting, but you'll be coasting along fine in midgame, not too much attention required most of the time.

Thanks for this. I'm going to go with normal difficulty then. First time for me.

I’m in, but will be finishing up Divinity OS first. I seem to recall some sort of install shenanigans between Origin and Steam (owning different edition on each) but I’m sure that is solvable.

Just to echo what Melor wrote about combat, the tactics system (and configuring each party member's combat AI) is really handy, especially in later fights. Your tank and one of your mages should - more or less - be autonomous by the end, a little like Eder becomes in Pillars of Eternity. It's triggering your mages at specific times that becomes the most important skill, especially when you are getting mobbed and need significant, precision crowd control effects.

The duel wields rogue can lay down a phenomenal amount of single target DPS, but you have to be controlling them all the time to make them viable. I found leaving them to their own devices just got them dead very quickly.

I don't think Liliana with a bow was completely useless if I'm honest - I swapped her in for Morrigan quite a bit my first play-through, it was Sven that I always struggled with a double handed meelee weapon. He seemed to have the staying power of a wet paper bag and never hit hard enough to make a difference - I always swapped him out for Zephran or Shale as soon as I could.

Because of that my play through is probably going to be a double handed Warhammer wielding Dwarven noble, just to see if i can figure that build out. It's the one I never really spent any time with in my two original play-throughs, so it'll hopefully add to the experience.

I slight disagree with Malor's opinion of DA:O in the great pantheon of Western RPGs - it's a very good game to be sure, but doesn't come close to Baldurs Gate (either of them) for me.

I'm also probably going to do the things I never quite did in my original play=throughs too

Spoiler:

Side with Templars against the Mages, and also let Loghain live so Alastair leaves the party

Based on my experiences with Inquisition where everyone died for seemingly no reason, I'm planning to play my character as the healer. At least I can blame myself when the party folds over to a pack of rabbits.

As I recall, Morrigan starts with a healing spell, then it’s not until you head to the Mage tower where you can recruit another party member for more robust healing. Yet another reason to go there first when given the option.

Sorbicol wrote:

I don't think Liliana with a bow was completely useless if I'm honest - I swapped her in for Morrigan quite a bit my first play-through, it was Sven that I always struggled with a double handed meelee weapon. He seemed to have the staying power of a wet paper bag and never hit hard enough to make a difference - I always swapped him out for Zephran or Shale as soon as I could.

Despite all the hours I've put into that game, I don't think I've ever used Sven seriously. But IIRC, on the brief occasions I did bring him along, I had a pretty similar experience, that he didn't have any durability. (His damage output seemed fine, though, or at least it wasn't annoying me enough to remember.) Thinking about it fresh now, maybe it's because (counterintuitively) he was in plate armor? Being in plate makes characters more threatening, so he'd have been much more easily pulling aggro off the tank. I haven't tried this, but perhaps dressing him in light armor of some type might actually increase his survivability? That's something I'd probably experiment with if I was running Sven as DPS.

That might make for an interesting experiment for this run, since I haven't tried him much before. I also have tended not to use Shale that much; I thoroughly enjoy the character, but I always thought the various forms on offer seemed inferior to human specialists. Shale is sort of like a druid from early WoW, able to take on various roles with just a mode change (plus maybe some crystal swapping), but not as effectively as a pure class. And keeping critters off a DPS golem seemed pretty hard, IIRC.

I slight disagree with Malor's opinion of DA:O in the great pantheon of Western RPGs - it's a very good game to be sure, but doesn't come close to Baldurs Gate (either of them) for me.

What really sells it for me is the quality of the villains and the various possible resolutions to the game. You can make real choices with very lasting consequences. The game doesn't have the crazy amounts of state that, say, Tyranny does, but you can alter your playthrough in very substantial ways with your choices. (I'm being vague here to avoid spoilers.) Baldur's Gate is fun, but the main plot is almost totally linear, and there isn't really anyone to despise like there is in Origins. The voice acting is so good in that game. The main villain is particularly well drawn. He makes sense. He has a reason to do what he does, he's not just twirling his virtual mustache. You can understand him. He stands for something. Say what you will, at least he's got an ethos. It's loathsome, mind, but he's got one.

Plus, the party banters are awesome. They only did a little bit of that in the BG series. Voice work was really expensive in terms of disc space, so they didn't do that much of it. In Origins, there are multiple hours of conversations between the various combinations of characters you can have. The actors must have been working for weeks.

There are areas where the BG series is better (terrain and monster variety are two biggies, and combat balance is much more finely tuned), but it's not a slam-dunk for either game. That's why I consider them sort of tied for #2 on my list of RPGs.

I spent some time tonight going through more of the modding tutorial. I'm mainly adding some bug fix packages and graphic updates. So far so good.

I'm hoping to finish up modding the game tomorrow. I'm mainly waiting for some larger files to download via Nexus, so I'll pick up where I left off and should be able to wrap things up quickly.

I've got some character indecision problems. I made a human male noble rogue, because I like the way the end can play out there, and I wanted to se how Witch Hunt plays out if Morrigan is your bae.

But then it felt kinda way to standard, so I went with a blood splattered city elf bride, dual wielding warrior build.

But now I'm second guessing that too - there's all these chests you can't open at Ostagar unless you've got a rogue build.

*sigh*

Anyway, one tip, unless you're planning on modding inventory limits (I decided to go completely vanilla): buy the backpack from the quartermaster at Ostagar before heading into the wilds.

Good input, Malor. It's easy to overlook the strengths that Origins brought to the table at a time when they were not, if memory serves, in abundance. I remember being taken aback by how refreshing and substantial it all felt. It shall be interesting to see how it is to revisit all this time later.

I got going with a Dwarf Commoner. I enjoyed the origin and look forward to a potential return to said area a wee while later. Really felt the characters of the best friend, and the sister.

Opted for a dual-wielding warrior setup. I have distributed evenly between strength and dexterity, with a touch of constitution, thus far. I am about to speak to Alistair or Duncan concerning a certain ritual, after just making the acquaintance of a certain doggie who could do with some medicine, and the hungry prisoner.

Honestly, I'm more than content with the visuals on a 360 through a 50" 4K TV. I was prepared for the worst, and pleasantly surprised to see how well it holds up. Visuals are crazy subjective, mind.

Alien Love Gardener wrote:

But now I'm second guessing that too - there's all these chests you can't open at Ostagar unless you've got a rogue build.

*sigh*

I hear that. I'm used to exploring every possible nook and cranny. Locked doors and chests were once too much to discard. Now, surprisingly not. Cool!

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

I spent some time tonight going through more of the modding tutorial. I'm mainly adding some bug fix packages and graphic updates. So far so good.

I'm hoping to finish up modding the game tomorrow. I'm mainly waiting for some larger files to download via Nexus, so I'll pick up where I left off and should be able to wrap things up quickly.

My experience of last night having returned home after spending Christmas with my family (and one very tired and irritable child demanding we do the whole 9 hour journey in one go, rather than stay over night in a hotel like we originally planned) was:

30 minutes to download the game.
20 minutes to try and get the DLC to register. I followed the instructions @ubrakto posted but I still have no indication it worked. There is no list of DLC in either the steam window or the in game menu. Is that right?
25 minutes following the modding guide. I got as far as downloading the mod manager and then getting rather fed up and firing up Endless Space 2 instead.

As for my opinion of the game, I think that despite the effort they put into each origin (something I think BioWare have on record as a decision they really came to regret) the game doesn’t really do anything with them of substance. Sure, being a human noble or a dwarven noble has some impact, but the rest don’t really register and at the time the game started, I really don’t think they were intending to go in the direction they did at the end of the Tresspassers DLC for DA:I. Maybe it’s retconning a little, but they ditched so many interesting ideas from the subsequent series (the Dwarven caste system for example, and completely ignoring the city elves plight for DA2 and most of DA:I) that I think DA:O loses a lot of impact that way as well.

The darkspawn are also extremely uninspired (they are Tolkien’s Orcs) as were the Dalish Elf section of the game and the the Deep Roads, which as I’ve said before just go on and on for a not terrribly satisfying pay off. As for the Templar v Mages plot they eventually decide to run with for the rest of the series, there is no really weight to how that plays out

Spoiler:

Treated as they are, and despite the risks, the idea the Mages wouldn’t rebel is nonsensical.

Sure it has it moments, the Landsmeet section and the political intrigue in Orzammar, but overall it never really delivered for me. I think it tried to do too much and by the time they got to the Deep Roads it just looks and feels like a game BioWare wanted to be done with rather than something they really wanted to polish and refine.

I always rather thought they were surprised by the success of the game to be honest - they put most of their wieght behind Mass Effect at the time of release, I think they got caught off guard hence the rushed nature of DA2 (and their decision to make that game effectively Dragon Effect) before they went all in on DA:I.

After setting up two mods, Dragon Age Redesigned and Dragon Age Graphics Enhancement, I started in earnest yesterday. Melana, a female city elf rogue, is the Grey Wardens' newest inductee. After escaping Ferelden's alienage, she's made it to Ostagar, and is about to journey into the wilds.

After having played through most of the game with a male human noble, I was definitely looking for a role-playing experience which would give me a different perspective on a lot of the game's characters and events. This origin did not disappoint. It's interesting that the DA:O's character selection screen talks explicitly about the equality of men and women in Ferelden, but the city elf origin immediately shows times when that is true, and times when it's a lie.

Spoiler:

For instance, although marriages are arranged and one spouse must always travel away from his or her home alienage, it's not always the woman; Melana's groom-to-be left his home, and Melana's father paid his family a dowry. On the other hand, only women were targets of sexual violence from the Arl's son and his goons. It was interesting, in this setting, to think about how these women were vulnerable not just as women, but as members of a persecuted racial minority. And, Melana also ran into some casual misogyny from one of her fellow Grey Warden inductees.

Sorbicol wrote:

20 minutes to try and get the DLC to register. I followed the instructions @ubrakto posted but I still have no indication it worked. There is no list of DLC in either the steam window or the in game menu. Is that right?
25 minutes following the modding guide. I got as far as downloading the mod manager and then getting rather fed up ...

In case it helps, when you fire up the Mod Manager you should see all the dlc listed and checked off in the left column.

LastSurprise wrote:

After setting up two mods, Dragon Age Redesigned and Dragon Age Graphics Enhancement, I started in earnest yesterday. Melana, a female city elf rogue, is the Grey Wardens' newest inductee. After escaping Ferelden's alienage, she's made it to Ostagar, and is about to journey into the wilds.

After having played through most of the game with a male human noble, I was definitely looking for a role-playing experience which would give me a different perspective on a lot of the game's characters and events. This origin did not disappoint. It's interesting that the DA:O's character selection screen talks explicitly about the equality of men and women in Ferelden, but the city elf origin immediately shows times when that is true, and times when it's a lie.

I ended up picking the female city elf Origin as well (dual-wield warrior, though), for much the same reasons. My only complete playthrough was also with the male noble, although I've previously played out several of the origins. All I've done so far is drop into the game world and have the two initial conversations (with dad and the friend that you can be hilariously mean to about her drinking). Looking forward to getting back to it this weekend!

@Sorbicol: You won't see the DLC list in the Steam menu (it's all part and parcel of the Ultimate Edition), but you *should* see it in game. If you click the Downloadable Content option from the main menu you should get a screen with three tabs. The right-most tab (Installed Content, I think?) is where you should see all the DLC you have installed and enabled (and there are certain mods that will appear there too once installed). If they're not there, I don't think you've got them installed. Another way to check is to start a new game. If the first thing you see isn't a menu to choose between Origins and Awakening, then you definitely don't have the Awakening expansion available to you.

I'm not sure what to do if the instructions I posted don't work for you. I'd say click through to the forum thread and see if anyone else in it had a different workaround.

Those deep roads sure goes on forever. And I have hardly started on them.
A bit disappointed about the city elf origin so far, not much interaction based on it. Though I assume more might come when getting to elf and human parts of the game. So far been to mage circle and dwarf city.

Dwarf Commoner Origin:

Spoiler:

I was feeling the lowly beginnings working for a crime lord, because society has cordoned off everything else. You're viewed as the lowest of the low, considered nothing.

A mother who drinks to blot out the struggles. You can talk down to her. Deride her. Or be somewhat hopeful with resolve.

A sister who has held off getting hitched simply to climb out from the dust, in the face of pressure by said crime lord to piggyback on her birthing an heir to a noble, to instead find a real connection with someone. Hope can find a way.

A best friend, who has your back, with whom there's a comedic camaraderie to make the best of the hand you have all been dealt.

The flavour with which you can address the crime lord, his lackeys, and how to approach his tasks. Kill the target. Let him walk. Strike a bargain. How to go about the arena combat with either poison or honour.

Sometimes all you can do is adjust how you get from point a to point b without otherwise refusing to play ball and checking out. When you're not that important, or connected, or respected, you do what you can within the boundaries that keep you and yours relevant and able to stay afloat.

Malor wrote:

Combat balance is a little lacking. Mages are extremely powerful in Dragon Age, absolute juggernauts of destruction, particularly by late game when you've learned some of the better spell combos. Fighters and dagger rogues are well balanced, one being tougher and the other doing more damage, but they're pretty comparable. Arrow rogues, on the other hand, are nearly useless. They do some debuffs, but not much actual damage, so little that it's kind of a waste to bring one. They fixed this in the Return to Ostagar expansion, there's a talent there that buffs their damage output to a reasonable level, but despite the theming of the character and background, fielding Leliana with a bow on her back will make your game substantially harder.

In case others are interested, there is a mod called Faster Combat that addresses archery general wimpiness, while also increasing combat speed. There is an optional file for increasing run speed too. v3 has the archery boost in it (which applies both to enemies and player characters).

Finally, after considerably more time than I anticipated, I've got things modded up as I like, and have started a new game.

I present to you Barcelona, a human mage of impeccable moral character!

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/7EWOKhG.jpg)
Barcelona ponders the Harrowing to come.

I've played about an hour, getting used to how things work and moving forward with the story a bit. I did find combat a bit tricky with a mage. He kept getting hit, but it all worked out in the end. Things got a bit more confusing when there were two in the party, but I imagine I'll get this sorted out as I play.

So far so good, but I'm contemplating switching to a warrior instead of a squishy mage. For the moment, though, I'm going to keep going.

uh-oh. Denerim is a good deal crashier-to-desktop than I remember it being. I hope that's not going to be a problem

I'm a good way into Lothering, and I've remembered why I prefer turn-based combat.

I'm already making liberal use of pause and play. Which on console consists of toggling the radial wheel open to survey and assess the battlefield.

After Divinity Original Sin, which followed Pillars of Eternity, I believe I have been converted to turn based combat over real time with a pause.

*EDIT*

I may yet transfer across to PC. I have been spoiled by modern console releases that have a camera zoom function, and a tactical view. I'll have to compare.

Pillars really made me think, I don’t like pause-and-play very much. I’m curious to see how I’ll react to it this time.

I greatly prefer realtime with pause, but Origins combat hasn't aged as well as I had expected.
Only playing on Normal difficulty, where pausing isn't needed much at all, since I'm just going for a quick story playthrough I can bring forward to the other games. Might have enjoyed the combat more on a higher difficulty, at least I recall enjoying the combat a lot back then.

Finished dwarf, elf and mage areas so far. Surprisingly little direct interaction with my city elf origin in the elf area, although the main story there thematically had much to do with the city elf origin.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

So far so good, but I'm contemplating switching to a warrior instead of a squishy mage. For the moment, though, I'm going to keep going.

Since you have full control over all characters, the class of your main matters very little for combat. Mostly a story choice.

I'm a little distracted by just how heavily this game was influenced by the Lord of the Rings films. It's there in the look of the characters and locations, but it's also there in the music and the way cutscenes are directed and elsewhere. I imagine the design team repeatedly returning to those films as a reference for the look and feel they were after.

It cribs a lot from both Lord of the Rings movies and the Game of Thrones books in terms of political machinations. The later games leaned more into what makes this particular fantasy setting unique. But the beginning of Origins, especially, is very much wearing its influences on its sleeve.