Dragon Age: Twitter Review Pt. 2

By Shamus
on Dec 2, 2009
Filed under:
Game Reviews

My Twitter based review continues. Note that this just just an experiment. I’m not planning on reviewing ALL games this way. In the meantime, it’s kind of a nice change of pace for me.

Again, stuff in bold are the comments I made while playing. The rest is elaborations on that.

I KNEW at the opening of the game I’d get stuck in the Fade sooner or later. And that I would be sick of it long before I got out.#DragonAge

The Fade is a dream world. If you’re a mage, the tutorial section involves entering the Fade as part of a test. It was pretty obvious that all these dreamworld models, scenery, and special effects weren’t just for a short one-shot deal for one of the six origin stories.

Sure enough, there is an extended section of the game where you get pulled into the fade and have to fight your way back out.

There’s no looting or shops (since it’s all a dreamworld) and you do it without your teammates. So there’s no dialog, no companion banter, and little story progression. So, you don’t want this part of the game to go on too long.

Looking back, I’m not sure that it was really “too long”. When I wrote the comment above, I’d been at it for a long time and I thought I was only at the halfway point. I was actually very nearly done, but since I couldn’t see the finish line I was getting restless.

Again, this is something that would never get mentioned in a full review, because it seemed annoying at the time but didn’t really hurt the overall experience in the long run.

Ah, out of the Fade. Again. Good-bye screen-buffer blur effects. Again. #DragonAge

Oh yeah. I was pretty tired of how everything looked blurry.

…although I’d be very, very surprised if I didn’t end up in that madhouse again before the credits roll. #DragonAge

I stand by this prediction. I’ll bet I have at least one more trip to the Fade in store for me.

But no spoilers, please.

If you do a spoiler in the comments, just block it off with punctuation or something. Like this:

============SPOILER===============
Voldermort is Luke’s sled!
=================================

Thanks!

Badahn (DragonAge) is clearly the same voice actor as O’aka XXIII (FFX). Who gets typecast as a merchant extra? #DragonAge

He plays much the same character here: The down-on-his-luck merchant who you help at the start and who then clings to you for the rest of the game. He’s got a positive attitude and is always cheering you on.

Zevran wants to sell me some fine Corinthian leather. #DragonAge

I can’t help but think of Ricardo Montalban. I don’t even know if the accents are even related, but they both tickle my ear.

My crew: Leliana (Rogue) Wynne, (Heals) and Alistair (meat shield). I’m a mage. (Elemental damage.) #DragonAge

I abandoned that game and started over, and I’m still using this team. You need Wynne for heals. Since I’m also a mage, that means we have two very squishy casters. So I need two meat shields, one of which needs to be a rogue for the purposes of opening chests. Dual-wielding Leliana seems a better rogue than bow-using Zevran, since I need someone who will stand in front. If I was a fighter, I’d probably swap Leliana for Zevran.

The position of “main tank” rotates every once in a while, for the sake of variety. Every once in a while I take Sten or the Shale instead of Alistair.

But Alistair is my favorite, and the one who makes the fewest protests with my moral choices.

Oh, hullo plot thread which will take me back into the fade. Sigh. #DragonAge

This trip was to save the life of one specific character. This trip was also short.

I still maintain that a major trip to the Fade will be part of the endgame.

Wow. I’ve been playing for a long time. How far along… ONLY FIFTEEN PERCENT COMPLETE?!? Wow this game is big.#DragonAge

AND YET YOU STARTED OVER ANYWAY.

IDIOT.

The usefulness of a magical item is directly proportional to how ridiculous it looks when worn. #DragonAge

This goes double for mages. If you were to offer one of these mage hats to a clown he’d refuse, “No way, man! I’d look goofy!”

This game should let you toggle the visibility of headwear. Everyone looks so much better without it.

Actually I’d love for games to completely divorce appearance from performance, as with the superhero games. Being dressed like mismatched savaging idiots isn’t really a central theme in fantasy stories. People usually have themed costumes.

Oh hello Steven Blum… VOICING A DWARF?! #DragonAge #castingfail

I like Steven Blum. I really do. But his natural speaking voice does not sound right coming out of a Dwarf.

Actually, there’s obviously no hard rule that Dwarves have to all talk like Scotsmen. I know I’m just dragging my high-fantasy preconceived notions with me, but I can’t help it. These guys are short, broad, and burly. They shouldn’t sound like gameshow hosts.

I think someone should make Dwarves that all have German accents.

Wynne needs to stop complaining about how incredibly old she is when she’s built and dressed like a 16 year old. #DragonAge

Full credit to BioWare: The AI companions in #DragonAge are not idiots and can be trusted to do something sensible most of the time.

Actually, I’ve heard this isn’t true for the offensive magic users, but for melee fighters and the healer, they can almost run themselves using the default tactics. (Of course, you’ll do a lot better if you take care of them.) Since I’m a mage, I don’t have to worry about the other characters very much except during boss fights.

On my next play through the game (assuming) I’ll probably go for a Warrior but directly control the mage. (Which I guess would be Morrigan.)

This whole “activation” for part of the game you own is hopelessly cumbersome, confusing,buggy,and asinine. #DragonAge #sucks

I won’t weary you with the tale. I got the game via Steam, because of a steep discount and in spite of my better judgment.

Why do so many humans have gruff voices and Dwarves sound like gameshow hosts? #DragonAge

Again, I suppose I’m just mired in the Old Ways, but I just can’t get used to this.

Sigh. A female Dwarf with a California accent. #DragonAge

She was actually a cute character. A Dwarf who wanted to study with the mages. I enjoyed her story, even if her SoCal accent was… difficult to accept.

I am a mage, a hero, and an adventurer. And I am dressed like a complete idiot. #DragonAge

Fear my orange Dunce Cap of Awesome Magics!

TWO NPC thief buddies, and neither one ever has enough skill to open the chests we find? Like this, they’re just lousy tanks. #DragonAge

At this point I had both rogues with me, which is a stupid idea. It was also pointless, since neither of them could ever open any chests we found. It should be noted that my character was already doing the raw damage. I just needed someone to stand in front of me and keep the bad guys off while I work my deadly mojo. So the only reason to ever bring a rogue instead of a warrior would be to open the (sigh) invincible wooden chests we’re always finding.

WHAT ARE YOU IDIOTS GOOD FOR?

After re-starting the game, I’ve made sure Leliana is focused entirely on Opening Stuff. I’ve made sure she gets each new lockpick ability as soon as it becomes available. And she’s still stumped by about 1 in 2 chests.

What the hey? How does this work? Do the chests auto-level? Am I supposed to come back later? What?

At one point there was a chest I NEEDED to open for a quest. She couldn’t do it. I left and leveled in another part of the world. I dragged her back, stood her in front of the chest, and did her level-up right there. She opened the chest. Whew.

The very next chest was once again beyond her skill.

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20201959 comments. It's getting crowded in here.

From the Archives:

  1. Legal Tender says:

    Remember to pump Leliana’s cunning. It is the stat that contributes to lockpicking (also stealing and stealth). That said, it is VERY difficult to have a rogue that can tank AND lockpick/stealth/make poisons.

    Do check Bioware’s social ‘projects’ tab. There’s a mod that let’s you respec your party (re-distribution of attributes, specializations, skills and spells/talents). It’s a lifesaver for situations like the one you described.

    Also, I’d be interested in reading your take on DA economy. Mostly because I remember it has been one of your recurrent complaints for a lot of games and I got the feeling DA handled this very well.

  2. kasper says:

    funny, I never had any trouble opening chests. Lockpicking is directly related to cunning, did you level that stat high enough?
    My biggest grief with dragon age up to this moment is that Wynne is such a vital character. There is a way to NOT get her in your party (I wont tell, so no spoiler warnings here) and wanting to roleplay in a certain way I blundered into this on my second playthrough. Now i’m stuck in the fade, have 1 potion left, and am up against the boss there… Without healing… And it has 3 or 4 stages… I’ll probably have to reload, but thats 3 HOURS of gameplay I’ll lose. They should have made a secondary healer or somesuch available.

  3. Smirker says:

    I disagree with the ‘Wynne is a must-have’ mentality. My first run through on the game and i did just fine without her. My only spell heal was via Morrigan and that was just the very first one of that tier. Other than that, tactics and occasional use of potions (usually only on bosses) saw me through the entire game on normal difficulty.

    Is she handy? Sure. Vital? No.

  4. The Crusader of Metal says:

    About headgear, you may try this mod:

    http://social.bioware.com/project/791/

    It’s somewhat bugged (helms being unequipped, getting stuck — on even during conversations –, etc), but for me it’s better than having helms on all the time.

  5. krellen says:

    Tip: Don’t be a jerk until your second play through. Specialisation unlocks follow you between plays, so you can unlock key specialisations (like Spirit Healer) and then you no longer rely on key characters for specific tasks.

    Also, it’s possible to avoid going into the Fade that third time you talked about and still finish the game. Which, BTW, you can do with only about 60% “complete”.

  6. Steve S says:

    “…is that Wynne is such a vital character…”

    She’s really not. You need at least 1 *mage*, sure, but if you’re not one yourself then you can spec Morrighan into spirit healer @lvl 14. And even if you don’t do that you still have access to the basic heal spell on any mage for one skill point, which means you can save the potions for emergencies, and it’s not like there’s a shortage.

    Also, “…Dual-wielding Leliana seems a better rogue than bow-using Zevran…”

    Are you sure? In my play through that was the other way round – Leilana came with archery talents, though I didn’t really develop them, just went for opening things & rogue skills.

    If you’re nice to her and get the approval points up it also adds to her cunning, which helps with the lock-opening, and, if you take the right rogue skill, is also used for combat damage. So yeah, get lots of cunning basically…

  7. Sheer_FALACY says:

    Wait, what? Your Leliana is melee and your Zevran is ranged? It’s completely the opposite for me… hence why I never use Leliana because as far as I can tell, bows do low damage, miss a lot, and using bow abilities takes forever.

    And I think the chest set up in general is incredibly stupid. Woo, waste 4 ability points completely. And does cunning affect it? I think it’s mostly just those 4 points in open locks. I’m not sure cunning affects much of anything besides armor penetration and stat requirements.

    As for the time in the Fade… maybe you objected to the lack of story, but I loved it because it was like +5 to every stat. Pretty crazy. And the shapeshifting was fun.

  8. BK says:

    What’s particularly amusing about the whole “dwarves have Gaelic accents” trope is that Tolkien’s dwarves had a language based more on the Semitic family, and Hebrew in particular.

  9. Rutskarn says:

    I play as a rogue. Often, I’ll try to open up a chest and be met with a failure notification. This prompts Leliana to say, “Allow me. I can open that for you.”

    Every single time, she’ll fail completely. Until I maxed out the skill, I was boffing like 3 out of every 4 chests.

  10. Huckleberry says:

    Apparently, one level in lockpicking equals 10 points in cunning. This I found after reading lots of forum threads because my rogue wasn’t able to open any of the three chests in a random encounter (bandits) and I was getting annoyed…

  11. Old_Geek says:

    You can play the game without mages, it just becomes a lot harder. Mages are the uber class in Dragon Age. One of the big debates surrounding the game is whether they should be toned down or not.

  12. Magnus says:

    I found the tactics generally rubbish, but didn’t really know how to use them correctly for warriors/rogues because I had no real idea how each of their abilities would be useful in a fight, and no real idea how to make them do that without having to do everything myself.

    I’d prefer far less warrior/rogue skills, but better ones.

    With regard to opening chests, I ended up playing my mage with three warriors (Alasdair, Oghren and Shale). I gave up trying to get Leliana to open chests when she could only manage 1/3 of the ones I found (obviously I have no clue how to level up appropriately?). Most of the stuff in chests is crap anyway, all you end up doing is lugging around more stuff to sell later. It’s also a retrograde step to remove chest-bashing, which was allowable in NWN2 iirc.

    re: dwarf voices: In Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat there are Yorkshire-voiced dwarves. I thought that worked well.

    re: toning down mages… surely the other classes need to be toned UP?

    (sorry for casting “wall of text” I’ll try better next time).

  13. LegendaryTeeth says:

    I haven’t had any trouble with chests since I actually started bringing a rogue. There have only been like 3 I couldn’t open. Just put points into cunning. It does kinda suck that you have to bring one though, I’m near the end and for the last few levels I’ve just been dumping points into strength so I could get her to wear the top tier massive armour, so she is a better tank.

  14. Danath says:

    When theres locked chests I just swap in one of my rogues to lockpick it, then toss them away and get my dog or something back in my party.

  15. Gildan Bladeborn says:

    I’m on my second time through the campaign and I’ve only ever run into a handful of chests that Leliana couldn’t open the first time around (and they were in places where I would have eventually gone back to anyways so it wasn’t terribly inconvienent to just go back and open them later). But then I play on Easy, maybe that has something to do with it? Not having to worry about Friendly Fire is a lot more fun!

  16. Nyaz says:

    Are all characters in Dragon Age neurotic and socially dysfunctional? I’ve played as far as finding Leliana, and all I hear is Alistair arguing with Morrigan, Morrigan arguing with Leliana and Alistair, and I’m caught in the middle.
    Of course, I love that they are all sort of crazy. I’m just wondering if all characters are hilarious.

  17. I killed Wynne. I’ve since specced Morrigan into Spirit Healer. With her, me (as a spirit mage) and poultices we can take pretty much anything. Also, the opening: Crushing Prison, Petrify + Stonefist, then possibly Earthquake a group of archers is -hilarious-

  18. matt says:

    “I think someone should make Dwarves that all have German accents.”

    Interesting idea, my ex-brother-in-law has been voicing his Dwarves with German accents (and language) for at least 20 years… works very well. Of course, it helps that he speaks German nearly natively.

  19. Erm says:

    The goofy hates on mages is the main reason I went arcane warrior. May seem stupid but I don’t like my guy looking like a fantasy hobo, wearing mismatched pieces of goofy looking clothing. I’ll forgo the boost to mental resistance or stats the hat offers, so long as my guy doesn’t look like an idiot.

  20. Grudgeal says:

    I used to think bows were useless on my first mage playthrough… Up until I got stuck in Denerim against the masses of Shattershot. Playing without a mage also made me realize that the best way to pull enemies from their packs is by massed volley fire from an entirely bow-based party.

    I have subsequently realized that it’s only Pinning Shot that’s useless and Leliana is now more or less a permanent fixture in any party where the main’s not a rogue; with the bow gained from her character quest she ties with Alastair in second place for total party damage %. My use of Shale and the Dog has dropped equally much because they can’t equip basic ranged weapons.

    ===SPOILERSPOILERSPOILER===
    A party where everyone can use bows is pretty much obligatory against the dragons, too, as their ranged DPS is laughable compared to their melee DPS. Keep the party spread out thin and keep them moving when the dragon starts flying to avoid being landing-stomped, bring potions of warmth and a healer, and you’ll beat the thing through sheer attrition warfare.

  21. [d20]thegrinner says:

    I’ve found if you dump at least one point in cunning every level for a while, and grab the rogue talent that bumps lockpicking and trapping when you can, they can still be decent in combat while opening the majority (all but 1 in 7 or 8) chests. Of course, this was with my PC as a rogue and having the increased flanking area, meaning I was almost always backstabbing something.

  22. Taellosse says:

    I rarely had trouble with unlocking chests. Leliana was basically always in my party from the moment I got her for that reason precisely. Maybe the DCs are a lot lower on Easy? But yeah, if you’re not pumping Cunning by at least a point on pretty much all of her level ups, you’re doing it wrong–that’s one of a rogue’s 2 key ability stats, along with Dex.

    I basically treated Strength and Constitution as key stats for Warriors, Dexterity and Cunning as keys for Rogues, and Magic and Willpower as keys for Mages. On pretty much every level up each key stat got at least 1 point each. The third point would float around the other stats (warriors got points to Dex more often than anything else, and rogues got Str, but I didn’t have a favored tertiary stat for mages as much, except that I never gave them Str at all), and sometimes go to one of the keys. I rarely had trouble with any of the tasks each class was supposed to be good at as a result.

    But I was repeatedly annoyed that I couldn’t break open the damned chests whenever I ran into one I couldn’t open (either because its DC was too high at the moment, or because I didn’t have a rogue in the group for some reason). That really needs to be an option. I wouldn’t even mind if they instituted the same thing that was in NWN2, where if you broke a chest open, there was a high risk that at least one item inside would be broken and useless. 9 times out of 10 the stuff in chests in this game is just dross anyway, so it wouldn’t bother me overmuch. But the chests in all of the origin areas save the mage tower (none are locked there that can’t be accessed later on, because you can’t be a class with lockpicking in that origin) drive me batty when I’m playing a warrior, and there are a few in similar situations–late in the game there’s a place you spend some time where all your party members are standing about like it was the camp, and thus aren’t in your group. There are a couple of locked chests in this location, which you can never open if you are not yourself a rogue, because there is no time when you are inside there with a controllable party, only alone. The contents of that chest taunt me.

  23. B.J. says:

    With the device mastery talents and her cunning bonus Leliana could always open all chests in the game for me. Perhaps when you were trying to open stuff she had an injury which was decreasing her cunning? I had that happen to me a few times.

    I was pretty happy the dwarves were not all Scottish-pirates. That’s one trope that needs to go away.

  24. Macil says:

    I’m usually a completionist and kill every critter, open every door, chest and do every quest, but in Dragon Age, I opened almost none of the chests.

    After opening a few in the beginning after recruiting Leliana, it seemed pointless (the ‘good’ stuff was found/bought/rewarded) — I also didn’t like that I *needed* a rogue just to open chests (that is, my warrior couldn’t pick up the skill). Of course, I didn’t care for either of the rogue NPCs and refused to use them in my standard party.

    As far as needing mages, I used both Wynne and Morrigan. I made them *both* dedicated healers, while my own character and Alistair tore enemies up with all-out melee (occasionally micromanaging Morrigan to kill things at range).

  25. DMo says:

    I found the solution to all my tanking needs while maintaining massive firepower. Mage main with Arcane Warrior and Blood Magic, and a rouge with the ranger class. I have Leliana open things and summon a bear to tank, Wynne Heals, Morrigan also heals (and does damage) and I Uberdamage and tank when necessary. With a combination of armor for damage reduction and the blood magic’s ability to sap health from the bear, I have not found an encounter yet that I couldn’t beat in one go on normal mode (post getting this group together that is). And having two healers means twice as many res and healing spells; three casters means lots of damage. However, I would love to have some of the other characters in my party, since I like them as characters, but I just don’t have the room.

  26. MuonDecay says:

    What does the rest of the world think us southern Californians sound like?

    Half my friends pull off a perfect mid-Atlantic accent when speaking politely. It seems hard to tell where the heck they’re from at all.

    … the other half are first- and second-generation immigrants of various backgrounds and have the various accents to go with it.

  27. Rick W says:

    One thing that bothers me (just now, reading this post) is that of the ten companions you can pick up, five of them are warriors and a sixth is the very warrior-ish dog. That leaves only two rogues and two mages.

    That doesn’t leave you much choice, if you want to keep a lockpicker and a healer in the party at all times and you don’t fill one of those roles yourself.

  28. SoldierHawk says:

    That “voice actor who is also O’aka” is none other than Dwight Schultz! Not only is he cast in almost every video game ever (well okay, a lot of them anyway), but he’s FAR better known as “Howling Mad” Murdock from ‘The A-Team.” Or better known as Lieutenant Barclay from Star Trek: TNG. I love both of those series, and quite like the actor. It always makes my day when he pops up as a random game character.

    Btw Shamus, I’m really, really loving this review format. I’m glad its not ALL you’ll be doing in terms of reviews, but it is a nice break, and its fun to see you elaborate on the Twitter comments I read a while before. Good work!

  29. CobraCmdr says:

    Wow, I had a really different experience playing this game than the rest of you guys. I put the game on the easiest difficulty level and put zero thought into tactics. I basically used the characters I thought were the coolest and I enjoyed talkin to the most, so my party was almost always me (male warrior), Morrigen, Liliana and Alistar. Since I had it on low difficulty I never really needed the mages to be healers, potions worked just fine.

    I’ve come to realize that I view rpg games as interactive movies or books, where I can control the story. I have zero interest in developing my skills at playing and just want to influence where the stories go.

  30. Sean Riley says:

    @Shamus

    Which areas have you done so far? I am guessing the dwarven area, the mage area… but what about the human’s quest, or the elves?

    • Shamus says:

      Sean Riley: I’ve done the elves, Mage’s, and the Dwarves.

      In my abandoned game, I’d done all that, PLUS Redcliff. I’m starting to suspect that I was further into the game than I thought, and it might have been better to push through to the end instead of starting over.

  31. Zel says:

    Wow. I’ve been playing for a long time. How far along… ONLY FIFTEEN PERCENT COMPLETE?!? Wow this game is big.#DragonAge

    AND YET YOU STARTED OVER ANYWAY.

    IDIOT.

    The completion percentage is linked to the number of achievements unlocked and nothing else (especially not story progress). You should not have much more than 50% of them unlocked by the end of the game, if you don’t reload saves before decisive choices just to see the alternative. If you want a somewhat accurate measurement, the “World Explored” figure is a little better, since you’ll probably set foot in most areas of the game.

    ============SPOILER================
    Once you have gathered all the Warden’s allies (Mages, Dwarves and Elves), and healed the lord of Recliffe, there’s only a little more to play before the end.
    =================================

    You can buy the Spirit Healer specialization book from the camp shop and let either you or Morrigan be the healer you’ve always wanted instead of whiny Wynne. Don’t forget the Ranger book for Rogues, they get awesome summoned animals that pretty much double their effectiveness (especially if you set the summon’s Tactics to use its hidden Overwhelm).

    As far as I’m concerned, all armors except Massive Armor look horrible. Especially for female mages : robes are ugly (except Morrigan’s default and upgraded one) and let’s not even mention the caps… I don’t think I had much problem with lockpicking, I maxed out Lelliana’s skill as soon as I could and opened pretty much every chest I encountered.

  32. GoodApprentice says:

    When I come across a chest that my rogue is unable to open, I find some comfort in the fact that there is almost no chance that there is something awesome stored within. Even the unique artifacts in this game are hardly better than the standard issue merchandise. A shame really…

  33. Joe says:

    It’s scary to think how similar your recent comic and post on Dragon Age mirrors Penny Arcade’s most recent comic http://www.penny-arcade.com/2009/12/2/

    I think they read your blog, Shamus.

  34. Danel says:

    It’s probably true that mages are overpowered, though probably not to the extent that they can be in D&D. The backstab damage that rogues can do is pretty nice – if someone’s totally focused on the tank, the rogue can rip them apart pretty quickly with a few big backstabs.

    I’d say Shale’s not really a Warrior, since he plays so strangely – he can a great tank, a melee or ranged DPS, or a pure support character. BUt at the same time he lacks the lock-picking and spell that define the other classes, so maybe.

    It’s possible that there were going to be more companions they had to cut for reasons of time. Shale was cut and then reinstated, after all, while I’ve also heard that the mage who you meet during the Redcliffe event was intended to be recruitable at one point.

  35. I think you all need to re-evaluate your tactics a bit. You don’t need a tank in Dragon Age, and if you feel you really need one, you can tank perfectly well as a Mage with the Arcane Warrior specialization.

    Firstly, GET MASS PARALYZE with your mage as early as possible. A lot of people skip this spell because two of the four in the tree are all-but-useless (weakness and Miasma). But MP is WORTH IT. The damaging spells (apart from cone of cold, which can freeze even mega-bosses for several seconds) are virtually useless until quite late in the game when you’re fighting hordes of weak enemies.

    My favorite party to use was Sten, Leliana, and either the Dog or Shale, to be honest. Sten and my character could annihilate everything by themselves once I got them decent weapons and armor. (Put Sten in the Blood Dragon armor as early as possible and he suddenly becomes about 500% more combat-effective. He goes down fast if he doesn’t have a good suit.) I found myself turning the difficulty UP because I was getting BORED.

  36. Blackbird71 says:

    @Nyaz (17)
    “Are all characters in Dragon Age neurotic and socially dysfunctional?”

    Of course they are, didn’t you know that neuroses and social ineptitude are what make a game “mature” and “dark”?

  37. Jamey says:

    Voldemort is Luke’s sled!

    This is now officially my favorite spoiler ever.

    Previously it was “The boat sinks!” as a “spoiler” for Titanic.

    It’s funny you mention goofy sounding Dwarves as not 2 weeks ago I was complaining about all “Dwarves are Scots” to my gaming group as we started a new 4e D&D campaign. I’m playing a Dwarf with a thick southern accent (I’m from Texas and can turn it on and off as needed).

  38. Phil says:

    =========SPOILER=======
    There really is not much to spoil. The plot is very straightforward, and there are no real twists.

    The only mildly interesting thing is that you learn why only Grey Wardens can kill an archdemon. When killed the archdemon will transfer into the nearest blighted creature to be reborn. If it is a person with a soul, both the demon and the person will be killed.
    ========SPOILER=========

  39. I ended up just leaving the difficulty on Easy so the combat would stop getting in the way of the story. This made fights uninteresting, but satisfying (until the difficulty space-elevator of the final boss, which was less interesting and aggravating).

    I should mention that I made the mistake of buying the PS3 version, which makes tactical combat absolutely impossible, but regardless, the game mechanics seemed far inferior to the storytelling in every aspect.

  40. General Ghoul says:

    Shamus,

    Where are the screenshots? I don’t have the game, so when you write about funny hats, I have no idea what to imagine.

  41. I’ve come to understand that Dwarves not only have American accents, often they seem to have distinctly American accents.

    The pronunciation of some of the more “exotically Dwarven” names and words stuck out at me. Aeducan is pronounced “Eye-DUKE-‘en,” Lucjan is “Luke-John,” and I’m pretty sure “Ortan” is pronounced like “Norton” and you’ll barely hear the “t” as anything other than a sudden stop in the syllables.

    I didn’t notice this too much with the Elves, but I found it amusing that of all the accents to give the Dwarves Bioware chose specific regional American ones–even if they’re not terribly consistent with which regions to draw from at times. Judging by my playthrough of Orzammar, I’m pretty sure the Dwarves are supposed to have Midwestern accents, standout examples aside.

  42. Sho says:

    Regarding dwarves, I heard a rumour that the dwarven language designed by Tolkien actually has a lot of basis in Hebrew and/or Yiddish. Not sure what that counts for. Edit: But someone already mentioned this, silly me…

    Also in Guild Wars, dwarven accents range from “Russian” to “stupid”. There’s a correlation somewhere but I don’t see it. Oddly enough, of the dwarven brothers you meet, one has a Russian accent, the other has a more stereotypical one (not gonna call it for fear of offending people). But that’s just in Prophecies. In Eye of the North, all the dwarves suddenly get a voice change to “rocks scraping against rocks”. Meh.

  43. Cragfire says:

    This review style is good for me, but I think it does need more screenshots. Your ability to provide insightful commentary on the visuals of a game has always been a good thing.

    Also, from my experience all the locked chests had lousy loot. I got tired of trying to keep a useless character in the party just to open up mundane (but incredibly well locked) boxes. My biggest mechanical complaint is that the creators made things like lock picking require talent points. Talent points that could otherwise have gone to being useful in a fight, I never thought the trade off was worth it.

  44. pinchy says:

    The bit that always got to me about the locked chests was that I’d click on it first with another character not noticing that it was locked then Leilana would say something along the lines of “I can open that for you” so I’d switch to her and get her to try and open it which she would promptly fail leading me to /facepalm.

    Surely they could have just made it so she’d autounlock it regardless of who tried to open it or simply have two sayings. e.g- “let me open that for you” if she can actually do it and something else when she can’t (“too hard” even would have been ok).

  45. Link says:

    Chests? Done some messing around in the toolset, and if you’re obsessing over every locked chest in the game like I was, never fear!

    Chests in the game have a maximum rating (let’s say DC) of 70. One point in Cunning gives you a point towards overcoming that DC, and each level of the Deft Hands talent gives you 10 points. Therefore, a rogue with say, 40 points in Cunning and 3 levels of Deft Hands can open any chest in the game.

    I suspect this works the same for Stealing as well; my current Leliana, with 30 base points in Cunning (and a further +11 or so from items and approval boosts), 3 levels of Stealing and 3 levels of Deft Hands can pick every lock, chest and pocket in the game :D

    At least, it’s never failed me since I worked it out …

  46. Jeff says:

    Leliana is awesome.
    The key is to realize that no, bows don’t suck. The second thing to realize is that rogue archers are superior to warrior archers.
    Leliana also has her exclusive bow which is attainable ridiculusly early, which is Tier 7.
    It’s important to note that Rapid Shot is pointless once you get Rapid Aim on a bow, due to some wierd animation limitations. Suppressing Fire, comparatively, has no downsides and can rapidly reduce a tough opponent to wiffing.
    The other key thing (other than realizing that yes, pinning shot is pointless and don’t have it in your rotation) is Stealth. While you can’t backstab with a bow, you can still critical hit – and a hit from stealth is still an auto-crit. So my Leliana tends to Arrow of Death and Critical Shot mages (if Wynne doesn’t Mana Clash them dead first), then bombard people with a crit every 10 seconds.
    The very last thing to note is Lethality, and why all current rogues without the dex hotfix are Cunning rogues.
    The Lethality talent replaces Str with Cun if Cun > Str. This means you only need Str at 20, then pump Dex/Cun for an archer. This easily opens chests, since all Lockpicking does is give 10 Cun per rank for that purpose.

  47. DungeonHamster says:

    As far as dwarf accents, I can’t say I really ever associated them with a Scottish accent until the most recent LOTR movies. I always kind of figured and still believe that the most appropriate accent would be some sort of Scandinavian/Norse, since of the mythologies I’m familiar with, Tolkienesque dwarves seem to owe the most to the Vikings.

    Scandinavian accents do sound pretty similar to German though, at least to a man who doesn’t speak either of them, so German wouldn’t be bad. I think the next time I run a dwarf, I might go for hillbilly just to shake things up. I can totally see a dwarven hillbilly (meaning, of course, no disrespect to either dwarves or hillbillies; dwarves have got to be my most frequently used standard playable fantasy race).

  48. I downloaded the 25 tactics mod. It gives everyone 25 tactic slots. It devalues the tactics skill, but I don’t care. The game works so much better this way.

    I’m playing a DPS/Healer mage. Morrigan is 90% control. She has heal, and Winter’s Chill, and control spells (sleep, horror, waking nightmare, vuln hex, etc). I’ve found that the AI is fully capable of playing the controller role. You just set it to cast sleep and waking nightmare at any group of 3, cast horror on anyone asleep, cast vulnerability on anyone that’s elite or higher. And then heal. That about takes care of everything.

    I gave up on rogues. If you don’t make Deft Hands, I don’t think you can get any chests. I find that annoying. My party of choice is me, Morrigan, Alistair, and Shale. I’d like to take an archer or ranger, but until Lei gets high enough, I don’t think it’s worth it.

    And yeah, totally get the no headwear mod. The only recurring error I’ve found is that if you level up via pushing the + you keep your helm until you save/load.

    Also, Auto Highlight is really handy, as is Auto Loot.

  49. Rowan says:

    There’s an awesome post describing rogue mechanics on the social site.

    If you have high enough cunning/strength you don’t need the top coercion skill for intimidate/persuade. As many other have said, cunning also affects your lockpicking and trap disarming skills and if your cunning is high enough you don’t need device mastery either.

    I might be halfway through my first game with a dual wielding cun/dex rogue and he’s awesome, especially with paralysis runes on daggers and some AOE stuns from Morrigan.

  50. Mephane says:

    Actually I’d love for games to completely divorce appearance from performance, as with the superhero games. Being dressed like mismatched savaging idiots isn’t really a central theme in fantasy stories. People usually have themed costumes.

    Amen. One of the best features of Champions Online is the total seperation of characters looks and stats. I wish every game would do that. [Except for weapons, Lord of the Rings Online has a similar feature, by the way]

    I think someone should make Dwarves that all have German accents.

    You know what the funny thing is? Real spoken Scottish (not just English with an accent) sounds pretty much like German, although Scottish and Germans couldn’t understand each other, someone who doesn’t understand either would have a hard time telling the difference. Heh.

  51. Rosseloh says:

    I liked the big adventure in the Fade. However, with the PC version, there’s a problem that makes it seem a lot longer than it actually is: the huge memory leak that it has. If you have been playing for any longer than an hour and a half, your loading screens are going to be on a matter of minutes. Since you’re loading in and out of places every 3-5 minutes anyway….it sucks.

    I made sure to restart the game before the Fade on my second playthrough. Made it quite a bit more enjoyable.

  52. Ham08 says:

    What works for me:

    The classic party setup for role-playing games is a Warrior, Rogue, Cleric, and Mage although this game combines the cleric and mage into one class which is why you need two since mana spent will be divided amongst them. You don’t want either mage to run out of mana at the wrong time and if one is incapacitated, you can still heal, freeze or stun, buff, debuff, and do magical damage. You could make one a damage dealer and one a healer, but you are better served to make both mages take on both responsibilities. Healing and Crowd control are the most important responsibilities for the mages because you need to keep your party alive. Damage dealing is secondary but extremely important as well since a mage can out damage everyone in the party.

    You want your main tank to have mostly defensive abilities and shield skills. The main tank should use a shield and one handed sword. Forget ranged skills, the tank needs to be up close and personal to be effective. The tank is not meant to be the best damage dealer, they are meant to soak up damage and keep aggro off of everyone else. You need threaten and taunt skills to manage aggro. Shield Pummel and Shield Bash are great crowd control but only effects one enemy (great for disabling that pesky high damage enemy mage). Strength (damage, intimidate, physical resistance) and Con (health and physical resistance) are best for a resilient tank, Don’t neglect DEX but it is not as important as the others. DEX will help you hit high dex targets, increase damage using “piercing” weapons, and also increase physical resistance. Some weapon talents require a certain DEX stat as a prerequisite. A PC warrior needs high strength and Coercion for intimidate options in dialogue to be successful. Remember the heavier the armor the less stamina the character will have for pulling off skills.

    The Rogue should concentrate on Dexterity and Cunning, but should not neglect strength since that stat will add to the damage dealt. Dexterity and Cunning are most important and strength should be bumped a couple times. The rogue should concentrate on duel weilding and rogue skills and if you want more dialogue options for the PC Rogue that allow persuasion to effect outcomes you should maximize the coercion skill. You shouldn’t split melee and ranged with your rogue. I prefer the melee with no ranged skills because it seems to work best (lots of devastating backstab damage), but if you decided on a ranged rogue you should concentrate on that and keep him/her out of harms way. Make sure you take dirty fighting because that will stun the enemy and allow you to maneuver for a few backstabs or temporarily disable an enemy so that you can concentrate on another. Take skills that will allow you to shatter frozen foes. A rogue should use two piercing weapons to take advantage of his/her high Dexterity stat. A Rogue should wear light armor because they need the stamina to pull off all of their moves during tough fights. A PC rogue needs high Cunning and Coercion for persuade options in dialogue to be successful.

    More on mages: You really need two mages especially toward the end game. They should concentrate on Magic (increase spell effect, damage dealt, mental resistance) and Willpower (increase mana, mental resist) stats. A PC mage should also get their cunning up to 16 and maximize coercion if you want to use persuasion, but that is not necessary for Wynn or Morrigan. They both should first concentrate on healing(the heal spell, then spirit healer specialization for mass heal and revive), crowd control (mind blast, cone of cold, debuffs like hexes etc.), and one line of damage spells (at first). I recommend the cold spell line for damage because “cone of cold” will freeze your enemies and disable them for a short time which means you take less damage and the enemy can be instantly shattered in this state if luck is on your side. Walking Bomb is great for good damage to many enemies, but it will cause friendly fire on normal difficulty and above just as many other spells do, so be careful. As you level up you can take on more damage dealing spells, like fire and lightening. Your mages should be doing most of the damage, most of the crowd control, and keeping your party alive at the same time. It’s a big job, that’s why two mages will give you the best chance for survival all the way to the end game.

    One of your party members should know herbalism and keep bumping that skill so that you can make health and mana potions. The higher the skill the better quality potions you can make, but the higher quality potions require more ingredients. Always keep a large supply of ingredients on hand, since you don’t want to run out of potions and not be able to make more on the spot.

    INGREDIENT LOCATIONS (unlimited supply):
    Flasks – Dwarf Vendor at party Camp; Various
    Distillation Agent – Dwarf Vendor at party Camp; Various
    Concentrator Agent – Dwarf Vendor at party Camp; Various
    Lyrium Dust – Quartermaster at Circle of Magi
    Deep Mushroom – Ruck at Ortan Thaig (The Deep Roads)
    Elfroot – A vendor in Brecilian Forest / Dalish Elf Camp.

    RECIPES:
    Lesser Health Poultice: 1 Flask, 1 Elfroot
    Health Poultice: 3 Elfroot, 1 Flask, 1 Distillation Agent
    Greater Health Poultice: 3 Elfroot, 1 Flask, 2 Distillation Agent, 1 Concentrator Agent
    Lesser Lyrium Poultice: 1 Flask, 1 Lyrium Dust
    Lyrium Poultice: 2 Lyrium Dust, 1 Flask, 1 Distillation Agent
    Greater Lyrium Poultice: 3 Lyrium Dust, 1 Flask, 2 Distillation Agent, 1 Concentrator Agent
    Lesser Injury Kit: 2 Elfroot, 2 Deep Mushroom, 1 Distillation Agent
    Mabari Crunch: 1 Elfroot, 1 Deep Mushroom
    Double-baked Mabari Crunch: 2 Elfroot, 2 Deep Mushroom

    P.S. Heal your party at 50% not 10% or 25% otherwise it could and most likely would be too late in the tougher battles toward the end of the game. Bring some extra tank gear to Orzamar and spec the mandatory new guy for a defensive taunting threatening tank. Forget his two handed weapon talents, and instead go with a shield and one-handed sword. Again, tanks aren’t meant to deal the most damage they are meant to soak up damage and keep aggro off of everyone else.

    *************************************

    What works for me, tactics:

    Two mages both with the spirit healer specialization works best for the end game(you need heal, mass heal and revive on both). Both have “Cone of Cold” and “Mind Blast” because you need a lot of crowd control on these later fights (these spells are area of effect or aoe for short and affect many enemies at once. Mind Blast has a perimeter effect so you have to move close to as many enemies as you can to get best result, or most enemies). Always have 30 to 40 health AND lesser health potions. Lyrium and lesser lyrium potions too. Of course Greather Health and Lyrium are best if you can afford it. Don’t forget lots of injury or lesser injury kits because your performance will suck if any of your party gets knocked out on the way to the big fight.

    You need to constantly have most of the mobs on lockdown with your crowd control spells like “mind blast” and “cone of cold” or you will be overwhelmed, while having your whole party concentrate on taking one enemy down at a time. If you are forced to split your tanks you’ll have a harder time because you will have to heal more often. By the time one of your stun/freeze spells wears off you should be able to cast another one immediately because you have two mages with both spell lines or four spells total each on a refresh timer. Don’t be afraid to use two crowd controls at the same time if you have to.

    You can beat the whole game using good crowd control. The higher the difficulty the more necessary the tactic becomes

    *************************************

  53. Gildan Bladeborn says:

    Note to anyone looking to unlock specializations that has noticed the various books but dislikes the price tags: Specializations are FREE!!!!

    By that I mean that while yes, some of them need to be purchased via a tome and can’t just be unlocked via sucking up to your allies or doing quests certain ways, once you’ve unlocked a specialization it stays unlocked forever, on any character you have now or later, just like how doing something that earns an achievement and then reloading to get a different one doesn’t strip you of the first because you haven’t done that chain of events in your savegame.

    But you still have to pay for them the first time, right? Yes and no – you can simply save right before talking to the merchant, buy the tome, reload, and presto! Free specialization. The really good items are expensive, so save your gold and abuse those savegames!

  54. Nathan says:

    I’m amazed that anyone would consider Stephen Blum to be a bad fit for any role. After seeing him do a fantastic job as both Guilmon from Digimon season 3 and Leeron in Gurren Lagann, I would think he could do anything. The former is pretty entertaining, actually, since he has conversations with another character he is voicing using his more typical voice.

  55. Cuthalion says:

    @49 Dungeon Hamster: As far as dwarf accents, I can’t say I really ever associated them with a Scottish accent until the most recent LOTR movies.

    The funny part is that the actor who did Gimli was Welsh. Never having been to the UK at all, I couldn’t tell the difference and thought it was Scottish. :P

  56. ccesarano says:

    These comments are awesome because everyone plays so drastically differently. That’s the sort of game you sit around a diner talking with your friends about for hours.

    Re: Wynne talking about her age, I actually found this annoying as well. I’ve spoken with some old folks that bring it up on occasion, but God damn Wynne doesn’t shut up about it. Her age makes her a one-dimensional character and it gets pretty frustrating.

    As for the unlocking thing, I for some reason never thought about how others may have trouble due to insufficient Cunning points. I focus on only three stats when I level characters based on their class, and for Leliana I pretty much focus on Dex. and Cunning. So I have a handful of unlocked chests scattered across the world and that’s it.

    I might have to rethink my party, though. I play a Warrior, and I have Alistair and Leliana on the team because I actually like them, while Wynne is valuable as a healer. Still, part of my trouble could come from my lack of a tougher spell caster.

    When it comes to D&D and RPG’s I’ve always had more a fighter mentality than mage. Still, I’ve never had that much more trouble than usual. Just the same sawtooth difficulty curve you’ve experienced.

  57. f_t_r says:

    I’m not sure why you didn’t know how much linger you had in the Fade, I thought the map made it pretty obvious how far through you were

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