Dragon Age: Twitter Review Pt. 6

By Shamus
on Dec 14, 2009
Filed under:
Game Reviews
This is it. The discussion of the endgame. The spoilers here will be absolute. You’ll turn back now of you know what’s good for you.

Also, Fraps crashed on me or something. I was smacking my screenshot button all through the endgame, and I have not a single image to show for it. Figures.

Nearing the endgame of #DragonAge. Turned into a soap opera there for a half hour or so, but I think we’ve got all the talky bits over with.

This is to be expected. It was messy getting rid of Logain.

Have fun storming the castle!” You did NOT just go there, #DragonAge.

I admit. I laughed when Shale said this. I suck.

The “big twist” in #DragonAge was mild compared to other BioWare titles, but it was still a good revelation.

The big twist was that in order to kill the Archdemon, a Grey Warden must die. A Grey Warden must sacrifice his or her life to keep the thing from simply escaping and regenerating elsewhere once you destroy its body. There are only three Grey Wardens in the final battle:

1) The Player
2) Alistair
3) Jonny Newcomer, the helpful plot exposition NPC.

I knew #3 wouldn’t be there at the end, since:

1) He was old and willing to sacrifice himself.
2) Having him available would have made the final choice too easy.

Yay. The five-minute loading screen bug. That’s just the thing to enhance the drama at the end of #DragonAge

Once in a while loading screens will start taking about ten times as long as they should. At this point it’s better to restart the game than to put up with it, although restarting the game takes a while as well.

Why does the PC have this problem and not the consoles, I wonder?

The #DragonAge boss is inside of an impenetrable fortress of ENDLESS LOADING SCREENS.

This. This is something that always annoys me about BioWare games but is instantly forgotten the moment I hit the closing credits. KOTOR, Jade Empire, Mass Effect, and now Dragon Age all have this. The story reaches its final climax, you’re ready for the final showdown, and then you’ve got to wade through about an hour of bland combat to get there.

The beating-a-dead-horse combat, the dull scenery, and the loading screens do a lot to take the momentum out of the thing for me.

And then I forget all about it because I enjoy the ending.

Ah. I’ve felt like I was 1 loading screen away from the final battle for about the last 7 battles. Arg. #DragonAge

Because I always forget that BioWare games end this way, I greatly underestimated how long it would take to get to the final battle. So I was really getting restless long before I got anywhere near the final boss. I didn’t know how far I’d have to go, so I kept assuming I was nearly there.

Another massive complex full of darkspawn. Man, this was getting old an hour ago. This is just just a test of will. #DragonAge

Did I already mention that the battle through the darkspawn was a little on the long side? I did? Sorry.

Dear BioWare:I’m at the door labeled “rooftop”. If this isn’t the last loading screen, your lives are forfeit. #DragonAge

It was. Good thing for all of us, I guess.

And *******’s final speech makes no sense. “I never wanted to be king!” Um. YOU AREN’T! #DragonAge

Talking about Alistair here. The final choice is to sacrifice him or yourself to kill the Big Bad. There’s all this dialog about him being king here. Again, I wish I had screenshots because I’ve forgotten it now, but he brings it up. I have several options along the lines where I could say, “You can’t die, because you have to go on and be king now.”

This made no sense at all. Everyone had agreed that Alistair wouldn’t be king, and he vigorously renounced all claims to the throne in front of the entire nobility. There would be no way for him to get anywhere NEAR the throne short of civil war, which he would never do.

This was the very final conversation. It was supposed to be the quick exchange between the two of us before someone runs off and gives their life for the Greater Good. And suddenly we’ve got a bunch of politics and continuity errors.

Kind of a shame to have that during this big dramatic moment.

re: My earlier complaints on the ending… All is forgiven. This is one of the most satisfying and interesting since Fallout. #DragonAge

I really did waver on whether I should sacrifice myself or Alistair. I was playing a female, and I’d liked the romance between the two of them. It was heartbreaking to see that it had to end like this, and even on my way to the final battle I still wasn’t sure which way I wanted things to go.

In the end, I let Alistair sacrifice himself. Since this was my first time seeing the end, I think this was the right choice. There are several interesting conversations to be had afterward, and I would have missed out on them otherwise.

Sorry Alistair. Next time through the game, I’ll take the Stab of No Return.

#DragonAge had a Fallout-style ending! “Here is what happened in X, here is how things turned out in Y, here is how you screwed up Z.”

And suddenly my mind is purged of all the annoyances of the ending sequence. If I hadn’t been commenting in Twitter, I probably would have forgotten all about it.

The ending here is stellar. You get to talk to each of your companions and find out what they plan to do next, then you hit the “here is how things turned out” montage, which is very thorough.

That’s it for what I had to say via Twitter. I think I’ll do one more wrap-up post after this one, and then we can do something else.

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From the Archives:

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  1. ShamedShadow says:

    Neverwinter Nights 2 had a very similar ending. Large, frustrating dungeon before the final boss. When I finally got to him, I was about ready to pop a cap in some designers over at Obsidian and Atari (I came to find out later that BioWare had some influence on the game too. Go figure). The ending forgave everything though except that EVERYONE DIES! That wasn’t the most fun part, but the “Hey, x, y, and z happened because of your actions!” was fairly entertaining to watch.

  2. The Crusader of Metal says:

    — MASSIVE SPOILERS about the endings, you have been warned —

    You have 4 possible endings:

    1. You sacrifice yourself,
    2. Alistair sacrifices himself,
    3. Loghain sacrifices himself,
    4. You agree to make a ritual with Morrigan. If you are playing a male, then you just sleep (ok, have sex) with her and the child will draw the spirit of the archdemon, destroying the spirit but not the child, who will carry the soul of an Old God. If you are playing a female, I think you can make Alistair be the one who has some nice time with the witch.

    One down for me (number 4), three to go :)

  3. DrinkingWithSkeletons says:

    SPOILERS (even for people who’ve beaten the game, maybe)

    You only mentioned two potential options–yourself or Alistair–for sacrificing a Gray Warden. Obviously there’s also Loghain, but that doesn’t change the final decision much. What DOES change the final decision is the choice that Morrigan offers, which you apparently didn’t encounter. I don’t know if it’s reliant on the PC being male or what, but it really throws the whole decision for a loop.

    In my case, I had fought tooth-and-nail for Alistair to be king, despite his wishes (I was kind of pissed at Anora for getting me thrown into prison), but had also romanced Zevran and wound up actually caring a bit about that plot-line(unusual for me). This combination made the final choice agonizing–undo all the effort I’d spent on Alistair or on Zevran–even before Bitchy McBitch offers up door number three. Morrigan’s plan was breathtakingly monstrous (I was genuinely shocked and kind of repulsed), and I ultimately rejected it in favor of giving Alistair the coward’s way out of his obligations, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t the toughest choice I’ve ever made in a video game. Bravo, Bioware. Bravo.

  4. I took the cowards way out with Morrigan and I’ve felt slightly dirty ever since. The Fallout style ending was a nice touch. I thought I’d managed to make the right choices throughout the game, but apparently I screwed the dwarves up quite a bit. Oh well.

  5. Zamalan says:

    I too went for option 4. Since Mass Effect 2 is said to take into account your actions in the first game by reading the savegame i’m now hungry to know what happens in the (very possible) sequel.

    (I recently found out there is an epilogue savegame on the xbox after you’re finished but haven’t had time to check it out, or confirm the validity)

  6. Erik says:

    It actually goes further then having morrigan sleep with you or alistair. You can even make her sleep with loghain :)

  7. Quicksilver_502 says:

    my favourite bit of the ending is (spoilers)

    if you go through shale’s quest and find out he’s actually a dwarf it sayd that an angry dwarven women was seen chasing down pigeons.

  8. Smirker says:

    I agree that I *LOVED* that the epilogue brought back the ‘consequences’ summary like in Fallout. Who knew helping that Chantry dwarf in Orzamar would be such a big deal? I certainly didn’t see it coming.

  9. Jeremiah says:

    @Zamalan: As near as I can tell, the post-end-game save (on console, at least) allows you to only revisit DLC areas and the party camp. So, in other words, you can continue to download new content and play them with that party. You’re just unable to go anywhere else. That’s my understanding, at least.

    @Shamus:
    Why wait until your next play-through to see a different ending? There’s probably one last save just before the roof top door. The boss battle’s not so bad that you can give it another run and see the other ending. At least, that’s what I did.

    Also, +1 for loving the ending sequence. Even before the final montage, everything leading up to that was pretty moving. Very well done.

  10. Josh says:

    I got the impression that Loghain cannot actually deliver the final blow, leaving you with three possible endings.

    I’m a bit surprised by all those who took Morrigan up on her offer – it’s obviously a recipe for future disaster, and only an evil character would choose it. This is where the greatest annoyance in the game came for me: she quit the party. I had designed all my battle tactics around her as an entropy mage. Now I had to suddenly make do with Wynn, who I’d been ignoring. Very, very annoying. It made those final battles a lot harder. Lucky thing the archdemon wasn’t the toughest battle in the game.

    Anyway, in my case I had arranged for Alistair to be king, since Anora was such a power-hungry bitch that he could not possibly be worse. It made the decision to sacrifice myself a little easier, as the alternative was dooming Ferelden to Anora’s not-so-gentle ambitions.

  11. So, Shamus, you played a female character, romanced Alistair, and you actually think you had a *choice* at the end? Forget it. Alistair will practically rip the sword out of your hands in order to avoid you having to die under those circumstances.

  12. Macil says:

    They forgot at least one very important choice: let the Archdemon live. That would be somewhat satisfying vengenace for being forced into the Grey Wardens (and having your life-span reduced to nothing). Sacrifice requires free-will. A more fitting ending would be to stab Alistair, perhaps after a “I can’t believe you!”-fight to the death and walk away, letting the Archdemon recover.

    Becoming a Warden should have been a choice: what does it say about us when we start taking away people’s free-will? Dragon Age had so many apparent “choices” and never before have I felt a greater sense of being on rails the entire game. Choices are made but they seem to lack any consequences save for some flavor text / change of the Fallout-ending text.

    “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” The Wardens seem so fanatical about destroying Darkspawn, they destroy the very principle they try to protect.

    You are never given the choice to kill or resist Duncan, who clearly shows himself to be a murderer. I won’t believe for an instance that volunteers couldn’t be found if told the truth about the Archdemon. Even I have more faith in human honor and courage than that vs. forcibly taking away people’s free-will. And if no one would volunteer, then no one would DESERVE to survive. Freedom’s cost is blood.

    And by the end, do you really care about anyone or any of the people? The dwarves cast away an entire portion of their population as criminals from birth. The humans have nearly committed genocide and most certainly rape — taking away the souls (immortality, nature, etc.) of the elves through slavery and subjugation that continues to the events of the game. Mages are enslaved by the Chantry. The elves seem the only race that has retained some kind of decency.

    Should we even look at the NPCs? Sten is a murderer, Leliana is suggested on numerous occasions to be repenting for past sins (as an Orlesian spy/assassin?), Zevran is an assassin, Alistair is a Warden, likes it and thus spits on free-will, Orghren is an adulterer/psychopath, Wynnne supports the Chanty’s subjugation and Morrigan … don’t think I need to go there.

    To my original point, the destruction of Ferelden should be a valid choice. That seems like justice to me, given the history of Ferelden.

  13. Thunnokephalos says:

    @ Macil:

    The second Dragon Age novel, The Calling, revolves around a Grey Warden being given that exact choice, whether to die in the Deep Roads or collaborate with the enemy.

    My favorite exchange of the whole endgame:

    Warden: Sandal, what are you doing surrounded by dead darkspawn?
    Sandal: Enchantment!

  14. RandomGamer says:

    I really enjoyed the ending as well – the choices felt real and strong, the Fallout like final scroll was great. Going to do another run through soon.

  15. Zel says:

    I let Alistair sacrifice himself. After all, he was very eager to do so. Also, my female elf had been romancing him and promoting his rise as a king, which succeeded but not in the way I had thought : instead of making her queen, he broke up with her because she was an elf. There went her evil plans, formed as soon as he mentioned he was the son of the king, to take over the kingdom after his tragic death (or as events turned out, after his heroic sacrifice to save the kingdom, *perfect*), all these efforts putting up with his whining, keeping him happy, all crushed in a single diplomacy check 50 hours in the game…

    Can it be passed if the player is a female noble ? The plan was perfect !

  16. Retlor says:

    @Macil: I think it’s a bit harsh to say that Alistair spits on free will. He likes the wardens and looks up to Duncan as a surrogate father yes, but is that really surprising? He joined the Wardens of his own free will as well, seeing it as preferable to a life in the Templars.

    No-one is denying that Ferelden, in fact the entire world, is a bit of a crapsack one, and I agree that it would have been cool if you had the choice to leave the archdemon alive, but I take issue with the idea that Ferelden deserves to burn.

    On the other hand, you certainly can construct a compelling hypothesis that Loghain, the HERO OF FERELDEN, saved the nation by refusing to commit his troops to a suicidal charge at Ostagar at the behest of an incompetent and naive king and his puppetmaster, the evil Grey Warden Duncan.

    All kidding aside, I really liked the character of Loghain, he was a cool villain, IMHO.

  17. krellen says:

    @Zel: No, female human nobles still get broken up with, because Alistair isn’t sure two people with the Warden taint can even have kids, and as king he needs an heir.

    When Alistair broke up with my first character, she called him a jerk to his face and never spoke to him again, and when told the price of victory, immediately volunteered to take the hit, because she had nothing left to live for in this world. She even left Alistair to hold the gates to prevent any chance of him being the one to kill the archdemon.

    @Josh: Loghain most certainly can be the one to kill the archdemon. He is, in fact, most eager to do so, if you pick him over Alistair in the end. And my elf mage was more than happy to let him die for his crimes.

  18. Cyndane says:

    Okay, apparently I was the only person that was really, really annoyed by the ending. I felt the whole Return to Denerim arc was so poorly railroaded it was ridiculous.

    Issue the First: Like, when you’re rescuing the queen, why do we have to go out the obviously heavily guarded exit? Why can’t we go back the way we came in? We still have the disguises, and they worked getting in. I’d say the quickest route between two points isn’t through the heavily armed guards.

    Issue the Second: How much do you have to win the Landsmeet by to “win”? I mean, apparently a simple majority will not suffice (I counted the votes), but they don’t tell us what we need.

    Issue the Third: Morrigan. I did her personal quest arc and learned of her mother’s plans. And then I learned of why Flemmeth sent her out in the first place. Meanwhile, when Morrigan is presenting this plan, I wanted to slap her and let her see the obvious conclusion (Flemmeth wants power. Lots of power. And she’s willing to use you to get it.) Sadly my Master Persuader with 50 cunning could not do this since they did not want that ending. Boo. Heck, I would have been tickled pink, a phrase I don’t use often, if my female human noble that had been doing the horizontal tango with Alister, could have had the old god baby.

    Issue the Fourth: Riodan. That is the last Grey Warden’s name, right? Regardless… why didn’t he tell us about the sacrifice BEFORE the Landsmeet? I mean, apparently he had the plan of getting Logain to drink the magic kool-aid, but he didn’t want to tell us. He could have then joined us without Alister spazzing out. I would love to have seen that as a wonderful atoning sacrifice. But no, I can’t have both Alister and Logain because the game doesn’t like me working towards my fairy tale ending.

    So, in summation, Bioware did not want me getting a fairy tale ending, and was willing to pull some really low blows to achieve it. At least in my mind. I don’t mind sad endings in some mediums, like TV and movies, but when I invest over 30 hours into a game, I want a happy ending. The bad endings make it feel like I’ve lost even though I’ve won, and that upsets me.

  19. someboringguy says:

    Josh, I am 100% sure I had Morrigan in the last battle with me.
    Also, the game should say what happened with other characters.
    I know that you can talk with them and learn their future plans, but still…Only Morrigan is shown.Or it depends on your approval?

  20. Conlaen says:

    As just about every thing above this, this will also contain spoilers.

    I ended up with option number 4, sleeping with Morrigan and letting our child take the hit. The exact consequences of what this would have on the unborn child were vague (will carry the soul of an Old God, but what does that mean in the end?). I initially declined the offer but it was pretty clear she wanted to go through with it anyway, even if it meant sleeping with Alistair instead or running away and hating your guts. I caved and decided to make the child myself. Of course she still runs off but in the epilogue I made it perfectly clear to Alistair and all other survivors that I was going to find her and my child no matter what.

    Well, you know… my second child…. I sorta already had one before with a dwarven lady. Who I suppose can become an Aeducan now (he’s part of House Harrowmont now), since I’ve been re-accepted into dwarven society and made a Paragon and all that.

  21. Macil says:

    @Retlor:

    Alistair is absolved of guilt because he likes the Wardens? I’m not sure I follow. If anything, that makes him look even more guilty. Alistair is complicit because of his acceptance/approval of the Wardens. The Wardens are murderers and can condemn people at will (join, thereby sacrificing your lifespan and free-will, or die) with impunity.

    Since the Darkspawn are portrayed as mindless animals with no sapience, it strikes me that the Wardens, who are intelligent, thinking beings, who knowingly commit evil to fight evil, are far more evil than the reckless evil of the Darkspawn.

    If the people of Ferelden are not compelled to fight against the Darkspawn and save their own lives without the Grey Wardens forcing them, they do not deserve to be saved.

    However, I think the game DID prove, at least, that people were willing to fight against the Darkspawn, thus showing how unnecessary the Wardens are in the first place. They seem to exist only to hide the secret of the killing the Archdemon because … they believe no one would volunteer to drink Darkspawn blood? There seems to be no reason non-Warden-soldiers/mages couldn’t subdue the Archdemon and have the final blow dealt by a volunteer.

    @Cyndane:

    Great points. I agree on all of them.

  22. LintMan says:

    My first time (my canonical ending), I took the bullet so that Alistair could marry %^&@#! Anora. That arrangement took too much friggin work to let Alistair spoil it by dying. I then replayed it and let him die, and Anora seems to act as if he’s still alive. Odd.

    I heard there’s a way for the human noble to become king – I wonder how?

    @Macil: 30+ years of life is not “reduced to nothing”, especially for an adventurous type. While you’re railroaded into the Gray Wardens, most (all?) of the player origins don’t really have many other options, anyway. After Ostagar, your character is certainly free to persue whatever he wants to, but your character fleeing to Orlais and leaving Fereden to die is outside the scope of the story the game wants to tell.

    And the Darkspawn are not comunists where we’re talking a difference in political philosophies. The Darkspawn will kill *everyone*. Duncan killing the guy who chickened out and pulled his sword is not a moral equivalent.

  23. Bramble says:

    @krellen A human noble female can persaude Alistair that the whole kid thing (“We’ll have a lot fun trying”) doesn’t matter, and the romance continues with marriage in the endings.

    @LintMan Human Noble Male becomes king by marrying Anora.

  24. Shawn says:

    I finished over the weekend. City Elf Warrior. I was playing him as mostly good, with a penchant for lying if he thought it would make things better and a vengeful streak a mile wide. I ended up reluctantly taking Morrigan up on her offer, we’d been romantic for most of the game, for a while she was in love with me, then she fell out of love because she disapproved of something, and then she was back up to Adore.

    Next up: female human noble with a personality that should dictate I’ll choose pretty much the opposite factions of everyone my elf did the first time through.

  25. Jarenth says:

    @Josh: I was roleplaying a good character (sort of), and while Morrigan’s choice was hard for me to make, it did make sense to pick — simply because my character didn’t want to die just yet. You’re right when you say it’s a ‘recipe for future disaster’ — but the operative word here is ‘future’.

    Sides which, I’m fairly certain I can handle anything and everything bad that comes out of this. I’ve killed demons and dragons and demon dragons. Whatever future evil comes out of it, I’ll be ready. I know it’s coming, remember.

  26. Ham08 says:

    Shamus, you should reload a save before the final battle with the Arch Demon and sacrifice your character instead of Alistair. That ending is way more satisfying, especially if there was a romance and the speech that Alistair gives at your funeral is well worth witnessing. It’s the best ending, in my opinion.

    Cheers!

    P.S. Try making Alistair king next time! Also, your female character can only be queen if you take Morrigan’s offer and are “Human Noble”. You have to take Morrigan’s offer or one of you will have to die and Alistair will not accept anyone as his queen unless they are of Noble birth.

  27. Macil says:

    @LintMan:

    There’s always something or someone who wants to kill everyone.

    I would like to think that men are held to higher ideals than Darkspawn or *insert nameless evil*. We cannot become monsters fighting monsters. If you are advocate of conscription, then there is no reason Ser Jory couldn’t have remained under the Warden’s command without drinking the blood (since that seemed the point of contention for Jory).

    Needing all Wardens to be corrupted is ridiculous — sending a Warden to fight an Archdemon over sending non-Wardens to subdue first is also ridiculous, given the high-probability of death (and thus losing your coup de grace). If anything, Wardens would be held in reserve to the very last moment.

    Duncan thinks he is justified killing people if they decide they don’t want to join his club (which requires the blood). And for what reason? What good was served with Ser Jory’s death? As an example of what happens to those who refuse to bow to the Warden’s command?

    You might argue that the Wardens need to sense the Darkspawn, which only the blood grants, but the logic is flimsy. That better be a damn good sense to justify killing a man over. Men existed before Wardens and have proven able to defend themselves. And at no point in the game did the ‘Darkspawn spidey sense’ have any relevance beyond some dream cutscenes.

    Men *would* volunteer to drink the blood, as Duncan and Alistair are prime examples. Killing someone over it/forcing them to do it is evil, through-and-through.

  28. krellen says:

    @Macil: Men did not defend themselves against the Darkspawn before the Wardens, however. The game made very clear that, until the first Wardens went through the Joining and ended the first Blight, that the world was pretty much DOOMED. The first Wardens were a miracle.

    So there is some justification to the mindset that there must be Wardens and that there is no turning back.

  29. Ham08 says:

    Forgot to mention that the only way to sacrifice your female character if you were romancing Alistair is to leave him at the gate, otherwise he will ignore your choice and take the final blow and it will be him that dies instead of your character.

  30. Ham08 says:

    @Macil Actually, if you you asked Duncan why he Killed Ser Jory, he will say that he had no choice when Jory drew his weapon.

  31. Jabor says:

    I feel I have to slip in the comment that DA has its own screenshot system – no need to use FRAPS or anything.

    • Shamus says:

      Jabor: Interesting tidbit:

      I ALWAYS use fraps. If I were to rely on the built-in systems, then all my screenshots would end up spread out all over hell. Some in the game directory, the others stored according to one of the fifty thousand folder naming conventions used in /My Documents.

      With fraps, I always have a universal screenshot key without needing to look it up for each game, I always know I’m going to get exactly what I’m seeing with no compression, they’ll be named according to a system that’s useful to me, and I know where they’ll end up.

      It’s a must-have for dealing with the volume of screenshots that I do.

  32. Macil says:

    @krellen:

    The point is a good one if we believe that the Blight ‘affliction’ is a real threat, since Wardens are immune. However, the events of Dragon Age do not make a big deal of the affliction and the bulk of the fighting against the Darkspawn is done by non-Wardens (seeing as there are 4-5 Wardens in all of Ferelden). This compromises any moral superiority Duncan might try to claim, as his numbers are too small for anything other than securing the coup de grace against the Archdemon. The burden thus falls on non-Wardens to defend themselves until the Archdemon can be slain.

    However, even if the Wardens had the numbers (as during the first Blight), this does not absolve them of the hypocrisy committed by conscripting people against their will (and killing them for non-compliance). You cannot gain freedom (or life) by subverting it.

    If we follow Duncan’s principles to their logical conclusion, and assume Warden’s are necessary to Ferelden’s survival because the Blight affliction makes continued engagement for non-Wardens impractical, he may as well have had all of Cailan’s army drink darkspawn blood and killed anyone who said “no”, as an army of Grey Wardens would have been better than 1-3 extra dudes.

    @Ham08:

    Because stabbing him was obviously the better answer than saying: “Jory, dude, you don’t have to drink the blood — chill out, man.” :P

  33. LintMan says:

    @Macil- As Ham08 pointed out, Ser Jory pulled his sword first. We don’t know what would have happened if he peacefully refused. I think you’re basing too much on Jory’s case. I have no impression that the Gray Wardens were composed of a bunch of unhappy press-ganged victims. Jory came across like someone happy to join when it meant respect and honor, but unwilling to pay the price. Also, as Krellen said, mankind wasn’t doing so hot against the darkspawn before the Gray Wardens came along.

    Could the Gray Wardens have still gotten members if the secret was known? Yes, probably. But they wouldn’t have their pick of the elite types fighting in tournaments for the honor of being one. And if everyone knew they drank darkspawn blood, they would be widely treated with suspicion and distrust instead of respect. Especially by the Chantry types. “It’s blood magic!” “They’re maleficar!”

    All that said, given the cost of drinking the blood the benefits as seen in the game seem pretty marginal to make every gray warden drink it. As it is, it seems like they could save that for just a few until an actual blight happens. They do say in the game that it takes a while for the changes from the blood to happen, and both Alistair and the PC are new, so the developers might argue there are further benefits that just weren’t shown.

  34. ehlijen says:

    Note on becoming the queen:

    You have to be noble (and thus human) but you also must be the one to decide to execute Loghain. Only if you do that first and afterwards decide who to make king do you get the option of anouncing that you’ll be queen next to Alistair. If you force him to try and take the throne by threatening to let Loghain live, you won’t get that option and he’ll dump you in the speech afterwards, as opposed to delighting in being engaged.

    As for ending slides for the party members, if the main character lives, you only get them for Morrigan, Alistair (if he lives), Wynne and any character you’d had a romance with. If the main character dies, all party members (apart from the dog) get one. But then you miss out on Sten denouncing the cake. Which may be a good thing depending on how sick you are of that phrase.

  35. Henebry says:

    @ Macil:

    Love the Nietzsche/Watchmen reference and the sharp analysis!

  36. Jeff says:

    As a female romancing Alistair, I don’t think you have the choice of PC vs Alistair. PC vs Loghain, or Morrigan yes/no, but not PC vs Alistair – he will always take the final blow.

    That’s what I heard on the road, anyways.

  37. Jeff says:

    (What kind of vindictive juvenile sociopath would let hundreds of thousands of innocent people die because “Wah, my life sucked.”? It’s like handing an immature emo brat the button to blow up the planet. “Oh, life is black, etc. Mom won’t let me shop at hot topic no more! *BOOM*”)

  38. pinchy says:

    I didn’t really like the whole ending at all, leaving aside the boring combat on the way there where you just one-shot pretty much everything there really was nothing personal about the ending. With Jade Empire and KOTOR I loved the ending becasue it was personal you’d been betrayed and could either be out for revenge or justice. With DragonAge though I just didn’t care, it seemed that my character was fighting the archdemon simply because he had nothing left to live for (i.e- family all dead, his love leaving him cause he wouldn’t have some kind of demon baby with her) and that it was a better way to go out than drinking himself to death.

    You never really get to meet the archdemon as a character and understand it’s motivatons, whereas that is what made Loghain such a good villian. You could understand why he was doing what he did even if you didn’t agree with it. As opposed to hey look its a big dragon of some sort to kill, oh really haven’t I already killed 2 dragons in this game?

  39. B.J. says:

    On the subject of Duncan’s morality, I felt he stepped a tad over the line in the prologue when he kills the applicant with cold feet. I mean, a little bit more warning would have been warranted, no?

    In all the origins Duncan’s recruitment of the main character comes off as a mercy move on his part. You are in some sort of dire situation, condemned to death, cursed to become a darkspawn, etc. He saves you, but it’s still a grim fate anyway.

    But in the Human Noble origin, he comes across as a cruel opportunist. Your character’s family is murdered and your lands stolen but you are essentially fine, and the last thing that will help you get your revenge is to get involved with fighting the darkspawn. Your father is lying there dying and begs Duncan to save you, and Duncan says he will only do so by making you a grey warden, thus postponing your quest for revenge indefinitely. What a dick.

    As for the ending, my male noble decided to make Alistair become king, because I thought Alistair was awesome. I figured as a Teryn my character had plenty of power already and I really though Alistair deserved it. I took Morrigan’s offer because I knew it would make for a very dramatic sequel hook. Yes, I cheated on Leliana and conceived a demonic god-soul child because I thought it would make good storytelling.

  40. ccesarano says:

    God, there’s soooo much to say I feel like it would be overly long. Funny thing, just this morning I posted my positive impressions of the game after all my negatives on Friday, and there’s STILL SO MUCH TO DISCUSS.

    In terms of the endings, I had a save from Redcliffe right before heading to Denerim, so I managed to create a bunch of different save files so I sacrificed myself, sacrificed Alistair and then completely broke character and planted Dwarven baby seed in Morrigan. Man, after the whole arch demon crap that is gonna be one screwed up looking kid.

    I loved how it ended, and in the end I’ve reached the conclusion that BioWare is a much more preferred developer for RPG’s than Bethesda (who I’m growing to loathe overall).

    I completed every origin story and started a second playthrough. After reading some of the comments here I’m thinking I’ll wait to romance Alistair for the human noble. I don’t understand why I love this game so much, but it’s hard to get in the mood to play anything else.

    Re: Macil, the game has to railroad you so much in order to tell the story. After making six separate origins that intertwine with events throughout the entire game and have different effects in the conclusion, you can only wonder how much longer it would have taken if you chose to fight back against Duncan (though let’s face it, level 3-5 newbie vs. probably level 12-20 bad ass? Not gonna happen). Now imagine if they had to write the game under the whole assumption that you’re not a Grey Warden? In fact, you’d just be railroaded in the end anyway. Let’s say you fled into the Wilds, and they recovered Alistair alone as the last remaining Grey Warden. Sure, it’s another option, but you’d still be railroaded right up to the ending…where you have the choice to leave Alistair behind, let the Arch Demon live and…then what? I mean, really, what then?

    Even if they could have gone with other options, considering the time this game has been in development already you’re basically asking for a game that can never be complete. I’d love to see games where you make one small choice at the start and it changes your whole experience (something small that determines which side of a war you’re on, for example). However, the sheer amount of development time and careful writing that would take is exorbitant. It’s a video game, and some amount of rail-roading is a necessity.

    As for the world being full of assholes, did you miss where the marketing was trying to make Dragon Age a dark, nitty and gritty setting? Granted it comes off as being over the top in many ways, but it’s probably the best mature handling of a fantasy setting I’ve seen since reading Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy (which later inspired contemporary fantasy hater George R. R. Martin to write A Song of Ice and Fire).

    As for Duncan killing Ser Jory, look at it this way. Everyone honors and loves the Grey Wardens, right? Yet they are very selective in their service. Superficially, it’s because they need warriors strong and smart enough to face such odds. In some ways, yes, Duncan is an opportunist, finding people that are either facing certain death or people that are left with little options. Yet let’s think about the actual ritual.

    To become a Grey Warden, which not only allows you to sense Dark Spawn but also is a necessity to slay the Arch Demon, you have to drink of the blood. There’s a chance this ritual will kill you. Even if you don’t die then and there, you will eventually die. You’ll head into the Deep Roads to do what you can before the end claims you. Then, as mentioned, in order to end a Blight, any Grey Warden surviving the fight must be willing to give up his life.

    Now imagine what happens when the general populous of weak-willed, ignorant peasants and scheming politicians hear about this stuff. That the secret is out. It would be a DISASTER. People would call for the end of them, which would mean the end to the only thing that could end the Blight.

    Ser Jory was slain so 1) that word wouldn’t get out, and 2) the Wardens MUST be a group of people willing to face death in order for the greater good. As with all things, public image is extremely important. The Grey Wardens must seem impregnable. Oh, let’s not forget, 3) if word got out, NO ONE would join, thus ending the order anyway.

    You completely miss the point of the setting as a whole. It’s not supposed to be black and white like Lord of the Rings. It’s supposed to be a mix of gray, to show the good is in the eye of the beholder. Are the dwarves wrong for their caste system? Of course we think so, we’re well evolved past that state. Yet that’s not the point. The point is cultures differ, and no matter what none of us is ACTUALLY “better” or “worse”. We’re just different.

    The only true evil in this game is the Darkspawn, whose only purpose is to kill everyone.

    And let’s face it, how good of a story could you possibly make out of siding with the bad guys?

    Also, also, if you could choose not to be a Grey Warden, well, that only complicates the ending. Basically, your desire for a more open story and world does nothing but create tedium in plot outline and exposition. We’re given six origins and decisions that have a great weight on the rest of the world. Isn’t that enough?

    As for the sequel: I’d like to see half-dwarves and half-elves.

  41. Magnus says:

    On the subject of sequels, how many people have kept a mass effect save game for that purpose?

    I got rid of the game not long after I completed it, and only then heard that your actions affect ME2 in some ways.
    I found that a little bit odd, since surely there would be loads of people like me who didn’t know, I would have appreciated some sort of “export your character” screen as seen in the “Quest for Glory” games, where it explicitly tells you that you can transfer your character (with all the benefits that brings).

    The time between games always strikes me as a factor as well, if it’s a few years between games being produced there’s a high probability that all my previous game data will be deleted (I like to run a tidy PC!).

    Slightly off topic, I appreciate, but the idea of continuing in the next game does appeal to a certain extent, I just feel it worked better with a smaller amount of time in between sequels (for example, the first four QfG games were all released in about four years – 1989 to 1993, Mass Effect was released in 2007-08, and the sequel is next year some time so 2-3 years).

  42. Jeff says:

    I’ve known from Day 1 that we’re supposed to keep a save from Mass Effect. It wasn’t exactly a secret – I think it was even mentioned as being a feature in the trilogy.

    Of course, the one save where I (in an OCD-like fashion) went to all random planets actually burned me out before I could finish… and now I don’t even have a ME1 completed save.

    …I’m going to have to do everything again. Stupid random planets.

  43. Retlor says:

    Macil, I take your point about Duncan, I really do. In the end, necessity killing Jory or not, the guy’s just kind of a dick when it comes down to it. He’s been doing this for a long time, so maybe he’s just a bit jaded.

    Alistair on the other hand, I have a lot of sympathy for. The guy has terrible luck in fathers. First Maric, who abandons, him, then Aemon, who sends him to the chantry (which, as he mentions, is really NOT where he wanted to be) and finally Duncan, and we all know what happens to him.

    Whiny emo brat or not, it doesn’t seem like he’s spitting on free will by being there. He’s excercising his free will merely by being there.

    This is what people forget. In the end, you can’t be forced to be a Warden. Rite of Conscription? There’s a way out of that, and that’s dying. However, every time we see that invoked, the choice is pretty much conscription or death anyway, and I don’t get the impression that the Wardens were going around conscripting people who weren’t in that situation. Of course, that’s just my impressions, so they might well have been.

    Still, I think we can all agree that Loghain is the hero of the game.

  44. Macil says:

    @ccesarano:

    I’m not sure where I stated I didn’t want the game to make you a Grey Warden. I said the game should have given you the choice, even if it was an illusion which railroaded you into becoming a Warden. You are not given a choice: you are forced into service.

    Contrast this with Mass Effect (which I loved) — you know you are going to become a Specter, but the game portrays it as a logical choice, with an appropriate background and incentive (military career + Geth attack) not something you are forced into accepting upon penalty of death.

    The difference is in the execution and the telling.

    The world is hardly dark, gritty, etc. Its pretty benign. Reading a history of the middle ages is much more gruesome. If you want dark, read the Berserk manga series. Dragon Age looks like it was designed by Disney in comparison. Another contrast: Guts in the Berserk series never commits evil in order to fight the monstrous, horrible Evil he fights.

    Duncan and the other Wardens keep their secrets for power. They have respect for life insofar as the order of the Wardens remains intact. You claim that Duncan killed Jory for noble reasons, but I disagree. By keeping their secrets, including how to kill the Archdemon and effectively fight Darkspawn, they are able to portray themselves as saviors and command the respect and boons that come with it — including the whole right of conscription thing.

    Duncan? An opportunist? The poster before you, B.J., nailed it on the head. No, he is selfish and evil. I played the human noble Origin. He said he would save the PC if he would become a Warden. Saving the PC without condition was within his power, but no — he exploits the situation (for which he has the life of another in his hands) for his own ends. I believe in D&D parlance that is “Neutral Evil”.

    “… general populous of weak-willed, ignorant peasants … etc”

    I am glad to see we have such faith in people! :P I doubt the people of Ferelden would just lay down and die without the Wardens to save them. If the Wardens were needed to save them, people would either put aside their quibbles with them or be doomed by their inability to adapt. Again, virtues cannot be compromised to preserve those same virtues (in this case, telling a lie/hiding the truth in order to earn respect/prestige/honor/etc for the Wardens).

    And yes, I reject subjectivism in all forms. Culture A celebrates sacrifice and murder and Culture B does not. That is not just a “difference” — one is in the wrong. Period. I am not a religious person, but there is good and evil that transcends perspective that is based entirely in logic.

    You belie your own claims to subjectivism when you claim the Darkspawn are evil. What do you know about the Darkspawn? How do you know they are not intelligent or do not possess their own culture? Maybe they celebrate death and destruction: doesn’t that just make us different? The game tells us next to nothing about them.

    And again in your closing statements: “And let’s face it, how good of a story could you possibly make out of siding with the bad guys?” If you believe in subjectivism, then how can you label anyone “bad”? That is a matter of perspective.

    I am not looking for Tolkien black & white. I am not looking for anything in particular. I am merely expressing my opinion and my opinion is that Dragon Age is a poor story and a poor game.

    @Retlor:

    Hey, I understand. I definitely see your point. I would be more forgiving of Alistair than Duncan or perhaps that other Warden fellow. Actually, Alistair was easily my favorite character of all the characters. I also agree, that after some thought, Loghain is the real hero.

    BTW, thanks all for the discussion. I love to philosophize. :)

  45. CobraCmdr says:

    I didn’t necessarily see the choice of impregnating Morrigen as evil. I believe it is explicitly stated that the baby will not be evil, just that it will be very powerful (and possibly dangerous).

    I chose this option, I had already romanced Morrigen anyway. So it made the ending happy for the kingdom (Alistar as King, married to the Queen, with me as chief counciler) but with a bitter sweet twist that I will never see my woman again, or know my child.

    I liked to think my character would spend the rest of his life searching for her, no matter what the prophecies say.

  46. Dys says:

    Where did people get the idea that Morrigan’s baby was a bad plan? I was playing a mage and though I wavered for a while, mainly because of qualms concerning Morrigan’s parenting skills, I eventually went with it out of a sheer burning curiosity.

    There is as far as I remember, no mention in the game of the Old Gods being evil. They are the equivalent of the pagan deities supplanted by the biblical religions throughout europe. The Archdemon was evil (in so far as mindless hate can be evil) because of the darkspawn taint. The power that animated it was no more evil than the humans, dwarfs, elves and qunari who became darkspawn.

    Had Morrigan allowed me to raise the child, I would have agreed instantly.

    As for the whole evil wardens thing, if you really would sacrifice the whole world on the back of idealism, I suggest you get some perspective. The darkspawn do not appear to be anything less than cataclysmic.

    I believe that the secret of the joining is guarded so jealously because the Wardens are well aware of the shitstorm that would follow its revelation. Dead men tell no tales, and if you accept that the loss of the secret would mean the end of the Wardens, it seems a necessity.

    Those people justifying the existence of the Wardens seem to have overlooked one crucial point. Without the player, and Alistair, without the Wardens, there would have BEEN no army, no fight, no resistance. The internecine squabbles among and within the races would have continued right up until the horde swept them all away. The tainted blood does give some minor benefits, but in truth its greatest power lies in granting the Wardens true, irrefutable evidence of the Blight, and the danger facing the world.

    Had Loghain, or the former king whose name I never bothered to learn actually listened to the Wardens, to Duncan, Ostagar would not have fallen and the whole plot of DA:O would have been unnecessary.

  47. B.J. says:

    @Dys:

    I was under the impression that the child would be a blank slate with “awesome cosmic power.” Gee, an innocent child bearing the soul of a dead god? What Bioware game does that remind you of?

    That’s why I think the sequel will feature Morrigan’s child as the protagonist.

  48. Melf_Himself says:

    I gather that it’s possible to turn Logain into a Warden and have him sacrifice himself instead. This was alluded to but I haven’t had a chance to go back and try it yet.

    While we’re talking spoilers, Morrigan is such a mole, she abandoned me because I refused to IMPREGNATE HER WITH DEMONSPAWN. Like, wtf. It’s like an episode of Passions. Meanwhile after she left I had to slog through 50,000 darkspawn with my backup AoE which consisted of… Shale (yeah, I killed Wynne, whoops). Fortunately Shale rocks the house, but cooldowns were a bitch.

    I took the bullet at the end. I could have taken Alistair with me but he was decked out in sub par gear and had ridiculously bad skills. Though I sat Oghren a safe distance from the entire fight as a backup tank for my anticipated death from the anticipated Dragon OM NOM NOM I AM TAKING ALL YOUR HEALTH AND YOU CAN’T MOVE skill… but I never ended up needing the backup so I could have probably brought bow-wielding Alistair along for the hell of it.

    Still it was pretty cool that I died, they’ve never gone there with their end of game wtf moments so it seemed like a neat emotional twist.

    Edit: “Warden: Sandal, what are you doing surrounded by dead darkspawn?
    Sandal: Enchantment!”

    QFT. This was possibly the funniest thing in the whole game.

  49. H.T. Black says:

    There’s one thing I don’t get–I went for the deus sex machina with Morrigan, but why do so many people consider it cowardly or evil? I mean, you knock her up, then nine months down the road she gives birth to Satan. Sure, that might not be exactly good, but there are several reasons this seems just fine:

    First of all, in my playtrhough she had Flemeth’s grimoire in addition to a host of other spells– she had effectively and efficiently made a mockery of darkspwan, ogres, dragons, and demons alike. One PO’d devilspawn ain’t gonna do much.

    Leaving that aside, there was never any guarantee that the child would be born evil– its says quite plainly in the game that an archdemon is an old god who has been corrupted by the taint. Since the baby was born with the taint and none of the side-effects, it won’t be doing anything remotely evil as long as Morrigan keeps it out of the darkspawn blood.

    Third, there’s the fact that the child will not be raised evil. If it isn’t born like that, Morrigan isn’t going to go and make it that way– she’s the proverbial Bastila Shan here. She’s a bit of a bitch and she operates in a grey area (and a Grey Warden), but she’s doing it for the greater good. Besides, that baby is a frikkin’ god! She can hardly do anything!

    Finally, even if the child did become an archdemon, what’s so bad about that? Assuming you don’t decide to up and die, you’ll likely rebuild the wardens in all their might with Alistair’s help, not to mention the ones in Orlay. Given the way that you b-slapped the blight around this time, what says the next time will be any worse?

    I just think the whole affair is a bit on the narmy side of things…

    EDIT: Is it just me, or is Claudia Black playing a lot of traitorous/loyal/traitor/loyal/just make up your mind characters lately?

  50. Mazinja says:

    Macil:

    If you want proof of the horrible things that the darkspawn do, you really need to look no farther than the Dwarven part of the main quest, where you learn HOW the darkspawn are created, where they come from, etc. It is not very pleasant. This is not a subject of ‘but the darkspawn’s culture etc’ because that is hardly the POINT.

    The qunari and the dwarves obviously have cultural things that we can disagree with, as do the very humans of the setting (the elves… well, they barely have their own culture any more). None of these are quite as stomach-churning as the things the darkspawn do. These are not the goblins and orcs of fantasy stories, these are creatures of sheer evil.

    Without the Grey Wardens, Ferelden WOULD have fallen. Its not a matter of whether the people would have united against them or not. Let’s assume the Exposition Grey Warden at the end was telling the truth and the Archdemon can only truly be killed by one having gone through the Joining: this means that without the Grey Wardens (assuming anybody that does this ritual is one, whether they call themselves that or not), the horde would have been unstoppable.

    Getting a choice about becoming a Grey Warden might have been nice, at least some dialogue after Jowy gets ganked. Hell, some dialogue to PREVENT him form getting ganked, those things would have been nice, but, well, alas.

    … and for the record, I suspected to the very end that Loghain was in the thrall of a Pride demon. I am somewhat dissapointed this wasn’t the case.

  51. LintMan says:

    … and for the record, I suspected to the very end that Loghain was in the thrall of a Pride demon. I am somewhat dissapointed this wasn’t the case.

    Heh. Near the end, I was certain that Queen Anora was somehow using blood magic to control Loghain and arrange the whole thing. In some ways, that would have been more satisfying: I wasn’t really sold on the “Loghain was really really paranoid” idea. His plot to take over would have needed weeks of planning: arranging for the mage assassin at Redcliffe, plotting with Howe to destroy the Couslands, plotting with Uldred to arrange things with the circle. Would he really have known that far in advance that the king was going to bring in the Orlesians and wouldn’t/couldn’t be deterred? What would have made him so sure so early on that the Couslands and Gray Wardens were traitors? It certainly wasn’t anything Duncan was saying.

    Also, was anyone else disappointed about how the Landsmeet plays out? I amassed every possible bit of evidence that Loghain was a traitor, and yet I wasn’t allowed to present half of it, and in the end, it didn’t matter since I always lost anyway unless I had made the deal with Anora.

  52. Rutskarn says:

    Just finished the game…15 minutes ago. And let me just say, I’m glad I’m not the only one who got sick of all the Darkspawn murder.

    It’s the same with the random ambushes. How does BioWare expect players to react, here? “Oh, goody-goody gumdrops! Here I thought this was going to be a straightforward progression from highlight to highlight, preserving the dramatic intensity and testing my abilities at every turn! I was terrified that I wouldn’t have to stop and slog my way through 231 guys–the same 231 guys, incidentally, that I’ve been fighting since the second chapter! For a second there, I really thought I thought I could make it from Point A to Point B without gorging myself on a thousand pointless stupid friggin’ MOOKFIGHTS. Thanks, BioWare, for PROVING ME WRONG YET AGAIN.”

    That might well be my *only* gripe with the game.

  53. Galenloke says:

    Am I the only one who thinks the twist is suspiciously like Final Fantasy X?

  54. Macil says:

    @Dys:

    I wanted to sacrifice the world because I hated Dragon Age and because it seemed like an obvious choice that was left out. I generally play goody-two-shoe characters and that would not be the choice I would have made if I had enjoyed the game more. I think the most ideal ending is as Cyndane said: Loghain sacrifices himself to kill the Archdemon, but Alistair doesn’t leave the party (my favorite NPC!) — that seemed terribly forced to me just so you’d have a ‘terrible decision’ to make at the end.

    However, I stand by my other points about Duncan, the Wardens, the evilness of Ferelden, etc. That doesn’t mean people aren’t worth saving, just that, because of the way the story was presented, and because many choices that should have been there were left out, I didn’t care about the Dragon Age world by the end.

    Also, the continuing problem of the Grey Wardens is that it is contingent upon the secrets they keep. You said the world needed them to win against the Darkspawn — they needed them insofar as they needed the secret of how to kill the Archdemon. Had the Wardens let everyone know the secret, then sooner or later, in order to prevail against the Darkspawn and no matter how distasteful it seemed, someone would take the corruption to slay the Archdemon.

    @Mazinja:

    Read the prior posts. :) That was in reply to another poster. I most certainly think the Darkspawn are evil. The other poster, however, began arguing for subjectivism. Classifying the Darkspawn as evil requires that you do not subscribe to subjectivism.

    @Rutskarn:

    I think I would have liked the game a bit more if the combat was cut down 90%.

    @LintMan:

    Totally disappointed by the Landsmeet. As a comparison, I enjoyed the Trial of Ember in NWN2 much more.

  55. ccesarano says:

    True, it’s tough to argue subjectivism and then point someone out as being completely evil, but the way I see it is this. The Darkspawn’s only motivation is “KILL EVERYONE!”. They are pretty much as evil as evil gets. Considering I am a religious person, I also have my own definitions of what constitutes good and morality. The problem is, once you leave individual actions and go to those of a people, things become incredibly complicated (also why, despite being religious, I am very much with the separation of Church and State: it is NOT meant to be a political power in any sense). So once you start analyzing cultures, good and bad suddenly become gray.

    But that’s good and bad. Evil isn’t bad, it’s EVIL. Slavery is bad, but it is only done in cultures that have been taught there are inferior people intended to serve. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Humans are taught Elves are scum, so they treat them as such. Elves then hate humans for such actions and reciprocate, and the cycle feeds itself anew (hrm, a contrast could be made today of such things it seems). Is the entire world that way? No. But it’s all a belief based on life experiences.

    Darkspawn, meanwhile, could care less about what they’ve experienced. Everything just needs to die. Therefore, evil.

    Though chances are if we argued this further we’d be going way, WAY beyond the scope of the writes.

    I also did not intend to say the Gray Wardens are noble (if I suggested that it wasn’t my intention). Just that, well, ignorance is bliss, right?

    The real problem, which I had neglected to bring up for some reason, is Ser Jory was a bad choice. He did not seem to me as a character at his wit’s end. He had a wife with child, and he kept speaking as if he had something to live for. Even in the Human Noble story (which I hadn’t considered that, yes, it is pretty weak compared to the other origins, I just never thought about it because 1) it was going through the motions at that point, and 2) I really liked the entire set up before that point), there’s a lot lost and a sense of “hey, whatever will bring that rat bastard to justice for destroying my family”.

    The way I see it, Ser Jory simply didn’t have “the right stuff” for the job, which is a bad choice on Duncan’s part.

    I didn’t dislike the setting as you had. I know it’s not really “dark, edgy and gritty”, even though BioWare tried to market it as such so badly. Still, it’s a world of gray morality, which is very fitting of BioWare, and in the end I liked it enough that I might one day get the table-top RPG book for it (I’m sick of making my own settings and anything that keeps me from moving on to 4th is welcome).

    On the story, though, I forgot to mention this as well and am surprised no one has brought it up.

    On my first playthrough, I felt that Loghain had allowed access to Darkspawn into the tower in order to keep the beacon from being lit. The plan seemed to be “well, the signal never went up so we didn’t charge”, and therefore he couldn’t be blamed. So when the Gray Wardens succeed, it puts a foil in his plans and creates a weakness. You can see in his face that it didn’t go according to plan.

    I figured there was some explanation on this later on, but after starting my second run through it occurred to me that there is no reason given for things to have gone so wrong. “Darkspawn have entered the lower chambers!”. Ok, that’s nice, so why would Loghain act as if he had a plan foiled if he didn’t conspire with them somehow? It’s like the writers had come up with a plan, and then forgot all about it by time they were wrapping things up.

    Also, on topic of Morrigan and being the Baby Daddy, my assumption is that Morrigan, being the self-serving power hungry bitch she is, would use the child as a tool for power. Now let’s consider Flemeth (who I never got a concrete answer out of in whether she would have used Morrigan or not), how she raised Morrigan and in the end all she did was turn her back on her mother. Isn’t it possible Morrigan could raise an evil child that would similarly slay Morrigan, only now that it’s got an Archdemon inside of it that it could be capable of so much more?

    This is also mere speculation. Who knows what the developers themselves have in mind.

  56. Mark Schaal says:

    Put me down in the “disappointed by the ending” camp. The Archdemon doesn’t even speak?

    I think it is difficult to say the darkspawn are evil since (1) we never talk with a darkspawn and (2) we never see the darkspawn society. They obviously have smiths to forge those darkspawn weapons and some kind of agriculture to feed the population density we see in the dark roads, but we encounter none of that. Plus when there is no Archdemon around, the only fighting they do are border skirmishes with the dwarves. What the darkspawn have done to the dwarves, even including Blight times, isn’t any worse than what the humans have done to the elves.

    Get rid of all the Archdemons and the darkspawn will likely become less violent, analogous to how the werewolves were becoming more civilized over time.

  57. Maddyanne says:

    The way the darkspawn reproduce is horrific and they need female elves, dwarves, and humans to do it. Even with no Archdemon, they’d have to raid Orzamar and places on the surface now and then, since not every attempt to create a Broodmother succeeds.

    My female city elf is in dread of going to the Dark Roads someday to go down fighting and not dying. It makes deciding to sacrifice yourself a bit easier.

  58. Joe Cool says:

    Plagued by loading screens? Sing the Loading Screen theme!

    It’s the loading screen,
    It’s the loading screen,
    I can’t believe this cartoon is just all the loading screens.

  59. Michael says:

    ccesarano: sorry, I’m ranting on something you said earlier:
    Granted it comes off as being over the top in many ways, but it’s probably the best mature handling of a fantasy setting I’ve seen since reading Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy (which later inspired contemporary fantasy hater George R. R. Martin to write A Song of Ice and Fire).
    I’m sorry, I can’t agree. I’m not sure what the best example of dark fantisy in videogames is, I am certain that Dragon Age isn’t it.

    Dragon Age is to George R.R. Martin’s work, what Twilight is to Ann Rice. It’s cheeply structured, shallow, not really dark, just emo, whiney, and sparkly.

    While, there’s certainly room for dark fantisy in Dragon Age’s setting, and it could have been set up and executed very well, I’m left with the feeling that Oblivion had a darker premise, and handled dark subject matter flat out better. And Oblivion was aiming for a T raiting. What we have here is senslessly petty characters, and blood, with the perception on the part of Bioware seems to be that that equals “dark”.

    Basically Dragon Age is Warhammer by Disney. The Darkspawn are evil, sure, and they’d make an interesting baseline for a really messed up setting, but as it stands, Dragon Age just isn’t that dark.

    I started out trying to play into the setting. I got to Redcliffe Castle, I put down the abomination, and his mother comes in, I basically backhanded her. And in my head my personal motivation for my choices was “you brought all this down upon the village because of your ego. So, I’m going to take away the one thing you care about.” Unfortunatly there is no way to twist the knife with her. So she just ends up whining about the death of her child, and never even begins to approach the fact that she just killed hundreds of people, and may have doomed Ferelden because of her ego. Hell, I would have killed her too if given the option, to prevent her from ever doing anything destructive again to soothe her ego.

    Really, this game is not that dark, when, as a player, I’m routinly thinking up much darker ways to deal with the presented material.

    EDIT: Honestly, Neverwinter Nights 2 was a much darker game, really. As was Mask of the Betrayer. But, then again, Oblivion was darker.

    EDIT: Is the edit screen bugging out for anyone else? I’m having to type without being able to see what I’m writing. It keeps scrolling upward every second. And then comming back down as I’m typing.

  60. LK says:

    I just now patched the game to 1.02.

    The readme file from the patch had this little gem at the top:

    Many of the fixes affecting balance, gameplay, or plot scripting are already
    included in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation®3 versions of Dragon Age: Origins.

    Uh, Bioware, did you just flip me the bird? I think you did… that’s not very nice! D:

  61. I got the chance recently to play Dragon Age: Origins

    I suspect the “canon” ending might be:
    *Human Male Noble Warrior
    *Loghain executed
    *Morrigan and PC have child
    *PC kills demon
    *Queen and Allistar marries.
    *PC chases after Morrigan

    I really liked the Origins concept but I think it could have been taken way further.

    I wish BioWare did a different take on this, who knows, they might read this and get some ideas for Dragon Age 2 or a future RPG?

    Imagine the origins stories as they are…but.
    at character creation in the start you create, let’s say 6 characters, they can not be the same class/overlap in their origin story.

    You chose one of them to start with, play through the origin, then you “interact” with the other characters you created and play through the story,
    you reach the end of the game.

    At this point you can replay the game, but only with one of the other characters you created, this time their origin and, the main story will be as seen through their eyes.

    Any choices you did when playing with the 1st character can not be overturned or altered, but there will be various side stories specific to the 2nd character you can do, and there will be many “off camera” situations that you never saw when playing with character 1.

    Each time you complete the game with 1 character you can choose one of the remaining ones. THe ones you have already played through with is locked. Events/choices etc. made with a previous character will be shown as a cutscene when playing through with the next character.

    Only after having played through with all 6 characters you created will the fully epic story emerge and you will get a epilogue ending based on the choices all your 6 characters did.

    Funny thing is that the choices your 1st character did might screw up some things for the other characters you made, but that’s kinda realistic now isn’t it?

    I’m sure Bioware has the skill to pull something like this off, the key is to make sure each of the 6 created characters tells 1/6th of key parts of the main story.

    And that when playing through with character 2-6 that certain things done with the 1st character is skipped, the player hopefully remembers these,
    as it would be boring to slay the same monsters again or go to the same places again, unless those are story areas in which case a different point of view should be shown.

    As most RPG’s stories take place over many days it should be possible for all 6 characters to go to the same city,
    the 1st character chosen/played sets the main story choices obviously, but the other characters would let you see what happen on the “other” days your party stayed in the town for example.

    The 6th character would obviously have way less influence on affecting the story/side stories, but would also have the opportunity to fill in all story holes, to conclude a romance with say character 1 etc. And since the last character would have less main story action it would be more relaxing, more cutscenes and coherent story exposition.

    People that do not want to play through with more than just the 1st character can do so, and still have a satisfying end but will miss out on what happen on all those “other days” and misses out on the overall epilogue of all 6 characters.

    It would also be cool if one could unlock a “replay story” choice after having played through with all 6 characters,
    which is basically a cutscene replay of all the story highlights for all 6 characters, presented almost as a “movie” of your exploits, which might give a sort of nice 2hr “popcorn movie” to enjoy and show off to your friends. “This is my story of the game”.

    *pokes BioWare* Taking notes I hope? *grin*

  62. Jordi says:

    I know this is a bit late, but I waited with reading this until I finished the game myself.

    I thought the final “act” as Shamus calls it was very sloppy and it felt rushed. Alistair’s character seems all over the place. Sometimes you can talk him into agreeing to become king and then when it happens, he’s mad. On a lot of occasions I wished that I could just explain things to him better, and felt persuade options should have been provided.
    The Landsmeet was a big letdown. Since Loghain is clearly the main antagionist with dialog, I would have expected more from this. I waited the whole game to get some explanations out of him, but you can really only say one or two things to him before he continues the conversation. I replayed the Landsmeet 5 times in a row and he actually has some very interesting things to say, so I think it’s a shame that you can’t just question him at will and then further the conversation yourself.
    I also thought Alistair was uncharacteristically harsh and stubborn in how he opposes letting Loghain join the Grey Wardens. Enlisting Loghain seems like a very good outcome to me if Alistair would have been reasonable. This is also one really good place for a persuade option IMO. As an added bonus, fate or the Maker gets to decide his fate, because the Joining is apparently kind of like a lottery. As an aside: if the Joining is so super secret, it really doesn’t make any sense for Riordan to bring it up in front of all those people.
    I also don’t like that all the party NPCs have pretty much nothing to say about the events in the (end)game when you talk to them. They have lots of dialog in the beginning, and it felt really strange that I couldn’t ask them about what they thought about the events as they unfolded.

    The final assault of Denerim was also pretty stupid. I’m in Denerim and I get summoned to Redcliffe to fight the Darkspawn horde. Upon my arrival I’m informed that the Darkspawn are invading Denerim. What the hell!? How f’ing stupid are we? Didn’t we like pass the Darkspawn and Archdemon on our way from Denerim to Redcliffe?
    And then there’s Morrigan’s proposal. The Darkspawn will invade Denerim in two days and her master plan is to do it, get pregnant on the first try, wait nine months for the child to be born and then have said baby strike the killing blow against the Archdemon. Her leaving (again without a persuade option) seems a little weird, and it also seems like it could be highly problematic for some players. Mages are generally considered as the most powerful class by far and many people regard the game as extremely hard without them. Since Wynne is also quite missable (you can kill her), it seems like non-mage players that are not very good are pretty much forced to take Morrigan’s proposal, which to me seemed like a clearly evil option. I haven’t played with Morrigan a lot, since I didn’t like her that much, so I couldn’t say if she was actually 100% evil, but at the very least she is extremely power hungry with at least some evil tendencies. Morrigan makes it very clear that she’s been with you for the sole purpose of conceiving this god-like offspring, so even if it isn’t evil by definition, I’m pretty sure she’s not going to use it for good. Her plan to leave and raise the child alone, and her departure upon my refusal only reinforce my belief.

    In the end I sacrificed myself and I feel I did the right thing. The ending was nice, but felt a little short (although maybe I’m asking too much here). I also don’t see why the final text-based “wrap-ups” couldn’t have been voice-acted, with maybe some CGI (or just the ingame renderings of the described events).

    I did like the fights before the Archdemon though. At first it felt a little stupid that most of the darkspawn were ten times as weak all of a sudden, but in the end I liked wiping out whole armies of them. In addition, there were some really interesting fights with some darkspawn mages. In the end I really like(d) this game. I just liked the beginning a lot better than the end.

  63. Nathan (aka. Shoukanjuu) says:

    I’ve only played through the game once, and my character’s story was quite the heartbreaking one. You see, I played as a homosexual elf mage (he looked like Anderson Cooper), and he had the bad fortune to fall in love with Alistair…

    It was really tragic. By the time my elf mage learned that Alistair was a virgin, it wasn’t POSSIBLE for Alistair to like him any better then he already did, but it had become painfully obvious that he would never see my elf as anything more then a “friend”.

    Heartbroken, my elf mage forced him to marry Queen Anora (it was for his own good), and then slept with Morrigan (yuck) to ensure that Alistair wouldn’t die if some cruel twist of fate prevented me from killing the archdemon before he had a chance to do the deed. Despite neither of us dying, it all felt rather tragic…

    But it does bring up an issue with BioWare’s character design. There are 4 party members that can potentially become romantic interests, 2 male, and 2 female. Of each gender group, one is strictly heterosexual, while the other is bisexual. Now, while it might seem that this arrangement would please everybody, it has some flaws…

    Situation #1, playing a heterosexual character: Of the 4 companions who have romantic potential, your character is only going to be interested in the two of opposite gender, both of which will reciprocate your interest. Everybody wins!

    Situation #2, playing a bisexual character: Out of the 4, only ONE will rebuff your advances. Play your cards right, and you might even have the opportunity at a threesome, or even a foursome!

    Situation #3, playing a homosexual character: There’s only one companion of the suitable gender who will return your interests, but they’re not particularly concerned with YOUR gender. Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers (actually, my homosexual elf mage ended up KILLING Zevran, and after his experience with Morigan, I imagine him committing himself to lifelong celibacy).

    Actually, there are a couple of points that particularly irk me, about BioWare’s characterization of the various companion’s sexual predilections, in regards to the various “arraignments” that are possible with the NPC Isabela. If you’re playing a female character in a relationship with Alistair, there’s the potential for a threesome. Morrigan will have no part of any tryst with Isabela, under any circumstances. But either of the two bisexual characters, Zevran and Leliana, will join in with you (regardless of your gender), or both, if you can swing it! I can’t articulate it precisely, but this…offends me, somewhat. Not that I have any moral objections to “group activities”, but the portrayal of the bisexual companions’ “anything goes” attitude (MMF, MMFF, MFF, MFFF, FFF) in comparison with the hetrosexual companions’ attitudes (the straight female character will not be party to any such goings on, thank you very much; the straight male is only willing to participate if the situation involves two women only, but if you’re playing a female character not in a relationship with him, Alistair will tell you that he’s going to “jump in the ocean”).

    Really, BioWare’s attitude toward sexuality in general seems (to me) to be rather juvenile. While I’m glad that they’re pushing the boundaries on what the mainstream thinks is acceptable in games regarding portrayal of adult sexual behavior, I just wish I could classify it as “mature”.

  64. Falco Rusticula says:

    I took Morrigan up on her offer. In my case, I actually knew about the whole death thing in advance due to reading about the game, but it was still a pretty powerful moment. Morrigan’s offer didn’t seem as monstrous as everyone’s making it out to be -she might not be excellent mother material, but she could hardly be worse than her *own* mother. (Did you do that side-quest?) Either way, the whole ending was very well done, very powerful.

    I’m on my second play-though now, and it feels rather surreal -I got so attached to my first character and party that the second one doesn’t feel like me!

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