Once again, bold text is from my Twitter feed, and the rest is my elaboration on it. Also note that you’re reading these in chronological order.
Alistair just said “Down you go!” Carth, is that you? #DragonAge
|Alistair – despite his occasional tendency to mope – is probably my favorite character. On the right is my Elf mage. Not pictured: Her silly, silly hat. (Headwear is removed during the cutscenes.)|
Carth from KOTOR had the same combat taunt. I thought it was funny. It’s worth noting that both Carth and Alistair draw from the same BioWare archetype as well. (I have an article about this very thing going up at The Escapist tomorrow.)
Steven Blum has joined the party. #DragonAge
|To the right is the Dwarf voiced by Blum. For some reason, it left our headwear on for this cutscene.|
He voices your Dwarven companion. Although here he uses his gruff voice, pretty much the same thing he uses for the Wolverine games.
Wow. The start of the game for Dwarven commoners is really dark. #DragonAge
I didn’t go any further than the origin story, but it was short and ugly. Not in a bad way, but it was quite a contrast with the Mage origin.
Wow. There are SIX opening stories? This game wants to eat my LIFE. #DragonAge
Each origin takes an hour or so. Some are class based (mages) and others are race based (Dwarven commoner) but I haven’t figured them all out yet. I’ve only been a mage so far, so I’m not sure how much of an impact your origin has on the rest of the game.
I’m certainly not going to go through six times.
Feels like #DragonAge on Easy is still a little harder than #KOTOR on normal. I guess I need more micro-mgmt.
The difficulty in this game is a mess. Some people are saying it’s too easy even when playing on hard. Some say it’s too hard even when playing on easy. Some say it goes from boring to impossible on a whim. There are two broken things here.
One is that mage powers tend to dominate the game, and not all mage powers are created equal. When I was talking about how hard the game was, people responded with:
Just use [Forcefield, a power I didn’t have] and then follow up with [another power that was way down a skill tree I’d never even looked at] and if you must, then have someone else follow up with [another power I hadn’t acquired]. This game is TOO EASY.
It’s very easy to miss or overlook key game-breaking powers, and there’s no way to respec.
The other problem is that the system of auto-scaling enemies is broken. You’ll get wiped by a room full of common mooks. Then you work past that and end up steamrolling a boss. The difficulty is all over the place.
I’ve been through the bulk of the game twice now, both times as primal mages, both times using the same play styles. And the challenge level of the game feels more or less random. The first time I did the Deep Roads the game was insanely hard, to the point where even regular encounters required multiple attempts.
The second time through the game I did the Deep Roads and it was pretty average. A couple of hard boss fights, but nothing game-ruining.
This takes away all sense of accomplishment for me. When I win handily, I don’t feel like I out-maneuvered a tough opponent, I feel like the game under-estimated me and gave me foes that were too weak. When I lose, I don’t feel like I did something wrong, I feel like the game just murdered me with tough foes.
The obvious answer is, “If it’s too hard, go somewhere else and level, then come back.”
But this is the problem that auto-scaling foes is supposed to fix! People don’t like giving up and going away. The story stops making sense. (We got into the bowels of the earth, changed our minds, went back out, adventured in the city for a few days, and then returned to the center of the earth and fought the Deeplords of Asskicking, even though we’d been in their vestibule weeks earlier.) It’s a time sink and it takes the momentum out of the story.
Usually the problem with auto-scaling foes is that the game feels uniform and bland, and that you’re robbed of any sense of accomplishment. The tradeoff is that you’ll never run into a wall where you can’t progress. But here we have the worst of both worlds. What they’ve done is taken away the ability of the player to decide how much challenge they want, and instead it’s a crapshoot based on whether or not you happen to pick the right powers and what mood the auto-scale-AI is in. And even the difficulty slider itself doesn’t have enough delta to compensate for the massive swing from auto-scaling + mage powers.
I now see all combat in the game as an unwelcome time-sink, since I get no satisfaction from it. I’m leaving the game on easy, and I’ll probably get some cheats to just make all fights a cakewalk. The combat is just pointless and not worth the time.
Broodmother #DragonAge Thorian #MassEffect TheMother #JadeEmpire – I guess someone at BioWare REALLY likes this idea.
Actually, the story with Witherfang and the werewolves is much closer to this BioWare trope. The “go underground and face a creature who has been turning people into monsters, then face a moral quandary.”
Broodmother fight was HARD. I don’t think 100+ hour games need this much trial-and-error. #DragonAge
I was pretty pissed at this point. I’d turned the game down to easy, and I was still getting party-wiped and a regular basis.
And the worst was yet to come.
Unrelated, but, here is a picture of our hats:
|I’m wearing a winged helmet. Wynne is wearing a floppy bit of cloth, as if she just decided to put a handkerchief on her head. The designers realized how stupid the hats look, so they’re generally removed during cutscenes, but we still have to look at them during the other 50 hours of the game.|
I think my #DroganAge review should bee all these tweets with accompanying commentary.
What an idea! You sir, are brilliant!
Wicked hard boss fight + LONG load times = I stopped having fun 20 mins ago. #DragonAge
The fight at the end of the Dwarven Deep Roads. This was the game killer for me. I was trying to fight Branka and she was way, way, waaay too hard. No, don’t tell me about your ‘leet strategies or your awesome character builds. She was clocking people for half their health. There was simply nothing I could do to get through this fight. Through repeated attempts, I never even got her below half health. And I was playing on “easy”. I wasn’t even able to put down her henchmen. (Who would have made for a really tough fight even without the boss.)
The auto-scale system had picked wrong and given me way too much opposition.
My second time through the game – using much the same party and powers except that I’d traded Leleina for Shale – it wasn’t much of a problem. The party was even about the same level. The Boss was doing a fraction of the damage she’d done before. We were hitting much harder, and the mage’s holds were more reliable. Why? The auto-scaling.
It’s all arbitrary.
|Sometimes the characters use this really aggressive walk / swagger during cutscenes. I recognize it from Mass Effect. It’s funny seeing little old lady Wynne (left) use that stride.|
“Here is a treasured heirloom for saving our Kingdom” ME: “Here is me taking the heirloom to the pawnshop next door.”#DragonAge
A Dwarf gave me a magic staff that was obviously of great historical significance, but wasn’t very useful compared to what I already had. I hate when games do this. What am I supposed to do? Lug this thing around? You can’t take it to a museum, which is where it belongs.
So you pawn it.
“Oh, thank you for saving America. Here is Lincoln’s top hat. May you treasure it forever.” And then next door to the White House is a pawn shop that:
1) Recognizes the authenticity of the artifact.
2) Is willing to buy it.
3) Has the cash to buy such an item.
4) Isn’t offended that you’re pawning a national treasure.
Oh RPG tropes, you are so silly sometimes.
C++ is a wonderful language for making horrible code.
The Best of 2014
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2014.
Good to be the King?
Which would you rather be: A king in the middle ages, or a lower-income laborer in the 21st century?
There's a wonderful way to balance difficulty in RPGs, and designers try to prevent it. For some reason.
Zenimax vs. Facebook
This series explores the troubled history of VR and the strange lawsuit between Zenimax publishing and Facebook.