The gamers among my followers will already be aware of the fact that I’m a complete sucker for a good story. There’s something wonderful about being able to totally immerse yourself in a game that sucks you in, makes you invest and provides you with the tools to change the course of history, to make decisions that will forever alter the path of the people living in these fantastical worlds. Not only that, but to make your hero, and you, yourself, by extension, the ultimate saviour or harbinger of doom, and to have your playthrough become legacy, affecting the landscape of future games based in these worlds… Well. Let’s just say that particularly appeals to this one’s ego.
Nobody does this quite as well as BioWare, in my opinion. Mass Effect changed the way I look at, and approach games. While no gaming experience will ever match how I felt during my first foray into the Mass Effect universe, Dragon Age has certainly come close to replicating that kind of emotional investment. Their writers’ abilities to create massive, attractive, intriguing worlds, and relateable, likeable (and dislikeable) characters, is second to none. For many of us, the game literally changed when EA came aboard and started throwing its mammoth weight around, but the magic of these worlds remain ever as appealing.
80 Hours of Dragon Age: Origins (2009)
Dragon Age: Origins, the first of this fantasy game series, is one of my favourite roleplaying games of all time. Its scope is simply massive. Its lore is extensive. When I consider the amount of choices your character faces, and with them multiple different outcomes, my mind boggles, and I find it difficult to grasp the thousands of hours the voice actors spent in the studio.
In Origins, you play a Grey Warden, tasked with eradicating the demonic Blight that has overcome your homeland of Fereldan, and threatens to wipe out the entire world of Thedas. Together with your band of trusted companions, you, who would later become known as The Hero of Fereldan, sacrifice everything and fight the insurmountable odds to restore peace and life to your lands. Every hero’s journey is personal, and every outcome is different.
Here are a few of my favourite screenshots from my very first playthrough of Origins. For a six year old game, it still looks damn good. Major props to the engine.
40 Hours of Dragon Age II (2011)
The rather unimaginatively titled Dragon Age II, came next. Here you become a hero of a different kind – a Champion. Having fled from Fereldan with your remaining family at the beginning of the Blight, your protagonist Hawke flees to Kirkwall. There he or she must work to regain their family’s status in the new city, saving it and over the course of ten years inadvertently planting the seeds of what would develop into a massive Mage rebellion. The magic users, often feared and reviled, rose up against their Templar captors, breaking the city of Kirkwall in two in the process. It’s up to Hawke to try to hold everything together.
Dragon Age II was a game released before it should have been. Keen to capitalise on the success of Origins, and having run out of DLC for same, EA pushed for the sequel and gave fans a sub-par gaming experience as a result. It was tiny in comparison to its predecessor, and with its recycled environments and seemingly never-ending dungeon-crawling missions, its reception was largely negative. But for me, the writing was still there, the story was still excellent. I both loved and hated Hawke’s companions, and Hawke herself I found myself irreversibly connected to. My girl was sassy, strong and sexy. I can’t say no to that.
101 Hours of Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014)
Promising a more complete, return to Dragon Age: Origins form with the third instalment, BioWare began work on Dragon Age: Inquisition. After some delays the game was released during the last quarter of last year, to a widely positive response. And while I thoroughly enjoyed Inquisition, it was not completely without problems. Over the coming days I will be exploring my Inquisition experience in-depth, and will soon be posting my review, complete with some serious screenshot spammage. Until then, may Andraste bless you and guide you.
What’s your favourite action RPG? Have you played Dragon Age? Did you enjoy it? Who is your favourite companion, and most importantly, who did you romance?