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Dragon Age: Origins PDF Print E-mail
Written by Silver Sorrow / Starfox   
Monday, 07 March 2011 00:00
Article Index
Dragon Age: Origins
The Hands Of Destiny
The Grey Wardens Wants You
Too Damn long to write here!
Talents, skills and other things
Character creation and other self-torments
All Pages


Dragon Age: Origins


Talents, Skills, And Other Things Requiring Eternal Vigilance

Each class has its own set of skills and such.

Warriors have Weapon &Shield, Dual Wielding, Archery, and Two-Handed. Which one you focus on really depends on you, but I'd recommend staying away from Two-Handed unless you have a mod that increases attack speed. Without one, it'll take you a week to swing a greatsword. It's a total mystery as to why anyone thought it'd be a good idea for this skill to be so cumbersome and useless...sure, two-handers inflict more damage per swing in addition to some nice abilities...but if they were trying to balance the game, they screwed up already by making mages more powerful than a minor deity.

Rogues have Dual Wielding, Archery, and...well, that's about it for their offensive capabilities. The rest encompass such things as stealth and lockpicking. You can even try pickpocketing an enemy while in combat if you're good enough, but that begs the question: why would you want to??

Mages have access to an incredible array of spells, divided into four "schools" of magic: Primal (explosions! yay!), Creation (mostly healing), Entropy (spite-based magic), and Spirit (even more spite-based magic).

Not much to say. Every class has access to the same basic skills (Herbalism, Poison-making, Coercion, Stealing, Trap-Making, etc.), so...yeah. That's fantastic.

Now that I think about it, I'm so very glad I added this section. It really brings the whole review together, don't you think?


No, No, No...The Greatest Thing I Ever Saw Was A Pair Of 38s...

Although the game isn't the most fantastic thing you've ever seen, it is adequate. Mostly. At many times. Some places, such as the terrain around Redcliffe, I found quite pleasant...although that may have been enhanced by the lighting. The lighting, by the way, I liked a lot. Very natural.

Character models, however, fall a bit short of great. They're *okay* you see...not great. Let's just say that the face animations and skin textures, etc., aren't mind-blowing in any way, but it's good enough, I suppose. I have a fairly good system, which I insisted be aimed at the visual side of games. But it seems that most of what it deals with are the horrendous memory leaks...if they had fixed the memory leaks and worked a bit more on making the textures a bit more crisp than a 512x512 texture can pull off, then this game would've looked a lot better.


...They Were On A Japanese Girl, Who Was Eating A Drippy Coconut Dreamsicle. God bless Japan.

In any given category of wearables and weapons, there are only several variations on each. This is mitigated slightly by throwing a color overlay on them so they don't all look the same, but that only fools children and simpletons.

Well...maybe not either one. Children are sharper than you think (at least until they're marched off to the lobotomy factories we Americans call our educational system), and I've seen plenty of simpletons complaining about the textures online, so I guess Bioware's ploy fooled no one except for the special brand of simpletons known as "Xbox 360 owners."

Further explanation: let's say that you have chainmail armor. Now, depending on the quality of the material (Iron, Grey Iron, Steel, Veridium, Red Steel, Silverite, Dragonbone), your armor will have various strengths, durability, etc.; however, the one thing that singularly marks them as different is the tint of the armor. Red Steel features an ugly red overlay, the Veridium features an ugly green overlay, and so on. It's a cheap way of doing things. Each armor weight (light, medium, heavy, massive) has several variations, and each of those has its own material type. While this provides a robust array of choices, it's still lazy.


[AND I WILL TRY TO TURN THEM INTO USEFUL BITS -- yeah because that's the kind of game we play Silver and me when we're bored :)) ]

Dragon Age: Origins


Bitter Annoyances

  • Being able to see an archer on a platform, but not being able to hit him with a ranged weapon. My shots are blocked for no reason other than he is on a platform and I am not. So I have to lope over to the bastard in my stupid bow-legged jog (which is a much kinder description than "...in my stupid just-crapped-my-greaves hobble") and get on the same platform he is to kill him.

    True. Doesn't happen a lot with a mage staff but with arrows? Constantly. It's even more curious because if your dexterity is high enough, your arrows become guided missiles that will track your target to the farthest corner of Thedas (I saw some of them make a 90° turn, really). But those missiles are apparently not smart enough to overcome the really huge obstacle that is a tiny rock at your feet.
  • Having someone say something to me in one of the faux languages, and then they translate into English (or whatever I'm speaking in-game). Why didn't they just say it in my language in the first place? Save time. What's worse is playing, for example, a Dalish Elf and my own clan members switching back and forth between Elvish and English (again: or whatever). A staged sample: "What are you doing? Stop that this instant! Do you want the shemlen -- the humans -- to see you doing that??"

    If I am -- against all common sense -- rolling an Elf, I think that perhaps I wouldn't need someone of my own race to translate my own language to me while we're speaking "English." Instead, why not come up with a list of common Elvish terms and list them in the Codex? If I'm confused about whatever the hell my Elven cohorts are saying, then I can refer to the handy entry in the Codex. Simple, right? And it wouldn't require ponderous underlining of a concept. Like now.
  • I need an understanding of poison-making to throw a flask of caustic liquid? And why is my range so limited? I have to be up in their grill before I can throw a firebomb, for example...this is not something I, a squishy flammable creature, would suggest doing. If they're going to tack on stupid prerequisites for throwing a simple bottle of acid, why not make it interesting: call it the "Wild Thing" skill. Four ranks of skill in pitching bottles of liquid death: speed and range increase with each rank, until at Master rank, you can rip a 110-mph fastflask right into the face of a darkspawn 60 feet away, taking his head clean off.

    I tend to stay away from bombs are they are pretty much useless anyway. Unlike your sword, daggers, arrows and whatnot, they do the exact same amount of damage in all circumstances whatever your attributes levels are. Same applies to the basic attack from a mage staff. The power of mages is in their spells not in their staves.
  • Why do the mage robes suck? The one cool one in the game, Morrigan's, you can't equip! Feh on the lot of you!

    Curiously elven standard mage robes -- that is if you start the game as a Circle of Magi elf -- are much more refined than human mage robes. To the Circle it seems that humans are the second-class citizens.
  • Frustrating: no cross-classing. You cannot be a mage who knows how to pick a lock, nor can you be a rogue who casts spells. You can be a mage who is good at combat (especially once you pick up the Arcane Warrior specialization), but by then you're a walking magical catastrophe anyway and won't even need to bother with weapons.

    Dare I say that "there is a mod for that too"? Well, in fact there is a mod on the Nexus that unlocks all specializations and all talents including spells (everything accessible on levelup) whatever your character class is. Pure cheating, I agree... But after a nth playthrough it feels really good to be able to cross-class without any limits...
  • Morrigan: besides being a total douche-nozzle, her Renaissance Faire-tinged linguistic flourishes make me want to punch her in the mouth. The total package, which includes her goodies on public display, inspired me to dub her the 'Tis 'Twas Tits Twat.

    I've seen the actress who does the voice-over for Morrigan (Claudia Black) in some of her other work (mainly TV series) and she can be hilarious, really... However as Morrigan she is... NOT. I'd venture a guess that she wasn't meant to be hilarious so she really did a fine job at that.
  • You should not confuse "abilities" with "magic." Though they look extremely similar in practice, appearing to be almost the same thing to ignorant nose-picking yahoos such as yourself, they are totally different. Yes. Totally different. And please, at all costs refrain from pointing out that Templars use magic too. They use anti-magic, which is the complete opposite of magic, even though it looks suspiciously identical to magic itself. Remember: it's not what happens, it's who makes it happen. Mages use magic. Others utilize their abilities. Got it? Of course you do.

    Refer to my previous note about cross classing.
  • Blocked! Blocked! Blocked! Blocked by invisible things! Blocked by a slight rise in elevation! Blocked by bounding boxes! This game is shot-blocking me!

    Please... Could someone prepare Mr Sorrow personal straightjacket... Yeah, the one with titane padlocks and shock electrodes... Thank you!
  • The dialog options aren't all that great. They usually depend on this or that, but your choices aren't always how you would respond to circumstances as a normal person might; this implies a failure on the part of whoever was in charge of dialog. I think someone who knows how people talk to each other would be an actual boon to NPC interaction, but then again, what do I know? Perhaps this is something that is understood in RPG circles and I, as a casual RPG enthusiast,** am missing the point entirely. I just think that it would have been more interesting if my character's responses could have been more in keeping with the character.

    If anything, they usually come across as fundamentally naive, even downright whiny. When my armored egg...uh...Dwarf is accused of a spolier-specific crime, this weathered bastard can squeal "but it wasn't me!" like a teenage girl being accused of...of...something that teen girls do that causes them to get into trouble, whatever that might be. (Shoplifting frosted pink nail polish or knob-polishing the entire boy's basketball team...whatever.)

    For example, as I confront -- how I hate that word and all it implies...go to Hell, Oprah! -- a certain incredibly spoileriffic individual at an extremely spoiler-centric event, the person is able to rant at my character about all sorts of things, and I'm reduced to these lame-ass responses that make me want to immolate the writers. As this game is an awkwardly clunky exercise in excruciating verbal masturbation, you can't just grab that person by his armored collar and punch the asshole out, no...you have to listen to the ranting, throw in a few stupid responses -- and God help you if you choose the wrong thing to say -- and probably get into yet another stupidly difficult fight.

    As much as I hate human interaction, this game's narrow, isolationist dialog makes me miss talking to actual people, if only a little.

    My own personal disappointment with the dialogs (other than the fact that they are sometimes not as well handled as they could have been and that the way they are presented appears to be coming directly from the RPG pre-history period -- I thought we were clear from the voiceless main characters in RPG games then I met DA:O) is that often different choices result in the exact  same character reaction (I mean the character talking to YOUR character). So why having a choice of things to say if it is for having the same result? Personally I have no idea. As for my other notes I'll keep them for an upcoming review since it would involve a comparison with another Bioware game that has just been released *wink* *wink*
  • You can't even jump, for Garfunkel's sake!

    Apparently common to all games based on the Neverwinter Nights game engine or one of its descendants (For Dragon Age: Origin, the Eclipse engine).  The Witcher was like that too. Not that jumping would be particularly useful in Dragon Age...
  • There comes a certain point -- in the game, I mean -- when you face a potentially impossible battle of epic proportions. This occurs after a specific point late in the game, and your entire party's defeat is meant to happen, should you choose to fight. You can either fight and they will stomp the snot out of you, or you can give up and keep your snot, whereupon it will be extracted via unpleasant methods at the (implied) torture scene later on. Either way, you end up being captured and tossed in the pokey. I assume they call it "the pokey" because it involves invasive anal torment, and in no way refers to Gumby's beloved sidekick.

    Back up a moment: you *can* win the fight if you're skilled enough, but the game really wants you to lose this battle. "Dying" doesn't mean a reload in this specific case, it just means that you've been rendered snotless through repeated stomping and will eventually wake up in a cell wearing only your underwear. The actual battle involves a zillion overpowered foes and one tremendously, RIDICULOUSLY, overpowered boss (who would likely win against a high dragon with both arms tied behind her back, thanks to her stupidly-buffed stats)...so yeah: they want you to lose for the purpose of plot.

    Now that I've explained that, let me assure you that I have no love for this development. My character is an ass-kicking Grey Warden, someone who has destroyed HORDES of monsters and other crap, but then I'm expected to just acquiesce to being taken prisoner, even being defeated by a bunch of glorified guards??

    Who the bleeding hell does Bioware think they are, anyway??

    This is yet another example of the piss-poor story transitions that litter this game; there's no innovation behind this "twist" and...hell. There's no innovation anywhere anymore, so I shouldn't let it bother me in this case.

    Anyway, the whole point of the exercise is to get two of your followers to go through some sort of allegedly amusing subplot in order to spring you from the joint. Goin' over the wall and under the wire. Whatever. Yes, the comic relief is good, but let's be honest here: the whole stinking mess blows. It's not within my character's makeup to simply give up, nor is it within the bounds of sanity that he or she should be wiped out by mere guards and the right-hand person of Big Bad Boss Guy.

    Big bad boss guy who is ridiculously underpowered compared to his lieutnant. Go figure.
  • And that's another thing: why do we have boss fights, anyway? Has imagination become so stagnant that--

    --I just answered my own question, I think...


Dragon Age: Origins


Frequently Overheard Comments In This Very Room, And Possible Explanations

"Goddammit, people!"
[Various explanations. My followers are morons.]

"Protect your mage, ya dumb verybadword!"
[All of my followers were concentrating on a small group of Genlocks, while I -- playing a mage -- was being massacred by four Hurlocks. Crap tactics.]

"Stand...stand STILL, goddamn you!"
[I have trouble clicking on containers and the like, because my followers are glued to my ass; whenever I make the slightest move in any direction, they have to rush around and get in the way and I click on them by mistake instead of the container, ending up in a conversation with them and I have to say "Never mind." Drives me NUTS.]

"Get out of the way, verybadwordhead!"
[See above.]

"[Very bad word beginning with an 'f', drawn out by its single vowel]!"

"I am in a happy place! I am running through a meadow and there's a beautiful girl in pigtails running through the wildflowers with me!"

"Now I'm in a wide-open field with long grass and I'm flying a red kite!"
[Very often.]

[Every single bad-wording time I play.]

"Me? I'm just a lawnmower. You can tell me by the way I walk."
[In reference to some other game I was playing at the same time, but it always makes me happy just saying it.]

"The damn dog is smarter than all of my other henchmen put together."
[I hate my stupid followers.]


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