Dragon Age: Origins
GamesCom 2009: Dragon Age: Origins Hands On Preview - The Power of Choice
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Being the nice, well rounded, and slightly insane person I am; I should pre-warn you that this preview may contain spoilers. And when I say may contain spoilers, I say it like a bag of peanuts says it may contain nuts when it blatantly does – if not, you’d be pretty pissed. It seems to be a habit of BioWare to ruin the hopes and dreams of journalists around the world by showing off major turning points and page turners within their games. They did it at E3 with Mass Effect 2, and now at GamesCom with Dragon Age: Origins. If I’m being completely honest though, I’m more than okay with it this time around, because after the relatively poor showing at E3, they restored my faith in the title. Today’s Dragon Age lesson is on “choices... and how they can sometime really, really piss people off.”

Brief background before we move on to the nitty gritty. Dragon Age: Origins is “BioWare’s version of Lord of the Rings” and a spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate – expect it to be darker, grittier and more mature than both though. It’s a game of what BioWare likes to call “rippling consequences,” and seeing as they created “choice” with Knights of the Old Republic (their words, not ours), they want to “reinvent choice with choice 2.0” with Dragon Age. The story in Dragon Age revolves around the Grey Warden and his quest to rally the help of a half dozen armies to defeat the Dark Spawn that is soon set to rain destruction on the land.

Dragon Age: Origins is said to boast hundreds of choices throughout the story and every choice you make allows the game to shape the world around you, and react to how you play. There is no clear right and wrong here and every decision you make is determined by your moral conviction. To prove this, let us present you with a scenario with two totally different outcomes. Picture the scene... the Grey Warden, Leliana, Wynne and Morrigan have just battled through a labyrinth of nasties and have finally arrived at the temple where the sacred ashes of Andraste are stored. These ashes carry a mystical power that can essentially save King Eamon of Redcliffe, who you need on your side if you are to stand a chance of defeating the Dark Spawn. So that’s the scene set.... let’s head to the choices.

Seeing as these ashes are highly powerful, if they get into the wrong hands, then someone could effectively become a formidable power. Our Grey Warden recognises this and for choice one decides that once he has taken enough ashes to save the King, he will destroy them. Incidentally... this is what I would have done. This is where it gets tricky though. Those ashes held a huge significance for a few of your party members – namely Wynne and Leliana – and they can’t believe that they actually exist, so destroying them, is only going to anger them... and it does. As a result of your disrespect they turn on you and you are left to despatch of both of them. Morrigan on the other hand couldn’t care less, so she supports your decision to destroy the ashes and slay the others. There is no reasoning with either of them and killing them is the only option. After leaving the hall where the sacred temple is, a local priest insists he must tell the world... if you let him, two of your party members will have died in vein,  so a knife to the back of the head later and he’s dead and your job is done. It’s a game changing decision that will see you lose two of your party members forever. It’s a Jack Bauer decision if there ever was one where the end justifies the means. Just remember WWJD – what would Jack do? – and you’ll be ok.

If that seems like a bit of a harsh decision for you, you can opt for the other choice. Instead of destroying the ashes in scenario once, you can choose to take what you need to save the King and leave them. You are essentially putting your trust and faith in humanity to not misuse its power and use it as a beacon of hope for all the people in the land. You know, let people pilgrimage to it and pay their respects. If something comes of it, you’ll deal with that when it happens. The decision doesn’t end there though, and in order to make it a beacon of hope for those in the land, you have to take down the huge dragon protecting the temple. Expect a long, gruelling fight here and one that could take a long time judging by the minimal damage that the group were doing to him.

So those are essentially the two different choices and their outcomes, which you can see are on totally opposite ends of the scale. On the one end of the scale, you lose two party members, take down a priest, but do it in relatively quick fashion and potentially save millions of lives. On the other end of the scale; you showed compassion and as a result will have to rid the temple grounds of the dragon in a long and gruelling fight. The choice is yours and both have radically different outcomes.

With the presentation part over, we ventured out on to the show floor and got some hands on time with the 360 version of the title, and quite frankly, we were pleasantly surprised. I had got it into my head that this was going to be an awkward and complex game to control, when in fact, it was quite the opposite. I should note that it was fairly hard to get a true grasp for the menus and what not because the demo was in German and simply put, my German is shocking. The controls though feel really tight and responsive. You can switch between characters using the bumpers and assign certain skills to three out of the four face buttons, with the other being attack. Don’t want to get caught switching skills? No problem; pull the left trigger mid combat and switch them up, activate spells and mess around in your inventory; it’s as simple as that. Considering how complex the game is, it doesn’t weigh up that way when you’ve got the pad in your hand, which makes us happy bunnies.

The console version is looking a lot better than it was at E3 which is great news. It’s not up to the same standard as the high end PC version, but that’s expected is it not? In terms of differences between the console and PC versions as well; a BioWare rep on the show floor told us that only two things were chiefly different between the two. Firstly, your party AI is more independent on the console and they can fight for themselves more than the PC version – where you are expected to switch back and forth a lot. Secondly, and possibly more disappointingly, there will be no RTS style zoomed out view on the consoles simply because of the memory that it took up. Using it against the larger enemies was a blessing and so it will be interesting to see how that turns out this November.

Dragon Age: Origins’ showing in Cologne just goes to show that it’s possible to get a presentation to the press totally wrong, and by switching the focus from inter-party relationships and love making, to huge powerful choices and their consequences, BioWare have won me over once again. Seeing as BioWare are the king of stories, we’re interested – and excited – to see how the choices and consequences will really play out in the grand scheme of things. If all the major decisions are like this... woah! It could be a rollercoaster ride!

Only one question remains... what would you do in this situation?

Dragon Age: Origins is coming to the Xbox 360 and PC this coming November 3rd and 6th in North America and Europe respectively. Following a few weeks later on the PS3.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 118
Comment #1 by JoePie
Monday, August 31, 2009 @ 09:46:05 PM
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I think I want this.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #2 by FanaticalCc
Monday, August 31, 2009 @ 09:52:01 PM
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god i want to masterbate to this game

Forum Posts: 102
Comment #3 by N00B EATA
Monday, August 31, 2009 @ 09:58:51 PM
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#2, that's a little abnormal don't ya think? ;)

Forum Posts: 12
Comment #4 by HT101
Monday, August 31, 2009 @ 09:59:30 PM
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This game is sounding better and better. Too bad there are so many other games coming out this fall. I wish I had a couple thousand dollars just for games.

Forum Posts: 68
Comment #5 by NorseForce28
Monday, August 31, 2009 @ 10:01:27 PM
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You must really like it a lot #2.

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #6 by derek7592
Monday, August 31, 2009 @ 10:06:25 PM
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ALready preordered CE. cant wait for this game!

Forum Posts: 462
Comment #7 by L1E
Monday, August 31, 2009 @ 10:24:48 PM
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I loved the Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance games, so if this is the spiritual successor, then I just might buy it. I will for sure at least rent it.

Forum Posts: 48
Comment #8 by ninja patience
Monday, August 31, 2009 @ 10:30:23 PM
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I think that this will be a must buy for me, bioware have yet to let me down...

Forum Posts: 1097
Comment #9 by bloodswan
Monday, August 31, 2009 @ 10:38:35 PM
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Yet another game to add to the list.....god damn it is going to be a busy few months off uni break ;)

Forum Posts: 2784
Comment #10 by StolenPaper18
Monday, August 31, 2009 @ 10:54:16 PM
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Oh man, #2 post had me rolling. This game looks awesome, I can't wait.

Forum Posts: 536
Comment #11 by StephenJ360
Monday, August 31, 2009 @ 11:09:57 PM
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Forum Posts: 493
Comment #12 by D4B0MB1N4T10N
Tuesday, September 01, 2009 @ 12:36:38 AM
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Bioware and valve are probabLy within my top 5 fave developers.

Activision and bungie being the bottom two, and ubisoft somewhere in between.

Ubisoft isn't the best but they arent the worst.

Bioware seems to really care about making their games worthwhile, intriguing, and unique, which I'm glad to see. Unlike a certain, say, activi$ion for example o.O

Forum Posts: 561
Comment #13 by MakoBallistic
Tuesday, September 01, 2009 @ 12:54:36 AM
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this soubds/looks great, lets hope it is.

bioware are the other bethesda... and thats no bad thing!

Forum Posts: 31
Comment #14 by primus01
Tuesday, September 01, 2009 @ 03:24:02 AM
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@7 baldurs gate dark alliance isnt the first game in the series. its a spin off of the original game "baldurs gate" which came out in 1997. dragon age is the successor to that. BEST GAME EVER

Forum Posts: 1207
Comment #15 by DJConnelly
Tuesday, September 01, 2009 @ 04:14:54 AM
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Too be honest, I think this could be better than Mass Effect 2 which I haven't liked the look of so far. Shame because the first one was awesome.

Forum Posts: 68
Comment #16 by chalmers1
Tuesday, September 01, 2009 @ 04:37:56 AM
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I think this game looks amazing and I think the story will be well set out knowing Bioware. I will also get the game due to the fact that one play through will take between 60/70 hrs (apparently)wich i like.I hate buying a game and then being able to complete it in about 10/15 hrs(even worse when there's no multiplayer).Might take a while to get all the achievement though lol

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #17 by The White Wizrd
Tuesday, September 01, 2009 @ 05:52:59 AM
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@12, Activision is a publisher, not developer (i.e. Neversoft makes their Guitar Hero games and Infinity Ward made CoD: 1,2,4 and MW2. Regardless, BioWare is a good company and I have high hopes for the game. I hope it turns out nicely.

Forum Posts: 108
Comment #18 by plinny1984
Tuesday, September 01, 2009 @ 06:52:03 AM
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this game is gonna be sick!

Forum Posts: 493
Comment #19 by D4B0MB1N4T10N
Tuesday, September 01, 2009 @ 08:03:40 AM
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Yeah, I actually knew activision was a publisher, I don't know what I was thinking there.

I really enjoyed kotor, so if this is along the same lines, I may get this. After they r done this game and MA2, I hope they'll start a kotor 3!

Forum Posts: 1185
Comment #20 by MartyMcFly
Tuesday, September 01, 2009 @ 08:22:01 AM
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That third screenshot is incredible! This game is like Oblivion on 'roids with dragons!

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #21 by Wolfofthewind
Tuesday, September 01, 2009 @ 09:34:52 AM
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This game looks great as far as graphics are concerned...and I have a feeling Bioware got the job done.

The only bad thing about this game is the release's jammed in with all the other titles...which means that's another 60$ out the window....err'll be more thanks to that darn Collector's Edition I'll be buying. LOL! : P

Forum Posts: 71
Comment #22 by Devalaous
Tuesday, September 01, 2009 @ 09:35:28 AM
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I love it how the guy in the dragon shot looks like hes hovering.

Forum Posts: 1613
Comment #23 by Pearson
Tuesday, September 01, 2009 @ 09:59:04 AM
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This is great news as I already pre-ordered the CE and I'm happy that this game is shaping up very nicely. Can't wait to get my hands on this game, November can't come soon enough!!

Forum Posts: 795
Comment #24 by ChaosGod87
Tuesday, September 01, 2009 @ 10:03:19 AM
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Already pre-ordered the CE. I can't wait for this game.

Forum Posts: 239
Comment #25 by SuperWoody64
Tuesday, September 01, 2009 @ 11:30:19 AM
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BioWare, Valve, Bethesda and Harmonix are the best. I wish there were more companies like these. Hopefully people dump their support into these games instead of the myriad guitar heroand need for speed sequels. (among others)

Forum Posts: 987
Comment #26 by Devil Sora
Tuesday, September 01, 2009 @ 05:50:33 PM
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Damn I didnt read the article due to spoilers aplenty (Thank you Web for your forewarning) but I must say. . . .I'm itching to play it its hard to choose which will be better lol MW2 or DA:O . . . chances are my self will lean more towards to the RPG sense lol

Forum Posts: 7
Comment #27 by MongolianSlayer
Tuesday, September 01, 2009 @ 09:54:37 PM
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Bioware = Win. Day one purchase for this guy.

Forum Posts: 32
Comment #28 by Vandiloo
Wednesday, September 02, 2009 @ 08:51:24 AM
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I really, really want to read this. However I felt the last DragonAge preview I read sort of gave away too much story info. So I'm not going to read it! Thanks for the spoiler warning!

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #29 by Ramsden
Wednesday, September 02, 2009 @ 06:29:14 PM
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Already preordered the Collector's Edition... seriously, they had me at "spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate". Also a big, big fan of Mass Effect and I wanted the Dragon Armour for Mass Effect 2 that you can only get by owning the Collector's Edition of Dragon Age.

Forum Posts: 176
Comment #30 by Dredgon
Wednesday, September 02, 2009 @ 08:25:01 PM
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Looking forward to this one, have CE pre-ordered!

Forum Posts: 6
Comment #31 by DevilDog7856
Sunday, September 06, 2009 @ 06:46:10 AM
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If this game live up to half of it's potential it will be awesome! I a, defiantly picking this up!

Forum Posts: 10
Comment #32 by DEAD 3Y3 TBONE
Monday, September 14, 2009 @ 03:14:17 AM
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Yea, so much expectations for this game, made by bioware too, so that raises the expectation standards a little bit higher.

Forum Posts: 145
Comment #33 by Piculiar
Tuesday, September 15, 2009 @ 02:56:20 AM
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I have no idea what this game's about, but
it's Bioware, so it has to be good! Right?

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #34 by TheDestroyer017
Friday, September 18, 2009 @ 11:38:15 AM
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game looks cool and yes same it must be good #34

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Game Info
Electronic Arts


US November 03, 2009
Europe November 06, 2009

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