I had the opportunity to give Dragon Age: Origins a shot on PC for 15 to 20 minutes on the show floor while chatting up with the game’s producer Fernando Melo. It only took that short amount of time to convince me that this would be one of the most satisfying games of 2009 for PC, XBOX 360, PS3.
Fernando got me to the character creation screen where I was able to pick my race, class, and origins story. While each of the three races (human, dwarf, and elf) were available, not every class or origins story was in the show build to try out. I chose to be an elven warrior and then selected the only origins story available in the build. The opening scene started with my character and an elven companion chasing down three humans through the woods until we eventually cornered them with bows at the ready. I went through a series of dialog and choices that ranged towards sympathizing with the humans, letting them go with a warning, or slaughtering all three of them. Through the dialog, I learned they were exploring a cave and found ruins that were not of elven construction. I then chose to let two of the humans go and kill one as a warning so they knew never to return to MY woods (that’s what you get for oppressing my people you filthy humans). I then proceeded to convince my elven companion that we should go investigate the cave right away instead of being responsible and telling the council right away. We were going to do things MY way.
It was at that moment I realized that Bioware has another RPG gem on their hands. The game felt like a cross between some of their best RPGs (Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights, and Baldur’s Gate). It looked absolutely gorgeous and controlled like a dream. You have the option of using “WASD” controls to move around or to click where you would like your characters to go. Like most Bioware RPGs, the action can be paused with the space key to assign actions to your party. Character selection can be done by clicking and dragging the mouse, clicking a button to select the entire party, or using the function keys. Fernando informed me that it is strictly a single player game with the main quest line ranging between 40 and 50 hours. If you were to do all of the side quests you could expect to spend a good 80 hours with Dragon Age. The type of character you play and how you decide to play them will ultimately shape other characters opinions of you and in some cases shape the game world.
I was also fortunate enough to catch one of the guys that works with the Dragon Age: Origins toolset and is writing the documentation Wiki, Bryan Derksen. The toolset will be included with the PC version of the game for free and is the exact toolset that was used to make the game. This gives a lot of power to the user base to create some truly unique user generated content. To help encourage users to do this, Dragon Age should be getting something along the lines of it’s own community / social networking site where users can post and share their created content and code. Bryan estimated that the documentation Wiki may or may not already be up to roughly 1,000 pages in length. When asked if they would be able to implement the toolset on the 360 or PS3 , he stated there were no plans at this time.
If you enjoyed Neverwinter Nights, Baldur’s Gate, and Knights of the Old Republic, or any other Bioware RPG, there is absolutely no reason why this game should not be on your radar. It’s gorgeous, has a crazy amount of replay value, and an engrossing story from the bit I was able to play. It took every ounce of willpower to step away from the keyboard & mouse and decline a play through of the tower scene from the trailers, as I did not want to tie up the producer or machine. Seriously though, come November 3rd, PC and XBOX 360 owners we will truly be in the age of dragons with PS3 owners following shortly after.
[Update: Thanks to Fernando Melo for letting me know I spelled Bryan Derksen’s name wrong. I originally had it as Berksen… oops!]
Part of the PNG Gencon ’09 Wrap Up series of articles.