Becoming the Grey Warden

da boxartOkay, so 30+ hours into a game is a little late for a first impressions type of post thingy, but I don’t care – here it is! Sometimes I just have to play a game instead of wasting time rambling about it online. Anyway, I’ve fallen way behind on BioWare’s great games so I’ve randomly decided to focus on them for the foreseeable future (of my own freewill I assure you). In fact, I’ve only played one BioWare game before now: Dragon Age II. And yeah, it’s the same tired old story with that one – I love it, the internet hates it, and whatever… let’s move on. One of the things I respect most about BioWare is their character diversity and development style. It’s about time I started meeting more of their fantastic fictional people!

And so, Grey Warden Ellen was born…

In a fantasy world where I could be a mystical Elf Mage or a cunning Dwarf Rogue, I chose to be a boring Human Warrior, uncreatively named Ellen. What can I say? I’m a simple woman who likes smashing monsters with swords, axes, and other misc. pointy/blunt objects. I was mostly impressed with the character creation options, but I’m not going to lie – I almost rage quit when pink hair wasn’t a choice for my character. I quickly got over it, but it may reflect poorly in my unqualified review later.

In addition to distributing starting stat points and whatnot, I also like how you can select a voice personality for your protagonist. I went with Violent and I am very pleased with the results! When I make her to do stuff, she often snaps back by saying “Can I get you a ladder? So you can get off my back?”. When she encounters yet another horde of undead monsters, she bravely grumbles “Lifeless bastards”. In the heat of battle, she often goes a little crazy and starts screaming “Just call me ‘The Reaper’!”, followed by hysterical laughter as she slaughters everything in her path. I’ll never forget the inspiring words she uttered when my party encountered their first fearsome High Dragon: “Now that’s a big lizard… Kill it!”. She’s a woman after my own heart and very worthy of the badass name Ellen.

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She’d be so much more badass with pink hair though… sigh. Maker, why not??

Depending on your race and base class selections, the starting path to becoming a Grey Warden will differ. I witnessed a rather depressing Human Noble intro. I’ll just say never get attached to family members in RPGs… Before things went very bad, I got to leisurely explore Ellen’s family castle for a bit, and I met my pet Mabari war hound, who was causing trouble for the kitchen staff. I was given the option to name my new barking friend so I called him Max, after one of the dogs I had growing up.

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D’aww!! Who’s a good boy??

When tragedy destroyed Ellen’s decent life, this dude named Duncan showed up and recruited her (along with Max) into his mysterious team. After proving herself and enduring one heck of a hazing ritual called The Joining, Ellen officially became a Grey Warden. In my brief summary of what I think is happening, there’s this nasty reoccurring event on Thedas called a Blight. During these periods, a bunch of tainted creatures called the Darkspawn rise up to destroy all life in their path. In order to stop this disastrous event, an Archdemon needs to be killed, and this is where the Grey Wardens come in. The Fifth Blight is just getting started so the mission is to stop it ASAP. The battles in Ferelden were going well, until some betrayals and more tragedy struck, sending Grey Warden Ellen on her ultimate quest to unite various factions against the Darkspawn menace. You are given the freedom to recruit the factions in any order you wish, and every decision you make can have a huge impact on the adventure.

Fighting Ferelden’s good fights

First off, the action bar on UI reminds me of World of Warcraft. As a recovered WoW addict, I was immediately in love with this game! I’m playing the PC version so the controls are simply point-n-click where I want people to go. There is also the option to use the mouse wheel to zoom out into an overheard view of the environment (useful!). During the real time combat, pressing the spacebar pauses the action so I can think about what to do next. I can also jump between my four party members easily by clicking on their portraits. There is Tactics system (similar to Final Fantasy XII’s Gambit system) where you can essentially program your party how to fight, but I’ve had no desire to tinker with this yet. If I need someone to do something, I manually make them do it. The default AI has been handling them adequately so far.

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Call her ‘The Reaper’ is right!

Grey Warden Ellen has evolved into a two-handed weapons queen. I’ve been putting most of her stat points into Strength and picking up many crushing talents. I must be doing something right because I also accidently discovered she is quite capable of solo killing a High Dragon with a good healer backing her up (best 20 minute fight ever!).

Loving me some BioWare characters

From my limited experience with Dragon Age games, relationships with my companions are the best part of the whole journey. Honestly, I’ve spent more time getting to know my fictional friends than I have destroying dragons, Darkspawn, crazy Blood Mages, damned demons, and other evil doers. Friendships are also quite capable of turning into something more, um, magical. One thing I commend BioWare for is their respectful inclusion of ALL types of beautiful romances. To loosely quote my charming would-be assassin Zevran: “…men, women, whatever you may fancy.” Here’s my two cents – Love between two human beings is a wonderful thing that should be celebrated! Mindless hatred is a poison on our world that is more crippling than the Blight is on Thedas. Kudos to BioWare for creating an all-inclusive world!

I’ll admit it – I’m no stranger to romancing BioWare people. During my three Dragon Age II playthroughs, my Hawkes and I “skillfully” seduced Fenris, Anders, and Sebastian Vael (his vow of chastity made that relationship a little unsatisfying though). Sure, I giggled a lot while romancing them (especially during sexy time scenes, giggitty), but they were all just pretty pixels to me. I never truly loved a virtual character, or even thought I could, until this guy swooped into my gaming life.

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Oh, Alistair… It was love at first awkward joke. πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜

Very unlike chronically single real world Ellen, Grey Warden Ellen is the master of romance! It did not take her long sweep this bumbling knight off his feet and then drag him into her tent, one hilariously awkward night at camp. Less than 10 hours into the game, I earned my proudest gaming achievement to date:

So why do I like this idiot so much? Yes, at first glance Alistair is your typical cute knight in shining armor, but I really love his personality more than anything superficial. For starters, I have NEVER fantasied about some hot dude on a horse saving me and then taking me off to a posh fairy tale castle (yawn). I always dreamt about fighting beside my knight on a glorious battlefield. Quite frankly, Alistair makes me feel like the warrior goddess I wish I was. He makes me laugh with his silly pick up lines (“Have you ever licked a lamppost in winter?”), I’m amused by his rivalry with the cranky witch Morrigan, and his sarcastic observations always shed some badly needed light on this dark world. On rare occasions, he can even be serious. He has helped my Grey Warden deal with the nasty side effects of The Joining, and one of his lines unexpectedly got me right in the feelz – “You’re a true friend and I… love you. I just… wanted to tell you that.” Aw!! πŸ’—

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My bard BFF is really badass too!

So yes, my awkward knight is always in my party, and so is my good friend, Leliana! Here’s a superb of example of how well BioWare does character development – I initially thought she was blind follower of The Chantry (the world’s big religious organization). After talking to her, I learned she’s a really good person who is more than willing to bend The Chantry’s more questionable teachings for the good of other people. She has a bit of a rocky past, complete with evil ex issues, but she has proven to be the definition of a true best friend. She often gives sage advice to people, has backed me up a few times when I fail dialog options, and she inspires everyone around her. I also laughed so hard when we had a little girl chat about my relationship with Alistair – “Ooh. Fascinating. The little Templar is all grown up and apparently he… ahem… plays well with others”. I really got mad when certain events unfolded that threatened her very life. No one threatens Grey Warden Ellen’s friends and gets away with it!

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It’s tough being an awesome healer.

The last member of my party has been interchangeable. If I need a cranky witch to melt things, I go with Morrigan. After conquering a very hard boss fight for her, she now considers me a sister, even if we rarely see eye to eye on decisions. It’s also fun watching her use the Alistair voodoo doll I gave her. When I need a mage healer, I go with Wynne. She is a great motherly figure with interesting life advice to offer. For example, I’ve personally had issues dealing with depressing thoughts about death and the despairing future. Talking to her about that difficult subject has been surprisingly comforting to me – “People fear, not death, but having life taken from them. Many waste the life given to them, occupying themselves with things that do not matter.”

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I’m too nice sometimes…

I also have Sten, Zevran, and Shale at my disposal. Sten is a big narrow-minded Qunari dude who thinks my Grey Warden can’t be a woman because she’s a warrior. Let’s just say he always stays in camp, and I kind of regret saving his ungrateful ass. I’ll still help him get his sword back though since I’m a nice person. Zevran is a charming elf assassin who really sucks at his job. I’ve only met him recently and I haven’t used him in the field yet since Leliana has been doing an amazing job filling the Rogue role. Shale is a big stone Golem who sounds like a butler. He frequently calls my Grey Warden “it” and has shown past homicidal tendencies toward his masters… Looks like Sten will always have company in camp!

Progress Thus Far

I have one more faction to recruit (the Dwarves of Orzammar) before I assume some kind of confrontation with the Darkspawn and/or the big bad betrayer will happen. It’s been a crazy ride so far though! I’ve done such awesome things as:

  • Drove some heartless bandits out of the innocent refugee town of Lothering.
  • Stopped a Resident Evil style undead problem in a distressed castle town.
  • Used a fugitive Blood Mage to exercise a demon with a twisted sense of humor from an unfortunate mage kid.
  • Helped a clan of reclusive not-immortal-anymore Elves deal with pesky werewolves, with the help of a talking tree.
  • Survived a bad trip through the Fade to help the Circle of Magi destroy an onslaught of deadly demons, before the Templars destroyed everything anyway. I knew it was bad when my Grey Warden started conversing with a mouse.
  • Wiped out almost every thug in the city of Denerim, including some assholes in a brothel. Man, they really didn’t like my Grey Warden’s in-your-face style benevolence…
  • Dealt with a small town cult, wandered through a Drake filled cave, angered many ghosts with my sarcastic replies to their tests, banged my head through a ghostly bridge, and then ran almost-naked through a flame wall – all to get a pinch of ashes.
  • Killed lots of dragons and had their scales made into sweet armor sets for my Grey Warden and Leliana.
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Holy Maker! That was an intense trek to reach this thing… finally.

Goals

Sadly, I only have time for one playthrough since this is the Ultimate Edition, and I also want to beat Dragon Age Inquisition and the Mass Effect trilogy before the world ends. I’m just going to keep enjoying kissing my awkward knight, bantering with my bard BFF, and watching dragons drop, until the day the Darkspawn are finally destroyed (maybe?).

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I think Grey Warden Ellen will do just fine.

Wannabe Writer’s Notes:
-Shout-out to the wise Athena of AmbiGaming for constantly reminding me about how awesome BioWare is. It was her inspiring dedication to these great games that made me move them up on my priority list.
-I’ll try to squeeze in Breath of the Wild, Recore, Fallout 4, and maybe the Metal Gear Solid series before the world ends too.
-In memory of my real dog Max, here’s a few pictures of him! He passed away many years ago now, but I still miss my barking best friend. 😦

⚑Thanks for reading!⚑

41 thoughts on “Becoming the Grey Warden

  1. I really enjoyed the Dragon Age, but never played the second part. The reviews scared me off. I have it still sitting on my shelf when I bought it for PS3. I don’t know why but I’ve been wanting to play games I bought but never played. Right now I’m working on Eternal Sonata. Maybe afterwards I’ll give Dragon Age II a whirl after reading your review.

    It’s awesome that Max could drive! Hahah! Great photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m biased toward loving DA II since it was my first one, haha. I’ll admit the static environments are boring, but the characters and story are fantastic! Let me know what you think if you give it a whirl.

      Max loved cars so much! πŸ˜‚ Thank you for the comment.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Dragon Age: Origins is one of my favourite RPGs, I’m glad you’re having a great time with it. My team was always made up of Alistair, Leliana and Morrigan. I can never get enough of their sarcastic conversations.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. *head explodes*

    I’m literally sitting here staring at this white box unable to say anything because I want to say *so much* and yet not run away with your comments section. So… Max is adorable! I love German shepherd dogs πŸ™‚ They’re my favorite breed. A long time ago, I had one who adopted me, and she lived a good long life. They are the absolute best.

    Like Dragon Age: Origins, which is also the absolute best (*smooth transition*).First of all, omg that ladder comment. I’m glad you like it. Maybe it was a glitch with one of my Wardens, but… I was so tired of hearing that phrase after a while haha. But Warden Ellen seems awesome, and I love the Commander of the Grey armor you have!! Was that at Vigil’s Keep?

    I know I’ve babbled about Alistair and Leliana and Morrigan (I think?), but I really love them. They were often my party, especially the first time I played it. You don’t like Sten? He’s actually a really cool guy once you get to know him. I was so angry at him at first that I kept being relentlessly friendly and eventually he opened up. He’s a big softy…. But if you’re playing a two-handed warrior, then from a tactical standpoint he might be redundant.

    Also… *cough* Bring Shale when you go on the big mission in Orzammar….*cough* tum te tum what?

    Hey, look at me not taking over your comments or anything. Oops. I’ll let you play in peace now πŸ™‚ But I do want to compliment the great gaming lineup you have that you established entirely of your own free will. You have amazing taste in games.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Goddess of Wisdom is more than welcome to say whatever she wants in my comments section πŸ™‚ Thank you for the awesome comment! I love German Shepherds and they are definitely my favourite breed. I had two over the course of growing up. I’m glad you got to spend good times with one too.

      Yeah… My Grey Warden frequently tells me to go get that ladder, but it doesn’t annoy me at all. I guess I’m use to 8 years of WoW where my characters kept saying “I can’t cast that yet”, repeatedly, whenever I mashed buttons. If I can tune that out, my Grey Warden’s comments are nothing, haha. That armor set is sweet! I think I got it from an undead/demon controlled Grey Warden Commander lady in some keep place, near the start of the game… It was a “Premium” quest too, I think (memory = terrible). I just replaced it with Dragon Scale stuff a cranky dude in Denerim made for me. I was kinda sad.

      Sten’s attitude about women irked me, but I guess it’s just Qunari custom. He does seem like a good person, deep down. I’ll see how he reacts to me getting his sword back…. I’ll bring Shale when the big mission goes down then! I’m only doing one playthrough, unfortunately, so feel free to pass along any expert hints you may have.

      BioWare rules!! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Playing Breath of the Wild has been odd as pretty much 60% of in game characters flirt outrageously with Link. Thankfully, you can fend them off by swishing your sword at them. Reminds me of Harvest Moon on the SNES, and Stardew Valley recently, where you’re encouraged to go out and get married. In Stardew Valley I just freak out all the locals by giving them awful gifts, like bug brains: “What a horrendous gift!” they say. Always makes me laugh. Who said romance is dead?

    I need a new laptop, my 3+ year older can’t play these big old open world RPGs. I’m missing out. It makes me ANGRY!! Grrrrr!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds like you’re definitely nearing the edge of Dragon Age and that it’s been a fun adventure. I definitely know next to nothing so I got to learn a bit with your first impressions. Fighting dragons definitely sounds like a blast so that’s already a pretty good hook for the game

    Max looks really awesome!! I’m sure he’s proud to have a character named after him πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Awww Max is a total cutie. I love dogs and hang out with them as often as possible, but my allergies keep me from owning one of my own.

    I’m glad you’re having fun with Dragon Age. My only playthrough of the game had me loving and hating Alistair all at the same time after a while. And I somehow missed Leliana altogether. As silly as it’ll sound, I wasn’t sure how to maneuver the map at first and I missed her building I guess. It wasn’t until well into the game and when you couldn’t return there that I realized I had missed her and wasn’t willing to start over. My other issue was that it was the first game I ever played that was so advanced with so many customizing/upgrading options for each character, so I had a steep, steep learning curve ahead of me. It took me a long while to even realize you could go to camp at all! Ugh. I need to play it again sometime now that I am a little bit more familiar with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry about your allergy issues. Dogs really are amazing. I live in an small apartment so I can’t have a dog now, but my two cats are always prowling around, haha.

      I didn’t know you could miss Leliana! I find the tactics system confusing, but I haven’t had to use it yet, haha. If you do another playthrough, let me know how it goes πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep, leave it to me to miss one of the best characters in the game! Sigh. I will certainly let you know if I start it up again sometime. I’d really like to, but I have so many other things to play right now that I’m not sure when I’ll get around to it.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Shame about the lack of hair customization. You are playing on PC though, so maybe you can find a mod to appease your pink desires.

    Like you, I am a Casanova in games but single in real life. Maybe I should hit the clubs wearing a VR headset. If I can trick my mind into thinking I am in a game my flirting techniques should improve.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right! There has to be a pink hair mod available, haha.

      I wish the clubs had a pause option and a response wheel to pick dialog options from. Oh and a previous save file to load would be helpful for when I say something stupid!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m so glad that you’re enjoying Dragon Age! I played it while going through a tough stretch in grad school and it was one of the few things that kept me going for a couple of hard months. It really is an amazing game and you’re making me want to play some more of the series πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Timing really is everything! I’ve been trying to play Ni No Kuni and can’t get into it. After a long day of work, it feels like more work other than when the story is entertaining (which is only sometimes) so I know exactly what you mean. I hope you enjoy the rest of the game πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  9. You know, I wish they called it something other than Dragon Age. It’s such a generic name for what’s not a generic game. It doesn’t even reflect anything in there. Not many dragons at all, nor any aging either given how good Alistair still looks in… oops, shutting up now.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I don’t know this game. You make it sound amazing, and yes, I have licked a lamp post in winter. I’ve also licked a door knob, a frost fence and the freezer door inside my fridge (just in case)
    I might sound like a moron …. well..
    Anyway, saw your commentary on PM, and I’m not jealous. Not a whit. Not one.
    However, once I resume gaming, I intend to beat the tar out of you.
    No offense, intended. Are we still pals?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are very brave!

      My goal is to get on your blog someday. I just need to find an epic piece of street art…

      Oh you can try to beat the tar out of me, but I will not go down without a fight, haha. Of course we’re still pals! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Fine! Let’s rumble!
        Cripes, we could be an epic piece of street art!
        If you can even find a scribble, trust me, I’ll make an epic out of it.
        Until then, I’ve got a knife and a gun with one werewolfomoronite deadly bullet. I’ve also got time got time warpability.
        See you in blog land, sweet pal!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. now this is a game i need to clear from my backlog. I tried it a few times, but ended up going for Mage each time, because their intro sequence is pretty rad, but eventually the game was super difficult even on the easy setting because Mage’s are squishy. I’ll probably roll human warrior like you did just to get through the game. Bioware characters FTW! BTW Max looks like he was a magnificent dog πŸ™‚ What a beauty.

    Liked by 1 person

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