Post Playthrough Roundup – Dragon Age Origins Ultimate Edition

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Platform Played On: PC
Developer: BioWare
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Action RPG

O Dragon Age Origins, why have I waited so long to play thee? I picked up the Ultimate Edition of this glorious RPG early this year. An edition that includes all the DLC plus the Awakening expansion for just $7 CDN?! Yass, please!! I got around to actually playing it in July, and then finally finishing it in November. My only previous BioWare experience had been with Dragon Age II, a game I enjoyed a lot. So why did it take me so long to play the original? I guess I just got distracted by the mountain of other games I want to play, and this series sort of fell off my radar. Then the wise Athena over at AmbiGaming appeared, as if sent by the elven Creators themselves. By constantly reminding me just how awesome this game series is, I guess she wore me down. I’m making my BioWare backlog a priority now, so a huge THANK YOU to Athena!

How Far I got

This game would have easily been my personal GoTY, if Hellblade hadn’t of brought the light to my dark soul (it’s hard for any other game to top that, huh?). For the good of my fragile sanity, I was forced to suppress my inner obsessive lil achievement hunter. This is the PC version so, thankfully, there’s no Platinum Trophy to taunt me. I downed the Archdemon, helped a brutally betrayed bard, found a wisecracking witch, stopped the Mother, helped the Archdemon win (I’m a monster), got harassed by the horrible Harvester, and guided every possible Grey Warden to Ostagar. My inner voice of reason keeps saying I DO NOT need every achievement, so I am trying really hard to ignore the ones I missed. Backlog problems… sigh.

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I got a cool one called Lightning Reflexes though!

Completion Progress: Becoming the Grey WardenPath of the Grey Warden: Order to OrzammarPath of the Grey Warden 2: Ah! Broodmother?! KILL IT!!!Path of the Grey Warden 3: It Should’ve Been Me…Path of the Grey Warden 4: The Brutally Betrayed BardPath of the Grey Warden 5: Where’s the Wisecracking Witch?Path of the Grey Warden 6: AwakenedPath of the Grey Warden 7: Defeated by DarkspawnPath of the Grey Warden 8: Gruesome GolemsPath of the Grey Warden 9: Originated

Lightning Review

Gameplay

Taking place on Thedas in the land of Ferelden, you have six options on how you want the story to begin. Do you want to be ruthless Dwarven royalty, a nimble Dalish nomad, or a boring Human noblewoman like me? You’ve got a lot of options for customizing your main character, including class (Mage, Rogue, Warrior), specialization, race, background story, and gender selection. The origin of your character may differ, but everyone ends up with the same dire mission: destroy the Archdemon to stop the Fifth Blight, before it destroys Ferelden. You are one of the last few Grey Wardens who can help, and the fate of the land rests on your shoulders.

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You’ll learn early on that swooping is bad.

The main objective is to recruit various factions to help your cause (in any order you want), but you’ll have a tough time doing so. Everything from cutthroat politics to cranky werewolves will stand in your way. You have various options to get around those obstacles, but be warned that every decision will have a consequence. The save anywhere feature is your friend! I highly recommend keeping multiple save files, and saving as often as possible in this game. If you screw up with the talking, or if something unexpected destroys you, reload and try something different. Also be aware that some optional things are permanently missable (especially an issue in the Awakening expansion). You can even miss out on one of the best companions in the game – a Chantry sister named Leliana.

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Explore everything! Trust me, you DO NOT want to miss Leliana. Your camp just won’t be the same without her.

Like most other RPGs, killing stuff to get shiny loot and XP points is a huge part of the game. You can level up your characters, distribute skill points, and pick talents. Mages are super-squishy, but powerful damage dealers and needed healers. Warriors are tough and can crush things, but all that heavy armor will tax their stamina. A Rouge can deal deadly damage by bow or by dagger, but they often need to be placed in the right position on the battlefield. The 4 party combat system (your Grey Warden plus 3 companions) happens in real time, but the action can be paused at any time by pressing the spacebar. You can also jump around to different party members and issue commands manually, even with things paused (very helpful for tough boss encounters). There is a tactics feature where you can fine-tune how the AI controls party members not in your direct control. I had no desire to tinker with this, but it’s great for people who want a more complex gaming experience.

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Watch out for traps too. A Rogue can detect and disarm them. Since I was a Warrior, Leliana played a huge role in me earning the Lightning Reflexes achievement. You really don’t want to miss her.

I must praise the beautiful and slick UI. It reminded me a lot of World of Warcraft, what with the key mapping for abilities and all. Navigation is all point and click with the mouse. There is also the nifty ability to zoom out to an overhead view with the mouse wheel. This is very useful for gaining an eagle-eyed advantage over your enemies. Things were mostly smooth, but I did hit a few snags. Your 3 party members are always behind you, and they often boxed me into tight spaces. Also, my character got stuck in a running animation on the summit of staircases, a lot (come on… Thedas has no escalators). Minor, but these were still annoyances. You enter the different areas of Ferelden by clicking on a world map. Sometimes you’ll be taken to random encounter areas along the path, but it mostly operates in a fast travel-like fashion from one zone to the next. The game’s constant combat does get tedious sometimes. After slugging your way through some of the longer linear tunnel areas, you’ll just want to move things along already. Luckily, there are more than a few tricky environment puzzles to keep you thinking.

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Look at that pretty UI! Damn, I miss World of Warcraft… still.

Where the game truly shines is in NPC interactions, story development, and companion relationships. It’s hard to get bored in those linear areas when you’re constantly listening to amusing banter between your badass friends. Various decisions you make during your adventure can impact your approval rating with your travel buddies (you can also bribe them with gifts). Every companion has their own personality, and the best way to know what they like is to talk to them in camp. Friendships are capable of evolving into sweet love, and even the most inept romantic, like me, can land an awkward hunk like Alistair. On that note, all love between consenting adults is a beautiful thing. Props to BioWare for including fun things for all orientations to enjoy!

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C’mere, my big dorky knight man!

When you’re not killing darkspawn, or kissing Alistair in camp (ahem), you’re talking to NPCs. Your Warden never actually speaks to them, but you are given varied dialog response options. This gives you, the player, the feeling that you are the one saying the line you just chose, making you feel all the more connected to this virtual world. You can also talk your way out of some situations, meaning combat isn’t always the answer (I found it was more fun bashing bad people with swords rather than reasoning with them though).

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Who needs persuasion skillz when yer good at swingin’ a giant axe around? RAWR!

There are a few more annoying gameplay bugs I feel I should bring up. My game crashed a few times in the big dwarven city of Orzammar, and also a few time in camp during dialog scenes. Also in the Awakening expansion, I encountered a glitch where I couldn’t interact with items needed for a side quest, preventing me from finishing it. These issues shouldn’t turn you away from the game, just some things to watch out for, and more reasons to save often in multiple places.

Graphics

This game came out in 2009 so don’t expect anything “super-ultra HD, now in ultra-real 3D” here. That being said, and judged based on its time period, the graphics are great. Sure, weapons sometimes clip through armor, and Leliana is known to lose her hair if Alistair kisses your Warden too hard in camp, but those are minor faults in the grand scheme of this world. There’s a nice variety of town, house, cave, and outdoor area designs, and no area feels like a carbon copy of anywhere else (unlike a certain successor game I won’t name… *cough* Dragon Age II *cough*).

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Ignore those wannabe fashion police, my wisecracking witch friend.

I really loved the detailed plate armor designs in this game. Grey Warden Ellen was a female warrior, and she didn’t have to endure the humiliation of wearing plate-bikinis some of other RPGs ladies have to. All of her armor was very practical and imposing, just the way I likes it! The leather and cloth gear was a bit more bland in my opinion, but there are a couple unique pieces in the game that are stunning (For example, Morrigan’s special robes were, um, revealing, but cool overall). Dialog scenes include very neat camera angles that show off the characters and action beautifully. My Warden was a bit expressionless during these, but she is a stone cold warrior goddess so she rocked the look.

Sound

Music is another high point in this game. Inon Zur, a highly respected video game music composer dude, is responsible for one hell of a soundtrack in the dark fantasy adventure! I’m no music expert, but the soundtrack was recorded twice in performances by a 44 piece orchestra, and then merged to make it seem like an 88 piece one. That process sounds really cool! The music overall has depressing, adventurous, and heroic vibes to it, and goes well with the Blight ravaged land. My favourite track was probably the marketplace background music in the Leliana’s Song DLC. That track is easily on a “Top 13 Best Video Game Songs Ever” list for me.

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Never a dull voiced dialog moment in camp!

All of the characters, except your Warden, are voiced during dialog scenes. The acting was pretty good especially considering how many lines there are in the whole game. Each of the regions have their own local accent, and the voice actors portrayed those well. It’s easy to tell if a character is from Orlais, Antiva, or a native Ferelden just by listening to them talk. There is one specific sound effect that bugged me a tad. Seemingly making up for not being able to talk during dialog scenes, your Warden won’t shut up when you tell them to do stuff. There’s a very short list of one liners your Warden will spout, and Ellen was constantly telling me to “get a ladder” so I could “get off her back”. At least this made her seem as cranky and forgetful as I am!

My Overall Biased Opinion

Dragon Age Origins was the perfect comfort game for my miserable old soul this year. It gave me a powerful warrior goddess I could pretend to be, monsters and evil forces to destroy, the first video game character I ever truly had a thing for, and a group of amazing virtual friends I’ll never forget. The inclusive nature of Ferelden society was refreshing as well. Yeah, the Templars are brutalizing poor mages, and horrible shemlen are murdering innocent elves, but at least gender doesn’t seem to matter. Men and Women are treated based on the content of their character, and not judged for loving who they want to. Heck, two of the most twisted villains in this game are women too. Diversity is a good thing! Both genders are equally capable of being noble heroes and deplorable scumbags.

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I’ll say it again – you really don’t want to miss out on having the badass Leliana as a companion.

Overall, if you haven’t experienced this game yet and are a fan of action RPGs, what are you waiting for? It’s held up strong against the test of time, and definitely still worthy of being played in this advanced gaming age. Many playstyles are accommodated, and the story options feel endless, encouraging multiple playthroughs. You can turn your Warden a great hero or a total asshat, it’s your call! If you can score the Ultimate Edition for cheap, the DLC packs and its expansion offer amazing value to the game. There are some annoying bugs to deal with, but that’s the mark of a true masterpiece – awesome despite its flaws! Just stay away from Alistair… he’s mine.


Memory Lane
SPOILERS AHEAD!!! You have been warned.

This “Memory Lane” section of my “Post Playthrough Roundups” is a way for me to remember my journey through a game. Major spoilers will be present here so please avoid this unless you’ve already played the game, or don’t have any plans to. Feel free to share any experiences you’ve had with this game in the comments area thingy below.

My Game Summary

Uh, I think I’ve more than covered everything I want to remember in this game during my progress babbling series of posts.

Favourite Story Moment

In the main campaign and right before the final battle for Denerim goes down, I love the little one on one chats everyone had with my Grey Warden. It added tension and sadness to the final moments. I really love these characters… sniffs.

Favourite Ability/Item/Weapon

The Berserker specialization that Oghren taught Grey Warden Ellen. Channeling all that pent up rage into raw power seems so stress relieving!

Favourite “Oh S@#%” Moment

Encountering a creepy-freaking Broodmother for the first time. Honorable mention goes to meeting the horrible Harvester in the Golems of Amgarrak DLC.

Favourite Zone/Level/Area

Vigil’s Keep in the Awakening expansion. It was cool to be in command of a place, and it was nice to see it visibly improve after working on its defenses.

Favourite Character

Can’t choose… too many… amazing characters… Alistair my dorky knight man, Leliana my badass bard BFF, Morrigan the wisecracking witch, Zevran the charming would-be assassin, Wynne the wise healer, Max the Mabari war hound, Sten the strong Qunari warrior, Shale the pigeon-squishing Golem, Oghren the drunken disorderly dwarf, all the DLC people (especially Nathaniel and Velanna from Awakening)… I love you all!!

Most Tedious Gameplay Moment

Slugging my way through some of the longer tunnel areas. The path to the crime lady Jarvia in Orzammar felt especially long.

Most Amusing Banter Conversation

Alistair: So… you’re female, Leliana, right?
Leliana: I am? That’s news. When did that happen?
Alistair: I just wanted some advice. What should I do if… if I think a woman is special and–
Leliana: You want to woo her? Here’s a good tip: you shouldn’t question her about her female-ness.
Alistair: All right, yes. Good point.
Leliana: Why do you ask? Are you afraid things will not proceed naturally?
Alistair: Why would they? Especially when I do things like ask women if they’re female.
Leliana: It adds to your charm, Alistair. You are a little awkward. It is endearing.
Alistair: So I should be awkward? Didn’t you just say not to do things like that?
Leliana: Just be yourself. You do know how to do that, don’t you?
Alistair: All right, forget I asked.


Final Stats

Main Campaign
Gameplay time: 55 hours 50 minutes
Grey Warden Ellen’s level: 21
Kills: 2678
Most powerful foe slain: Archdemon
Damage Dealt: 655,841
Stealing successes: 0
Stealing failures: 0
Items crafted: 87
Money spent: 221 Sovereigns 23 Silvers 80 Bits
Most money at once: 345 Sovereigns 89 Silvers 20 Bits
Conversations initiated: 1667
Codex entries discovered: 183
World explored: 94%

Leliana’s Song DLC
Gameplay time: 1 hour 28 minutes
Leliana’s level: 13
Kills: 90
Damage dealt: 5,908
Stealing successes: 1
Stealing failures: 0
Items crafted: 0
Money spent: 0
Most money at once: 23 Sovereigns 61 Silvers 12 Bits
Conversations initiated: 105
Codex entries discovered: 11

Witch Hunt DLC (stats carried over from Main Campaign)
Gameplay time: 1 hour 38 minutes
Grey Warden Ellen’s level: 22
Kills: 2774
Damage dealt: 668,827
Stealing successes: 0
Stealing failures: 0
Items crafted: 87
Money spent: 221 Sovereigns 23 Silvers 60 Bits
Most money at once: 360 Sovereigns 44 Silvers 40 Bits
Conversations initiated: 1777
Codex entries discovered: 185

Awakening Expansion (stats carried over from Witch Hunt)
Gameplay time: 13 hours 18 minutes
Grey Warden Ellen’s level: 32
Kills: 3594
Damage dealt: 1,121,870
Stealing successes: 0
Stealing failures: 0
Items crafted: 87
Money spent: 552 Sovereigns 49 Silvers 90 Bits
Most money at once: 603 Sovereigns 39 Silvers 0 Bits
Conversations initiated: 2091
Codex entries discovered: 222

Darkspawn Chronicles DLC
Gameplay time: 59 minutes
Hurlock Vanguard’s level: 12
Kills: 193
Damage dealt: 10,067
Stealing successes: 0
Stealing failures: 0
Items crafted: 0
Money spent: 0
Most money at once: 0
Conversations initiated: 9
Codex entries discovered: 12

Golems of Amgarrak DLC (stats carried over from Awakening)
Gameplay time: 1 hour 16 minutes
Grey Warden Ellen’s level: 33
Kills: 3672
Damage dealt: 1,148,160
Stealing successes: 0
Stealing failures: 0
Items crafted: 87
Money spent: 552 Sovereigns 49 Silvers 90 Bits
Most money at once: 603 Sovereigns 39 Silvers 0 Bits
Conversations initiated: 2152
Codex entries discovered: 228

Grand Total Gameplay Time: 74 hours 30 minutes (-ish… my maths might be horrible)

Glorious Achievements
Total points: 1400/2250
Total achievements: 71/109

10 pointers:

10 pts - Corrupted10 pts - Casteless10 pts - Conscripted10 pts - Harrowed10 pts - Last of Your Line10 pts - Kingslayer10 pts - First Knight10 pts - Persuasive10 pts - Bully10 pts - Tinkerer10 pts - Clever10 pts - Nimble10 pts - Lockpicker10 pts - Pickpocket10 pts - Heavy Hitter10 pts - Crusher10 pts - Battery

15 pointers:

15 pts - Bloodied15 pts - Educated15 pts - Crafty15 pts - Lightning Reflexes15 pts - Master Lockpicker15 pts - Accomplished Warrior15 pts - Dual-Weapon Master15 pts - Archery Master15 pts - Shield Master15 pts - Two-Handed Weapon Master

20 pointers:

20 pts - Last of the Wardens20 pts - Mage Sympathizer20 pts - Poacher20 pts - Ceremonialist20 pts - Hero of Redcliffe20 pts - Liberator20 pts - Harrowmont's Ally20 pts - Rabble-Rouser20 pts - Standard Bearer20 pts - Veteran20 pts - Recruiter20 pts - Grey Warden20 pts - Defender20 pts - Pilgrim20 pts - Streetwise20 pts - The Collective Friend20 pts - Blackstone Auxiliary20 pts - Mercenary20 pts - Tactician

25 pointers:

25 pts - Master of Arms25 pts - Master Warden25 pts - Master of the Peak25 pts - Diabolist25 pts - Rock and a Hard Place25 pts - Stone's Lament25 pts - In War, Victory25 pts - Bane of Thedas25 pts - Reaper25 pts - A Secret Stiched Together25 pts - Turning Point25 pts - Witch Hunter25 pts - Through the Looking Glass25 pts - Amaranthine's Last Hope

30 pointers:

30 pts - Warden Commander30 pts - Elite30 pts - Traveler30 pts - Easily Sidetracked30 pts - Blight-Queller30 pts - Dragonslayer30 pts - Pride Before The Fall30 pts - Savior of Kal'Hirol30 pts - Blind Vengeance30 pts - Commander of the Grey

50 points:

50 pts - Awakening


Thanks for reading!

13 thoughts on “Post Playthrough Roundup – Dragon Age Origins Ultimate Edition

  1. 74 hours is definitely a pretty long investment into the game so that was certainly a journey! The leveling system seems very grindy though since you had

    Gameplay time: 55 hours 50 minutes
    Grey Warden Ellen’s level: 21

    I would have figured you’d be around Level 50 or something by then. I don’t know how it works in this series though so maybe 21 is actually really high. If it does go up to 100 though, it sounds like that would take quite a while. Still, sounds like this game was quite solid and with all of the DLC packs you really got your money’s worth

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leveling isn’t a big part of the game. 20 is more than enough for the main quest, and 30 is great for the Awakening expansion. I didn’t have to grind anywhere either. Most of my time was spent interacting with NPCs and bashing monsters on my way to places, which was fun. But all that for $7?? Can’t complain, haha 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m really glad to see you enjoyed this game. I played it while in grad school and I had almost no free time and yet, I found myself looking forward to the 30 minutes to an hour I could get each day to play. I haven’t played any Dragon Age games since this one but I consider this one to be one of the best PC RPGs I have ever played.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, it definitely was! I didn’t even think about that but I’m sure that made it much easier for me to play it in short bursts. I haven’t heard good things about II but I do hope to play Inquisition at some point. I will be curious to hear your thoughts on it when you finish!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Most of the time, I can enjoy a game roughly the same whatever type of character I’m playing, but I’ve noticed I have significantly more fun as a mage than any other class in Dragon Age: Origins. Which is odd to me, because usually I prefer the more physically powerful classes, but gives me more to do in the battle system here, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I prefer the raw power classes like warriors myself. I’m glad you enjoyed the mage class in Origins! I found they were too squishy for my playstyle…. I got in a lot of fights, haha. Plus I was learning the game and mages seemed very complex to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dragon Age Origins for just $7 is an amazing bargain. I guess now that you have played the first game you can see why some people complained that the sequel was a watered down, albeit still fun, experience.

    Hellblade brought light your dark soul? I thought the only game that could do that is Devil May Cry :-

    Liked by 1 person

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