Dragon Age: Origins opened a whole new world to me. It was my first BioWare game. It was even the first RPG I bought for my PS3. As someone who’d spent most of her life obsessed with JRPGs, it offered me an experience and adventure I hadn’t thought possible.
I raced through my first playthrough, racking up a 40-odd hour game over the course of a week. Following that, I raced out to grab a used copy of Awakenings so I could continue my noble, human rogue Aninaya’s story. I then went on to pre-order Dragon Age 2, pick up Mass Effect 2, beat Dragon Age 2 twice, beat Mass Effect 2 twice and pre-order the Mass Effect 3 Collector’s Edition. It would mark the first time I ever would be willing to spend over $79.99 on a single, domestic video game purchase.
To think it all started with Dragon Age: Origins.
Which explains why I didn’t even pause when I saw the PS3 version of ultimate edition of Dragon Age: Origins on a shelf at Goodwill for $7. I bought it. I never grabbed the DLC originally and I reasoned that this would make up for that. I’d deposited my old copies of Dragon Age Origins and its expansion on a close friend, with the demand that she play it, and decided I needed to revisit Fereldan in all its DLC-clad glory.
It’s on that second playthrough that I discovered I actually kinda hated Dragon Age: Origins.
It started when I first booted up the game. I decided to play through The Darkspawn Chronicles DLC. It’s an alternate reality story where my Warden didn’t exist and you get to help Darkspawn take over everything. It sounds cool, right? Except it really wasn’t. See, I didn’t really play Dragon Age: Origins for the combat. I played it for the story. And Darkspawn Chronicles didn’t have any. It was pretty much half an hour of just beating stuff up; at least, that’s as long as I played before I got sick of it.
Since I didn’t care about going through an adventure with Leliana, hunting down Golems, or chasing after Morrigan, I decided I’d create an all new character and replay Dragon Age: Origins. I’d make all different choices, meet Shale, and even clear out Warden’s Keep. It was going to be awesome.
Except it wasn’t.
Since I’m one of the 33 people who actually preferred Dragon Age 2 to Dragon Age: Origins, despite its many flaws, I decided to make a Dalish elf rogue so I could see my favorite Kirkwall Dalish. (‘Sup Pol? Enjoy your time with the Dalish, while it lasts!) I’ll admit that the first four or five hours were good. Really good. I liked my character; I did some party building. Reclaimed a Grey Warden keep. Discovered a new golem BFF. Got King Cailan’s and Duncan’s armor back. It was quite eventful.
Then I realized I should really stop messing around get back to the story.
But I couldn’t. I was trapped. There was no way I was going through all that shit to recruit the various troops again.
Most of the blame stems from visiting the Circle to see the mages. I couldn’t go grab the Circle mages or Templars, because that would mean experiencing the Fade. The entire Fade section in Dragon Age: Origins was the worst experience I’d ever had with a video game. Ever. There’s a reason gamers made a mod that allows people playing on PCs to skip the Fade. I’m just going to assume that whichever BioWare team members created it were having the worst day/week/month/year of their lives and wanted to share their misery in an allegorical mission in the game. Since I was playing on a PS3, I was trapped.
So I figured I’d put it off and go recruit someone else. Maybe I’d go to Redcliffe and get Arl Eamon. Except wait. Dammit! The Fade strikes again! Of course, I could get around doing that by just killing Eamon’s son and/or wife. No. I can’t do that. Even though they’re virtual people, they’re still people! Besides, I can’t risk the ensuing party member approval points.
Fine. I’d just go get the dwarves. I liked the dwarves. I loved Oghren!
But I also remembered how difficult the boss fight against that dwarf-broodmother was. (Don’t give me that look. The game is years old. The spoiler alert expired.) I did that quest after the Circle and Redcliffe quests the first time around and when I fought that battle I barely survived it. Morrigan was the last character standing, and that was only because I was spamming her lightning spell. No, I couldn’t go to Orzammar first. Or second even, now that I thought about it. It would have to be last.
Which left the Dalish. Apparently I hadn’t thought this playthrough through when setting it up, because I was going to have to side with the werewolves if I wanted to do the complete opposite of what I did the first time around. How could I have a Dalish rogue side against her own people? I couldn’t, that’s how.
I found myself at an impasse. I did love Dragon Age: Origins once. Really, I did. I wanted to play it again, but I’d boxed myself into a corner. The dreadful experience in the Fade, the inexplicable difficulty of the dwarf broodmother and my own silly principles had put me in a place where I couldn’t progress. The resulting internal conflict not only disappointed me, but left disappointed with the game as a whole.
Oh well. I guess I’ll go start another playthrough of Mass Effect 3.