Going from playing Dragon Age Inquisition to Dragon Age Origins: thoughts from a Dragon Age lover
Back in 2017 I was at home having a lazy day but not really sure what to do with myself, when my other half handed me a game that had been gathering dust on his shelf. “Here”, he said, “you might like this.” Given my love for Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and all things equally magical, just the title itself piqued my interest. It was Dragon Age Inquisition.
So I loaded the game onto my PS4 and got really excited when I realised you get to create your own character. Yes, I am one of those that likes to create a character and give a bit of back story based on their race and class. Don’t judge me 😉
Once I got through the character creation I encountered the first cut scene with Cassandra and Leliana, I was thrown right into the depth of the action. I had no idea what was going on but it felt good knowing that my Inquisitor was also in the dark. We could both discover what was going on and experience it together.
I became hooked pretty much straight away. The game itself is beautiful, the places you visit each have their own story and atmosphere, and the characters you meet along the way are all intriguing and interesting. The more and more I played, the more and more I fell in love.
It was at this point I’d had a moan at my other half for not introducing it to me sooner 😉
Having recently finished my second play through of the game I really wanted to give Dragon Age Origins a go. Given that I was introduced to the franchise with Inquisition, I had never played Origins or Dragon Age II. I wanted to know more of the lore and history of the world, and spend more time getting to know characters that I’ve met in Inquisition.
On my first play through of Inquisition I had no idea who these characters were. It was only after my first play through that I started researching the different people you meet and interact with, and was surprised to see Leliana and Morrigan are characters from the first game. Not only that, but characters you can add as companions. Wandering around the world with Leliana and Morrigan I imagined would produce some quite humorous (and controversial) conversations.
I also had no idea who Hawke, Alistair or Stroud were when they turned up in Dragon Age Inquisition, and during the quest “Here Lies the Abyss” choosing between Hawke or Stroud to remain in the Fade wasn’t really that difficult for me choose as I had no previous connection with either of them. Now that I know they’re characters from the previous games, Hawke being the protagonist in the second one no less, it really made me want to play them more and more.
I had tried to play Origins on my laptop, but it’s really not that powerful enough to run games like Dragon Age, so I only played half an hour of it and gave up. However, my other half recently purchased an XBox One and I was able to purchase a 360 copy of the game, which luckily still works with the latest console. So I was ready to get lost in the beginning of the franchise and experience the magic I felt with Inquisition.
What I’ve found whilst playing Origins though, is that it just doesn’t work for me. I just didn’t get that same feeling I got from when I played Inquisition. I didn’t get hooked, and I didn’t fall in love.
Even though Dragon Age Origins is only five years older than Inquisition, I found it quite difficult to play. The controls I found were very clunky, and the AI combat was terrible. I wasn’t a tank, yet all of the mobs kept coming for me. I couldn’t get any shots in quick enough and I would just die, over and over. I’m not sure if it’s just the class I chose, or if I’m just not getting how to do the combat, but I was just finding it frustrating and found it hard to enjoy.
The other thing I think I found difficult was the interactions with your character. In Inquisition your character would speak, they’d have a voice. It didn’t matter if you were talking to some quest giver in the Hinterlands, or part of an extravagant cut scene, your character would always talk. In Origins, however, there was nothing. Yes, you can pick dialog options, but these were never spoken verbally from my character. I know it’s not the be all and end all, but it felt immersive breaking for me.
One more point that I found I couldn’t get past are the graphics. Now, I’m not complaining about the graphics overall. For a game that was made in 2009, the graphics are pretty great, but I’m more thinking about how dark everything looks. In Inquisition you had the beautiful colourful landscapes of places such as the Hinterlands and the Emerald Graves, and I loved exploring those places because its colour was inviting. In Origins, everything seemed so dark and gloomy, even in places with greenery.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve put quite a good few hours into playing Origins, and I’m currently up to the quest where you meet Wynne, so it’s not like I haven’t tried. I could get past the graphics and immersive breaking lack of voice if it wasn’t for the constant dying during battle. That just makes it less enjoyable for me.
I really hope that with the new generation of consoles coming out later this year that Bioware announce a remaster or a remake of these games, because even though it sounds like I’m bashing them (I’m really not), I want to experience the full story.
One of the other things I’d wanted to try with playing the first two games is using the Dragon Age Keep. The Dragon Age Keep is a website where you can sync your game saves from the previous games and it will create a “world state” based on your choices in those games. This I found intriguing, as I had wondered how my choices in the first two games would influence the story in Inquisition.
Both of my Inquisition play throughs had been using the default word state. This, I’m assuming, is a state where the decisions in the previous games were the “correct” ones (or at least the friendlier ones), and even though I probably would have played the first two games as the “good guy”, I still would have liked to experience Inquisition with my own decisions from the previous two games.
The Dragon Age Keep is great for this, as you don’t necessarily have to have played the first two games to use it. You can just create your own world state, and select options from the first two games that you may (or may not) have chosen. Of course, if you’re not familiar with the characters and quests, you may or may not know which decisions would be for the best. But I can tell you that having everybody die is probably not the right way.
However, out of curiosity, I decided to go down that route… I decided to create a state that has been based on “bad” decisions. I’d read a guide on how to make sure you get a bad world state (check it out at IGN), and beyond their recommendations I also made everyone die that I could. In my new world state Alistair also turned into a drunk, and Hawke became rivals with Varric. These two choices I’d be interested to see play out in Inquisition as in the default world state these options are the complete opposite.
I also made Hawke female, because you know, girl power 😉
Here are screenshots of tapestry I built for DA:O and DAII if you’d like to try it yourself. Click on the thumbnails to view full size.
So, where do we go from here you may ask? With the bad world state I created I wanted to be able to share the story I experience with you all, so I’ve started a series on YouTube and plan on uploading the cut scenes from each main / character quest to see if the decisions I’d made make any impact on any of the main quests. The first one has been uploaded today so be sure to take a look below:
I’ll be adding more videos as I go on with the play through, so be sure to check back for updates or subscribe to our YouTube channel! Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on my post and/or video.