Dragon Age: Origins is BioWare's 2009 dark-fantasy action-RPG. It features tactical party-based combat that can be played from third person, or a more traditional, isometric top-down view. The game features BioWare's signature "Pause and Play" battle mechanics. For its elements, gameplay, and other reasons, Dragon Age: Origins is commonly referred to by BioWare as the spiritual successor to their revered classic roleplaying game, Baldur's Gate 2.
Built on BioWare's proprietary Eclipse engine, the game features similar "facial technology" to that used with the conversation system in Mass Effect. Bioware has made a toolset available for the creation of user content, much like it did for Neverwinter Nights. The toolset is available for free to registered users of the PC version of Dragon Age: Origins.
One of the major features of the game are the Origin Stories. Players are able to choose and play his or her own "Origin Story," which is the lens through which the entire game is seen and portrayed. The way your character sees the world and how the world sees your character is affected by the Origin Story. For example, you may begin the game as a Dwarf Noble and be a part of the Royal Family of a Dwarven City, or you could be a Dwarf Commoner living in the city's streets. These Origin Stories provide an introduction to the game and also help determine the overall direction of the story throughout the game. Characters you meet during your Origin Story may reappear later on as either friends or enemies. Origin stories also provide the player with background information on the race they are playing. For example, when playing as an Elf, you will quickly realize the prejudice the people of Ferelden show towards your race. Executive Dan Tudge explained BioWare's perspective on the purpose of Origin stories, stating, "Really, the origin stories are more about your place and your perspective of how the world works."
Before you can get married to your betrothed, however, the festivities are rudely disturbed by Vaughan, the son of the Arl of Denerim. His interference does not last long, as Shianni sneaks up behind him and knocks him out with a wine bottle. Thinking that the day can now continue without further hindrance, the preparations for the wedding continue. But just as the wedding is about to truly start, Vaughan and his henchmen return.
At this point the experience differs slightly depending on whether you are playing a female or a male elf. If you are playing a male, you and Soris set out to rescue the women. When you get there, however, at least one of the women is killed, and Shianni has already been raped.
If you play as a female elf, you will get kidnapped along with the rest of the women. Just as you are about to be bound to be taken to Vaughan, Soris comes in and slides a sword to you. After slaying both guards, the rest plays out the same way as when playing a male elf.
When you return to the Alienage after successfully completing the rescue, the City Guards quickly catch wind of what went down at the estate and come looking for the ones responsible at the Alienage. You can either claim sole responsibility, or you can say that Soris helped you. Either way, your life is forfeit. But thankfully salvation comes thanks to Duncan, a Grey Warden who has been visiting the Alienage to look for a new recruit. He invokes the right of conscription and recruits you into the ranks of the Grey Wardens. Between the joining the Grey Wardens and facing your death sentence, you find little choice but to join Duncan and embark on your new life as a Grey Warden.
Born to wealth and power second only to royalty, you find your training in both diplomacy and war put to the test when your father's castle is betrayed from within on the very night your elder brother is to lead the family's forces to war. During this betrayal, you are charged with defending your family and home from certain destruction. The Human noble is the only class to begin the story with the Mabari Hound Companion.
The camera moves along what has been described as a "J-Axis," referring to the way the camera zooms out and then up, forming a path that roughly resembles a letter 'J.' At its closest (the neck of the J), the camera gives an over-the-shoulder third person view of the action. Zooming out from there, the camera backs away from the character of focus for a progressively wider view. On the PC version, there is one additional level of zoom (the hook of the J), in which the camera jumps high off the ground, assuming an approximation of an isometric view of the battlefield, reminiscent of the fixed isometric view of Infinity Engine games. In this pseudo-isometric view, the camera is not locked on to the currently selected character; instead, allowing free scrolling over the battlefield within a distance limit from the currently selected character.
The combat functions like a traditional tactical party-based RPG, such as Baldur's Gate. The player controls a party of four characters at one time out of a pool of many more recruited characters. Each character is fully controllable and customizable, no less than the player's own created character.
Dragon Age: Origins uses the same "wheel" system for console versions as Mass Effect. Using spells and skills together in combos is necessary for success. One example of spells being used in combination is the use of a Grease spell to create a pool of grease which can then be lit on fire by a well placed Fireball spell. Separately, the spells only have specific uses and are not extremely effective. However, when used together, they can set large areas on fire and do damage to several enemies rather than just one like a Fireball spell would normally. Dragon Age: Origins also features boss battles against powerful enemies, like Ogres, which tower over the player's own characters. The ogre has a variety of unique abilities like a boulder throw and a grab ability that picks up a party member and repeatedly punches him until the other party members managed to knock him free from the ogre's hands. The battle ends with a gruesome execution animation where a party member knocks the ogre down to deliver the final blow.
Although the dominant race within Thedas, the human race is divided over many reasons such as regional borders, cultural issues and of course political greed and gains. Among the many nations, three major human nations stand out in Dragon Age lore.
The elven race have burdened a long history of strife, largely due to human conflict. The first conflict came in the form of the Tevinter Imperium invading the Elven homeland of Elvhenan, for perceived hostility. The result was a lasting effect of slavery of the elven people that is still practiced throughout the Tevinter. Later, the Elves claimed Dale as their homeland only to once again be subjected to aggression - this time by the Chantry. The reason for this invasion remains unclear and is hotly debated. Regardless, the Elves were again displaced. As a result, the Dalish Elf and Alienage Elf came to be in the lands of Ferelden. The Alienage Elves live among humans, but segregated to squalor-ridden small communities, living in the poorest of conditions. This is contrasted by the Dalish Elves, who choose to remain nomadic, no doubt to separate themselves from human contact. Elves throughout Thedas are viewed as second-class citizens and are looked down upon.
Most people on the surface think of dwarves and imagine greedy merchants or dour craftsmen, and certainly those are the faces most often seen by those of us who live under the Maker’s eye. But a journey to the thaig reveals a culture of nobility and of poverty, of proud warriors and of necessary brutality. Much as the heat of the forge strengthens the blade, the dwarves have been hardened by the constant threat of the darkspawn onslaught, forcing their warriors to excel or die, their craftsmen to create masterpieces of durability and style, and their nobles to engage in a deadly political game of intrigue that shames the goings on in the simpler courts of Ferelden. Everything done in Orzammar is done to fortify the remaining domains of the kingdom (of which there are, regrettably, few) against the relentless onslaught of the darkspawn.
The game features three base classes with four specialization packages, unlockable over the course of the game, for each class.
Available to all races (Human, Elf, Dwarf), the Warrior class has the following unique talents as well as being able to access all four weapon talent categories.
Sword and Shield
Warrior Class Talents
Available to all races (Human, Elf, Dwarf), the Rogue class has the following unique talents along with two starting weapon talent categories.
Unique Rogue Talents
Available to Human and Elf only, and offering only one possible origin story, mages have spells instead of talents.
Also available to all classes are eight different skills. Each skill can be enhanced over four levels.
BroodmotherMain Article: Broodmother
The grotesque Broodmother shows exactly what the taint of the Darkspawn is capable of when left to its own devices deep within the earth. Deep within the Dwarven tunnels of Ferelden, one would better meet his end at the end of steel rather than face down this horrific being.
OgreMain Article: Ogre
Ogres are massive, and tower over the battlefield. Their strength allows them to hurl rocks, and destroy buildings. When soldiers get close, they are no safer, as many a soldier has found their death at an Ogre's hands. This makes them the fiercest of all darkspawn, and when an Ogre howls into the night, you know you should hide. Ogres happen when Qunari are turned into darkspawn.
Hurlocks & GenlocksMain Articles: Hurlocks & Genlocks
The Hurlock is the shocktroop of the darkspawn. They are the only known creature working for the darkspawn that can speak in human tongue. They adorn themselves in tattoos and often maraud in groups. They are also known to be able to cast spells. They are the result of humans being exposed to the taint.
Genlocks are short, more numerious cousin of the Hurlock. They are dwarves corrupted by the Blight.
ShriekMain Article: Shriek
Silent and deadly, these skinny darkspawn hunt in small groups and stay hidden until they are already upon their targets. Born from corrupted elves, this rarer breed is often sent ahead of the bulk dark-spawn mass. It is said that many will hear the signature scream of the Shriek, but very few will live long enough to actually see one.
In general, spirits are not complex. Each one seizes upon a single facet of human experience: Rage, hunger, compassion, hope etc. This one idea becomes their identity. Demons are those spirits who identify themselves with darker human emotions and ideas.
Wisp DemonMain Article: Wisp Demons
It is often forgotten that not all demons are such awe-inspiring beings. Some that break through the cracks in the Veil into our world are known as wisps, a sliver of a thought that once was. A wisp is a demon that has lost its power; either it has existed in our world for too long without finding a true host or it has been destroyed. What remains of its mind clings tightly to the one concept that created it—a hatred of all living things.
While its ability to target a living creature is limited these wisps often mindlessly attack when encountered in the Fade. In the living world, they often have been known to maliciously lure the living into dangerous areas, being mistaken for lanterns or other civilized light sources. This does, however, seem to be the very limit of their cunning.
Rage Demon - Render Rage DemonMain Article: Rage Demon
The most common and weakest form of demon, they are much like perpetually boiling kettles, for they exist only to vent hatred. A thing of pure fire, its body seemingly made of amorphous lava and its eyes of two pinpricks of baleful light radiating from its core. The abilities of such a demon center on the fire it generates. It burns those who come near, and the most powerful of its kind are able to lash out with bolts of fire and even firestorms that can affect entire areas.
Fortunately, even powerful rage demons are less intelligent than most other varieties. Their tactics are simple: attack an enemy on sight with as much force as possible until it perishes. Some rage demons carry over their heat-based abilities into possessed hosts, but otherwise the true form is mostly seen outside of the Fade when it is specifically summoned by a mage to do his bidding.
Hunger DemonMain Article: Hunger Demon
A bit higher in the hierarchy of demons, they do little, but eat or attempt to eat everything they encounter, including other demons (this is rarely successful due to being near the bottom of the food chain).
Sloth DemonMain Article: Sloth Demon
These are the first intelligent creatures one typically finds in the Fade. They are dangerous only on those rare occasions that they are induced to get up and do harm. They are able to steal form and likeness, to mimic its opponents and know their deepest secrets. Sloth has no form or identity of its own. It is envy as much as sloth.
The sloth demon is not in and of itself, slothful. They cross the Veil and fight to possess creatures just not as much as other demons. Some are however slothful and knowingly cultivate such reputations (possibly due to ulterior motives). Demons of sloth are named so because this is the portion of the human psyche that they feed upon; doubt, apathy, and entropy. They seek to spread these things. The sloth demon hides in its forms, a master of shapes and disguises, and from its hiding place, it spreads its influence. A community afflicted by a demon of sloth could soon become a dilapidated pit where injustices are allowed to pass without comment, and none of the residents could be aware that such a change has even taken place. The sloth demon weakens, tires, and tears at the edges of consciousness and would much rather render its victim helpless than engage in a true conflict. Such creatures are best faced only with a great deal of will, and only with an eye to piercing their many disguises.
Although sloth demons are not high in the hierarchy of demons, some are powerful enough to bring creatures across the veil into the fade. They can trap many creatures in their own minds, lulled in blissful sloth.
Desire DemonMain Article: Desire Demon
These are clever and far more powerful demons. They use all forms of bribery to induce mortals into their realms: Wealth, love, vengeance (whatever lies closest to your heart). Desire demons are not monsters, mindlessly driven by nature, but rather rational beings interested and intrigued by other beings. It mostly takes form of something resembling a female human, however is able to change its shape if it so desired.
Desire demons have long been known to twist the hearts of men. They lure them in through both their appearance and their crafty words. Offering anything in their power to get what they desire. Those who entertain such demons, can gain what they desire, but at a costly price.
Notable Desire demons
Pride DemonMain Article: Pride Demon
One of the most powerful Demons yet encountered are the pride demons, perhaps because they, among all their kind, most resemble men. Although powerful, they can be summoned by a maleficar and they are bound to do his bidding.
Pride is powerful, and intelligent. When encountered in its true form, its most common attacks are bolts of fire and ice. Fire they will use to burn an opponent, and the magical flame will combust anything worn regardless of make. Ice they will use to freeze an opponent in place—be cautious, for they enjoy employing this against warriors in particular. More than one group of templar have made the mistake of attempting to overwhelm a pride demon and suffered the consequences. Having the aid of other mages is of little help, Pride demons can render themselves immune to magic for short times, and are adept at dispelling magic buffs that are on the player.
ArchdemonMain Article: Archdemon
The false dragon-gods of the Tevinter Imperium lie buried deep within the earth, where they have been imprisoned since the Maker cast them down. It is unknown what drives the Darkspawn to their relentless search for the sleeping old gods. Perhaps there is some remnant of desire for vengeance upon the ones who goaded the magisters to assault heaven. Whatever the reason when darkspawn find one of these ancient dragons, it is immediately afflicted by the taint. It awakens twisted and corrupted, and leads the darkspawn in a full-scale invasion of the land: A Blight.
Notable Arch Demons:
Darkspawn’s tainted blood bound them to the archdemon, and they could hear it, feel it, as it died and was born anew, its spirit drawn to possess the nearest tainted creature. The darkspawn were mindless, soulless, empty shells of flesh that could be formed and remade in the dragon’s image. However, a man’s soul was not so malleable. When a Gray Warden’s hand struck a fatal blow against Dumat, the old god’s spirit was drawn once again to the nearest tainted creature, not to a darkspawn but to the tainted man who had slain him. In that moment, the souls of both the Warden and the archdemon were utterly destroyed. And the dragon rose no more. The Blight was over.
High DragonThe Dragons once ruled the skies. Graceful, and magnificent, the people worshiped them, and their faces adorned statues and buildings. However, hunters drove them to extinction, killing them for their bones to use in enchantments. They were thought to be dead, however a High Dragon appeared out of the mountains and begun a rampage, and the people know that when a dragon begins a rampage it means it is about to lay eggs. Thus, the next age was named in their honor.
Mabari War Dog: In the Ferelden culture, nothing is more important than the dog, especially the Mabari. The Mabari descend from wolves who served under the legendary hero, Dane. The Mabari only chose their masters. Whoever, is seen accompanying a Mabari is instantly recognized as a person of worth. The Mabari are also an influential part in the Ferelden military strategy. The Mabari War Dog is a recruitable companion.
Born from the union of a mage and a demon, the Abomination is a truly a horrific and powerful creature. Whether with a deal or by sheer force, once a mage is possessed by a demon, the demon may use all of the mage's innate ability - creating a devastating force. Because of this, the Chantry assigned it's military unit, the Templars, to hunt down apostate mages as well as watch over the Circle of Magi to quickly eliminate any demon possessions.
Werewolves in Ferelden lore, are believed to be wolves tainted by a Rage demon. They plague the countryside. Having huge strength and speed, these beasts were known for their ferocity. The great hero Dane, led a crusade to purge Werewolves from Ferelden once and for all.
SpiritsNot all spirits are Demons, some are benevolent creatures.
Ferelden is a relatively small kingdom, divided in several main regions and surrounded by water to the North (the Waking Sea) and to the East (the Amaranthine Ocean). The Orlesian Empire is set to the West of Ferelden and the Free Marches are up to the North. To the South lie the Uncharted Territories.
This cold region lies on the Western part of Ferelden, and spans all the way from the North to the South.
The following in-game locations can be found there.
The Deep Roads
Village of Haven
Right next to the Frostback Mountains (to its right) we can find Lake Calenhad. The proximity of water holds a couple of key locations to the game.
These wastelands can be found between Lake Calenhad and the Korcari Wilds, but hold no key areas to the game.
The Bannorn is a fertile land and it occupies the whole of the Northern-Center area of Ferelden. To the South of this big area lies its one and only main location.
The Coastlands point to the Waking Sea and Ferelden's capital city can be found in its North-Eastern area.
This area dominates the Eastern zone of Ferelden.
Located between The Bannorn (to the North), the Brecilian Forest (to the East) and the Korcari Wilds (to the South), this area is mostly deserted, except for the Dalish Camp.
Mostly comprised of cold damp forests and swamps, the Korcari Wilds mark the border between Ferelden and the Uncharted Territories to the South.
The number of talking characters in Dragon Age: Origins is immense, so here's a list of the main characters and respective voice talents only:
|Voice Talent||Main Character|
|Tim Curry||Arl Rendon Howe|
|Simon Templeman||Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir|
|Jon Curry||Zevran Arainai|
|Peter Bramhill||King Cailan Theirin|
|Emma Fielding||The Lady of the Forest|
|Mika Simmons||Queen Anora|
There have been multiple DLC packs released for Dragon Age: Origins, some available at launch and others following the months since.
The Dragon Age: Origins DLC, Darkspawn Chronicles, illustrates an alternate storyline, in which the player character of the main Origins campaign dies during The Joining. The Darkspawn Chronicles DLC opens just as the darkspawn begin their invasion of Denerim, capital of Ferelden. As a Hurlock Vanguard, the player fights their way through Denerim's defenders and civilians, eventually arriving at the Archdemon to help defend it from Alistair.
The events of Darkspawn Chronicles, which coincide with the Origins events, from The Joining, up until the attack on Denerim, differ slightly from the main campaign, illustrating which choices Alistair would have made throughout his travels as the last of the Grey Wardens. Including enlisting the major factions as allies, and choosing party members to accompany him.
When battling against Alistair, he is equipped with Templar armor, a one handed mace, and Duncan's shield. Though alive during the events of Darkspawn Chronicles, he is only shown in the capacity of Grey Warden Commander. It is highly likely, based upon his known personality, that he declined the throne in favor of Anora. Morrigan is among the leading party, though still at constant odds with Alistair. It is unlikely that she offered to either sleep with Alistair in order to save his life, were he to manage to kill the Archdemon, or asked his help in disposing of Flemeth.
Leliana is also a member of Alistair's primary party, still wearing her Lay Sister garments. It is suggested that Alistair and Leliana shared a romance. The Mabari hound was rescued from Ostagar and treated by Alistair, eventually imprinting himself upon his rescuer. Alistair and the hound were said to have been inseparable through Alistair's travels. Alistair dubbed the hound Barkspawn as an obvious pun regarding the Darkspawn.