Dragon Age is Annoying*

*But I love it anyway.

Things that annoy me about Dragon Age: Origins:

Random difficulty spikes. I’m looking at you Bandit side-quest in Denerim!  The chief signifier of these is the 5 second combat start to party-wipe.

No combat logs. Wait.  How did I die?  I have no idea, oh well.

Inability to queue actions. Supposedly this isn’t an issue if you’re using the Tactics system properly.  Apparently I’m not.

Opaque system. I have no idea how all the little fiddly bits work and thus changing stats, buying equipment, and choosing spells/abilities become something of game whose rules I don’t quite know.  Choosing spells can be particularly tricky, especially when the spell descriptions don’t always reveal key details.  I’m looking at you Cleansing Aura with your suddenly draining all of Wynn’s mana!

Particularly difficult encounters which have nothing to do with the quest I’m on. Ok, only one so far, the Spider Queen in the Deep Roads of Orzhimar, but really?  Come on now.

Locked chests. Apparently the only means to open locked chests id DA:O is to have a character who can pick locks.  Can’t bash it open, can’t use a spell.  I’ve lost a lot of, likely crappy, loot because of this. Even Baldur’s Gate 2 let me bash chests.

-Bombs and poison.  Apparently I can only throw bombs/flasks if I’m trained in a specific skill or douse my weapon in poison/coating if I’m trained in the making of it.  Not major but still annoying when only one or two party members have the requisite ability.

Lack of auto-pause options. By which I mean none.  Sure the game auto-pauses when combat begins but I’d love to see more options so I can react more quickly to trouble in combat.  For you console people Baldur’s Gate 2,  which Dragon Age has been repeatedly touted as the spiritual successor of, had somewhere around 10 different auto-pause options from “a character was hit by an enemy”  to “after a spell is cast”.  Useful for people like me who like to micromanage their encounters.

ambushes. I walk into a room with a couple of enemies only to be surprised be either enemies I can’t see or enemies from the next room over.  Not cool.  Further more some of the hardest encounters in the game are the “random” encounters that occur when traveling between different places.

And now for the merely mediocre:

“Relationships” with your characters: I don’t really like the gift-giving mechanic with some special exceptions.  Those being gifts that unlock dialogue or produce a character specific quest.  Gifts just feel like a cheap way to pacify characters who don’t always like my decisions.    Oddly outside of those specific items the gift-giving just feels trite and meaningless.  Also, why don’t my party members give me gifts?  It’s only fair.

I know what you’re thinking now: “That is a lot of complaints for a game you claim to like.”  Maybe it is, but they are each in truth minor frustrations amongst a greater backdrop of greatness.  Things like:

the characters. I genuinely like all the characters so far.  So much so that my limit of 3 companions is genuinely troubling.  It is unfortunate that I have to build my party around specific roles in order to actually succeed at the game since, as a result, I don’t get much with other party members.

the dialogue and voice acting.  Despite a few rough accents, or lack thereof, the voice acting in DA: O is typically fantastic.  Veteran talent Tim Curry, Claudia Black, and Kate Mulgrew round out a cast of talented lesser known voice talent.  My favorites are probably Mark Hildreth (now on ABC’s V) as Sten and Barry Ellis as Shale (only available in the “Stone Prisoner” DLC).  Playing different combinations of companions also produces some pretty entertaining exchanges though I was most amused/disturbed by Ogrhen’s offer to bed the elderly Wynn.  In fact Shale plus any other companion is pretty awesome.  Though I do wish they had found away from bring back Kevin Michael Richardson (Saervok from BG/BG2/ToB) and though apparently Jim Cummings (Minsc) did some work for DA: O I can’t place where.  Also every time is “Gather your party and venture forth?” I mimic the voice from BG2 while reading it aloud.

the world.  Bioware has managed to craft a fascinating and detailed world with tons of lore and history that often exists outside the main game in your codex.   From the lyrium addicted magic police templars to the prayer sprouting chanters that hang around local temples Bioware has taken some traditional fantasy ideas into new and interesting ideas.  I am thoroughly excited for Green Ronin’s pen and paper Dragon Age RPG so that I can explore the world on my own terms and in a new way.

the combat.  While rumor is the PC version is slightly harder then the console version, thanks I’m told to the fact that enemies in the console version occur in waves, and occasionally frustrating I find the old school combat immensely satisfying.  Hell, even tactics from my BG2 days often work in the game…sometimes anyway.

Though I’m not yet done I am seriously enjoying my time with Dragon Age: Origins.  Despite what the atrocious marketing campaign may tell you it is not “the new shit” but rather very much old school in the best possible way.  If you’re a fan of Bioware, well you’re probably already playing it in that case, but if you aren’t well then get off your ass and give it a whirl.

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3 thoughts on “Dragon Age is Annoying*

  1. Zyrallus

    Excellent post. I can definitely relate to the ridiculously erratic difficulty changes. Some of those truly caused a fair amount of frustration. As for the complaint about chests, I believe the answer lies in offering rogue’s some epic utility that can’t be matched by warriors. In addition, it isn’t the useless loot you’re missing out on… it’s the constant influx of experience from opening each and every locked item. Probably a whole 2 or 3 levels during the course of my game came from opening chests.

    1. I can at least console myself with experience I’ve gained reading every note, book, and document in the game. Typically, when I have a huge problem, I turn to the forums for a strategy tip. About 50% of the time this works in my favor but typically only because I’m abusing minor problems with the AI. My biggest offense so far has been getting into a hard fight then reloading and casting AOE spells through walls.

      I’m still suffering from the lack of widely available poultices and components for said poultices. I left that off my list but in hindsight it probably deserved a mention.

  2. lee_terry

    I cant stand how difficult it is and i am playing on the easiest difficulty. The battles themselves are not difficult i have never died but the game itself is annoyingly difficult. the main reasons on why i say it difficult is that i keep missing quests since they do not always mark them (meaning they do not always show you where you can find them by putting an ! on the map) and now I am currently stuck in the woods because i cant find a talking tree. so when i try to go further it wont let me (turns me around) plus the running back/forth all of the time is lame. i would not mind having to go back/forth sometimes but this game just does it to much and with how slow you move it gets old. i miss the easy games like diablo where there was no thinking you just go down and explore everywhere before you go further and you will beat every quest.

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