Dragon Age expansion doesn’t disappoint

Liz Bos

Liz Bos

I first heard about the game Dragon Age: Origins, an RPG produced by Bioware, shortly before its release in early November 2009, after the Penny Arcade webcomic did a series of comics based on the game. I subsequently decided to purchase the game when it was released and proceeded to play it for about a month straight. Origins was one of the best-reviewed games of 2009 and won multiple awards.

The game follows the story of the Grey Wardens saving their country of Ferelden from marauding evildoers. The player’s actions can be “good” or “evil” although there isn’t a real alignment system per se. Actions taken in the game affect the game’s epilogues and what happens after the game ends.

The game has a very well-developed backstory that is told through codexes that are collected throughout the game. In addition, two novels penned by Dragon Age’s head writer, David Gaider, explain some of the events that take place prior to the start of the game.

An expansion, Dragon Age: Awakening was released on March 16 and in some cases earned even better reviews than Origins did.

Dragon Age: Awakening picks up six months after the conclusion of Origins. Players can either import a character they played in Origins or create a new Grey Warden character from Ferelden’s neighboring country of Orlais. The story focuses on the player character’s efforts to rebuild the Grey Wardens in Ferelden and investigate strange occurrences in Amaranthine, an area located in the northeast part of Ferelden.

I really enjoyed playing Origins, so I was definitely looking forward to playing this game. However, I didn’t buy it right away because its purchase price of $40 seemed a little high for an expansion that was advertised as being 20 hours long, as compared to the original game which is about 60 hours long. Now that I’ve played the game, though, I do think it was worth the purchase price. This is Dragon Age, so there are a lot of things to discover and the expansion will definitely have replay value because I still need to play through it on my other good character as well as my evil character, who isn’t finished with the original game yet.

As for the game’s story, if you’ve read David Gaider’s Dragon Age novel The Calling, you’ll recognize some of the characters that appear (Hint: The Architect). The story seems just as well-developed as the rest of the Dragon Age universe. I was happy to see that the exploration aspect of the game was retained from Origins – you pretty much have to run around holding the tabProxy-Connection: keep-aliveCache-Control: max-age=0

ey continuously in order to avoid missing anything important.

Only one of the party members from Origins appears in Awakening, which disappointed me more than I thought it would. I spent the entire expansion wondering where Alistair was. One of the new party members, a mage named Anders, seems to be intended as an Alistair replacement, but nothing could replace my favorite, goofy Grey Warden.

I was also disappointed by the removal of the party camp and the modification of the party interaction system. In Origins, the party camp served as a place to hang out, have your weapons enchanted or chat with other party members while trying to become friends with them. In addition, you could talk to your party members at any time in other areas of the game to have conversations.

In Awakening, Vigil’s Keep serves as the party camp but it just didn’t feel the same. In addition, conversations with party members couldn’t be initiated unless I was in Vigil’s Keep or found one of the many conversation items scattered around Amaranthine. For instance, when I visited the city of Amaranthine without a certain party member with me, holding tab didn’t reveal anything useful in regards to conversation items. When I went back to Amaranthine with the party member with me, holding tab revealed a tree I could click to start a conversation with her. When you’re used to being able to just click on someone anywhere to talk to them, it’s a little frustrating.

There also aren’t any romances in Awakening, which makes the approval system a little moot. Not that there was anyone I would have wanted to have a romance with anyway, but it might frustrate players who liked Origins’s romances.

All in all, I really enjoyed playing this expansion. It had plenty of hilarious moments, as did Origins, and I eagerly anticipate further installments in the series.