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Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening: Hands-On

Bioware never wants you to go outside again.

The first thing to know about the upcoming content for Dragon Age: Origins is that it is a full-blown expansion for the game. This isn't some extra dungeon, or merely a new set of armor, but a significant chunk of content that promises to justify its $39.99 price tag.
 
The expansion picks up after the final events of Origins, in which your character defeated the Archdemon and stopped the Darkspawn from overrunning the world in a full-blown Blight. For reasons that I'm sure will become clearer throughout Awakening, the Darkspawn are still hanging around, causing all sorts of trouble for the Grey Wardens, the ordained destroyers of all things dark and spawning. So, a mere few months after the events of the first game, you are charged with rebuilding the Grey Wardens and further investigating these troubling developments.

More Dragon Age? I'll drink to that...what's in this?
Since we're talking about a Bioware game, I don't feel too guilty in revealing that events may have occurred, and choices may have been made, that would make things difficult for your character to make a triumphant return to action in this expansion. Well, forget all that! If you have an indisposed character at the end of Dragon Age: Origins, you'll be able to bring him or her into Awakening via a bit of historical rewriting. Upon importing your character, you may find previous events did not occur the same way you remember, and certain choices have been made for you. This seems like an understandable concession, considering the circumstances, but retconning my previous choices definitely stings a bit.

If you'd like to let your choices stand, you will be given the option to start a new character. You'll take on the role of an Orlesian Grey Warden, who has come to Ferelden (aka Blight Central) to oversee the rebuilding of the Wardens. For those Dragon Age historians out there, you'll remember that not too long ago, Orlais was an occupying force in Ferelden, and the locals are none too happy about welcoming former invaders back onto Ferelden soil. This will, obviously, cause some interesting interactions as you make your way through a land that, for all intents and purposes, wants nothing to do with you.
 

 Meet the part of the game I finally died on during our demo.

 The same writing team from Dragon Age: Origins is back, so you can expect more sharp dialogue and characters that go beyond the typical fantasy archetypes. Though many of your party members from the original game won't be joining you on this adventure, Bioware has promised to flesh out Awakening with characters just as dynamic. I briefly got to see Velanna, the Dalish mage with a huge chip on her shoulder about that whole "humans enslaving my Eleven brethen" thing. There was also Anders, who initially seemed like the apostate mage version of an even snarkier Alistair. Finally, I was joined by Sigrun, a female Dwarf rogue who is a member of the Legion of the Dead. I'm excited to see more being done with The Legion of the Dead, as they are an interesting part of the Dragon Age fiction, but only briefly touched upon in Origins.

Make sure you play nicely with The Children.
The Wardens won't be the only ones gathering new forces in Awakening, though. Something is definitely amiss in Darkspawn HQ, with some freakish new creatures lurking in the depths beyond the Dwarven city of Orzammar. In the brief time I had with the game, I encountered The Children milling about in the Deep Roads. These things are foul. Do you remember how nasty the Broodmother was in Origins? Consider her a beauty queen when imaging the grotesque nature of The Children. They appear to evolve in stages, and I mostly encountered forms akin to slimy grubs, but with faces. Nobody wants to see that, especially when they are overpowering you and eating your head. A bit less creepy, but equally intriguing, are the sentient Darkspawn. The last thing the world needs are Darkspawn questioning their own existence, especially when the answers to those questions usually involve more efficient ways to kill you. If you've kept up with some of the Dragon Age fiction in the books, you'll already be familiar with the Architect, the thinking man's Darkspawn, and he'll definitely be playing a role in Awakening, though what that role is remains to be discovered.

With the world descending back into chaos, it's a good thing Bioware has raised the level cap and given you a host of new abilities and talents to use in your fight. Each class appears to have gained two new specializations, which will add plenty of new abilities ready to eat up those hard-earned talent points. In fact, I'm told there will be 50 new abilities across all the classes, and from what I saw it looked like that roughly translated into one new row per block of abilities. Of course, you'll also get plenty of new loot. I saw some snazzy new armor during the bit I played, which should please the image-conscious adventurer in all of us. Along with looking sharp, you'll be able to add runes to your armor as well as your weapons this time around. Did I mention that you'll be able to manage your runes yourself this time? No more heading over to Bodann and his...touched son for your enchantments. Enchantments? Ugh.


 The Darkspawn have come a long way since your last encounter.
 
There's certainly a lot going on in Awakening, and every answer I received opened up two more questions. Bioware is -- understandably -- keeping a lid on many of the story elements in the game, but the team promises that they have been working long and hard to make sure that this is every bit as engaging as your first visit to the world of Dragon Age. If you want to make make someone working on Dragon Age sigh, ask them how long it will take to complete their game. Considering I've heard playthrough times ranging from 18-80 hours for the original game, I understand why. For its $39.99 price tag, there's an expectation of content that Bioware appears to understand, and I'm looking forward to diving back into their universe when Awakening is simultaneously released on March 16 across the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. Vinny Caravella on Google+
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Posted by Vinny

The first thing to know about the upcoming content for Dragon Age: Origins is that it is a full-blown expansion for the game. This isn't some extra dungeon, or merely a new set of armor, but a significant chunk of content that promises to justify its $39.99 price tag.
 
The expansion picks up after the final events of Origins, in which your character defeated the Archdemon and stopped the Darkspawn from overrunning the world in a full-blown Blight. For reasons that I'm sure will become clearer throughout Awakening, the Darkspawn are still hanging around, causing all sorts of trouble for the Grey Wardens, the ordained destroyers of all things dark and spawning. So, a mere few months after the events of the first game, you are charged with rebuilding the Grey Wardens and further investigating these troubling developments.

More Dragon Age? I'll drink to that...what's in this?
Since we're talking about a Bioware game, I don't feel too guilty in revealing that events may have occurred, and choices may have been made, that would make things difficult for your character to make a triumphant return to action in this expansion. Well, forget all that! If you have an indisposed character at the end of Dragon Age: Origins, you'll be able to bring him or her into Awakening via a bit of historical rewriting. Upon importing your character, you may find previous events did not occur the same way you remember, and certain choices have been made for you. This seems like an understandable concession, considering the circumstances, but retconning my previous choices definitely stings a bit.

If you'd like to let your choices stand, you will be given the option to start a new character. You'll take on the role of an Orlesian Grey Warden, who has come to Ferelden (aka Blight Central) to oversee the rebuilding of the Wardens. For those Dragon Age historians out there, you'll remember that not too long ago, Orlais was an occupying force in Ferelden, and the locals are none too happy about welcoming former invaders back onto Ferelden soil. This will, obviously, cause some interesting interactions as you make your way through a land that, for all intents and purposes, wants nothing to do with you.
 

 Meet the part of the game I finally died on during our demo.

 The same writing team from Dragon Age: Origins is back, so you can expect more sharp dialogue and characters that go beyond the typical fantasy archetypes. Though many of your party members from the original game won't be joining you on this adventure, Bioware has promised to flesh out Awakening with characters just as dynamic. I briefly got to see Velanna, the Dalish mage with a huge chip on her shoulder about that whole "humans enslaving my Eleven brethen" thing. There was also Anders, who initially seemed like the apostate mage version of an even snarkier Alistair. Finally, I was joined by Sigrun, a female Dwarf rogue who is a member of the Legion of the Dead. I'm excited to see more being done with The Legion of the Dead, as they are an interesting part of the Dragon Age fiction, but only briefly touched upon in Origins.

Make sure you play nicely with The Children.
The Wardens won't be the only ones gathering new forces in Awakening, though. Something is definitely amiss in Darkspawn HQ, with some freakish new creatures lurking in the depths beyond the Dwarven city of Orzammar. In the brief time I had with the game, I encountered The Children milling about in the Deep Roads. These things are foul. Do you remember how nasty the Broodmother was in Origins? Consider her a beauty queen when imaging the grotesque nature of The Children. They appear to evolve in stages, and I mostly encountered forms akin to slimy grubs, but with faces. Nobody wants to see that, especially when they are overpowering you and eating your head. A bit less creepy, but equally intriguing, are the sentient Darkspawn. The last thing the world needs are Darkspawn questioning their own existence, especially when the answers to those questions usually involve more efficient ways to kill you. If you've kept up with some of the Dragon Age fiction in the books, you'll already be familiar with the Architect, the thinking man's Darkspawn, and he'll definitely be playing a role in Awakening, though what that role is remains to be discovered.

With the world descending back into chaos, it's a good thing Bioware has raised the level cap and given you a host of new abilities and talents to use in your fight. Each class appears to have gained two new specializations, which will add plenty of new abilities ready to eat up those hard-earned talent points. In fact, I'm told there will be 50 new abilities across all the classes, and from what I saw it looked like that roughly translated into one new row per block of abilities. Of course, you'll also get plenty of new loot. I saw some snazzy new armor during the bit I played, which should please the image-conscious adventurer in all of us. Along with looking sharp, you'll be able to add runes to your armor as well as your weapons this time around. Did I mention that you'll be able to manage your runes yourself this time? No more heading over to Bodann and his...touched son for your enchantments. Enchantments? Ugh.


 The Darkspawn have come a long way since your last encounter.
 
There's certainly a lot going on in Awakening, and every answer I received opened up two more questions. Bioware is -- understandably -- keeping a lid on many of the story elements in the game, but the team promises that they have been working long and hard to make sure that this is every bit as engaging as your first visit to the world of Dragon Age. If you want to make make someone working on Dragon Age sigh, ask them how long it will take to complete their game. Considering I've heard playthrough times ranging from 18-80 hours for the original game, I understand why. For its $39.99 price tag, there's an expectation of content that Bioware appears to understand, and I'm looking forward to diving back into their universe when Awakening is simultaneously released on March 16 across the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.
Posted by Fei

Pumped! I'm so damned pumped! Great article!

Posted by Fleatron

Wew!

Posted by MrRedwine

Will there be something of this level for ME2?  Man, I hope so.

Edited by AndrewB

If there's one annoying thing about more recent Bioware RPG it's that they spend so much time building player-character relationships only to completely cut half or all of them out for the next game and start you all over again. They'd better have Alistair around for more than a few scenes, because he's pretty integral to the plot of rebuilding the Grey Wardens. Of course, that'll also depend on how your game ended.

Posted by wafflestomp

Can't wait!

Moderator
Posted by MarkWahlberg

I haven't even started what appears to be a long-ass game, and already they're putting out more freakin content.

Posted by natetodamax

Oh come on Vinny, Sandal is a fun character!

Posted by Anathem

Enchantments?
...
Enchantments!

Posted by Vendetta

I can't fucking wait.

Posted by Designer0

the age of dragons is over, give me more mass effect now!

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

Damn it, I was prepared to cuss this out for the steep price.  While I still think it's awfully expensive, I have no doubt I'll pick it up eventually.
Moderator
Posted by TripMasterMunky

I don't have enough time to play through DA, the expansion, while also replaying through ME2. Bioware must stop! They're too good!

Posted by MrJared

ENCHANTMENT!

Posted by trophyhunter

I want it now

Posted by Nev

Awesome article. Looking forward to the expansion.

Posted by Death_Unicorn
@Anathem said:
" Enchantments? ... Enchantments! "
Posted by Arubiano420

I am now officialy paying Bioware to be their b***h

Posted by S0ndor

I will play the shit out of this game.

Posted by ajamafalous

Vinny article!

Online
Posted by HaltIamReptar

Fuck you, Bioware.  I wanted that forty dollars and forty hours really bad, but you wanted it more, didn't you?  Fuck.

Posted by armaan8014

Ive still got to play the first .

Posted by Jadeskye
@MrRedwine: that would be cool but i think the only expansion that ever released on xbox live is the oblivion one.
Posted by Scarlet_Rogue

 

Posted by Fallen189

Do you need the original to play this? I gave it to my brother.

Posted by rohanspear345

meh i really liked dragon age as a tie over until ME2 but im not really pumped about this for some reason.

Posted by Yummylee

Freakin sweet. Most of my hype since the beginning of february has been for new content of games already alreased. Lost In Nightmares, uncharted 2 multiplayer DLC and Awakening. Its length is around 15 hours so they say, though I know it won't be hard for me to turn that into at least 30 hours. 8)
Posted by FrostyHerpiez

Man  i cant wait for this... i really hope that this expansion is a good sized game and not something that i can beat in one sitting

Posted by Claude

Will it have the DLC for free if you didn't buy it when it was available? That would be cool. Kind of like Knights of the Nine for Oblivion.

Posted by Swaboo
 UGH
Posted by JoelTGM

Alright, a proper expansion pack!

Posted by ioannisdenton

ENCHANTMENT!!!!

Posted by CoIin

2.8 – Will Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening be available through Digital Download? Will it be on Steam again?

Yes, Awakening will be available on Steam and via other digital download services. It is also available for download for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. In Europe and other PAL video/game region countries, the PS3 version is only available as a download.

 That quote is from the official website. In case you were wondering, like I was.
Posted by Yummylee
@Swaboo said:
"
UGH
"

You can see the killer instinct in his eyes!
Posted by ArbitraryWater

Sounds good to me. More Dragon Age can't be a bad thing, especially if I get to import my character. Only problem: How am I going to get the money...?

Posted by Ubiquitous

Wooo more Dragon Age!! Wooo an actuall expansion and not some crap DLC!!!

Yes please Bioware. Thank you ma'am.

Posted by xyzygy

Let's hope the story is more interesting and original than how they did Origins.

Posted by Animasta

I still haven't finished the first game yet D:

Posted by Tennmuerti

This might be my shallowest purchase decision ever, but if they put in some decent looking mage outfits and hats WILL BUY

Posted by Gabriel

All right yes, wait a minute March 16 oh no!!!!! 
 
 

Posted by Yodasdarkside

Looking forward to it, but as I have the PS3 version (1 trophy away from platinum) I'm not getting my hope sup for a March 16 release date; Return to Ostagar hasn't even come out yet!
Posted by RickettyCricket

Yes! Looking forward to more DA!

Posted by DirtyEagles

asweet

Posted by Vaile

I'm still convinced Bodahn's son could have kiiled the Archdemon himself. You saw the bodies.

Posted by crusader8463

I will just make a new character for this expansion. Unlike the Mass Effect games where i felt a stronger connection to my Shepard, i never felt connected to any of the four to five characters i beat the game with in Dragon Age. I think it was because with Dragon Age your character is just a silent protagonist, so i never felt like my choices effected my character in any way because he/she just always kind of stood there, and maybe nodded here and there or grimaced from time to time.

Posted by sickVisionz

This sounds great.  I like that they've already added two mages to the cast.  All I need is one more or for Wynne or Morrigan (she seems unlikely) to come back and I can tryout my dream team of 4 Arcane Warrior blends.  New specializations and skills sounds great as well.

Edited by Jayross

If there are 80 hours worth of content in Origins, then is it safe to assume that there will be ~52 hours in this expanison?
 
(Origins is $60, $40 is 65% of $60. So 65% of 80 is 52 hours.)
 
EDIT: Oh, no it would be safe to assume that there is NOT 52 hours of stuff in the expansion. I would be surprised if we saw a more-than 10 hour story line.

Posted by Cornman89

Hey, I'm down for some more Dragon Age.

Posted by trophyhunter
@Jayross said:
" If there are 80 hours worth of content in Origins, then is it safe to assume that there will be ~52 hours in this expanison?  (Origins is $60, $40 is 65% of $60. So 65% of 80 is 52 hours.)  EDIT: Oh, no it would be safe to assume that there is NOT 52 hours of stuff in the expansion. I would be surprised if we saw a more-than 10 hour story line. "
I bet there will be 15 to 20 hours
Posted by Milkman

Stoked!

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