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Hands-On With Dragon Age, The Console Version

Truly, this is the age of PC RPGs that seem to work pretty well on a gamepad.

EA and BioWare have been pushing their new Baldur's Gate-esque RPG Dragon Age: Origins pretty hard for the last year--on the PC, that is. It's no surprise they're leading with the PC version of the game, given the company's pedigree as a PC RPG developer. There's also the fact that the game lets you control multiple characters at the same time, each with a couple dozen different combat abilities assigned to multiple keys and icons on a talent bar. It's a lot to keep up with, even with a mouse and keyboard at your disposal.

Gamepad optional.
Given Dragon Age's complexity, I've been really curious how well the game will play on a console controller ever since BioWare announced the game will hit the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 at the same time as the PC game. At E3 this week, I got at least a tentative answer, since BioWare let me check out a brief demo of the 360 game.

I'll answer the big question first: How do you manage all those abilities and attacks on a gamepad? You can map three abilities to the face buttons (one each to X, Y, and B) and then a second set of three abilities, toggling between the two sets of three by holding a trigger. Like on the PC, you can pause the combat indefinitely to issue commands to all your party members, and doing this on the console version is how you get to all the rest of your abilities. So you'll have access to the full run of powers here that you'd also have on the PC, you just won't be able to use as many of them in real time without stopping the combat.

Movement also seems a little streamlined. On the PC, you can click to move your character, or you can use a WASD setup to move them around directly. On the consoles, direct character movement via the analog stick seems to be the only way to move. You can still pull the camera out to the old overhead top-down perspective on the console as well.

Based on my brief demo, it seems like Dragon Age is fully functional on the 360. My gut feeling is that you'll be best served playing the PC version if you have the option, but if you do all your gaming on a console, you can rest assured you won't be missing out on much--if anything, since BioWare is continuing to refine and test the console controls--by playing one of the console ports.
Brad Shoemaker on Google+
48 Comments
Posted by Brad
EA and BioWare have been pushing their new Baldur's Gate-esque RPG Dragon Age: Origins pretty hard for the last year--on the PC, that is. It's no surprise they're leading with the PC version of the game, given the company's pedigree as a PC RPG developer. There's also the fact that the game lets you control multiple characters at the same time, each with a couple dozen different combat abilities assigned to multiple keys and icons on a talent bar. It's a lot to keep up with, even with a mouse and keyboard at your disposal.

Gamepad optional.
Given Dragon Age's complexity, I've been really curious how well the game will play on a console controller ever since BioWare announced the game will hit the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 at the same time as the PC game. At E3 this week, I got at least a tentative answer, since BioWare let me check out a brief demo of the 360 game.

I'll answer the big question first: How do you manage all those abilities and attacks on a gamepad? You can map three abilities to the face buttons (one each to X, Y, and B) and then a second set of three abilities, toggling between the two sets of three by holding a trigger. Like on the PC, you can pause the combat indefinitely to issue commands to all your party members, and doing this on the console version is how you get to all the rest of your abilities. So you'll have access to the full run of powers here that you'd also have on the PC, you just won't be able to use as many of them in real time without stopping the combat.

Movement also seems a little streamlined. On the PC, you can click to move your character, or you can use a WASD setup to move them around directly. On the consoles, direct character movement via the analog stick seems to be the only way to move. You can still pull the camera out to the old overhead top-down perspective on the console as well.

Based on my brief demo, it seems like Dragon Age is fully functional on the 360. My gut feeling is that you'll be best served playing the PC version if you have the option, but if you do all your gaming on a console, you can rest assured you won't be missing out on much--if anything, since BioWare is continuing to refine and test the console controls--by playing one of the console ports.
Posted by cstrang

I have faith in Bioware.  They make pretty okay games.  I'm sure the interface will be friendly enough.

Posted by Aeterna

That's good to know for your 360-people out there. Usually it's "us" suffering from bad console ports. ;)

Posted by Diamond

I'm still really wary because of the crazy stuff Bioware has done in the process of development.

PC-only to PC & consoles.

Then the terrible recent trailers which seem to only want to lure in 14 year old boys.

I think this one might turn out to be a real disaster, but I've been wrong before.

Posted by Nick

Nice, I'll probably play this on the PC though, and then of course play Mass Effect on my XBOX since that's where my save from Mass Effect 1 is.

Posted by Beechbone

I'm not worried looking back at such games as Mass Effect or KotOR, they were both very deep console rpgs done without sacrificing anything. Even if Dragon Age is developed primarily for PC I think it will do just fine on consoles, and since my PC sucks, I'm buying 360 version on day one :)

Posted by Venatio

Im a console gamer and I really want Dragon Age so I hope that they can make it work great with a gamepad

Posted by Pepsicolaboy

Seriously though, how likely is it that this game wont be great?

......well im excited for it anyway :)

Posted by Zereta

You see, this is the greatest problem for me. I don't play PC games a lot because I just don't want to spend the money to get a computer that can run games smoothly. Thats why my Bioshock experience got fucked, I bought the PC version.


I was thinking of getting Dragon Age for the PCs but if its really still good on the 360, I'll probably have more fun on the consoles. But then, the PC is home to the Modding scene, which if L4D is any guide (Which is like the only PC game that runs decently on my com), Mods are awesome.

So, I'm stuck in a delima. Anyone care to help?
Posted by m_rum

Don't get me wrong. I love Bioware but ugh... every damn thing I see about this game is so off-putting. Everything from Marilyn Manson to overall visual outputting. Still cautiously looking forward to it.

Posted by FlamingHobo

Sounds good for people who are buying this for the 360, but I'll be getting it for the PC.

Posted by Puppy

The 360 controls will be perfect. Disregarding the directional pads, 360's controller is the best you can find. People always complain about console controls vs. keyboard but, to be honest, I feel a gamepad to be better suited to my playstyle.

Posted by Cloneslayer

Im glad, my PC couldnt run this, but I want to play it. I know it wont control as good as the PC version but Im not shoveling out the money to upgrade/buy a new computer.

Posted by mrbasehart

The controls were probably the thing I was most concerned about, as it seems Bioware are basically putting the Baldur's Gate's combat system onto a gamepad, and that seemed like that could be overly complicated.  I'm glad things seem to be looking good.

Posted by MordeaniisChaos

Looks like they have learned from Mass Effect. I think the system for choosing skills in that game were excellent given it was on a console.

Posted by MeatSim

Well as long as it's functional on 360 I am fine with it because there is no way my PC will run this game properly.

Posted by crusader8463

PC4LIFE BITCHES! ^_^

If i can i always get the PC version over the console one. Very few games look or play better on a console. I don't know how people can play games like FPS or strategy games with a controller. Each their own i guess. I have had this game pre-ordered for about a year now. cant wait.

Posted by ChickenPants

I shall be playing this on the PC.

Posted by Death_Unicorn

This s good, I am a console gamer so it is critical they can get the controls right.

Posted by Wintermute

Christ! Just let me plug a mouse and keyboard into my PS3. Is it that difficult to give me the option?

Posted by Zeouterlimits

360 version probably then. PC is "starting" to show it's age.

Posted by gimmysumcowbel
@Wintermute said:
"

Christ! Just let me plug a mouse and keyboard into my PS3. Is it that difficult to give me the option?

"
thats a good point.  why the hell can'y they do that?
Posted by TomA

Still going PC with this one, i always do if i have the option. Superior controls=superior graphics+superior multiplayer capabilities=PC>consple Although some games just dont work well on PC, such as sports, or racing games.

Posted by Diamond

Why are there always PC fanboys coming into a console threads telling us how they're getting the PC version which will be so much better?

Posted by mordukai

It sounds like a pc-centric game but I am sure Bioware won't give us console gamers a half baked control scheme. I think that maybe for this game Bioware can enable keyboard support for the console versions. I know some PS3 games already support it. 

Posted by GozerTC

Well unless there's a Mac version coming out (Which I doubt) I'll go 360.  I don't mind pausing combat, that's what both my wife and I liked about Mass Effect after all. ;)

Posted by Azrail
@Diamond said:
" Why are there always PC fanboys coming into a console threads telling us how they're getting the PC version which will be so much better? "
because in this case they know more about the specific game style and what you would need to be able to play the game

oh and cuz pc is better
lolumad
Posted by Floppypants

I'm sure that this game will be great for whatever platform you pick.

Posted by Otzlowe
@Diamond said:
" I'm still really wary because of the crazy stuff Bioware has done in the process of development.PC-only to PC & consoles.Then the terrible recent trailers which seem to only want to lure in 14 year old boys.I think this one might turn out to be a real disaster, but I've been wrong before. "

That's a pessimistic view. The new trailers have been great. The only one that has anything to complain about is Dragon Age, but people are only whining because they can put a name to the music.

I'm also pretty confident in saying that you will indeed be wrong on this one.
Posted by NickL

i really hope the console version is great, my crappy laptop i am bringing to college will not be able to handle this game

Posted by ElectricHaggis

My PC struggles with Neverwinter Nights, so this is the news I was hoping for.

Posted by MKHavoc

Well I have no choice but to play this on the 360, so this good news.

Posted by Kazona

I'll be getting this on PC but it's good to know that the console version isn't just some poorly executed port.

Posted by stinky

will buy it for the console, and without the comparison of me playing it on the PC, i'll never know what could have been and thus be happy.

PC game playing isn't really even an option for me.
Posted by crusnchill

It's good that it's on console's as well. But one of the things that'll help me decide (not the main thing though...) is gamerscore.

It's just cool to get that as well as the game, but if it comes down to it and its hindered by the control system on the Xbox 360, then definitely I'm going to get the pc version, regardless of whether it has gamerscore or not on that platform.

Posted by DukesT3

I'd build a PC for this game.

Posted by theMcNasty

w00t.  Can't wait for this release.

Posted by ImperiousRix

I'm a little weary of this game in general just because I can't see the combat being that engaging.
At the very least, I'm glad to hear as a console gamer, I'll be able to enjoy a comparable experience to the PC.  I'm just not sure I'll want to.

Posted by raidingkvatch

Hmm... I was thinking about updating my PC anyway, which means I probably would be able to play on PC, but I would be pausing anyway - too much to think about in real time. Plus I would get acheivements for 360, will probably get console version, but we'll see

Posted by Colonel_Fury

Its good to know they've got solid controls for the 360, since I'll be playing it on my 360.

Posted by InsanePotato
@raidingkvatch: Normally get achievements for PC version as well these days btw. It's how i got all my Fallout 3 achievements. They're connected systems now, long as the game uses Games for Windows - Live.
Posted by Azrail
@ImperiousRix said:
"

I'm a little weary of this game in general just because I can't see the combat being that engaging.
At the very least, I'm glad to hear as a console gamer, I'll be able to enjoy a comparable experience to the PC.  I'm just not sure I'll want to.

"
^ one of the reasons why all games are being dumbed down

and if u liked kotr it can be played liked that
or also with the traditional over the top view

Posted by ImperiousRix
@Azrail said:
"
@ImperiousRix said:
"

I'm a little weary of this game in general just because I can't see the combat being that engaging.
At the very least, I'm glad to hear as a console gamer, I'll be able to enjoy a comparable experience to the PC.  I'm just not sure I'll want to.

"
^ one of the reasons why all games are being dumbed down and if u liked kotr it can be played liked thator also with the traditional over the top view"

What reason?  I'm merely stating that the combat looks very similar to the way MMO's are set-up, complete with poor animation rendering in combat.  I'm intrigued by the story and choices involved with the typical Bioware game, but I won't slog through more mediocre game mechanics.
I never played KOTOR, but I was intrigued by its combat system, and the fact that the animation was so convincing that it made it look as if it were a real-time action game.
Posted by demonbear

My question here is, will it be like other games out there where you have to pay for DLC on consoles and on PC its free? Because if it is, i'll buy pc. Plus its already 10$ cheaper.

Posted by Media_Master

Elves are discriminated

Edited by raidingkvatch
@InsanePotato: in which case it's all up to when I update my pc's specs. Still massively looking forward to Dragon Age no matter what system I buy it for
Posted by Azrail

yeah game should be great on pc and console, my only problem with system development between pc and console is the generally dumbing down of games...

Posted by TekZero

I'm still surprised a "spiritual successor" to Baldur's Gate could ever be played on a console.  
 
I'm really tired of the dumbing down of PC games to satisfy the console crowd.  
 
I don't know about you, but some of the RPGs released recently feel smaller in size and scope than games released almost 10 years ago.