End Boss Month #20: Dragon Age: Origins

For a game called Dragon Age: Origins, the game has very few actual dragons in it. But when they show up, oh man do they present a problem. And no dragon poses a greater problem than the Archdemon Urthemiel, the game’s final boss.

Dragons have notoriously bad dentists.

Like other Bioware titles of a similar structure, the player spends the bulk of the game making preparations for the sake of this final moment. Forming a solid group of adventurers is just the first step; alliances must be forged, betrayals must be punished (or committed), and racial tensions must be overcome. Once all of the pieces are in play and the other worries have either been dealt with or forced aside, the Warden must lead her (male Wardens are for suckers) forces against the last remaining tides of Darkspawn and the Archdemon itself.

The Archdemon, being a dragon capable of flight, is kind of a pain to fight. I fully admit that I did not play this portion of the game on a particularly challenging difficulty; I played it on the easiest, in fact. After a frustrating evening trying to navigate the Fade, I said screw it and ratcheted the setting down to casual. (Aside: Whoever designed the Fade is a sadist.) Perhaps there’s more strategy involved on the higher difficulties, or at least a better strategy than the one I ended up adopting; running around like an idiot and trying not to die as my elven allies did most of the work for me.

Bows are awesome. Beyond that, I did what damage I could and quaffed an entire inventory of healing potions because I had somehow managed to get all the way to the end of the game without anyone capable of casting a freaking healing spell. What? Don’t look at me like that. It’s not my fault Wynne attacked me. I wasn’t even trying to pick a fight.

So, to summarize, elves, running, occasional stabbing, healing potions. All that was missing was whimsical calliope music to truly set the mood, or perhaps Yakety Sax. In other words, don’t come to me for good strategies on how to beat this game. I will either get you killed, or a role in a Benny Hill sketch.

Be that as it may, there are a surprising number of outcomes to this fight. When the time comes, you can either choose to deal the final blow to the Archdemon yourself, or leave that task for one of your Warden allies. Whoever deals the finishing blow dies, because being a Grey Warden sucks. That is of course, unless you either agree to have sex with Morrigan the night before (because you’re a guy Warden), or you sweet-talk Alistair into a night of awkward witch lovin’ because you’re a girl. (And also because seeing the uncomfortable look on Alistair’s face at the very idea is worth it.)

But once Morrigan is knocked up, she performs a ritual that allows all of the Wardens involved to get out of the final battle alive. And if you’re anything like me, you get a happy ending with Alistair as king, you as queen, and a willful desire to disregard Dragon Age II in its entirety.

35 Comments
36 Comments
Posted by Hailinel

For a game called Dragon Age: Origins, the game has very few actual dragons in it. But when they show up, oh man do they present a problem. And no dragon poses a greater problem than the Archdemon Urthemiel, the game’s final boss.

Dragons have notoriously bad dentists.

Like other Bioware titles of a similar structure, the player spends the bulk of the game making preparations for the sake of this final moment. Forming a solid group of adventurers is just the first step; alliances must be forged, betrayals must be punished (or committed), and racial tensions must be overcome. Once all of the pieces are in play and the other worries have either been dealt with or forced aside, the Warden must lead her (male Wardens are for suckers) forces against the last remaining tides of Darkspawn and the Archdemon itself.

The Archdemon, being a dragon capable of flight, is kind of a pain to fight. I fully admit that I did not play this portion of the game on a particularly challenging difficulty; I played it on the easiest, in fact. After a frustrating evening trying to navigate the Fade, I said screw it and ratcheted the setting down to casual. (Aside: Whoever designed the Fade is a sadist.) Perhaps there’s more strategy involved on the higher difficulties, or at least a better strategy than the one I ended up adopting; running around like an idiot and trying not to die as my elven allies did most of the work for me.

Bows are awesome. Beyond that, I did what damage I could and quaffed an entire inventory of healing potions because I had somehow managed to get all the way to the end of the game without anyone capable of casting a freaking healing spell. What? Don’t look at me like that. It’s not my fault Wynne attacked me. I wasn’t even trying to pick a fight.

So, to summarize, elves, running, occasional stabbing, healing potions. All that was missing was whimsical calliope music to truly set the mood, or perhaps Yakety Sax. In other words, don’t come to me for good strategies on how to beat this game. I will either get you killed, or a role in a Benny Hill sketch.

Be that as it may, there are a surprising number of outcomes to this fight. When the time comes, you can either choose to deal the final blow to the Archdemon yourself, or leave that task for one of your Warden allies. Whoever deals the finishing blow dies, because being a Grey Warden sucks. That is of course, unless you either agree to have sex with Morrigan the night before (because you’re a guy Warden), or you sweet-talk Alistair into a night of awkward witch lovin’ because you’re a girl. (And also because seeing the uncomfortable look on Alistair’s face at the very idea is worth it.)

But once Morrigan is knocked up, she performs a ritual that allows all of the Wardens involved to get out of the final battle alive. And if you’re anything like me, you get a happy ending with Alistair as king, you as queen, and a willful desire to disregard Dragon Age II in its entirety.

Online
Edited by Totori

Brood mother was harder. Also Shale is the best party member in any bioware game ever.

Edited by NegativeCero

Yeah, if I remember right, rogues may have been the worst classes to play in Origins. I just tanked the hell out of this by making my dude an Arcane Warrior Mage and setting every one of my buffs on. I never got the Alistair as king ending though. I messed up on one of his conversations I think. Amazing game that I may decide to replay one day just to do it on a PC.

Posted by SoldierG654342

I'll give the Archdemon credit for being the only boss I couldn't best be simply switching to my healer, throwing on cleansing aura, and just shotgunning Lyrium potions. I was hoping for something a little more impressive than just a dragon though. But then again, the game is called Dragon Age.

Edited by Roger778

Even playing on Easy mode, the end boss fight in Dragon Age Origins is the toughest battle I have ever done on my X-Box 360 (I'm not much of a PC Gamer). The dragon just refuses to die! But when you finally beat him, the game rewards you with a truly excellent finale to a great role-playing game. For the record, I never thought about sacrificing myself to the dragon. I chose to do the ritual with Morrigan, because I wanted to live.

Edited by _Zombie_

Archdemon wasn't too hard for me. Just go up to the ballista emplacements and shoot at him when he was on the off-the-stage platform, or in the center of the stage.

Edited by believer258

I need to beat this game. I think I'm just going to pick up the character that I'm halfway through it with, brush up on all the mechanics and story, and get around to beating it.

However, I do remember beating one dragon and after all of my party died I just ran back and forth, shooting him with the basic mage spell over and over. It took for-fucking-ever, but I did eventually down him by myself.

Posted by Demoskinos

Ah Dragon Age:Orgins.... I've played this game more times that I can count. I have all of the PS3 trophies for it and the majority of 360 achievements. Unlike OP however I did enjoy Dragon Age 2. The Archdemon is a pushover though compared to The Harvester. I remember wiping over end over trying to beat the Harvester on hard for the trophy.

Edited by AndrewB

He's not so bad. Naked Loghain beat him down, and then immediately went on to killing more Darkspawn with his bare fists.

Yeah, my original Archdemon strategy worked the best. Basically, just save all your bow-wielding allies for this fight, and they pummel him a lot better than any of the melee options (because as you said, the Archdemon being capable of moving around annoyingly, which is offset by you not having to move around to attack him). Even better if you or someone in your party is also good with ranged weapons. Then it's much like any other dragon fight: keep a melee fighting soaking up damage, a healer to heal him (or potions, if you lost Wynne, you bastard, and also didn't go down a healing path with Morrigan), and whatever else you have constantly pummeling him. Leave the Darkspawn to your expendable armies as much as possible. And use those big Ballistae when the game sets you up to do so.

Posted by EquitasInvictus

Oh yeah! The Fade got pretty crazy; I think the fade left me a lot more frustrated than the final boss did, actually!

This reminded me of how much I loved Dragon Age: Origins and its expansion. Really sad that DA2 didn't necessarily keep up how great its predecessors were, though.

Posted by Hailinel

@NegativeCero said:

Yeah, if I remember right, rogues may have been the worst classes to play in Origins. I just tanked the hell out of this by making my dude an Arcane Warrior Mage and setting every one of my buffs on. I never got the Alistair as king ending though. I messed up on one of his conversations I think. Amazing game that I may decide to replay one day just to do it on a PC.

It was actually fortunate I was playing a rogue on the playthrough I described. I totally missed getting Leliana, and so my Warden was the only rogue in my party for a large chunk of the game. As for getting the Alistair as king ending, I'm not sure what specifically needs to be done to get him to be king, other than that was the dialogue choice I selected during one part of the Landsmeet confrontation.

@AndrewB said:

He's not so bad. Naked Loghain beat him down, and then immediately went on to killing more Darkspawn with his bare fists.

Yeah, my original Archdemon strategy worked the best. Basically, just save all your bow-wielding allies for this fight, and they pummel him a lot better than any of the melee options (because as you said, the Archdemon being capable of moving around annoyingly, which is offset by you not having to move around to attack him). Even better if you or someone in your party is also good with ranged weapons. Then it's much like any other dragon fight: keep a melee fighting soaking up damage, a healer to heal him (or potions, if you lost Wynne, you bastard, and also didn't go down a healing path with Morrigan), and whatever else you have constantly pummeling him. Leave the Darkspawn to your expendable armies as much as possible. And use those big Ballistae when the game sets you up to do so.

Oh my goodness, Loghain stays in shape. The Darkspawn don't stand a chance!

I wish I had the forethought to use a strategy like that in fighting the Archdemon, but it really just turned into a clusterfuck for me. No healer and I couldn't figure out the best time to use the ballistae. My only real advantage was that I had managed to win over the elves and thus had their archers.

And Wynne attacked me! I am innocent (in so far as the murder was not cold-blooded).

Online
Posted by Hunter5024

Male wardens are for suckers. If you're a female warden who is with Alistair, there's basically no way the outcome of that fight won't be depressing to you.

Posted by L44

I got more frustrated in the Fade because I got stuck in geomoetry and hadn't saved in a couple of hours.

@SoldierG654342 said:

I'll give the Archdemon credit for being the only boss I couldn't best be simply switching to my healer, throwing on cleansing aura, and just shotgunning Lyrium potions.

Pretty much me.

Online
Edited by Encephalon

Female Human Mage Warden is the One True Warden.

SOLONA AMELL!!!

Posted by Irvandus

I was hoping for Brood Mother.

Online
Edited by AndrewB

@Hailinel: Yeah, I have to admit that I more stumbled upon the strategy after fighting other dragons, and noticing how effective bows end up being as a constant, if light, damage dealer against the beasts that are either constantly moving around or stuck in one place where they can't get to you. The problem in the Archdemon fight is that the Elves are great against the dragon itself, but get picked apart by the constantly spawning... Darkspawn.

As long as we're talking about depressing female Warden/ Alistair endings, it was really kind of a bitch learning afterward that being a dick to Alistair at that one point where he confronts his sister is a good thing. It's the only way to end with a somewhat happy ending. As it was, my newly single, depressed warden committed suicide by sacrificing herself to the Archdemon. Then apparently came back to life afterward so she could return for Awakening.

PS: how did so many people miss Lelianna? Then you could have killed Lelianna and Wynne at the same time.

Edited by JoshC

I thought the Harvester in the dlc was probably the hardest boss, I had a male two handed sword warden, I guess this and the lack of a healer for that boss fight is why it was so hard. Wiped so many times near the end I just swallowed my pride and put the game back to normal.

For the Archdemon I tanked, Morrigan and Wynne casting and Leliana firing arrows constantly and all the free soldiers were being called in whenever I could.

Posted by InfiniteGeass

I liked DA2 more than Origins. Just saying.

Posted by Brodehouse

The answer is to make Alistair marry Anora, then recruit Loghain!

@InfiniteGeass: I like the characters and how they interact with each other more in DA2. I like the way it looks more than Origins, it looks crisp rather than brown and flat. But Origins had more environments and more details in them.

I liked the combat more than the Origins combat, though it's a little too fast and squirrelly, you can't really plan anything because dudes move too fast for it to matter. I hope DA3 combat is a nice mix of the action in DA2 and the strategy in Origins.

Origins had better stories than DA2. DA2 feels like wandering until something happens, Origins felt like you were doing a specific thing anywhere you went. DA2 only has that sense of urgency or drive in a couple quests. Probably because you spend most of your time in the hub world running around instead of going from one thing to the next like Origins.

Posted by WarlordPayne

I just finished my first playthrough of DA2 and I loved that game. Going into it with the major negatives in mind, and getting it for cheap, you can appreciate it for what it is rather than weighing it against expectations from the first game.

DA2 also managed to get me interested in the Dragon Age universe in ways that the first didn't. Origins was a great game so I was obviously interested in more games from that series because they would probably be good. After DA2 I am genuinely interested in where the story is going to go and very excited to get my hands on DA3 to see how things play out.

If you really enjoyed DA:O and you can get DA2 for cheap I would seriously recommend giving that game a shot.

Posted by SexualBubblegumX

I remember the Arch Demon, he goes down rather easily if your party is balanced well. Two Warriors, One Rogue with a Bow and a Mage to heal you and be patient. You're right though, have those elves pelt him with arrows, pelt him hard.

Posted by FLStyle

I would be inclined to agree about DA2 not being too bad, if it wasn't for the fact that DAO is one of my favourite games of all time.

You'll notice my avatar is of my DAO Arcane Warrior Mage.

Posted by Yummylee

The Arch Demon was such a bastard. But then if you just use the ballistae, preferably with a rogue close-by to have a better chance of keeping it repaired, then it was all gravy. Also I remember having a mage spam the ultimate elemental spells when it flys into another platform to help exponentially, too.

I remember I'd always save my dwarves (and possibly golems, depending on my playthrough) for this encounter to keep the darkspawn mobs at bay. It was an epic encounter regardless, but the actual design of the battle wasn't very good.

Posted by Marino

@Hailinel: Movin' on up...to the front page.

Staff
Posted by Karkarov

I don't know this particular dragon seemed laughably easy to kill. I never had trouble beating him down like a little pansy.

Now that Dragon's Dogma Dragon.... that is how a Dragon boss fight should be!

Posted by Demoskinos

@SexualBubblegumX said:

I remember the Arch Demon, he goes down rather easily if your party is balanced well. Two Warriors, One Rogue with a Bow and a Mage to heal you and be patient. You're right though, have those elves pelt him with arrows, pelt him hard.

That was usually my setup as well. The Rogue is godly powerful if you build them right... doubly so in the expansions since they added all sorts of crazy new skills like being able to summon shadow clones. I've always wanted to see if doing a solo run was possible.

Posted by SexualBubblegumX

@Demoskinos said:

@SexualBubblegumX said:

I remember the Arch Demon, he goes down rather easily if your party is balanced well. Two Warriors, One Rogue with a Bow and a Mage to heal you and be patient. You're right though, have those elves pelt him with arrows, pelt him hard.

That was usually my setup as well. The Rogue is godly powerful if you build them right... doubly so in the expansions since they added all sorts of crazy new skills like being able to summon shadow clones. I've always wanted to see if doing a solo run was possible.

I never tried the shadow clones on a rogue, Usually I mix ranger and bard and have them be a support role.

Posted by MarkWahlberg

I never understand the intense hate the Fade gets (or the hate Morrigan gets, but that's another story). On second or third playthroughs, sure, I could see how that would be aggravating, but the first time it wasn't that big a deal.

I think my end-game strategy ended up relying on keeping all the players constantly on the move, because by the end of the fight most of the supporting army had died. Lyrium was more important than health potions at that point because I was relying on Morrigan and Wynne to hold everything together, because A) healing and B) long range powerful attacks. The critical factor was keeping Wynne alive because she could bring back whoever had fallen. But yeah, that end boss was a real fucking challenge.

Thinking about DA:O just makes me wish there were more games like it. They're probably a pain in the ass to make, but still it was possibly the one game I had the most consistently enjoyable experience with in the past several years.

@NegativeCero said:

Yeah, if I remember right, rogues may have been the worst classes to play in Origins.

I would disagree with that, actually, so long as you don't go for the archery skill tree. And especially once you get the perk that lets you use two actual swords at once, you can wreck shit pretty hard if you play it right. Besides, being a sneaky dwarf is the best.

Posted by Hailinel

@Marino said:

@Hailinel: Movin' on up...to the front page.

Thanks!

@MarkWahlberg said:

I never understand the intense hate the Fade gets (or the hate Morrigan gets, but that's another story). On second or third playthroughs, sure, I could see how that would be aggravating, but the first time it wasn't that big a deal.

I think my end-game strategy ended up relying on keeping all the players constantly on the move, because by the end of the fight most of the supporting army had died. Lyrium was more important than health potions at that point because I was relying on Morrigan and Wynne to hold everything together, because A) healing and B) long range powerful attacks. The critical factor was keeping Wynne alive because she could bring back whoever had fallen. But yeah, that end boss was a real fucking challenge.

Thinking about DA:O just makes me wish there were more games like it. They're probably a pain in the ass to make, but still it was possibly the one game I had the most consistently enjoyable experience with in the past several years.

@NegativeCero said:

Yeah, if I remember right, rogues may have been the worst classes to play in Origins.

I would disagree with that, actually, so long as you don't go for the archery skill tree. And especially once you get the perk that lets you use two actual swords at once, you can wreck shit pretty hard if you play it right. Besides, being a sneaky dwarf is the best.

For me, the Fade was just far, far too long and was simply not fun, nor really entertaining in any other sense. The shift in focus from party-based combat to a strange labyrinth puzzle wasn't done particularly well, and all I wanted the entire time I was in the Fade was to get back out of it.

And I would love it if there were more games like DA:O. It's just a shame that Bioware doesn't seem to have the desire to make them anymore.

Online
Posted by Grimmy616

My experience with this boss was nothing short of awesome. I had my strategy planned out but 2 minutes into the fight that plan went straight into the toilet. I was just trying to survive but one by one my party members started to die. It went especially bad once my healer was down. Last two were Alistair and my character. Dragon only had a little bit of health left and Alistair went down. So I hauled ass used up all my health and got the killing blow. Was a really "Fuck Yeah!" moment for me. Felt pretty great.

Posted by P_Pigly_Hogswine

Really? I thought he was ridiculously easy. My first attempt I was annihilated when I tried to take him head on but then I realised you can simply call in reinforcements to handle the smaller enemies while you just keep shooting the ballistas at him. If anything I thought it was a huge anti-climax. As others have said Brood Mother was a better boss, and Flemeth's Dragon form was much harder than the Archdemon.

Posted by murse2008

@Totori: I would say that goes to Minsc.

Posted by Totori
@murse2008 said:

@Totori: I would say that goes to Minsc.

who?
Posted by Red

I actually didn't think the Archdemon was that tough of a boss. Maybe because I had formulated my draconic strategy fighting the High Dragon and Flemeth, but I didn't die once while fighting the archdemon. Just have a warrior get in close, and everyone else trying to do ranged damage, with a mage healing. Considering my first run through was an elvish rogue unspecced in bows, I would just run around and fight the surrounding darkspawn. It was a fine final boss battle, it just wasn't quite as tough as some of the other fights in the game.

Posted by Yummylee

@Red: The hardest boss battle easily goes to Ser Cauthrien when she ambushes you after saving Anora. The only way I was able to win was by playing as the hilariously over-powered arcane warrior. I was more or less invincible (which allowed me to role without wearing my helmet) as I took on everything while the rest of my party lay dead. I didn't even think she could be beaten and that I was going to break the game by doing so.

Posted by Demoskinos
@Yummylee Wow you can win that? Shit. I think I may have a new goal now. I've done just about everything else you could possibly do in the game. Will give me a reason to keep on with my 360 playthrough.