A review writer for PC Gamer (who is doing the review for PC Gamer) has been dropping lines in Quarter to Three forum. I am compiling some quotes on the man who has DA:O OCD, it seems. Older comments first, newest comments at the bottom.
I haven't been following the news for this game very closely. Has there been any exposure to the Dragon Age editor? Is it more analogous to NWN, where it was easy enough to build your own adventure that we got a ton of user made content, or is it more like NWN2, which I understand was much harder to create custom adventures for? Has anyone here been exposed to it?
I've played with it, and the community members who have access to it seem to really like its power and versatility --- but it's not a tile-based game, like NWN, so the editor definitely has a learning curve to it. I hadn't previously used that sort of editor, and I found it pretty difficult to learn, largely because you can do a hell of a lot with it (for instance, you can basically make cinematics rivaling those THE MOVIES, with individually placed cameras, VO, animations, etc.) - and there's a lot of community tools, a wiki, and Bioware was working on additional tutorials, etc. That said, everyone I spoke to thought it was a huge improvement over NWN2's editor, mainly because it wasn't needlessly cumbersome and unintuitive.
I think this is one instance where the PC-version is clearly superior -- in the console versions you lose the top-down, BG-style perspective, which should be a show-stopper for most fans of those games. And the PC version obviously looks better as well, plus the editor, etc. It was designed for years as a PC game - the console versions are really after-the-fact ports.
Desslock, have you played the console versions at all? I'm curious because, while I'm sure the PC version will be the best choice, my options are console version or nothing. Does the console version have so many compromises that it isn't worth playing or is it good enough that I'll still have a decent, though inferior, experience?
I haven't played them, but they contain identical content, etc. -- the only substantive difference I'm aware of is that you're stuck with a more limited camera perspective in the console versions - there may be a few other UI tweaks.
It's a significant enough shortcoming that I'd definitely recommend the PC version over the console ones, but the top-down, higher perspective is very important to me since I like micromanaging the party-based combat. I'd suggest waiting for the console demo versions or video reviews and using them to inform your decision. Sorry that I don't have any hands-on experience with the console versions to offer direct perspective.
So exactly what version are we talking about here? Has Bioware been sending out final review code a week ago or more? I don't really see how they could otherwise post a competent review at this point.
Because of the delay for the console ports, the PC game has been ready for a long time - even if they've still been tweaking and cleaning up a few things.
FWIW, the reviewable build I've had for a few weeks is rock solid - in over 80 hours of play, it hasn't crashed once and is very polished. No issues whatsoever aside from a single journal entry that improperly recorded the resolution of a quest (the Conor quest, Bioware guys).
Are you reviewing this for someone? I thought you mentioned that but couldn't find it.
PC Gamer Mag.
If you've been looking for a party-based RPG with tough tactical combat, Dragon Age is definitely for you.
Which is not to say it's combat intensive - it's actually very dialogue heavy, and most fights feel like heavily designed, challenging, setpieces. The awarded "achievements" for keeping your character alive in combat are well-earned.
When i am playing a rpg, i focus more on story, characters, exploration, dialogue and general immersion feeling.
Should i play this game on easy?
Yes, probably -- try it on the default setting and go down if you find it too difficult (which has friendly fire, although that makes less of a difference than it would in NWN2 for instance). I think you can adjust it while playing, in case you get stuck or are just annoyed at replaying a battle, but I'll confirm that. I've stuck on "normal" and have spent a long time on some battles to develop better strategies (and, occasionally, relying on BG1-type kiting).
The Dragon Age class system has me a little confused though as to which route to take.
Classes are distinct - you can't turn a Mage into a fighter-mage, for instance. You'll have to opt for a fighter, rogue or mage - they all play very differently despite some overlap in powers. Skills can be chosen by any character, even though in other games you'd typically associate them with specific classes (like herbalism, for making potions; stealing; trapmaking -- those aren't confined to mages, rogues, etc. as you might intuitively expect).
Mages are also extremely powerful, but vulnerable, almost to the extent of the older editions of D&D. They're also very customizable - one mage will play very differently from another based upon the wide range of available spells (you can try to be a jack of all trades, but at high cost, since you could instead progress in the 4 ranks of spells to choose from in each specialization.
But mages are uber-dangerous, which also fits well with the background lore of the setting. While in most D&D games typically one of the easiest ways to blast through the storyline is to have a band of fighter types, that wouldn't work as well in Dragon Age, where combat is really tough without a mage's AOE damage and crowd control spells and healing (no clerics, so mages fill that role too).
In my primary playthrough, for most of the game I ended up using 2 mages, a warrior and a rogue (my main), which is a mix that I don't think I ever used in a D&D game.
One of the big differences in Dragon Age is that it's hard to just tank your way through battles, unlike in most (all?) D&D games. Mages are more powerful, but vulnerable, than they've been since early D&D.
Again with the binary decisions in a Bioware game. Good/bad, black/white, defend/attack, side A/side B.... always with the same shit. Or new shit.
Hey, as I mentioned in my review, BioWare games usually have 3 choices - good/bad/petulant teenager-nobody-ever-chooses-option.
While I definitely think that's a legitimate criticism (which I share) of past games, it's not true of Dragon Age generally, which does a better job of providing choices that seem varied and reasonably viable than almost any RPG. Dragon Age is a significant improvement in that respect. To be honest, it's the first BioWare game that (at least) matched the style of Troika/Obsidian, old Black Isle games in that respect - BioWare games have always had good stories and generally solid dialogue, but their method of storytelling has been simpler. There's an amazing amount of choice in Dragon Age.
Sure there are some quest instances where you have to elect to help, or not, but even when there's only two end results in those circumstances, there's different ways to arrive at those endings - the bottom line is, the choices just feel more "natural", less like you're gaming, and are more ambiguous and intriguing, so you're more likely to choose a personalized path based upon the character you're roleplaying instead of just "gaming" the result you think you want to have.
I hope for a *plausible* world and magic system. Nothing of that D&D crap.
I think you'll also like the way magic is handled in Dragon Age, then. Mages are fucking dangerous and treated as such. They're lobotomized, hunted down, forced into training, or executed.
People aren't using light spells to walk their dogs - the clergy have no magic (and are opposed to it, for possibly legitimate reasons) it's a relatively low magic setting. It's a testament to the quality of the writing that reactions seem alternately sensible and atrocious, but always plausible.
It's the way stuff like that is handled that makes Dragon Age the "mature" RPG that I really enjoy - not the animated puppet sex.
Is there a "good/evil meter" in Dragon Age? It's a small thing but I always find those kind of cheesy. I'd prefer some degree of uncertainty rather than knowing exactly how an NPC is going to react to me (unless you're one of those weirdos who goes 100% evil or 100% good in your choices).
You can tell what each companion thinks of you at at any time - i.e. there is a visible "meter", but it's personal to each NPC.
NPC influence is a timesink (and it's possible to "game" it through giving gifts) but a pretty rewarding one -- companions have a ton of dialogue, so you'll miss a lot unless you buddy up to them (and miss the romances, of course), but even then there's a lot of context specific dialogue, so you'll never hear it if they aren't in your party during the event -- or if another companion that they riff off of isn't also in the party at the time. They also have some decent personal quests, and the conversations that companions hold with each other while you're walking around are also substantive and relevant, far beyond the amusing little barks they'd have in BG, for instance.
But playing with different mixes of companions will be one of the biggest sources of replayability - they're all pretty interesting and different.
So what are the odds this will be fully playable at launch with a minimal of bugs?
I can't even imagine how difficult this game was to QA, given all the choices and variations, etc. -- crashed zero times in 121 hours, no bugs, one incorrect journal entry (which had no affect on gameplay). It's actually amazing that there weren't evident scripting errors. Actually maybe one incident I can think of where characters acted like you had knowledge of something that I hadn't actually scene. but very clean technically.
Only technical issue is that system requirements are pretty high, especially given the nature of the graphics. Unfortunately, given the protection labyrinth I had to go through to get a build, I was only able to install the game on one of my systems, so I only saw its performance on a high end machine (video card seems to be key). I previously played it on a mid-range card at BioWare for a preview and it was fine - it was a slideshow on a low-end card, however.
Yeah. This is where they should have focused their marketing efforts. A deep RPG with a thoughtful, interesting setting feels a whole lot more "mature" to me than the awkwardly edgy gorefest/dating game that we see in the trailers. I'm really not sure what they were thinking when they came up with that whole ad campaign.
I spent almost a whole page of the review (in a sidebar) on this exact point.
Nice to have 8 pages to work with, heh.
I never put spoilers in my reviews, FWIW.
There are definitely some goofy things in Dragon Age that the ad campaign foreshadowed -- the game is almost fetishistic with its use of blood splashing all over melee fighters (although it worked for John Boorman in Excalibur), and the animated puppet sex is among the silliest content I've seen in a RPG...the European developers do sex in RPGs better, not surprisingly - or at least they have more fun with it.
Last edited by Desslock; 10-07-2009 at 01:52 PM..
Game has a timestamp on the saved games.
Played all the Origins, a couple of which with differerent friends, and about 12 hours with alts (primarily one in which I let my wife make all the decisions, but I controlled for the combat, etc.) - the rest was with my main character. I definitely have an OCD style, and can never not complete any quests (although there was one in the Mage tower that I couldn't figure out so I moved on) -- you could do it faster if you skipped through dialogue quickly, or spent no time currying favor, or played the combat on easy, but it's a big game.