Selecting a Character
Normally, I title a post “First Impressions” and get out all of the “oh man, I’m playing [this game]” thoughts. Then I’ll make another post to record my thoughts once the excitement has leveled and I’ve figured things out. From there, I’ll make a few posts on specific game mechanics. And I close it all out with a finale post.
That’s normally. But kicking off a first-impressions post for DA: O is a little different because the number of options is pretty intimidating at the start. You have the choices of: male or female; elf, dwarf, or human; mage, warrior, or rogue; specialization classes; which skill trees to advance; which attribute points to increase; which henchmen to side with; etc.
Fundamentally, this is one of the largest problems in RPGs in general — not that there are so many choices (that’s great), but that so many come before you’ve even set foot in the world and understand the challenges. Should you take persuasion points or are there not enough situations to warrant it? Should you focus on one two-handed weapon or is there a great weapon-and-shield combo in the game? Should you play as a warrior, or are most of the available henchmen warriors, and rogues are hard to come by? Many will say that it really doesn’t matter, that you can play through the game regardless of your choice — but there are definitely set-ups that make the game easier or more difficult.
So what did I decide? I started out making a male, elven mage. I usually play warriors on the first go-around, so I liked the idea of shaking things up and going for the spell-caster. And I chose to play an elf because they’re the dirty, second-class citizens of the Dragon Age world and I thought that might add to the challenge.
Speaking of challenge, I read the description for the difficulty levels and it seemed like the primary difference between them related to “friendly fire”. Although you can’t trust the AI controlling your henchmen, and although you can’t control them as easily with a controller as you can with a keyboard-and-mouse, I decided to gamble that friendly fire won’t be a huge issue (famous last words?) and set the difficulty to “nightmare”. Then I read that monsters do much more damage on nightmare difficulty, and the setting also manipulates their AI level. In other words, I’m probably in for quite the challenge.
So far, I’ve only played for about an hour-and-a-half or so. I created my character, I read a lot of codex entries and tried to get used to the controls, I passed “the Harrowing” (a maturity ritual to separate apprentices from mages), and then I wandered around a keep collecting books and XP.
Now, I have the job of escorting a Grey Warden named Duncan back to his room. Side note, I played through a few of the origin stories back when I worked at BioWare. I have a fuzzy memory of the keep I’m now in catching on fire and being invaded by enemy troops. From there, I’ll beat them all up, get a dog, and then leave the keep with Duncan to go take the Grey Warden tests.
I suppose I’ll go see if I’m right. If you want to follow along with my progress, here’s my BioWare/Dragon Age profile page.