I kid you not: the only information I found about the enemy AI is how to fix it.
Considering the game has been out for five years now with a wonderful PC version (I’ve experienced next to no problems with the exception of the occasional crash), it only seems right that it has a thriving modding community. This is an area I have no experience with, so I am not going to pretend to be an expert; enemy AI is mainly mentioned with modders though.
When looking for information that is found in the actual game, all I found were reports of bugs but nothing detailed about why the enemies make the choices that they do. There was nothing that meta-gamers extrapolated and figured out as a guide to enemy AI (or I just didn’t see it. Feel free to let me know if it exists!) All I really found were thousands of threads discussing the enemy’s programming and how to make it better. Granted I do not fall in the majority of people I found who were looking for more of a challenge. One of the main complaints is what I pointed out earlier—that most enemies have no sense of self-preservation; the only class that tries to heal itself are mages. For those who are stellar at the game’s combat, this definitely takes the difficulty down a notch. There is a Nightmare-Plus mod (link?) that adds to the variety of enemy attacks and boosts.
What I would want is a mod that added more information to my codex. I want to be able to analyze my enemy as if it were a JRPG. I have played so many turn-based RPGs—most recently Bravely Default—and the depth I get out of the game has to do with being able to hone in on who I am fighting. I sit there and learn their strengths and weaknesses, attack patterns, and breaking points. Because of the number of enemies in Dragon Age, and the real-time style of combat despite the ability to pause, it makes it hard to do this. I do learn with each death who is the most vulnerable in my party, but I do not learn the same about my opponent. I might learn which attacks are more effective from their positioning, but when it comes to the finer details, it is a guessing game, making me take the ham-fisted approach of using the strongest attacks from each party member.
And I’m not going to lie—over the last few weeks, I have felt a bit of cognitive dissonance between my enjoyment of the game and what feels like a consistent criticism of it. I did hear something today though that makes me feel validated. While listening to the newest Co-Optional Podcast at work today (if you haven’t checked it out, please, please do.), the first Dragon Age was brought up with the newest installment in the series being released. Two people—one who had put over one hundred hours into the game, and one who could never get into it—were about to agree that some segments of the game are long-winded. This makes me feel better about these dueling feelings I have where I enjoy the gameplay but am still constantly wishing for a part to be done. All it took for my change of heart this past week was for me to enter a new area. Suddenly my sense of wonder and wanderlust was renewed because my sense of repetition was gone.
Now off to those dwarven caverns to do some of that renewing. Stay tuned.