Did I Do That? The FINALLY Finale

Did I Do That? The FINALLY Finale

So maybe you noticed my hiatus the last few days. Or maybe you didn’t and this post is a welcome surprise. Who knows? But I, the prodigal blogger who breaks promises, is back with exciting news. Welcome to the last entry on Dragon Age: Origins!

It took a lot of time that I would have rather spent napping after work and willpower to not sit and play all of the adventure games and recent handheld installments that have entered my life recently. Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew are staring at me as I write this while my 3DS and Vita are charging on my desk.

The last two quests of the game felt like a reward for any repetition I had suffered before. I came across an investigation mission in the Alienage in Denerim where my character is from. I had to look for clues into strange happenings in my hometown–the only bummer being most of the clues were sick and feral dogs.

The Landsmeet turned out to be an honest-to-goodness debate, not just a cutscene. I actually lost the first time I played through it because I had not garnered enough support. Depending on my choices during the main quests and which side quests I played through determined my number of supporters. The deciding vote is given by Anora, Loghain’s daughter, who ended up double-crossing me. I didn’t trust her enough to willingly give her the throne, so she came out in favor of Daddy dearest; her opinion swayed the crowd. Turns out I needed to finish doing the bidding of the Crows, Ferelden’s resident clan of assassins. This let me have the one more vote I needed to win without Anora’s support. Dastardly deeds win all fantastic political dilemmas.

After this was one of my last chances to finish up what I needed to do in the world. This is where I clammed up. I was suddenly faced with the weight of all of the meaningless tasks left in my journal, afraid I would never collect all of the garnets the sketchy bartender needed before I went off to decide the fate of the entire region. I think I backed up my final pre-finale save three different times making sure I could go back when I felt the urge.

Let me say I have never been more glad for how the game even distributes experience. For the first and only time, all of your party members have to play. After the initial fight, you choose who you want to go fight the archdemon directly and who stays behind. Surprise, surprise though. After I took Alistair and both of my mages with healing powers with me through the castle, I had to fight a battle with my (wo)men left behind; am I glad that I stocked up on potions. Even more glad that I found more in the castle once I returned to the party I thought I’d be fighting with the entire time.

Really though, despite my best intentions, I played favorites more often than not throughout the game. Whenever possible, I brought Morrigan and Wynne with me, relying on magic for everything. Choosing a rogue definitely presented me with the challenge I hoped for. Though happy to consistently have an expert lock-picker in my party, I wasn’t good for much else that another class couldn’t have taken care of and still had other useful skills. This left me less-than-knowledgeable when fighting with a warrior or anyone who wasn’t my main character or a mage. Sheer brute force won the fight for me, but it was not my proudest battle.

Who would’ve thought my party camp was housing the next disillusioned killer? Sandal, the resident enchanter and adopted son of the merchant, was standing in a room at Fort Drakon littered with darkspawn bodies; all he does is smile. I try to ask him what happened, but he just says, “Enchantment!” with the same goofy smile on his face like always. Why couldn’t I recruit him to my party? Massive backpack for an inventory, endless enchanted weapons, and a slaughtering machine.

In case the abrupt access to a store wasn’t clue enough, this was my last stop before my encounter with the archdemon. This battle was a challenge, but not the one I was expecting. I got into more trouble with random encounters on my way to the rooftops than I ever did with the final battle. After only two tries, I saved Ferelden and stabbed the archdemon with only the sacrifice of Alistair’s virginity. I’ll spare you the details.

Once all was said and done, I got to speak to all of my party members and greet my adoring fans. A bunch a text flew by tying up loose ends and making me feel guilty for every choice I made. Roll credits.

So thanks to everyone who stayed with me through this entire journey. Now off to new and exciting adventures! Stay tuned.

Did I Do That? Part 15

Did I Do That? Part 15

The Brecilian Forest is a breath of fresh air and just because most of the Nature of the Beast questline takes place outside.

I never want to say that games need to be shorter. Too often a game might not have enough content to be worth the standard $60. Or worse, all of the price justification is in the multiplayer mode which does not cater to me at all. Granted most of the games I play on here I have gotten on sale so I have no complaints, but those who buy at regular price, you want a lot of content. Sometimes that game has to last you months. I know I sucked all of the life out of games growing up and in college. I borrowed Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga from a friend in middle school and beat it approximately fourteen times.

But if you’ve been following my progress through Dragon Age: Origins, you know I vacillate between intrigue and fatigue. I become enamored with a new area but get exhausted after trekking through similar tunnels, caves, and magical lands for hours on end without any convenient way to take a break from the monotony. This final push to collect enough allies to take on Loghain was the most balanced main quest I have done so far. You start off going through two sections of the forest looking for information about the werewolf curse and searching for Witherfang all upon Zathrian’s request. The two areas are just big enough that it feels like the wild but not so large that you can’t backtrack back to camp or leave the Dalish elves behind entirely if you want. For example, a few sidequests I had to do were out in the forest, and I wanted my reward sooner than later. After killing some bandits and looking at some tombstones, I was able to leave the forest and go to other parts of Ferelden for some gold and equipment. At the same time, I didn’t do this more than a couple of times because I wasn’t tired of the trek yet.

After you battle through the woods, you get to a set of ruins—but once again only two separate areas. And am I damn glad for that. There are multiple loot holes full of gems and silver to sell. Finding one topped my inventory off, and with this area’s set-up, it was not a ridiculous idea still to back out and sell off my goods. And still nothing here took me too long. After finding the Lady of the Forest, I thought I was going to have to go back to camp to find Zathrian to fulfill her request, making what I did only a small leg of the journey. I can’t say how many times in Orzammar I thought the campaign for king was almost over when they through a new area or task or favor at me. But in a twist in both gameplay and story, he was there waiting for me despite not claiming to know anything about these ruins and where to find the Lady of the Forest and Witherfang.

After bring him back with me, the quest concludes with a battle. No loose ends. No final requests. Nada. Taking out the extra wandering and backtracking I did by my own choice, I think this quest took me five hours tops. This is radically different from past ones where you hit double-digit hours even if you blitz right through. And as you might be able to tell already, my two problems with the Circle of Magi and Orzammar quests are:

  1. Repetitive and similar areas.
  2. Overstay their welcome.

The first complaint is definitely hard to work around. When playing in the underground city of the dwarves, it doesn’t make narrative sense to have anything look too different from other areas. But this shows it is possible in some cases. I can play around outside and then enter the ominous and wrecked structure that houses the werewolves. As for the length, there is no reason that all of the quests needed to be as exhaustive as they were. I am all for their attempt to show and not tell the story by forcing you to infinitely chase what you are looking for instead of merely being told about it. Instead of finding Branka earlier in the caverns, you must keep delving deeper because that’s what she did in her desperation to find the Anvil of the Void. Following her step for step gives you an idea of how far she was willing to travel for what she wanted—something much more meaningful than a Codex entry. I just wish it could have been more interesting. The conversations and choices between Zathrian and the Lady of the Forest made as much of an impact with a complex dialogue set.

Hey, at least I can applaud Bioware’s attempt and willingness to tell the story using a multitude of different strategies. Now off to the Landsmeet with all of my new allies. Stay tuned.

Did I Do That? Part 14

Did I Do That? Part 14

I hate politics, but I am a political mastermind.

Actually, I just really like gold. Right now I have the questlines to support both Harrowmont and Bhelen running concurrently. Even better, neither of them know that they are both asking me to do the exact same thing.

After their initial quests that did differ greatly—Harrowmont required the Proving Grounds, Bhelen required part of the Deep Roads—they start asking you to go to the same places. When I decided to back Bhelen, he wanted me to go clear out Jarvia who led the huge crime ring in Orzammar. You had to ask around the less-than-reputable part of the city, Dust Town, for information about where to find her base of operation. Nobody wanted to talk, saying she was everywhere, but I finally found Roggar who was willing to help. He told me about a small coin that unlocked the bandits’ headquarters. This triggered the appearance of a small, abandoned house where I can either intimidate or kill some of her thugs into giving me the Finger-Bone Token so that I have access. While at Jarvia’s homebase—Carta’s Hideout–I found an item called Incriminating Evidence.

Then I took Oghren with me to look for finding the city’s only living Paragon—a living ancestor that the dwarves revere–named Branka in the Ortan Thaig at Bhelen’s request and found proof that [hmmm?]. After lots of spider-stabbing and dying, I found proof that she had travelled further into the Deep Roads because why not drag this one quest out even longer? Luckily the way the map is set up, I was able to go back to the main area of Orzammar and follow up on some sidequests and sell items I didn’t need anymore, freeing up some valuable treasure hunting space in my inventory.

While taking my breather from the less-civilized world, I wandered into the Tapster’s Tavern and found Dulin. He was disappointed that I had decided to side with Bhelen instead. Luckily my Coercion skill was high enough to make him believe otherwise. From this point on, I have been able to do both quests. Both want me to focus on finding Branka. Neither of them even want me to do anything different when I find her. My journal even has the quest “Paragon of Her Kind” twice with the same description. I really hope I can keep convincing both of them of my allegiance though. It has definitely helped cut down on the number of fanatic supporters who try to kill me when walking down the street.

I’ll let you know if this wheeling and dealing keeps working for me. Stay tuned.

Did I Do That? Part 13

Did I Do That? Part 13

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.

Did I Do That? Part 11

Did I Do That? Part 11

I think all it took to renew my interest was to vent my frustrations and feelings of impatience with Dragon Age.

After writing yesterday, I jumped head-first into the politics of Orzammar, the underground Dwarven city. Here you can follow two quest paths depending on who you wish to support in the upcoming election of the new king. You have two options:

1. Harrowment–he was asked by the king on his deathbed to take the throne according to the Codex. Though technically the more honest politician, he is a proponent of continuing the dwarves’ caste system (details below).

2. Bhelen–he is your typical sneaky politician. His first task asks you to deliver two promissory notes to Harrowment’s most powerful supporters. Taking it to the right merchant in town though clues you in to the fact that the documents were forged. Despite his conniving methods, he is far more progressive in his platform, perfectly willing to do away with castes.

The castes here are about as restrictive as they come. You are born into a class and have no clear means of mobility. Marrying up (or down) is not even an option. Husband and wife retain their lineage and pass it on to their same-sex children–fathers to sons, mothers to daughters. This means that a brother and sister’s lives could easily go on two different trajectories-in polar opposite directions.

As someone who hates being told what to do without at least the illusion of choice, I obviously sided with Bhelen. I don’t like his tactics but love the extra experience from the Deep Roads and the possibility of a more united Ferelden. I already feel for the imaginary plight of the my character’s elf race, so I hate the idea of an entire race isolated underground without it being a unanimous decision of the people secluded there.

Luckily the game allows me to be a flip-flopper. When researching which candidate to back (every vote counts!), I saw that no matter the questline you follow, your final decision is the only one that determines who is put into power.

Now off to be schooled in backstabbing. I’m hoping literally as well if Zevran will cough up his secrets about how to be an assassin.

Stay tuned.

Did I Do That? Part 10

Did I Do That? Part 10

This game has turned from a grand adventure to a test of willpower.

One issue with epic journeys is that sometimes you get burnt out before reaching the destination. You get so enthralled with sidequests that you fill up on gold and grade-A equipment before you get close to fighting the Big Bad. Definitely starting to be the possible verdict for Dragon Age.

I’ve put over thirty hours on the game and have still only gotten help from two of the factions who I am supposed to have talked to. I haven’t even started to win over the Dwarves or the Dalish Elves and with chaos brewing all over Ferelden, I can’t stop running into random bounty hunters and bandits looking to pick a fight. I look at my questlog and feel overwhelmed.

[Also Target has all of their games buy two get one free, and I may or may not have bought the store out, making me want to play new the Sherlock Holmes or Nancy Drew. Or maybe Pokemon Art Academy Go. It’s glorious.]

Mainly I need to cram all of the story quests into a couple of hazy days and take a break. I have been loving it, but it is starting to feel a little monotonous. No matter how much I would love to play with all of my characters, I have found a few favorites that make the gameplay balanced and that doesn’t make things fresh by any means. I do finally have Wynne, and she is a permanent fixture for me. Maybe I just should have gone with my first instinct and played as a mage; this way I wouldn’t be so tied down to Morrigan and Wynne filling two of my three party member slots. My main character would feel more like the Dragon Age equivalent of a HM slave, with poison-making, trap-making, and lock-picking; she does everything but make my potions–that’s Morrigan’s job.

Now keeping this short. I’m off to see what I can do about this game. Maybe my research now should be on keeping the joy alive.

Stay tuned.

Did I Do That? Part 9

Did I Do That? Part 9

This just in: healing keeps you alive.

As I said, I travelled to the Circle of Magi to invoke their treaty only to find the place in disarray. The templar had shut the place down because of blood magic and demons, assuming all of the mages were dead. Here you offer to help, and Wynne–who must have come here after the tragedies in Ostagar–joins your party.

Her powers and presets are perfection. I went in to at least change a few things and didn’t even need to. She not only uses healing but can cast regeneration on party members to make it that much easier to regain health.

I know I sound like the person who discovers the latest and greatest thing two years after its initial start, but I was shocked at the difference not having to manually heal made in the difficulty. I was able to crank it back up to normal (because I live on the edge), and the fights were manageable again. I could send my warriors to front lines without them dying after only getting a couple of hits in.

I did get carried away though. Another suggestion I saw online was to give your party members the command to take potions after losing so much health. I did this for Alistair, and he turned into one greedy bastard. In one small fight, he blew through at least ten health poultices. I set the minimum for him to do this at twenty-five percent health, but he must constantly have low health because he was knocking them back like a dog who found Thanksgiving leftovers.

Now I’ll be honest–I’m keeping this short because I have a sinus infection and woke up from the post-work coma just long enough to write this.

Stay tuned.

Did I Do That? Part 8

Did I Do That? Part 8

I was originally researching the topics I mentioned on Monday and was frightened of this explanation of the metagame that I quit with my head spinning. No matter how much I love my math—my mother calls me well-round while trying to keep a straight face—these formulas are ten times more nightmare-inducing than trying to understand the game from a strictly tactical perspective. No matter how friendly the wiki has been to me with walkthroughs and letting me cheat so that I don’t put my character’s foot in her mouth, this level of depth is not what I was looking for.

Thankfully the more commercial sites gave me the much more simple information I was looking for.

On IGN, I got a lot of things broken down for me, some of which I had already been doing through common sense and some I had never stopped to think about. Though nothing I found here was a true revelation, it still helped me with the framework of knowledge I had never bothered to figure out. My desire to burn through the game when I started and my assumptions that its battle and upgrade systems would work like other RPGS clouded my judgment for thirty-odd hours of gameplay. First I’ll start with the few things I’m proud I figured out on my own that I read:

1. Constitution and strength as stats.

Here it is suggested to consistently upgrade constitution as it is your measure of health. Considering how often I’m dying, I would be dimwitted not to do this. Strength is, well, strength, meaning upgrade it for warriors, some for rogues, and not at all for mages. Mainly I understood these because they are exactly the same as other RPGs.

2. Saving

As I have talked about before, I learned this one the hard way. What I read definitely backed me up on this and explained some of the problems I encountered. The game’s difficulty varies difficulty in one area alone. That means that just because you easily defeated the last horde of enemies does not mean they will all be that easy. Saving is the best defense against its unpredictability.

3. Sidequests

In case you haven’t noticed, these are by biggest distraction and time suck. Luckily the way the game works, pursuing these over the main quest is the intended path. Otherwise the main story will become insurmountably difficult.

And as for a few things I had never thought of?

1. Dexterity and willpower

From the start, I had only been giving my main character, a rogue, the dexterity stat, not seeing its use for anyone else. What I didn’t realize is that this is what makes all party members light on their feet and evasive. This makes it useful for your front-line warriors because it likens their chances of avoiding their enemies’ attacks. Willpower was a stat I all but ignored, not really understand what it was for. Turns out it is the key to learning new tiers of specialized attacks and spells. It is crucial for mages, meaning Morrigan is about the become the most strong-willed witch in the wilds.

2. Experience points and limited leveling

I have spent a lot of time going through difficult areas with a less-than-ideal party–basically any party without a mage–in an attempt to keep my members equally leveled. Surprise! Experience is divided equally between not only the four active party members, but all of them. I can’t wait to start playing after this knowing I can take Morrigan everywhere from now on without feeling like she is going to become the equivalent of only ever using your starter Pokemon.

3. Pause for everything

As I mentioned before, I am used to either real-time combat or a strictly turn-based fighting style. This hybrid is completely outside of my wheelhouse. This means that, out of habit, I am trying to command my characters to heal and attack and expecting immediate results. I will be trying to command my rogue to use a health poultice and have her struck down before I can hit the keystroke. The space bar is about the become my new best friend for this. I tried it a little after reading this, and healing definitely became less tedious.

Speaking of healing, I read up on a lot of tactics, but Wynne is my best bet for having first-hand knowledge of it. I will let you know next time once I’ve ventured to see the Magi. Stay tuned.

Did I Do That? Part 7

Did I Do That? Part 7

Is the combat system in Dragon Age: Origins bad, or am I just bad?

Rhetorical question in case that wasn’t clear.

Honestly I know I’m bad. Besides making sure all of my party members use the Cautious tactic, and making them all fight as Archers, I don’t know how to keep them alive. I finished playing through the sidequest of “The Urn of Sacred Ashes,” and, in a fit of pure frustration, played half of it on Casual mode. Worse—I still died repeatedly. I went in and read the descriptions for the different modes and found out what might be my problem. This is what I found:

  • Casual difficulty is best suited to players who are new to role-playing games or expect to play combat in real-time, rather than pausing often to plan tactics.

I’m used to the blurb for Casual, or Easy, modes basically saying it is meant for people who new to games in general. I went into this game feeling I was prepared for the genre, and that has turned out to be far from the truth. For all of this time, I have not really thought about how this game’s combat is not in real time. Out of habit, I even furiously right-click to attack even though it has zero effect. It is so unlike anything I have ever played before, and the game does not do much in terms of teaching you how to take advantage of the fighting style. I do not get how to utilize the Combat Tactics slots or any customization. I only trust my party members if I am the one controlling them. Otherwise they run off into battle and don’t bother to protect or heal themselves.

The fighting has so much to do with positioning, and that is not my forte. I don’t know if you would consider it an RTS-style of battle, but the fact is resembles it in any way might be my problem. I have played my fair share of turn-based strategy and real-time tower defense games but none from the RTS genre. At least now I understand why this game has a Pause option outside of pulling up one of the ten or so possible menus; you can dish out commands while paused, something I never thought to do until it popped up as advice on a load screen.

Sidenote: this game’s load screens are the most helpful I have ever encountered. Sometimes it is a bit of repetition about the same piece of lore, but often it mentions small tidbits that passed me by. For example, I either was never told or forgot (my money’s on forgot) that I could equip two different weapons for each character; it suggests one melee weapon and one ranged. I was practically rolling around on the ground in excitement for the space this cleared in my inventory. Another time I saw how I can adjust the game’s difficulty temporarily which–in case you couldn’t tell—has saved me quite a few times now.

But no matter the convenience, I hate the feeling playing on Easy. After each battle I beat this way, I go and create a new save file, hoping I will eventually go back and beat it on Normal for the sake of my conscience and my ego. Hence my desire for research and improvement considering how much more of this game I have left to go. I already picked up on obsessively saving through trial and error, but that is not working for how to be a good fighter.

Mainly, I need to look into:

  • Combat Tactics
  • Customizable styles
  • Automated Healing

I will look into this and let you know what I find tomorrow. Stay tuned.

P.S. I am participating in Blogging 101 and am psychic. I would love to rewrite a post I have already done stating what my blog is about, but, well, I’m lazy. You can find my already-existing post that fits the prompt here. I hope to meet lots of you through this!

Did I Do That? Part 6

Did I Do That? Part 6

Or better known as a saga of distraction.

I originally started following up on my treaties by journeying to Redcliffe to talk to the Arl. After arriving, a guard lets me know that not only is the Arl dying, but a curse has fallen on the village, causing zombie-like monsters to attack the village. They would even rise from the ground during the day if anyone tried to escape. You’re asked to help protect the village through the night which is simple enough. The sheer number of enemies is where the real difficulty lies. Even though you have the entire town’s militia helping, they seem to get killed almost immediately. Stupid civilians.

It gets more difficult with the game’s glitch I encountered twice. A cutscene of a memorial service for those who died is supposed to trigger after defeating all of the enemies. If you let Murdock or Tomas die while fighting, sometimes the enemies just keep coming one by one after defeating the horde. It’s clear that something is off because after all of the enemies are gone, I go around and talk to the surviving characters, and they tell me to protect myself. Give it ten seconds and one poor mutant creature wanders down the mountain as if he overslept for the night shift of terrorizing and murdering the locals. After twenty minutes of this I went to look up what I needed to do to finish the game and found out it is a common bug. The only way to fix it is to reload the game. Luckily I had saved between the two phases of battle, but considering the difficulty of the second fight, it was hard to take this advice calmly.

Finding out the bug’s trigger gave me a goal for the next try–keep the two named and semi-important people alive. Too bad they are so useless that at least one of them–usually Murdock–is already dead by the time I make it down to the campfire to help; instead I fight off zombies while trampling all over this empty robes. Frustratingly the same thing happen again. At least this time instead of wandering up and down the mountain looking for something to do, I immediately reloaded again. I didn’t even bother to protect anyone the third time and luckily made it through to the end. Apparently there is a strategy where you can try to keep everyone alive, but it’s not worth it. Maybe if I already had Wynne and could use healing powers, but for now for the sake of time and the safety of my computer, I only have time to be selfish.

After this, I was so frustrated that instead of venturing up to the castle to save everyone else, I started exploring Ferelden and looking for sidequests. I went to Denerim, the village right outside my home alienage, and found more questlines than I know what to do with. There is the Chanter’s Board like before, the Mage’s Collective, the Blackstone Irregulars, and even a category called “Favors for Certain Interested Parties” (you can guess those are the less moral ones). Each has four or five and many ask you to leave town. I went around the newly opened back alleys of Denerim looking for fights and trying to collect different potions and mushroom for the various. um, interested parties, certain and otherwise. The funniest–or absolutely horrible and disconcerting depending on who you are–were where I kept running across dead bodies that needed to be disposed of down a well. Hopefully Timmy from Lassie is out of there now, or his home is about to get much more crowded.

What I really enjoy is how while finishing up a more in-depth quest, the game runs you across a smaller delivery or fetch quest so that you can multitask. While fighting the bandits all over the town, I was also able to deliver death notices to unknowing widows and mark the houses of blood mages. It triggers that same feeling I mentioned earlier about cleaning out my inventory but much more understandable. Instead of being potentially wasteful in the name of greed and over-preparation, here I just feel accomplished.

Apparently not all of my party members have the same adventurous spirit as me. I took Sten to the village of Haven to try to find out more about Geniviti’s research, and he was too happy with me ignoring the world’s impending doom. He tried to stage a coup and fought me. I somehow managed to beat this giant–who is suddenly a lot harder to kill when I’m doing it–and instead of dying, did agree that I was awesome and got back in line. I knew he was a murderer by nature, but this was still a bit unexpected.

Now with all of this exploring, I have discovered two things–one good, one questionable. Let’s start with the good.

In a lot of games with any kind of open world element, I tend to focus on getting from one place to the next instead of looking where I’m going. I abused the Clairvoyance spell in Skyrim just to make sure I could fast-travel to more places. No matter how much I loved its expansive world, I only wanted to get to the dungeon or town. Here life truly was about the destination and not the journey.

But in Dragon Age, I love walking around and seeing everything. The more I play, the more I realize that a lot of assets are reused but the events you can come across if you’re paying attention. As a reward for getting an unruly crowd to leave a local tavern, a knight thanked me without giving me much of anything. I was a little confused but didn’t think too much of it. I’d been amassing gold quickly with smaller quests anyway. But walking past him again later, I saw him moving around a little and heard him call for me. Seriously, he noticed and called me over. Then he gave me a sovereign for my trouble. I have trouble thinking of a game I’ve played where I feel like I am truly that present in the world. If you know of another though, let me know because I’m really digging this new concept.

Now for the questionable. This game is full of invisible walls. They aren’t so bad that I can see entire inaccessible areas, but if I’m walking down a path that is slightly raised up from the ground, I have to follow the trail all of the way to the end. I play as a rogue who is lithe on her feet and yet I can jump off a six-foot ledge. It is a small complaint, but with how much walking there is–and how much I actually enjoy travelling–I want to be able to take the straight-path instead of following a clearly marked path. I wouldn’t even mind if it took the approach that happens in games that have a lot of platforming and cause me to lose some health if I fall from too high up.

Now off to see if I go back to helping the world, or trying to earn more gold than I know what to do with. Stay tuned.