Alistair (Dragon Age)

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Alistair
Dragon Age character
Alistair (Dragon Age).png
Alistair, as he appears in Dragon Age: Origins
First appearance Dragon Age: Origins
Voiced by Steve Valentine

Alistair is a fictional character from BioWare's Dragon Age franchise, first appearing as a companion and party member in Origins. Alistair is the first full companion the player gets if they don't choose the Human Noble origin (and the second if they do), and is a fellow Grey Warden alongside the player character. Over the course of the game, Alistair is revealed to be the heir to Ferelden's throne, and may be put on as king. It is also possible to sacrifice him at the end of the game against the archdemon.[1]

In addition to Origins, Alistair also appears in the game's expansion pack Awakening (if placed as king during Origins), the Darkspawn Chronicles DLC,[2][3] Dragon Age II, and the Silent Grove comic series.[4][5] Alistair has received positive reception, mainly for his sarcastic remarks and romance. However, some writers have compared him to previous BioWare companions, such as Knights of the Old Republic's Carth Onasi.

Concept and characteristics[edit]

Alistair was mainly written by David Gaider—the lead writer of Origins—and is voiced by Steve Valentine.[6] Alistair is a relatively new Grey Warden,[7] who are a group devoted to fighting darkspawn. He is the secret son of King Maric and a serving girl, and was originally raised in Redcliffe Castle by Arl Eamon after his mother's death.[8] However, he was later given to the Chantry for training as a templar, a military order who are trained to kill "apostates" (mages outside of the Circle of Magi) and watch over the Circle of Magi. Alistair is described as having a "wry sense of humor", and makes many sarcastic remarks during the game.[7][9]

If the player chooses to be female, Alistair can be romanced.[10] In an interview with GameZone, David Gaider said that Alistair was a bit of a "woo-bie" and that his romance was "very cute". However, Gaider said that he wouldn't want to have another Alistair-like romance in the interest of originality.[11]

Alistair was originally written to be a "grizzled Grey Warden veteran", as per Dragon Age's original lead designer James Ohlen. However, such a character would be unlikely not to lead, and the character would have to start out at a low level. Gaider changed the character, and drew some inspiration from the characters Xander Harris and Mal Reynolds.[12] Similarly, Gaider also originally wanted to have Mal's actor Nathan Fillion voice the character, but decided against it as he would've had to do an English accent. However, he is still pleased with Valentine's voicing.[13]

Appearances[edit]

In Dragon Age: Origins[edit]

Alistair first appears in Dragon Age: Origins as a companion once the player reaches Ostagar (where the Grey Wardens are preparing for a battle against the darkspawn). Being a junior Grey Warden, he accompanies the player for their "Joining" to the Grey Wardens. After Loghain abandons the battle at Ostagar, leaving the Grey Wardens and King Cailan to die, he and the player are rescued by Flemeth. Being the last Grey Wardens in Ferelden, and all other Wardens being too far away to reach, the player and he must use Grey Warden contracts to demand help from certain groups against the darkspawn. Alistair also suggests contacting Arl Eamon, who resides in Redcliffe, to help convince the other nobles to help the player. Upon entering Redcliffe, Alistair will tell the player how he is actually the heir to the crown, but was hidden due to being a bastard and instead brought up by Eamon.[8] He also expresses no wish to be king. He will then tell the player about his long-lost sister Goldanna, who lives in Denerim, and will ask to meet her. If brought to Goldanna, she will reject him, and the player may "harden" Alistair and tell him to stand up for himself more.

After all the forces have been recruited by the player, Arl Eamon will call the "Landsmeet", a meeting between all of the nobles. The player will have to challenge Loghain's current regency by eroding the noble's support of him. After attending the Landsmeet, Alistair may either be made king, or Anora (King Cailan's wife) may be made queen. Alternatively, the player may choose to arrange a marriage between Anora and Alistair, though the latter requires persuading. If Alistair had been "hardened", he will reconsider and be less anxious of becoming king. The player may also either spare or kill Loghain. If Loghain is spared, Alistair will become so disgusted he will leave the player. If Anora is made queen and not married to Alistair, she will call for Alistair's execution if Loghain is spared. The player may interject and stop Anora, or let him be executed. If Alistair is spared, he is exiled and becomes a wandering drunk. If Loghain is killed and Alistair is not made king, he will simply return to being a Grey Warden. Finally, if Loghain was not spared and Alistair remained in the party, he may sacrifice himself killing the Archdemon[1] – who destroys the soul of any Grey Warden who kills it – unless the player agrees to Morrigan's proposal or kills the Archdemon themselves.

Alistair will have a short appearance in Origin's expansion pack Awakening if placed as king during Origins. Alistair also appears in the game's Darkspawn Chronicles DLC as the final boss, with it being an alternate version of the game where the player character dies at the start and Alistair is left in charge, and the player playing as the darkspawn.[2][3] At the end of the DLC, the darkspawn successfully kill Alistair and destroy Ferelden.

Other appearances[edit]

Alistair makes a cameo appearance in Dragon Age II unless the player imports a save from Origins where he was executed. If he remains a Grey Warden, he will appear during the Qunari invasion and tell Hawke that he regrets the Grey Wardens cannot help against the Qunari. If made king, he will briefly appear arguing with Meredith, head of the templars in Kirkwall. If exiled, he will become a drunk at "The Hanged Man", where Bann Teagan will show up and tell him he can return to Ferelden.

Alistair is the main protagonist of The Silent Grove, a digital comic series.[4][5]

Alistair also returns in Dragon Age: Inquisition as the King of Ferelden or a Grey Warden unless the player imports a world state from Dragon Age Keep where he died or became a drunk. If made king, he will made a brief appearance after the Inquisitor confronts Alexius in Redcliffe. If he remains as a Grey Warden, he will be contacted by Hawke (protagonist of Dragon Age II). He was branded a traitor by the Warden-Commander Clarel due to his opposition of using blood magic to stop the Blight. Afterwards, he will be trapped alongside the Inquisitor and Hawke in the Fade. Depending on the player's choice, Alistair will sacrifice himself to help the Inquisitor to escape the Fade by battling a nightmare blocking the Fade's exit. Alternatively, the player can choose to sacrifice Hawke, in which case Alistair survives and will send a report to the headquarters of the Grey Wardens in Weisshaupt Fortress. [14]

Reception[edit]

GamesRadar's staff placed him at number 37 in a list of the 50 best game characters of the generation, commenting "Dragon Age: Origins had plenty of memorable characters, but chief among them was the would-be bastard king Alistair."[15] Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Alec Meer liked Alistair, and commented that he had some nice comic deflections.[16] Eurogamer's Oli Welsh noted that Alistair and Morrigan the "stars" of the game's companions, but criticized their storylines as being "contrived". The wooden dialogue and stiff animation was also mentioned.[17] Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Alec believed that Alistair, along with Shale, brought needed levity to the otherwise grim world of Dragon Age, describing the both of them as the game's most vital voices.[18] Mike Fahey, writing for Kotaku, praised Alistair as having some of the most amusing lines in the game during his review of Origins. Fahey particularly praised Steve Valentine's voice acting, calling Alistair's voice his favourite in the game and noting that many of Alistair's lines would have fallen flat were it not for Valentine's timing.[19] During an interview with Ray Muzyka (the co-founder and CEO of BioWare), VideoGamer.com's interviewer said that while he didn't like Alistair at first he grew to like him and his humour, although Muzyka himself did not like the character.[20] Kirk Hamilton, also writing for Kotaku, called Alistair one of his favorite characters, and looked forward to seeing how he got on with the "worldly" Isabella during The Silent Grove.[21] John Walker, writing for PC Gamer, believed that his friendship with Alistair had an "echo of reality", and felt that his sarcasm plus balancing his emotions and bravado "continue[d] to resonate".[22] Walker also praised the conversations he had with Morrigan.[22] Meer felt that Alistair and Morrigan's bickering evoked sexual tension, wishing they would just "get it on".[16] Kieron from Rock, Paper, Shotgun also wished to be able to set them up together.[18]

Meer also commented that Alistair made him wish he had made his character female, believing him to be a better love interest than Morrigan due to his cheery put-downs rather than her "snide oh-I’m-bit-naughty-me line".[16] Kieron believed that Alistair was BioWare's best attempt at a male romantic lead, being "good without-out being entirely punchable".[18] While romancing Alistair, Edge's Chris Dahlen found he related more to Alistair than his female mage player character, and noted many similarities between his life growing up and Alistair. He also put some blame on him being male.[23] Wesley Yin-Poole, writing for VideoGamer.com, felt that the sex scene with Alistair was short and unerotic, calling it an example of video games still needed to learn how to do sex.[24] Walker again, this time writing for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, commented how when playing his male character his heart was always with Alistair, and felt like he was "using" Zevran when he romanced him.[25] In an article on video game romances, 1UP.com commented on how Alistair grew and developed with the player, despite beginning as an uncertain "somewhat naive soldier".[26] Natania Barron, writing for Wired GeekMom column, commented that there was something "devious and devillish" about romancing him due to his ex-Templar roots. Barron also mentioned how, after making him king, she was willing to restart the game as a Human Noble when she found out he would break up with her elf and that she "honestly cared" about securing his marriage. Barron favorably compared his romance to Anders' from Dragon Age II, saying that she "settled" for him and most likely chose him because he reminded her of Alistair.[27] Kotaku republished an post by a gay modder who had made Alistair think his character was female, who felt unable to play the game for a month after Alistair broke up with him as king for not being able to produce an heir (because of the darkspawn taint).[28]

Meer commented on BioWare's repeated use of themes and called Alistair Dragon Age's "Carth"; mentioning how he is the first person you recruit, had a heart of gold and is the main female love interest. However, he did note how Alistair wasn't as "drippy" as Carth, and how he was more someone you could have a conversation with.[16] During a criticism of BioWare's games, GameZone's Dave Snell believed that many characters were too similar, specifically calling both Carth and Alistair the "snarky young upstart".[29] John Walker, this time writing for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, felt that Alistair bucked the trend of BioWare making all the starting companions tedious.[30] Similarly, several writers compared Anders to Alistair.[27][31][32]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b BioWare (2009-11-03). Dragon Age: Origins. Electronic Arts. Alistair: Wait. Let me. There's no need for you to die. This is my duty. I should be the one to kill it. 
  2. ^ a b Alec Meer (May 19, 2010). "Anti-Alistair: Darkspawn Chronicles Is Out". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved May 29, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Raychul. "The Conclusion of the Dragon Age: Origins Saga". GameZone. Retrieved May 29, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Brenna Hillier (October 18, 2011). "Dragon Age comic series inbound via Dark Horse". VG247. Retrieved May 29, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Hugh Armitage (May 2, 2012). "Dark Horse, BioWare unveil 'Dragon Age' comic". Digital Spy. Retrieved May 30, 2012. 
  6. ^ David Gaider. "Writers of Dragon Age". BioWare Social Network. Retrieved May 29, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Tyler Nagata (October 9, 2009). "Dragon Age: Origins - blood party". GamesRadar. Retrieved May 30, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b BioWare (2009-11-03). Dragon Age: Origins. Electronic Arts. Alistair: I told you before how Arl Eamon raised me, right? That my mother was a serving girl at the castle and he took me in? The reason he did that was because... well, because my father was King Maric. Which made Cailan my... half-brother, I suppose. 
  9. ^ "Alistair". Official character page. Retrieved May 30, 2012. 
  10. ^ Joe Newman (January 6, 2010). "Dragon Age: Origins - romance and recruitment guide". GamesRadar. Retrieved May 30, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Dragon Age II's David Gaider Reveals Stance on In-Game Romances". GameZone. Retrieved May 30, 2012. 
  12. ^ David Gaider. "For Mal Reynolds I'd do anything - but not for you, Alistair". BioWare Social Network. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  13. ^ David Gaider. "Nathan Fillion is (apparently not) an Elf". BioWare Social Network. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Dragon Age Inquisition - Meeting Grey Warden Alistair". YouTube. Retrieved December 30, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Best game characters of the generation". GamesRadar. Retrieved May 19, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b c d Alec Meer (November 9, 2009). "Rock Lord: Dragon Age's Number One Guy". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved May 29, 2012. 
  17. ^ Oil Welsh (November 3, 2009). "Dragon Age: Origins Review". Eurogamer. Retrieved May 29, 2012. 
  18. ^ a b c "The Games Of Christmas: December 24th". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. December 24, 2009. Retrieved May 29, 2012. 
  19. ^ Mike Fahey (November 3, 2009). "Dragon Age: Origins Review: Tripping The Blight Fantastic". Kotaku. Retrieved May 29, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Dragon Age: Origins: A retrospective with Ray Muzyka". VideoGamer.com. November 16, 2009. p. 3. Retrieved May 30, 2012. 
  21. ^ Kirk Hamilton (October 17, 2011). "It's Canon: Alistair Became King in Dragon Age: Origins". Kotaku. Retrieved May 30, 2012. 
  22. ^ a b John Walker. "Dragon Age: Origins Review". PC Gamer. Retrieved May 31, 2012. 
  23. ^ Chris Dahlen (November 25, 2009). "Chasing Alistair". Edge. Retrieved May 29, 2010. 
  24. ^ "VideoGamer.com Plays". VideoGamer.com. April 18, 2010. Retrieved May 30, 2012. 
  25. ^ John Walker (February 7, 2011). "Dragon Age II Is Mature". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved July 4, 2012. 
  26. ^ Kat Bailey. "The Uncanny Valley of Love". 1UP.com. Retrieved July 4, 2012. 
  27. ^ a b Natania Barron (April 15, 2011). "An Ode to Alistair: Love, Lust, and Loss in Fereldan". Wired. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  28. ^ Robert Yang (August 2, 2010). "Dragon Age: Origins Is The First Game About Gay Marriage & The Power of Mods". Kotaku. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  29. ^ Dave Snell. "Why I´m bored with Bioware". GameZone. Retrieved May 30, 2012. 
  30. ^ John Walker (March 31, 2011). "Thoughts: What Went Wrong In Dragon Age II". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved May 30, 2012. 
  31. ^ Andrew Burnes (February 3, 2010). "Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening Screenshots". VE3D. Archived from the original on February 8, 2010. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  32. ^ Thierry Nguyen (March 16, 2010). "Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening Review". 1UP.com. Retrieved July 6, 2012.