Dragon Age: Origins
|Dragon Age: Origins|
Dragon Age: Origins is a role-playing video game developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts. It is the first game in the Dragon Age franchise, and was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 in November 2009, and for OS X in December 2009. Edge of Reality developed the game's console versions.
Set in the fictional kingdom of Ferelden during a period of civil strife, the game puts the player in the role of a warrior, mage or rogue coming from an elven, human, or dwarven background who must unite the kingdom to fight an impending invasion by demonic forces known as the "Darkspawn". The player character is recruited as a Grey Warden and is tasked to defeat the Archdemon (a being with the soul of an old god in the body of a powerful Dragon) that commands the Darkspawn, and end the catastrophe known as the Blight. The game is played from a third-person perspective that can be shifted to top-down perspective. Throughout the game, players encounter various companions, who play major roles in the game's plot and gameplay and accompany the player throughout the game.
BioWare described Dragon Age: Origins as a "dark heroic fantasy" set in a unique world, and a spiritual successor to their previous Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights franchises. Its setting was inspired by The Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice & Fire, and was described by BioWare as a mix between high fantasy and low fantasy. Development of the game began in 2002, and lasted over six years. BioWare employed more than 144 voice-actors, and hired Inon Zur to compose the game's music.
Origins received critical acclaim upon release, with praise mostly directed at its story, setting, characters, music and combat system. It sold more than 3.2 million copies, and 1 million pieces of downloadable content. Its multiple year-end accolades included Game of the Year and Best Role-playing awards from several gaming publications. BioWare released several instances of downloadable content after the game's initial launch, an expansion pack for the game titled Awakening in March 2010, and two sequels, Dragon Age II and Dragon Age: Inquisition, were released in 2011 and 2014 respectively.
Dragon Age: Origins is an action role-playing game. The player is a Grey Warden, part of an order of elite fighters, whose task is to defeat the Archdemon and save the world from a disastrous event called the Blight. Players create their own Grey Warden character, customizing gender and appearance as well as choosing a race and class. The available classes are warriors, who perform strong physical attacks; rogues, who carry out stealth attacks and steal items from other characters; and mages, who cast spells on enemies, create combo spells, and support other party members. The three choices of race are human, elf, and dwarf. The combination of class and race determines which of six different origin stories the player experiences: Dalish Elf, City Elf, Dwarven Noble, Dwarven Commoner, Mage, or Human Noble. This affects the way other in-game characters perceive the player's character; for instance, a Dwarven Commoner would receive hatred and discrimination from other dwarves. However, all classes follow the same plot after the completion of the origin story.
During gameplay the player encounters a variety of enemies, including giant spiders, darkspawn, ghosts, walking trees, and dragons. They also recruit companions, who accompany them and provide assistance in battle. These companions are normally controlled by artificial intelligence, with behavior that the player can adjust through the "Tactic" menu, but the player also has the option to switch between characters, and is able to issue orders to them in real-time or pause the game to queue up actions.
Utilizing a third-person perspective, the combat in Origins is largely similar to BioWare's previous Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. The player and any companions engage in combat with the weapons they have equipped when the player targets or is noticed by a hostile enemy. Players can swap weapons and perform special attacks during combat, but most of these attacks have a recharge time. The point of view can be shifted from third person to a top-down view, where friendly and hostile units are labelled with different colors to distinguish them. At the end of a battle the characters' health and stamina, which powers a character's skills, are automatically refilled. When an enemy is defeated, the player collects any items or loot from its corpse.
The player can level up their Warden character by earning experience points through completing quests and defeating enemies. Each time player levels up, they receive three points to spend on the character's six attributes. Strength inflicts more damage, dexterity helps evade attacks more often, willpower increases stamina, magic increases spell damage or magic defense, cunning improves combat tactics, and constitution helps withstand attacks. Special skills, which are divided into four different aspects for each class, and specialization options, which offer class-specific skills, can also be unlocked by levelling up.
Players can be accompanied by a maximum of three companions. Companions who are not in the player's active party stay in base camp, a hub where the player can talk to their party members as well as purchase new weapons, armor, and gear. In addition to the main story, the player can learn more about the world of Thedas by collecting the Indexes scattered throughout the game.
The game's dialogue engine is the same as that of Mass Effect. The player can talk and interact with both party members and other non-playable characters. A dialogue tree offers several dialogue options for the player to select. Through conversation, the player can unlock unique quests and dialogue revealing the lore of Dragon Age. It can also be used to persuade or intimidate other characters. The player often must choose between morally ambiguous options, which result in consequences that affect the game's world and progression, and can even lead to the death of a potential companion. Companions react to the player's choices through an "approval system". When they dislike or object to the player's decisions, their approval drops, which can result in a companion leaving the party or even attacking the Warden. Approval points can also be influenced by gifts, which will improve any companion's approval but are each intended for a specific companion. Some gifts, if given to the right character, start a cutscene and can even unlock a quest. A high approval rating improves a companion's morale and gives bonuses to their combat abilities. A significant approval rating also makes it possible for the Warden to pursue a romantic relationship with certain companions. The game's "interaction reactivity" system means that the way a player treats one companion affects the approval rating of other companions as well.
The game is set in Ferelden, one of several countries in the fictional world of Thedas. Demonic creatures called the Darkspawn dwell within the Deep Roads, an underground highway system created by the dwarves long ago, deep beneath the surface of Thedas. Every few hundred years, the Darkspawn swarm the surface world in a movement known as a Blight. Ever since the first Blight, Thedas has relied on the legendary order of warriors known as the Grey Wardens to drive the Darkspawn back. Dragon Age: Origins begins on the eve of Thedas's fifth Blight.
Thedas is a world in which race and class combine to determine social class. Elves are often viewed as second-class citizens by humans, while human nobles are treated with respect. Mages, on the other hand, are cloistered by the Chantry: they have access to the Fade, the unconscious realm that is the home of spirits, and a single lapse in vigilance could cause them to be possessed by demons. Apostate mages, who live outside the Chantry's control, are considered extremely dangerous, and the Chantry has a militant wing, the Templars, to seek them out and subdue them by any means necessary.
The chief protagonist of Dragon Age: Origins is the player-controlled character, whose biography and combat specialization are determined by the race and class chosen at the start of the game. While the player can choose his or her avatar's first name, the character is usually referred to as "The Warden" by other characters and the game's narration.
Many of the game's non-player characters (NPCs) are companion characters, who appear throughout the game and may volunteer their services. Companions include Alistair, a reluctantly heroic Grey Warden with a sarcastic wit; Morrigan, the sultry but cynical dark mage who has little regard for authority or social mores; Leliana, an ex-member of Ferelden's Chantry whose optimistic and virtuous demeanor belies an aptitude for espionage and combat; Sten, a proud but stoic warrior of the militaristic Qunari people who often questions human ways; Oghren, a brutal dwarven warrior whose love of alcohol is only matched by his penchant for violence and loyalty to his friends; Wynne, an Elder Mage of the Circle, a maternal figure to the party and a powerful healer; Zevran, a rakish elven assassin who is fond of treasures, sex and innuendo; and a loyal Mabari War Hound, which the player can name and use for scouting and combat. In the DLC, Shale, a sarcastic Golem with a mild ornithophobia who was a female dwarf in her prior life, is also available. There is also a so-called "secret companion" who can be recruited, but that will cause Alister to leave the Warden. The secret companion is Loghain.
Outside of companion characters, NPCs significant to the Origins plot include Duncan, the Grey Warden who recruits the player; King Cailan, Ferelden's naive but courageous leader and son of the legendary King Maric; Queen Anora, Cailan's politically-savvy wife, whose youth and beauty are matched by a commanding personality but somewhat offset by her ambition and ruthlessness; and Flemeth, Morrigan's mother, who appears to be a harmless old woman in public, but in truth is an infamous dark witch of Ferelden legend.
The faceless Darkspawn horde is led by the archdemon Urthemiel, supposedly one of the Old Gods of the Tevinter Imperium, incarnated in the form of a powerful and corrupted dragon with total control over the darkspawn. The game's other main antagonists are Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir, father of Queen Anora, a once-respected war hero gone mad with ambition and paranoia; and Rendon Howe, the amoral and corrupt Arl of Amaranthine who allies with Loghain to further his own ambitions.
Depending on the player's chosen race and class, they will begin the game with one of six predetermined origin stories. In each origin story, the player is introduced to Duncan, the commander of Ferelden's Grey Wardens, who is trying to find recruits to join the order. At the end of the origin story, the player's character is selected as a potential Grey Warden, and leaves with Duncan.
The player and Duncan journey to a fortress in southern Ferelden called Ostagar. There, they join Cailan, the King of Ferelden, and his father-in-law Loghain, a legendary general. The three leaders plan to make a stand against the encroaching Darkspawn before a new Blight overwhelms Ferelden. Duncan senses the influence of an Archdemon, a god-like being hosted in the body of a powerful Dragon that commands the Darkspawn, which makes this the first true Blight in over 400 years. Duncan emphasizes the importance of defeating the Blight before it can gain enough momentum to threaten the rest of Thedas.
Duncan initiates the player into the Grey Wardens through a dangerous ritual called the Joining. The Joining involves imbibing Darkspawn blood, which will either kill a person or imbue them with the powerful darkspawn essence known as the Taint, granting them the ability to sense Darkspawn and a rudimentary connection into their hive mind. After surviving the Joining, the player and another Grey Warden, Alistair, are given the task of lighting a beacon at the top of the fortress which will signal Loghain's men to charge the horde's flank. However, upon seeing the signal, Loghain abandons the battlefield with his army. Without Loghain's reinforcements, King Cailan and Duncan are overwhelmed and slain by the Darkspawn, who massacre Cailan's army, seize control of Ostagar and begin advancing into southern Ferelden.
The player's Warden and Alistair are saved by Flemeth, a powerful witch who lives in a secluded hermitage with her daughter and apprentice, Morrigan. The player, Alistair, and Morrigan decide that in order to stop the Blight from destroying Ferelden, and possibly all of Thedas, they will need to gather a new army and slay the Archdemon. Using ancient Grey Warden treaties, the player's Warden must travel across Ferelden to enlist the aid of the Dalish Elves, the Dwarves of Orzammar, the Circle of Magi, and the soldiers of Redcliffe, loyal to Arl Eamon. In addition, Alistair reveals that he is a bastard son of King Maric Theirin, Cailin's father, putting him in contention for the recently vacated throne.
Meanwhile, Loghain returns to Ferelden's capital city, Denerim, to inform his daughter Queen Anora of King Cailan's death. Loghain scapegoats the Grey Wardens for the defeat at Ostagar; accusing them of betraying Ferelden, Loghain outlaws the order and demands the deaths of any surviving Wardens. While Anora inherits her husband's authority, Loghain quickly declares himself her regent and effectively seizes control of the kingdom. Loghain swiftly becomes a brutal and tyrannical ruler willing to do anything to retain power, igniting a civil war between himself and Ferelden's nobility, who refuse to acknowledge his authority. Both sides battle to an inconclusive stalemate, and the darkspawn take advantage of the chaos to advance further into Ferelden unopposed.
After the player successfully obtains the assistance of each of the primary factions, a Landsmeet is called among the nobles of Ferelden. There, the player confronts Loghain, ultimately either executing him or making him a Grey Warden (in which case he joins the party, replacing Alistair). The player also settles who will lead Ferelden against the Blight (Alistair, Anora, or both) and rallies support from the rest of the kingdom to face the Darkspawn. At this point, the player learns that only a Grey Warden can slay the Archdemon because of the Taint present in a Grey Warden's body. Killing the Archdemon releases the demonic essence within it, which is drawn to the Taint in the Grey Warden and effectively kills them as well; if anyone other than a Warden slays it, the Archdemon's essence survives and finds a new host in the nearest Darkspawn, making the monster effectively immortal.
On the night before the final battle, Morrigan offers the player's Warden a way to slay the Archdemon without sacrificing anyone: Morrigan believes that if the player succeeds in conceiving a child with her, the child would also carry the Taint. Once the Archdemon dies, its demonic essence would be drawn away from any Grey Warden to safely merge with the unborn child instead. The resulting child would be born a demigod, which she plans to raise on her own. The player can accept Morrigan's offer, convince Alistair or Loghain to take part instead, or refuse the witch's proposal, which will cause her to leave the party.
The next day, the player and the newly assembled army of Ferelden fight their way through the city of Denerim, which has been overrun by the Darkspawn. After fighting their way through the Darkspawn horde, and a final battle against the Archdemon atop Denerim's highest tower, the player is given the chance to deliver the killing blow or to let Alistair or Loghain do it. With each choice, the Archdemon is killed and the leaderless Darkspawn army retreats from Denerim, marking the end of the Fifth Blight. Unless the ritual with Morrigan was performed, whoever slew the Archdemon also perishes. The story ends with a ceremony attended by the people of Ferelden during which the player and their companions are honored for saving the kingdom. The game then presents an epilogue in text and pictures which details the ramifications of the player's in-game choices on the future of Ferelden and the lives of his or her companions.
Dragon Age: Origins was created by the Edmonton studio of BioWare, the developer of Neverwinter Nights and Jade Empire. Development of the game's first demo began in November 2002. It was officially revealed at E3 2004 as simply Dragon Age, and was re-revealed as Dragon Age: Origins in July 2008, alongside a new trailer for the game. According to BioWare, they kept any information about the game hidden from the public, to further the game's design and technology. More than 180 people worked on the game, and full-scale production began three years after the game's initial development. The subtitle "Origins" was chosen to represent the six origins storyline, BioWare's return to PC role-playing games, and the beginning of a new franchise. Origins is a spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights, as an attempt to build a similar fantasy RPG without any licensing restrictions or issues. The similarities are mostly present in gameplay elements, such as real-time tactical combat; the game does not share the Dungeons and Dragons setting of the Baldur's Gate series, and is instead set in a period resembling the Stone Age or Iron Age, with dragons prevalent. The tactic menu was inspired by the gambit system from Final Fantasy XII.
David Gaider, the lead writer for Origins, built the game's world first before writing the plot. The team chose a "fantasy" setting because Dan Tudge, the game's director, thought that BioWare was at its best in the fantasy genre. In the first draft, there were no Darkspawn or Grey Wardens, and mages were not allowed to use magic in cities. There were twelve different origin stories, including Human Commoner and Avvar, a barbarian origin. However, most of them were scrapped for being "ridiculous", leading to six stories being finalized. Loghain was the first character to be created, while an Ogre, nicknamed "Fluffy", and a human with medium armor were the first enemies designed. The concepts of Alistair and Morrigan were the next to be created, as they play the largest role in the game's plot. Their creation also took far longer than other characters. Morrigan was originally conceived to be similar to Flemeth, speaking whimsically. However, Gaider was not satisfied and decided to completely rewrite her personality. As a result, she was designed as a "blunt" person who always resists her mother. Finding a suitable voice actor for Morrigan took the most time of any character. The game's final version features 68,260 lines of dialogue; the quality assurance testers for the game enabled a cheat to automatically skip these cutscenes and dialogues during test runs.
Ray Muzyka, co-founder of BioWare, said that the team wanted to try something that would be new but familiar to most players. They hoped that Origins would redefine the genre to become The Lord of the Rings of video game franchises. Greg Zeschuk, another co-founder of BioWare, described the fantasy of Dragon Age as in between the high fantasy of J. R. R. Tolkien's works and the low fantasy of works by George R.R. Martin. The goal was a "dark heroic fantasy" that would suit the taste of any fan of the genre. Thus, while the game has the typical races of human, elf, and dwarf, they are slightly altered from the usual nature of the three races, and a new lizard-like race called the Qunari was introduced. Some of the alterations they made included flipping how certain races, like elves, are treated in other fictional worlds. While elves are often described as a race of high prestige in fiction, Dragon Age: Origins presents them as slaves of humans, labelled as second class citizens who resent the human race. This extended to the gameplay, where the player can choose to discriminate against other races, and can experience discrimination from others based on their choices.
BioWare recognized that non-linear choices are an element unique to video games in the entertainment industry. Zeschuk called the sheer number of choices in the game "big" and "impactful", and the team designed many of those to be emotional and create a more personal experience for the player. They intentionally avoided adding a karma system, as the choices are designed to be ambiguous, with only the player to judge whether they are good or bad. According to Muzyka, their goal was to make players sympathize with events and characters, connecting with them to feel true emotions. This vision challenged the team to balance many key aspects, such as the amount of dialogue and animation in each cutscene, to create a believable scenario for players.
The team also hoped to handle romance in a more "mature" and "complicated" way, with a true reflection on human relationships and reactions rather than "adolescent titillation". The game has sex scenes, but no nudity. Muzyka added that it was an artistic choice, and a decision made by the team, not the publisher Electronic Arts.
While Origins is a single-player-only game, Muzyka described it as a "social experience", considering the narrative and its variety of paths as an integral part of the gameplay. The characters a player meets, items they collect, and quests they receive and complete may be different, leading to a completely different experience. He also considered the ways a player explores the world and discovers new areas as an exploration narrative. As each player had different experience, they hoped that those players would collaborate to expand upon their knowledge of the world. To that effect, the team built a community site as an online social environment for players to communicate. Players could share stats and automatically generated screenshots with the community.
The game features an orchestral soundtrack with choir, used both in-game and during cutscenes. The soundtrack was recorded by performance of a 44-piece orchestra, recorded twice and merged to sound like an 88-piece orchestra. It was composed by Inon Zur and performed by the Northwest Sinfonia. According to Zur, he intentionally made most of the soundtrack feel "dark", combining low brass and bass string instruments with ancient drums to express a feeling that is both heroic and demonic. One of the tracks, "Leliana's Song", was composed in under 24 hours. The soundtrack was presented at a panel in the Hollywood Music in Media Interactive Conference in 2009, and was performed as part of the September 26 "A Night in Fantasia 2009" concert in Sydney, Australia, by the Eminence Symphony Orchestra.
Origins contains a large amount of voice acting recorded in the US and the UK. Actors include Tim Russ, Steve Valentine, Kate Mulgrew, Simon Templeman, Mark Rolston, Tim Curry, Adam Howden, Nicola Bertram, and Claudia Black. In total, more than 140 voice actors worked on the game. A large part of these recordings became the ambient dialogue that takes place between non-player characters in the adventuring party, adding to their backstories and lending more credibility to the characters. Mark Darrah, executive producer of BioWare, described the cast of characters the largest of any of their games at that time, and hoped that using celebrities would add a layer of depth and complexity to the characters. The main protagonist is not voice-acted, as the team hoped that players would "reflect their own inner voice" when making decisions.
While the game was originally intended for PC, a console version was announced in 2008 by gaming magazine Game Informer. Prior to the announcement, Zeschuk suggested that the entire franchise has a "console future". The decision was made to bring the game to consoles to introduce it to a wider audience. Mike Laidlaw, the game's lead designer, considered creating the console versions' interface a challenge, as they had to convert the long and complex quickbar from the PC version to a more streamlined interface that could use the same actions with only few button presses. To that end, the team decided to map six different actions together, and allow players to customize the arrangement. Also, the console version does not allow the top-down view possible in the PC version.
The game was originally set to be released in early 2009 for Microsoft Windows, and later for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The team partnered with Edge of Reality to develop the console versions of the game. However, its release date was pushed to the latter half of that year in order to have a simultaneous launch. BioWare announced that the game would be released on October 20, 2009, but pushed it back again to November 6, 2009, as the team wanted additional time to finalize some last-minute decisions. The PlayStation 3 version was at one point delayed to November 17, but did end up launching alongside the other versions. A Mac version of the game, developed by TransGaming, was released on December 21, 2009.
In addition to the standard version, other editions of Origins were made available for purchase. The Collector's Edition came in a SteelBook with different artwork. Like the standard edition, the Collector's Edition included a redemption code to obtain the Stone Prisoner and Blood Dragon Armor DLC for free, but added three additional exclusive in-game items, a bonus disc containing a making-of documentary, concept art, trailers, the game's original soundtrack, and a cloth map of Ferelden. The "Ultimate Edition", released on October 26, 2010, includes the base game, the Awakening expansion pack, and all 9 DLC packs.
The Dragon Age Character Creator was released on October 13, 2009, allowing players to create a character in advance and import it into the full game upon release. BioWare also released a "developer-grade" toolset to allow extensive modification and customization of the game's PC version. Players can use these tools to craft new campaigns, quests, cinematics, and lip-syncing.
On November 26, 2009, Electronic Arts announced a competition called Dragon Age: Warden’s Quest. Contestants formed groups of four people and competed to adventure through the game's world, with the winning group receiving $12,500. The representatives from Hungary won the contest, followed by a group called Bioware Community, Canada and a group from Poland. On March 9, 2011, Electronic Arts announced that players who pre-ordered Darkspore would receive a free copy of Origins. In 2012, to celebrate the first-year anniversary of Electronic Arts' own digital distribution software Origin, the game was made free to download alongside Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Spore for a limited time. On October 8, 2015, it became free to download again for a limited time as part of Origin's On the House program.
BioWare announced that they would support the game with downloadable content for at least 2 years. The DLC packs are both story-based and content-based, and added in elements that were cut from the base game, such as Shale, a stone-based companion who always gets stuck in doors and causes trouble with the camera system. A crossover with Mass Effect 2, an item called the Blood Dragon Armor, is also available for purchase.
|Downloadable content and expansion packs|
|The Stone Prisoner||November 3, 2009||The Stone Prisoner adds Shale, a stone Golem party member, to the game, along with new locations and items. Shale has a backstory, voice acting, and a unique quest.|
|Warden's Keep||November 3, 2009||Warden's Keep adds the fortress of Soldier's Peak to the world, with a story showing why the Grey Wardens were exiled from Ferelden. The player can set up a base of operations that has an area to store party members' surplus equipment. The pack also adds new talents and spells.|
|Return to Ostagar||January 29, 2010
March 11, 2010
|Return to Ostagar features a return to the first battlefield of Ostagar, where the Grey Wardens were nearly wiped out by the Darkspawn invasion. The player can unravel King Cailan's and Loghain's agendas, discover the armor of the late King Cailan and the arms of the last Grey Warden Commander, Duncan, and have another opportunity to recruit a Mabari War Hound. It adds one achievement, and other new items.|
|Awakening||March 16, 2010||Awakening is the only expansion pack for Origins. It offers a new campaign that takes place during the aftermath of Origins, set in the coastal region of Amaranthine. The story centers around investigating suspicious behavior displayed by the retreating Darkspawn army and its connection to an entity known as The Architect. The player has the option to import their character and save data from a completed Origins campaign (regardless of the ending outcome) or create a new character. Awakening also introduces new party members, new abilities, new class specializations, a raise in level cap, and new items.|
|The Darkspawn Chronicles||May 18, 2010||The Darkspawn Chronicles allows players to replay the final battle at Denerim as the Darkspawn army. In this version of the game's plot, the player's Grey Warden did not survive the Joining, so the Ferelden army is led by Alistair.|
|Leliana's Song||July 6, 2010||Leliana's Song is a standalone campaign set several years before the events of the main campaign. Players assume the role of Leliana when she was an Orlesian Bard, and experience the events that inspired her to join the Chantry. It features fully voiced cinematics.|
|The Golems of Amgarrak||August 10, 2010||The Golems of Amgarrak sends the player's Warden on a campaign in the Deep Roads of the Dwarven Kingdom to investigate the disappearance of a dwarven expedition that was searching for the lost secret behind constructing golems. Completing the DLC unlocks a special item that can be used in those campaigns. BioWare advertises that this campaign is recommended for experienced players, because of its high difficulty.|
|Witch Hunt||September 7, 2010||Witch Hunt starts a campaign to investigate reports that Morrigan has returned to Ferelden, nearly a year since her disappearance at the end of Origins. It provides closure to Morrigan's storyline, with rewards that transfer into Origins and Awakening. BioWare stated that this would be the final DLC to be released for Origins.|
Dragon Age: Origins received critical acclaim from major video game critics upon its release. While the game is considered to be virtually identical across all platforms, differences in user interface, graphical performance, and online content delivery have led the PC version to be reviewed more favorably than the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions; Metacritic ranks the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 versions of the game with scores of 91, 87, and 86, respectively.
The game's setting was well received by critics. Dave Snider from Giant Bomb thought that the setting felt traditional due to the presence of dwarves and elves, but that the world was beautifully executed. He also appreciated the small touches BioWare added to the world, noting the "French-tinged accent" of the Orlesian Empire humans. He added that the six origin stories and their unique dialogue and referencing throughout the game make the world feel cohesive. Kevin VanOrd from GameSpot made similar comments, stating that the new ideas added to a familiar world make it feel original and new. However, Jeff Haynes from IGN said that the origin stories were inconsistent, with missteps that make the world, while "rich and vivid", feel less believable. Joe Juba from Game Informer wrote that the world was well-realized with a deep history, which makes the game addicting, as players can sense their Warden's importance in the world.
The game's story and characters also received praise. Snider said that the story is driven by the characters, and that the choices presented in the game were difficult, making him regret some choices for weeks after completing the game. He added that the game's main quest was well-written, and its quality boosted by excellent voice acting; he called the performance of Claudia Black as Morrigan one of the best in the game. VanOrd commended the game's story, saying that it was memorable and crafted with care, successfully making players care about the game's world and characters. He added that the deep character development made every choice "momentous". GamesRadar thought that the story and the Warden's appearance felt generic, but that the story become more and more engrossing as it progressed. Nick Tan from Game Revolution liked the banter between companions as a humorous change of pace within the game. Gerald Villoria from GameSpy praised the exclusion of the moral system for making the characters feel more complex. Juba wrote that the story was good but predictable, not straying far from standard fantasy stories. Wesley Yin-Poole from VideoGamer.com called the story memorable, saying that it "leaves an itch in your mind", and has attracted players to return to the game "like an addict seeking a hit of relief."
As for the game's combat, Snider called it streamlined, but said that players who do not want to use the pause mechanic would not be able to appreciate the game, as the combat requires both patience and strategy. He liked the game's third-person view more than the top-down view, saying that being able to view the sky made environments feel more complicated, and praised the high difficulty of boss battles, which task players to manage their stamina carefully. His conclusion was that Origins "feels like a real throwback to the good old days of PC role-playing epics." VanOrd said that the combat system was easily recognizable for players who have played other RPGs developed by BioWare. He added that players can have a lot of fun switching between characters, and agreed that the game had created thrilling boss battles. He praised the choice to have health and stamina replenish immediately after battles, as it sped up combat pace and flow. Tan also commended the combat, finding it a better system than other BioWare RPGs, but disliked the fact that characters can't step into water. Juba praised the amount of space for players to experiment with new skills and abilities, adding that the required focus and attention make combat very satisfying.
The game's graphics received mixed reviews. VanOrd was not impressed, stating that the environments do not look as good viewed from a top-down perspective, but he praised the art style and some of the game's "eye-catching" landmarks. Tan liked that the environments were varied and unique, saying that each level felt "vast" and filled with details. Villoria found its visual quality lacking when compared with that of Mass Effect 2, adding that the facial animation can feel wooden at times. However, he found the combat animation rewarding and satisfying. He further criticized the sex sequences as "off-putting". Yin-Poole said that the game's graphics were boring and generic, and called the sex scenes "anti-climatic" and poorly-executed. Both Villoria and Yin-Poole felt that the six-year development time was too long, considering the game's mediocre graphics.
GamesRadar estimated that there are more than 80 hours of content available in the game. Villoria called the world engaging, and its replay value very high, as players can play the story over and over again with a different origin. Juba agreed, as did Yin-Poole, who added that the way companions react to the player's decisions, as well as the six origin stories, significantly expand the game's longevity.
Dragon Age: Origins topped Steam's sales chart on November 10, 2009. The Digital Deluxe version of the game was ranked first place, with the standard edition ranked second. The Xbox 360 version of the game was the ninth-best-selling game in the US according to the NPD Group, selling approximately 362,100 copies. According to John Riccitiello, CEO of Electronic Arts, the company is very satisfied with the sales of Origins; more than 1 million DLC packs for the game were sold before the end of 2009. In February 2010, Electronic Arts announced that more than 3.2 million copies of the game had been sold.
Origins gained recognition from several gaming publications for its achievements. The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences named it the "Role-Playing/Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year 2009". At the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards, Dragon Age: Origins received the Best PC Game and Best RPG awards. It was chosen as the PC Game of the Year, Best Xbox 360 RPG of the Year, Best Story of the Year, and Best PC Role-Playing Game of the Year by IGN. The game also received Giant Bomb's Best PC Game of 2009 award, and Game of the Year 2009 and RPG of the Year awards from U.S. PC Gamer. In 2010, the game was included as one of the titles in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.
Although the name "Origins" hinted that the game would be a beginning of a new franchise, the team did not expect the game to become successful, and had never planned for sequels. Due to its success, the game spawned a Dragon Age franchise consisting of video games, comics, and novels. The game's sequel, Dragon Age II, was announced on July 9, 2010, with the goal of bringing improved graphics and combat to the franchise. Dragon Age II is set within a ten-year period and features a new predefined protagonist, Hawke, and a new locale within the Dragon Age world, the city of Kirkwall. Players are able to transfer save data from Dragon Age: Origins into the sequel; decisions that the player made during the course of Dragon Age: Origins are referenced while playing Dragon Age II.
The third installment of the series, titled Dragon Age: Inquisition, was announced on September 17, 2012. In Inquisition, players take on the role of an Inquisitor, and must unite Ferelden and Orlais to defeat an ancient Darkspawn called Corypheus. The game was released on November 18, 2014, and in addition to the original three gaming platforms, it brought the Dragon Age franchise to the eighth generation of video game consoles: PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
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