Dragon Age: Origins

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Dragon Age: Origins
Dragon Age Origins cover.png
Developer(s) BioWare
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Director(s) Dan Tudge
Producer(s) Dan Tudge
Mark Darrah
Designer(s) Brent Knowles
Mike Laidlaw
James Ohlen
Programmer(s) Ross Gardner
Artist(s) Dean Andersen
Writer(s) David Gaider
Composer(s) Inon Zur
Series Dragon Age
Engine Eclipse Engine
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player

Dragon Age: Origins is a role-playing video game developed by BioWare's Edmonton studio and published by Electronic Arts. It is the first game in the Dragon Age franchise. The game was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on November 3, 2009, and for Mac OS X on December 21, 2009.

Set in the fictional kingdom of Ferelden during a period of civil strife, the player assumes 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. BioWare described the game as a spiritual successor to their previous Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights franchises. The game can be played from a third-person perspective, and can be shifted to top-down perspective. Throughout the game, players encounter different companions, who play major roles in the game's plot and accompany the players throughout the game.

BioWare describes Dragon Age: Origins as a "dark heroic fantasy set in a unique world". Its setting is inspired by the The Lords of the Ring and A Song of Ice & Fire, and was described as a mix between high fantasy and low fantasy. Development of the game began in 2002, and was in development for more than six years. BioWare employed more than 144 voice-actors, and hired Inon Zur to compose the music for the game.

The game received critical acclaim upon release, with praise mostly directed at the game's story, setting, characters, music and combat system. It sold more than 3.2 million copies, and 1 million pieces of downloadable content. It was awarded multiple year-end accolades, including Game of the Year and Best Role-playing awards from several gaming publications. BioWare released an expansion pack for the game, titled Awakening in March 2010, and two sequels, namely Dragon Age II and Dragon Age: Inquisition, released in 2011 and 2014 respectively.


Dragon Age: Origins is an action role-playing game. Players play as a Grey Warden, an order of elite fighters, who is on a task to defeat the Archdemon, an ancient dragon awakened by the Darkspawn, and save the world from a disastrous event called the Blight. At the beginning of the game, players are tasked to create their own Grey Warden. Players can customize the gender and appearance of their Warden, as well as their race and class.[4] There are six classes available for players to choose: Warriors, who can perform strong physical attacks to enemies, rogues, who can carry out stealth attacks and steal items from other characters, and mages, who cast magic and spells upon enemies with the use of their staffs. They can also created combo spells,[5] and provide supports to other party members, such as healing and reviving fallen companions.[6] Players can choose from three different races: Human, Elf and Dwarfs. Depending on players' decision on class and race, players will experience six different origin stories: Dalish Elf, City Elf, Dwarven Noble, Mage, Dwarven Commoner and Human Noble. Choosing to play as different classes change other characters' perspective and opinions on the warden. For instance, playing as a human noble would earn respect and love, while a Dwarven Commoner would attract hatred and discrimination from other dwarfs.[7] However, all classes shares the same story after their origin stories are completed.[8]

Example of a dwarf user-created character in combat with an Ogre.

Set in a third-person perspective, Origins's combat is largely similar to BioWare's previous Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. The Warden and his companions would engage in combat with the weapons they have equipped when players target a hostile enemy, or the group get noticed by them. Players can swap weapons and perform special attacks like specific magic spells during combat. However, most of these attacks feature a recharge time.[6] Throughout the game, players would meet different types of enemies, including giant spiders, darkspawn, ghosts, walking trees and dragons.[9] Players can recruit companions, who accompany them and provide assistance in battles. These companions are normally controlled by artificial intelligence, but players have the option to switch between characters, and are able to issue orders to them in real-time. They also have the option to temporarily pause the game to queue up actions.[9][10] The game also features a "tactic" menu, allowing players to adjust the behaviors of their AI companions. The camera of the game can be shifted from a third-person perspective to a top-down view. When playing the game in a top-down view, friendly and hostile units would be labelled with different colors for players to distinguish friends and foes.[11] Players can only venture with three companions.[9] When a battle ends, the Warden and his companions' health and stamina, which power players' skill, would be automatically restored and replenished.[12]

The unused companions would stay in the base camp, which served as a hub for players. Players can talk with their party members to know more about their past, and purchase new weapons, armors and gear there.[13] In addition to the story, players can also know more about the world of Thedas by collecting Indexes scattered throughout the game. When players defeat enemies, they may able to collect items and loot from their corpses.[9]

In addition to the Warden's basic abilities, when players earn enough experience points through completing quests and defeating enemies, they have the opportunity to level up. Each time players level-up, they have three points to spend on six different aspects which can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their attacks: strength, dexterity, willpower, magic, cunning, and constitution. Strength can help players to inflict stronger attacks, dexterity allows players to evade attacks from enemies more effectively, willpower brings improvement to players' stamina, and magic increases the damage caused by mages. Cunning is an ability for players to improve combat tactics, especially for rogue, while constitution increases the Warden capabilities in withstanding attacks.[14] Special skills, which are divided into four different aspects for each class, and specialization options, which offers class-specific skills, can also be unlocked when players level up.[15]

The game's dialogue engine is the same as that of Mass Effect.[11] Throughout the game, players can talk and interact with both party members and other non-playable characters. A dialogue tree is featured in the game, and many dialogue options are offered for players to select.[16][15] Players can also manipulate conversations by persuading or intimidating other characters.[4] Players have to have made a lot of morally ambiguous decisions in the game. Most decisions performed by players would have consequences and effects, and impacts the game's world and progression.[17] Some of those may even lead to the death of a potential companion.[18] Companions react and have different feelings regarding players' attitude and behaviors. The game introduced an "approval system".[19] Through conversation, the player unlocks unique quests and dialog which furthers Dragon Age‍ '​s lore. When they dislike or object players' decisions, their approval ratings toward the Warden would dropped, and would even result in the companion leaving the party or attacking the Warden.[20] The player may also influence a companion's approval points with gifts. Each gift has a character it is meant for; although almost every gift gives positive approval to any character. Some gifts, if given to the right character, start a cutscene and can sometimes even unlock a quest. A high approval rating improves a companion's morale, resulting in bonuses to combat abilities.[21] A significant approval rating also makes it possible for the Warden to pursue a romantic relationship with certain companions. [22] The game also features an "interaction reactivity" system, in which the ways the players treated a companion would alter the feelings of another companion towards the Warden.[23]



The game is set in Ferelden, one of several countries that makes up the mythical continent of Thedas. It is a place where 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. Beginning with the first Blight, Thedas 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.

Different races have different social classes. Elves are often viewed as second class citizens by humans, while the human noble is treated with respect. Mages, on the other hand, are cloistered by the Chantry: mages have access to the Fade, the non-conscious realm that is home to spirits, and may be possessed by demons if they lapse in vigilance. Apostate mages, who live outside the Chantry's control, are considered extremely dangerous, and the Chantry's militant wing, the Templars, are tasked with seeking them out and subduing them by any means necessary.


Dragon Age: Origins protagonists. From left to right: Oghren, Leliana, Morrigan, Sten, The Grey Warden (the player character), Mabari War Hound, Alistair, Wynne, Zevran and Shale

The chief protagonist of Dragon Age: Origins is the player-controlled character, whose biography and combat specialization are customized 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.

Players also have the opportunity to recruit companion characters who appear throughout the game and volunteer their services. Companions for the game include Alistair, a reluctantly heroic Grey Warden with a sarcastic wit; Morrigan, the sultry but cynical dark mage who has little regard for authority and social mores; Leliana, an ex-member of Ferelden's religious 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, and a maternal figure to the party also 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 is also available, where it is revealed that Shale was a female Dwarf in her prior life.

Other than companion characters, NPCs significant to Origin's 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 wife, whose youth and beauty are matched by a commanding personality and political-savvy, 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 game's main antagonists, other than the faceless Darkspawn horde and their monstrous leader, the archdemon Urthemiel, are Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir, once a respected war hero and father of Queen Anora, now gone mad with ambition and paranoia, and Rendon Howe, the greedy Arl of Amaranthine who allies with Loghain to further his own ambitions.


In every 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. By the end of their 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 called Ostagar in southern Ferelden, to join Cailan, the King of Ferelden, and Loghain, a legendary general and Cailan's father-in-law. 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 means that this would be the first true Blight in over 400 years. Duncan emphasises 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 can either kill a person or imbue him or her with the powerful darkspawn essence known as the Taint, granting them the ability to sense darkspawn and a rudimentary glimpse into their hive mind. After surviving the Joining, the player, along with another Grey Warden, Alistair, is 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, breaking the Darkspawn. 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 horde, who also massacre Cailan's army and seize control of Ostagar.

The player's Warden and Alistair are nearly killed at Ostagar as well, but are saved by Flemeth, a powerful witch who lives in a secluded hermitage with her daughter and apprentice, Morrigan. The player, along with 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.

Concurrently, Loghain returns to Ferelden's capital city, Denerim, to inform Queen Anora, his daughter, of King Cailan's death. Loghain uses the Grey Wardens as a scapegoat, blaming them for abandoning the battle and betraying Ferelden, outlawing the order and calling for the deaths of any remaining 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, benefiting none but the darkspawn, who take advantage of the chaos to advance further into Ferelden.

After the player successfully obtains the assistance of all the primary factions, a meeting known as the Landsmeet is called among the nobles of Ferelden. There, the player confronts Loghain 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 automatically drawn to the Taint in the Grey Warden who slew it, and effectively kills him or her 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, or convince Alistair or Loghain to take part instead, or refuse the witch's proposal, causing 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 is now 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. Either way, the archdemon is killed and, bereft of its leadership, the 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 his or her 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 developed by BioWare, a development studio who have previously developed acclaimed role-playing games such as Neverwinter Nights and Jade Empire.[24] It was developed by the Edmonton studio, BioWare's headquarter.[25] The development of the game began in November 2002.[24] It was officially revealed at E3 2004 as simply Dragon Age,[24] and was re-revealed as Dragon Age: Origins in July 2008, alongside a new trailer for the game.[26] According to BioWare, they purposely enclosed any information about the game from the public, so that can further worked on the game's design and technology.[27] More than 180 people worked on the game, and full-scale production began three years after the game's initial development.[28] The game chose the subtitle "Origins" for this game, as they thought that it represents the six origins storyline, BioWare's return to PC role-playing games, and a beginning of a new franchise.[29]

Dragon Age: Origins is a spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights. BioWare wanted to build their own fantasy world with the lessons they learned from developing the aforementioned games, without any licensing restrictions or issues.[30] However, it is not set in a Dungeon & Dragons setting as the Baldur's Gate series of games are. There is no direct relationship between the settings of the two games. The only similarity is the similar gameplay elements, such as the real-time tactical combat.[24] The game is set in an ancient period like Stone Age and Iron Age, a time where dragons are relevant and prevalent. According to the co-founder of BioWare, Ray Muzyka, the team wanted to try something new for the game while being familiar to most players. As a result, they slightly altered the nature of the three ordinary races: Dwarves, Elves and Humans, and set the game in a traditional fantasy setting. They also introduced a new fictional race to the game called the Qunari. This race are described to have horns on their heads and looked like a lizard.[24]

The team hoped that Dragon Age: Origins can redefine the genre, and that it can become as massive as the The Lord of the Rings franchise but at a video game level. The team aimed at creating a "dark heroic fantasy" story. Greg Zeschuk, another co-founder from BioWare, described the fantasy of Dragon Age as the middle of high fantasy, citing works from J. R. R. Tolkien, and low fantasy, such as the works from George R.R. Martin. The hoped that through this setting, the game would suit the taste of all players who enjoy the genre.[31] In order to make the game's story to feel different from other fictional fantasy games, the team attempted to flip how certain races, like elves are treated in other fictions. For instance, elves are often described as a race of high prestige, but in Dragon Age: Origins, they turned them to become the slaves of humans, who are labelled as second class citizens and are hostile towards humans. This feature also extended to the game's gameplay layer. Players can choose from six origins, and their decision would change how other characters viewed them. Furthermore, the player can be the one discriminating other races. Alternatively, they can get discriminated based on their choices.[32]

We don't constrain what they do. We don't strive for gratuitous content. But we also ask the teams to choose a direction and then run with it. That was their choice. That's how they wanted to depict the romantic liaisons in the game, so that's what we did.

Ray Muzyka, founder of BioWare on Dragon Age: Origins's romance system.

BioWare recognized that non-linear choices are elements that can only be featured in video games, making it standout from other forms of entertainment. As a result, the team added a lot of choices in the game, which according to Zeschuk, are "big" and "impactful". In order to create a more personal experience for players, they designed a lot of choices which they described as emotional.[30] They intentionally avoided adding a karma system, as the choices are designed to be ambiguous, and whether these decision are good or bad are based on players' thoughts.[33] According to Muzyka, their goal is to make players to have sympathy to the events and characters appeared in the game, and let players to be connected with them, so that they can feel the emotions in real-life. The team considered it a challenge for them, as they had to balance a lot of aspects, such as the amount of dialogue and animation featured in each cutscene, in order to create a believable scenario for players.[34] The team also hoped that they can handle romance in a more "mature" and "complicated" way. They hoped that these element can have a true reflection on human relationship, and reflect how humans react in a given situation instead of being "adolescent titillation".[35] The game features sex scenes, but no nudity was shown in any of these scenes. According to BioWare, they do this intentionally. Muzyka added that it was an artistic choice, and a decision made by the team instead of publisher Electronic Arts.[36]

While the game is a single-player-only game, Muzyka described it as a "social experience". Muzyka considered that the game's gameplay as part of its narrative, as the people players met, items they collected and quests they received and completed may be different. He also considered the ways players explore the world and discover new areas the narrative of exploration. As every players would have a different experience, they hoped that players can share what they have encountered in the game to other players, and collaborating each other off-line. As a result, they team built a community site which allows players to communicate with each other. He hoped that through this method, they can achieve and create an online social environment.[37] Furthermore, the game automatically took screenshots when players save their progression, and the site allows players to share their stats to the community.[38]

David Gaider served as the lead writer for Dragon Age: Origins. He built the world of the game first, before writing the actual plot. When choosing the game's setting, they picked the "fantasy" setting, because Dan Tudge, the game's director, thought that BioWare is the best when creating this kind of game.[39] In the first draft, there was no Darkspawn or Grey Wardens featured, and Mages are not allowed to use magic in cities. Initially there were twelve different origin stories, such as Human Commoner and Avvar, a kind of barbarian origin stories. However, most of them were scrapped for being "ridiculous", and only six of them were finalized. In the draft, narration voiced by a very old Morrigan was also included.[40] As for the game's character, Loghain is the first character that got created, while Ogre, once known as "Fluffy", and a human with medium armor, were the first enemies designed.[41] The conception of Alistair and Morrigan also began the earliest, as they play the most part in the game's plot. Their creation was the longest among other characters.[42] Morrigan was originally conceived to be similar to Flemeth, who said things in a whimsical way. However, Gaider was not satisfied with it and decided to completely rewrite her personality. As a result, she was designed to become a "blunt" person who always resists her mother. They also took the most time to find a suitable person to voice act Morrigan.[43] The story was changed after the draft. The game's final version features 68,260 lines of dialogue, so many that the quality assurance testers enabled a cheat to automatically skip these cutscenes and dialogues when testing the game.[41]


The game features an orchestral soundtrack with choir, used both in-game and during cutscenes. The audio recorded the soundtrack with performance from a 44-piece orchestra. They recorded it twice and merged the two together so as to create sounds provided by a 88-piece orchestra.[41] The tracks were composed by Inon Zur and performed by the Northwest Sinfonia.[41][44][45] According to him, he intentionally made most of the soundtrack feel "dark". He used low brass, ancient drums, and low string instruments to express a feeling that is both heroic and demonic.[46] One of the songs, Leliana' Song, was composed within 24 hours.[41] The song "I Am the One" from Dragon Age won "Best Original Song" for a video game at Hollywood Music in Media Awards. It was composed by Inon Zur and Aubrey Ashburn while being performed by Aubrey Ashburn. Dragon Age also won the award for "Outstanding Music Supervision" at the Hollywood Music in MediaTM Awards.[47] His music from Dragon Age: Origins, and Prince of Persia was performed at the September 26, 2009 "A Night in Fantasia 2009" concert in Sydney, Australia by the Eminence Symphony Orchestra.[48]

The game 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.[49] Additionally, more than 140 voice actors worked on the game.[50] A considerable amount of ambient dialogue takes place between the non-player characters in the adventuring party, adding to their background story 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 these celebrities can add a layer of depth and complexity to all these characters.[51] However, the main protagonist is not voice-acted, as the team hoped that players can "reflect their own inner voice" when making decisions.[30]


While the game was originally aimed for PC, a console version was announced in 2008 by gaming magazine Game Informer.[52] Prior to the announcement, Zeschuk suggested that the entire franchise has a "console future".[53] The decision of bringing the game to consoles was made to introduce the game to a wider audience.[29] Mike Laidlaw, the game's lead designer, considered that creating the console versions' interface a challenge, as they has to convert the long and complex quickbar from the PC version to a more streamlined interface, which allows players to perform their desirable actions with only few button presses. To do this, the team decided to map six different actions together, and allows players to customize and arrange how they are mapped together.[28] However, the console version does not feature the top-down view featured in the PC version.[54]

The game was original set to be released in the first half of 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.[55] However, its release date was later pushed to the later half of that year, so that the release date of the console version can launch simultaneously with the PC one.[56] BioWare later announced that the game would be released on October 20, 2009, but they pushed the release date further to November 6, 2009, as the team wanted to have additional time to finalize things and decisions.[57] The PlayStation 3 version was once delayed to November 17, but was later moved forward to launch alongside other versions.[58] A Mac version of the game, developed by TransGaming, was released on December 21, 2015.[59]

In addition to the standard version, there are other packages that are available for purchase. The Collector's Edition comes in a SteelBook, having different artwork from the regular edition. Like the regular edition, the Collector's Edition includes a redemption code to obtain the Stone Prisoner and Blood Dragon Armor DLC for free, but adds three 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.[60] The "Ultimate Edition" was released on October 26, 2010. It includes the base game, the Awakening expansion pack, and all 9 DLC packs.[61]

The Dragon Age Character Creator was released on October 13, 2009, allowing players to create a character in advance and to import it into the full game upon release.[62] BioWare also released a "developer-grade" toolset to allow extensive modification and customization of the game exclusive to the PC version. Players can craft new campaigns, quests, cinematics, and lip-syncing with the tools.[63] On November 26, 2009, Electronic Arts announced a competition called Dragon Age: Warden’s Quest. Contestants form a group of four people and compete with nine other groups. The winning group would be awarded $12,500.[64] The representatives from Hungary eventually won the contest, followed by a group called Bioware Community, Canada and Poland.[65]

On March 9, 2011, Electronic Arts announced that players who pre-ordered Darkspore can receive a free copy of Origins.[66] 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.[67] On October 8, 2015, the game was made free to download for a limited time again as part of Origin's On the House programme.[68]

Downloadable content[edit]

BioWare announced that they would support the game with downloadable content for at least 2 years.[69] It includes story-based DLC, as well as content-based packs. It also added in elements that was cut from the base game, such as Shale, a stone-based companion who always get stuck in a door and causing troubles with the camera system.[70] A crossover with Mass Effect 2, which is an item called the Blood Armor, is also available for purchase.[71]

Downloadable content and expansion packs
Name Release date Notes
The Stone Prisoner November 3, 2009 The Stone Prisoner adds Shale to the game, a stone Golem and a party member. Shale has a back story, voice acting, and a unique quest. The Stone Prisoner also adds new locations and items.[72]
Warden's Keep November 3, 2009 Warden's Keep adds the fortress of Soldier's Peak to Dragon Age: Origins, granting the player the opportunity to understand 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 download also adds new talents and spells.[72]
Return to Ostagar January 29, 2010[73]
March 11, 2015[73]
Return to Ostagar features a return to the first battlefield of Ostagar, where the Grey Wardens were nearly wiped out by the Darkspawn invasion. It allows the player to 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 provides another opportunity to recruit a Mabari War Hound. It also includes one achievement, and other new items.[74]
Awakening March 16, 2010 Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening is Origins first and last expansion pack. The expansion pack offers a new campaign that takes place during the aftermath of Dragon Age: Origins, and is set in the coastal region of Amaranthine. The player has the option to import their character and save data from a completed Dragon Age: Origins campaign (regardless of the ending outcome) or to create a new character. In this story, the player must investigate suspicious behavior displayed by the retreating Darkspawn army, and its connection to an entity known as The Architect. Awakening also introduces new party members, new abilities, new class specializations, a raise in level cap, and new items.[75]
The Darkspawn Chronicles May 18, 2010 The Darkspawn Chronicles allows players to replay the final battle at Denerim as the Darkspawn army. The story alters the game's plot by presupposing that the player's Grey Warden did not survive the Joining, so the Ferelden army is led by Alistair, instead.[76]
Leliana's Song July 6, 2010 Leliana's Song is a standalone campaign that stars Leliana, and is set several years before the events of the main campaign. Players assume the role of Leliana while she was an Orlesian Bard, and experience the events that inspired her to join the Chantry. The DLC features fully voiced cinematics.[77]
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.[78]
Witch Hunt September 7, 2010 Witch Hunt sets the player on a campaign to investigate reports that Morrigan has returned to Ferelden, nearly a year since her disappearance at the end of Origins. BioWare advertises that Witch Hunt provides closure to Morrigan's storyline, rewards that transfer into Origins and Awakening, and that it is the final DLC to be released for Origins.[79]


Critical reception[edit]

Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (PC) 90.50%[80]
(X360) 86.85%[81]
(PS3) 86.28%[82]
Metacritic (PC) 91/100[83]
(PS3) 87/100[84]
(X360) 86/100[85]
Review scores
Publication Score
Game Informer 9/10[86]
Game Revolution A-[87]
GameSpot 9.5/10[9]
GameSpy 4.5/5 stars[89]
GamesRadar 4.5/5 stars[88]
Giant Bomb 5/5 stars[90]
IGN 8.7/10[4]
VideoGamer.com 8/10[91]

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.[83][84][85]

The game's setting received acclaim from critics. Dave Snider from Giant Bomb thought that the setting feels traditional due to the presence of dwarf and elves, but thought that the world is beautifully-executed. He also appreciated the touches BioWare added to the world, singling out 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 have made the world to feel cohesive. Kevin VanOrd from GameSpot echoed similar statement. He found the world similar, but the new ideas added to the world has made it to feel original and new.[9] However, Jeff Haynes from IGN thought that the origin stories are inconsistent, and he thought that these missteps make the world to feel less believable. Nonetheless he described it as a "rich and vivid world"[4] Joe Juba from Game Informer thought that the world is well-realized, and features a deep history. He thought this has made the game to feel addicting, as players can sense their Warden's importance in the world.[86]

The game's story and characters received praise. Snider thought that the story is driven by the characters featured in the game, and that the choices presented in the game are difficult for players. He added that he felt regret for making some of the choices for weeks after completing the game. Snider added that the game's main quest is well-written, and thought that its quality is boosted by excellent voice acting. He noted that the performance of Claudia Black as Morrigan is one of the best in the game.[90] VanOrd commended the story, saying that it was memorable and crafted with care. He added that the story has successfully made players to care about the world and characters in the game. He added that the deep character development featured in the game has made every choice to become "momentous".[9] GamesRadar thought that the story and the Warden's appearance can feel generic, but that the story become more and more engrossing as it progresses.[88] Nick Tan from Game Revolution liked the banter between companions, which he believed is humorous, and introduces a change of pace to the game.[87] Gerald Villoria from GameSpy praised the exclusion of the moral system, as it has made characters to feel more complex.[89] Juba thought that the story was good but predictable, and does not stray far away from other standard fantasy stories.[86] Wesley Yin-Poole from VideoGamer.com agreed that the story was memorable. He added that it "leaves an itch in your mind", and has attract players to return to the game "like an addict seeking a hit of relief."[91]

The game's combat is applauded. Snider thought that it was streamlined, but praised the high difficulty of the boss battles, which tasks players to manage their mana properly. However, he added 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. However, he liked the game's third-person view more than the top-down view, as he can view the sky from the third-person perspective, which he believed has made environments to feel more complicated. He concluded that Origins "feels like a real throwback to the good old days of PC role-playing epics."[90] VanOrd thought that the combat system is easily recognizable for players who have played the other role-playing games BioWare had developed before. He added that players can find a lot of fun switching between characters, and that the game has created a very thrilling boss battles. He also praised the feature which make health and stamina replenished automatically immediately after battles, as he thought that it has sped up combat pace and flow.[9] Tan also commended the combat. He found it a better combat system than other BioWare's RPG, but disliked the fact that the characters step into water.[87] Juba praised the combat, which he thought has left a lot of space for players to experiment with new skills and abilities. He added that every battle requires focus and attention, making them very satisfying.[86]

The game's graphics received mixed review. VanOrd does not found it impressive, and that environments do not look nice when they are viewed from a top-down perspective. Tan liked the environments, as he thought that they are varied and unique. He added that each level feels "vast" and filled with details.[87] However, he praised the game's artsyle, and some landmarks featured in the game, which he believed are "eye-catching"[9] Villoria compared it visual quality negatively with that of Mass Effect 2. He added that the facial animation can feel wooden at times. However, he praised the combat animation, which he believed is rewarding and satisfying. He further criticized the sex sequences, which he described as "off-putting".[89] Yin-Poole considered the game's graphic boring and generic, and called the sex scenes featured "anti-climatic" and poorly-executed.[91]

The game's rich content was praised. GamesRadar thought that there is more than 80 hours of content that is available in the game.[88] Villoria thought that the world is engaging, and its replay value is very high, as players can play the story over and over again from a different perspective and origin.[89] Juba echoed similar statement, and agreed that the game's replayability is very high.[86] Yin-Poole echoed his thought, and stated that how companion members react to players' decision and attitude, and the six origin stories has significantly expand the game longevity.[91] Some of them agreed that the game's mediocre graphics is that the game six-year development time was too long.[89][91]


Dragon Age: Origins topped Steam's sales chart as of November 10, 2009. The Digital Deluxe version of the game was ranked in the first place, while the standard edition was ranked second.[92] 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.[93] According to John Riccitiello, the CEO of Electronic Arts, the company is very satisfied with the sales of Dragon Age: Origins, and that more than 1 million of its DLC have been sold.[94] In February 2010, Electronic Arts announced that more than 3.2 million copies of the game have been sold.[95]


Origins gain recognition from gaming publications for its achievements. The Academy of Interactive Arts & Science's awarded Dragon Age as the "Role-Playing/Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year 2009".[96] At the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards, Dragon Age: Origins received the Best PC Game and Best RPG awards.[97] It was chosen as the PC Game of the Year,[98] Best Xbox 360 RPG of the Year,[99] Best Story of the Year,[100] and Best PC Role-Playing Game of the Year by IGN.[101] The game also received Giant Bomb's Best PC Game of 2009 award,[102] and Game of the Year 2009 and RPG of the Year awards from U.S. PC Gamer.[103] In 2010, the game was included as one of the titles in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.[104]


Main article: Dragon Age

Despite 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 had plans for sequels. As a result, the team made some design flaws with Origins.[105] The game went on to spawn a franchise that consists of video games, comics and novels. The game's sequel, Dragon Age II was announced on July 9, 2010. It was said to bring improved graphics and combat to the franchise.[106] 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.[107] 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.[108]

The third installment of the series, titled Dragon Age: Inquisition was announced on September 17, 2012.[109] In Inquisition, players take on the role of an Inquisitor, and must unite Ferelden and Orlais to defeat an ancient darkspawn called Corypheus. It was released on November 18, 2014 for Microsoft Windows , PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and the eighth generation of video game consoles: PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.[110] A free-to-play mobile game, Heroes of Dragon Age, was released in 2013.[111]


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