Thursday, April 08, 2010

Dragon Age: Origins the Warriors Tale

My first run through of the game was as a Mage and boy was I spoiled. You start with an auto-hit ranged attack; you can gain debilitating spells that weaken and paralyse, spells that can heal your entire group in one go and resurrect them; spells that affect multiple enemies and even area spells that you can cast through closed doors. Not only that, but in one quest you can be taught to be an Arcane Warrior that allows you to use Magic as Strength to satisfy armour use meaning you can suit up as a warrior and by enabling a special mode even use the big swords too.

Then I started again as a Warrior. This should be easier, I know the quests, I know what's going to happen. Piece of cake right?

Wrong. Damn it's tough; no ranged skills or area attacks and no multiple hit attacks until you hit the top end of the talent trees.

Oh sure you can use a crossbow or normal bow, but you end up standing stock still shooting at enemies who are in turn shooting back at you and bows of both types use dexterity to determine damage when you've been saving it up for strength that's used for both swords and equipping better armour. Yes dexterity is also used to determine whether you hit using a sword so it's worth adding something to it, but the game simply doesn't reward jack of all trades. Besides bows use arrows (or bolts) and although there are plenty lying around have you seen the cost of them?

No ordinary arrows allowed in DA:O; the cheapest ones are the Ice and the Fire arrows at a cost of 13 Silver 20 Copper each. To put that into context a dagger may cost 8 Silver and Final Reason a seriously nifty Mage's staff will cost 4 Gold 25 Silver or roughly 32 arrows worth. Seriously crimps your style using arrows unless you know you're going to hit.

Yeah you're doing more damage per hit with your UltraSword of Doom but often you've got a crowd of enemies around you hitting you while a few stand off and pelt you with arrows that can pin or stun you with no way to reach them. Charge them and they'll run away or switch to melee before switching back if you head back into the fray.

Use of the tactics screen can mean having an archer or mage prioritise them, but as I've mentioned elsewhere you only get a set number of slots and have to pay for others. You can change combat tactics on the fly, but that means opening the menu, switching to the character screen, going into the tactics screen, changing them, saving them switching to another character, going into their tactics screen. All for at least three characters, four if you need to switch from the main character to micro-manage another; which again as I've pointed out doesn't pause the game.

Playing as a Warrior just highlights how rough the game is in terms of team control and how poor the menu system is. Take the radial system as an example, you can't move any of the talents or spells, so your two favourite spells might be on different wheels. You can assign them to quick slots in play, but those are real time use and are inaccessible with the paused radial menu that you may want to use to target a particular individual. Better yet even with shared resources items appear in different places on the radial menu; one character has healing potions in the top arc of the wheel, while another has injury kits in that position.

The basic form is there but it's just been left a bit of a mess I'll post a full review with all the good bits and bad bits taken from my impressions.