Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Dragon Age: Origins PS3 third impressions

Yes I'm still talking about this because it really is that big a game and there's so much tucked away into corners.

Targeting again, and I find you can also target by holding L2 (for the radial menu) then using the right analogue stick to centre it on an enemy, then L3 to target before releasing L2. I was told this in the tutorial - once.

Weapon sets. Each party member has two weapon loadouts, so you can equip them with both a particular sword and a particular bow. What they use in combat though depends on their Tactics, which I'll discuss later.

Comparing items with equipped ones also works at the merchants, however I've got to see if there's a way of comparing the weapons set that isn't currently equipped. It would also have been nice while in the compare screen to have a Buy and Equip button so you don't have to back out the entire merchant process. As it is you buy the item, leave the conversation, equip it, then start the conversation so you can sell the item you've just unequipped.

Combat Tactics, again the brief tutorial which comprised - You have Tactics, you can use these. Essentially they're very similar to the gambits used in Final Fantasy XII. No I tell a lie it's identical to the gambits used in FFXII. Set a condition and an action and that member will act on it. So if you have two slots you can set them up as:

1. If Enemy Close use Lightning
2. If Self Health<50% use Healing Potion

Except they prioritise top down, so if you're surrounded by enemies you'll never heal yourself as slot 1 is in force. So logically you swap the order around. Then regardless of the closeness of enemies as soon as your health drops to below half you'll try to heal yourself.

Sadly if you're not careful this leads to the following loop:

Enemy hits you taking health below 50%, you heal, while healing enemy hits you taking health below 50%, you heal, rinse, repeat.

This is a fantastic way to burn through all your healing potions in one combat if you're not careful. Okay I said they were identical to FFXII there is one slight but important difference - if you engage in combat and none of the criteria apply you will still attack using your base weapon at whoever is the nearest target.

What this means in theory is that you can run across some enemies, hit X to engage in combat, and put down the controller letting them fight for themselves. In practice you still need to do some micromanaging. You also need to check the Tactics section every level up, to see how it's automatically assigned any new skills or talents.

Tactics work well provided you have enough slots to accommodate a basic heal/attack pattern; trouble is you have to spend level up points to gain slots at the expense of other talents. So you might have a full boat of tactics, but no talents to actually use with them. At later levels this should balance out.

Onto the radial menu. In the first few quests I simply did not use this, however with more spells than will fit in my quick-use slot I've been using it more, and found it quite handy and simple to use for more than just the spells.

With a fixed party I now find I can alter their approval ratings; sadly although some members are easy to please Morrigan in particular is a right pain.
"Can I ask you something personal?"
"As we're in camp this seems the best place to do so"
"Why are you still with us?"
"Because my mother asked me to accompany you. Why do you not want me around?"
Choice - "no, please leave", "No please stay", "What do you want to do?"

I chose the "stay" and got a -10 approval, I repeated the conversation and this time chose the question and got a -10 approval. Ouch!

Oh and I finally have a rogue in the party so I can unlock some of those locked items that I've been seeing since the very beginning of the game; come on why can only rogues access the Deft Hands tree? It's a right pain if you don't want a rogue as part of the main combat party and have to keep switching them in and out every time you find something locked.

Anyway yes I'm still playing it, it has a vast feel about it and to an extent you get the impression that other people are doing things too, it's not just you running around fixing all the ills of the world.