The Recipe for a Perfect Dragon Age

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More information about Dragon Age: Inquisition is planned to be revealed at E3 this year, although the amount of detail is unknown. While I’m hoping for lots of spicy details to satisfy some of my curiosity, I don’t see BioWare sharing too much so soon. I’ve mentioned some of the rumors that have spread about the game, and a few details that people are craving for in the next installation, but what would undoubtedly make the “perfect” Dragon Age game?

Dragon Age: Origins created something brilliant with the different origin stories available to try. It allowed a different experience for each playthrough, and the ability to play as different races and classes each time is something that makes this game one of the best modern RPGs available. But would this create an interesting dose of variety in the third game? Or would a push for another new introduction pull away from the Dragon Age lore and mysteries that have yet to be revealed?

I suppose this would depend on the controllable protagonist introduced in the game. Obviously if this is a predetermined character like Hawke in the second, a detailed and always-changing origin story would be difficult to manage. But creating diverse and likable characters is something BioWare is extremely talented at. While I would enjoy being able to choose my own race, a protagonist such as Hawke wouldn’t deter me from the game.

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Character growth is something that makes Dragon Age shine, and the supporting characters should definitely hold a major impression over the decisions and actions the player makes in the game. While consequences in DA:O were fairly heavy, personal opinions of the characters didn’t often make me rethink my decisions. This is where Dragon Age 2 shines. All of the characters are so different and so heavily dependent on their beliefs that it makes consequences feel more real and life-altering. This needs to be a strict and important element inside the game.

But at the same time, the player should be able to change the thoughts and opinions of their companions. This element in DA:O and DA2 are highly comparable. For example, even though Alistair corners you in camp if you kill Connor, you’re able to easily change his opinion about the matter, and it seems way too easy to do such things. While in DA2, the supporting characters are downright belligerent! Sometimes the characters’ beliefs could strike true emotion, and other times… it’s obvious that there is no middle ground. Conversations, more importantly, confrontations are like bashing into a brick wall. Characters need to be malleable, but not too much! And vice versa.

Dragon Age characters are complex, but in a way, they need to be even more complex. Allow the world to influence them. Being able to harden characters in DA:O was something interesting, and if you played the game without understanding that influence, the storyline and consequences can be delightfully shocking.

This could make relationships more dramatic and more worthwhile. I love the fact that you can heighten the approval of companions in DA:O by giving them gifts and picking decent conversation choices, but life outside of the relationships should carry a deeper influence. As was stated in David Gaider’s blog, romantic relationships shouldn’t be as static.

While I enjoyed the flexibility the romance offered in DA2, I understand that this isn’t realistic. Not every character in the game should prefer both sexes. In fact, some characters shouldn’t be able to participate in an epic romance at all. This would be difficult to do in a game where the story normally centers a small group of companions, but I would love to be able to meet complex NPCs that could offer a variety of relationships: Someone that cheats, someone that can be killed, someone that betrays… the possibilities here are endless.

But at the same time, there need to be the epic relationships that people tend to crave for inside of BioWare games. And in this case, I think they need to be more profound and dramatic. I’m an intense lover of angst, and combined with romance, this quality could create a deep story inside of the Dragon Age world. Have you heard some of the cries from the characters when Hawke is close to death? Even though I’m not a huge fan of Anders, his cries give me chills. And I love that!

Voice acting is a must, although that will most definitely be expected in Inquisition. I’ve never really had a problem with voice acting in the Dragon Age games. The actors do a wonderful job and their characters end up becoming more fleshed out and worthwhile because of it. Dragon Age 2 offered better voice acting, especially during the more dramatic scenes. Dragon Age: Origins is disappointing in comparison.

There needs to be risk, and the characters need to react and fear these risks. Sometimes there need to be tears and screaming and a little bit of insanity… it makes the characters more human and more relatable. There is nothing more heartbreaking than to see Merrill cry, and there is nothing more enjoyable than to hear her deliver her confused questions and quips. That underlying emotion needs to exist in all characters in realistic ways.

Awesome battles should be found along with these risks, something Inquisition will no doubt contain, but the combat system should retain Dragon Age 2’s fluidity. Origins’ was fun, but it felt like a game that tried to develop tactical battle inside of a game that is better received as a more fast-paced and action-packed title. Playing as a mage in Dragon Age 2 was a delight given the variety of powers you could equip, and I would love to see something similar integrated in Inquisition.

The numerous amounts of powers and abilities for each class made combat more interesting, and I found myself trying out different techniques in different playthroughs. This kind of customization made exploring and fighting more enjoyable. But the customization shouldn’t end there! While DA:O tackled the character customization quite thoroughly, I enjoyed the more aesthetic choices in DA2. More hair choices, more striking eye colors, more striking colors in general, and the ability to customize your armor would be fantastic! It doesn’t need to be too extensive, but I enjoy having a character that feels like mine.

There are several qualities inside both Dragon Age games that could be combined to create an ultimately pleasant experience, and I’ve only touched on a tiny bit. Even though no details have been unveiled about Inquisition yet, I have faith that this game will overpower the other two in terms of the story and development. There is so much mystery and lore inside of this universe that can be deeply explored, and I can’t wait to be able to access more parts of this growing world.

Recipe:

A dash of angst

A sprinkle of humorous banter

A cup of love

A mixture of interweaving stories

A spice of awesome combat

And some ENCHANTMENT!

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6 thoughts on “The Recipe for a Perfect Dragon Age

  1. Awesome post. I just started DA:O last night after your tweet about it, so far (a couple of hours in) I’m really liking it even though I’m not a big fan of the combat yet. I’m playing as a warrior dwarf noble male to start with and I enjoyed his origin story.

    • I started that one recently just to see the origin story, but I think my favorite is as an alienage elf. I’m definitely not a fan of the combat in Origins… that’s something that is highly improved in the second.

  2. I agree with almost everything here! Great post. Really, nothing is going to deter me from ravaging Dragon Age III when it comes out… but I would love to see everything you talk about here implemented!

    It would be fantastic to be able to create a character from scratch, play as another race, and engage in an origin story again. I loved that in Dragon Age: Origins — and let’s face it, everybody loves that! I hope BioWare realizes that… =) At the very least, I hope we have the ability to choose a backstory like in Mass Effect, even if we can’t play it out. Hawke was way too restricted in that respect.

    I also love what you said about the characters having the ability to grow and change from your conversations with them, but in a natural way. Hadn’t thought about it like that before, but you’re absolutely right. And I would really enjoy the Origins dialogue coming back — meaning LOTS of dialogue that you can initiate in different places — but with the DA2 dialogue wheel, which is nice.

    • One thing I didn’t mention (and should have) was the dialogue wheel! Combining the numerous options from DA:O with the wheel from DA2 would be amazing! It would be interesting to see how those two could be meshed together.

      Glad you enjoyed!

  3. Pingback: TVE Community Spotlight – Recommended Reading 5/16/2013 – The Vortex Effect

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