Dragon Age: Inquisition, part of one of my favorite series of games, is coming out next month. This is part of a character-heavy fantasy series of Western RPGs that let you create your own character, assemble a party of unique companions, then take on the world in a way uniquely suited to the personality of your character.
In anticipation of the latest addition to the series, I want to talk about the first two games–Dragon Age: Origins (DA:O) and Dragon Age 2 (DA2).
It should be noted that a lot of Bioware fans love the first game, while reactions for the second one are much more divided. Personally, I love both of them. Having both DA:O and DA2 exist storywise–two very different games–makes for a richer experience, since they complement each other well. I’m not sure what exactly made so many fans of DA:O hate DA2 so bad… It was rushed out of production, and yes, that showed. Nonetheless, the core of the story was plenty interesting.
As such, I’ve decided to put together a comparison of the two games–in some cases these are pros and cons, in others, they’re just differences.
|Dragon Age: Origins||Dragon Age 2|
|Plot||Traditional quest fantasy–the playable character goes on a journey to defeat an evil villain and save the land from destruction.
Pro: Has playable origin stories. I love that each origin gives you a different perspective on the action in the game–you have familiarity with different characters depending on what origin story you play. In once case, two of the origin stories each predispose you to take different sides in a conflict later in the game.
|Hero gets caught up in the events of a city that’s going through serious social and political turmoil. Things progress from tense to calamitous, and you’re along for the ride whether you like it or not.
Pro: Has a cool story-within-a-story element. We’re hearing one of the characters retell the story under duress while playing through the action. It’s a nice way to use foreshadowing and add a sense of weight to the story. And also to introduce a character from the next game.
|Character||Companions are okay, interesting during the game, but they don’t stand out the way DA2’s character’s do.
The villain/hero story is black and white, though there can be grey morality in how some decisions are handled.
|Pro: Companions are memorable and unique and quirky. I love all of them, except for the one I hate with a fiery passion–but they all elicit stronger emotions from me than the ones in the previous game. They’re more interesting, and less typical.
Pro: A lot more grey morality with respect to the villains.
|Choices||Offers a wider array of choices and more varied endings.
Your choices are far-reaching and powerful, but that also means you don’t feel what it’s like to have things happen out outside of your control as much. For some people, this is a huge plus in a game–being able to control not just the main character, but also how multiple aspects in the story play out.
|Has choices, but is more linear than the first game. Plenty of micro-decisions on how to play through the story.
Less choice, and not all conflicts can be resolved, which means you won’t necessarily get the satisfaction of having a “good ending” for all of your quests. Your decisions aren’t necessarily more important than those of other influential characters.
|Combat||Have control of all four party members, can strategize party moves or play as a single character.||Same, except easier to play with a single character.
Con: More enemies pop out of thin air in the middle of battle–it’s a little annoying.
|General||A longer game.
More varied environments.
No voice acting for the player character. More control of the dialogue options. I initially preferred this, but the dialogue wheel from DA2 grew on me with time, so I see the value of both.
Character customization is more extensive.
No continuity issues, because it’s the first game.
| A shorter game.
Con: More limited environments, with some repeated areas due to rushed production.
Voice acting for the player character. This adds more personality to the character, while limiting control of the dialogue.
Your character’s customized appearance affects how your relatives look. Not just skin color, but a bit of facial structure, too.
Con: Some continuity issues with importing decisions from the first game.
Again, I loved both. Now, a few comments about the upcoming game, Dragon Age: Inquisition.
I’m definitely disappointed that we get 6 male companions and only 3 female companions. Yeah, yeah, I get that the flip-side of that is female playable characters have two more romance options than male playable characters, which is kind of unprecedented–but I’d personally rather have a more gender balanced party. To finish, a few impressions on the upcoming game, Dragon Age: Inquisition.
On a positive note, DA:I has two straight, two bisexual, and two gay romance-able party members. I was totally fine with every romance-able character being bisexual, because that would probably be the easiest way to create romances in the video game medium. But what’s nice about this decision is that it focuses not as much on what makes game creation easier, but on characterization. Seriously, characterization taking precedence is awesome.
I love this series and I’m excited for the latest game.