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Default DA:O player review that will make us smile

October 20th, 2009, 19:31
Is it November yet?
Great user review by Woolen Horde, over at QT3

I won't go into specifics and details and spoilers, but I have played through Dragon Age, and it's easily BioWare's best RPG. It's also BioWare's biggest RPG. I mean, this thing is HUGE. It's got a huge story, a huge cast of characters, and it's really quite complex in terms of the relationship mechanics. Admittedly, there's a dungeon or two that are really grindy and feel like they're lengthy for legnthy's sake (seriously, they could have been chopped in half and they'd still be a bit too big), but otherwise the rest of the game just dazzles.

I'm hoping BioWare has tweaked the difficulty since I played, because at default this was a really brutal game at certain points. In fact, though it's supposed to scale with you since you can go through the story in different ways, it got so tough that about halfway through I adjusted the difficulty down to easy. Even then, many of the boss battles were incredibly micro-heavy. I had to constantly pause the action to order guys to drink healing potions or for the mages to bail someone out, else they're dead. Mouse and keyboard are your friend, though I didn't really try it out with the gamepad.

Still. GET THE PC VERSION. There are a gazillion loading screens that you'll encounter, and on the PC the wait isn't too bad, but I shudder at the thought of all those loads on a 360 or PS3.

About my only real complaint is that "adult" aspects are somewhat sophomoric. There are really awesome slow-mo kill moves, but after every battle the blood splatter is so ridiculously over-the-top that you want to laugh. And for sex scenes are uncomfortable. They're just…. awkward.

Also, when the game arrives, here's a big technical hint: Gift giving is done by dragging the gift onto the character's avatar in the inventory screen. I thought it was broken or something, and I never figured it out till near the end. Gifts have a HUGE role in helping to keep someone happy, even when every decision you're making is pissing them off to no end. This was a problem since I was accumulating all these gifts and I couldn't give them away and they were eating valuable inventory space.

Speaking of which, inventory is better than Mass Effect, but it will still drive you batty as it's slot-limited. Each item takes up a slot, and once you hit the maximum you're going to have to dumping gear. The thing is, you can really accumulate loot in a hurry, and in some of the longer dungeons you're going crazy trying to figure out what to keep and what to ditch because you can't get back to the store. Another technical hint: some merchants sell upgrades that boost your item limit. I didn't know about these till the end, too, and I sort of howled when I found out.
About the only true negative in what Woolen Horde wrote was the awkwardness of mature contents.

The gift giving thing is the first time that I heard about it. It sounds great, this would greatly minimize the need to save and reload every time you did something that could potentially adjust your influence with NPC companions.

Avoid the Crazy Chicken. It is childish. Don't do it. We beg you.
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October 20th, 2009, 20:42
More and more info about this permeating level scaling…

Blah.. I wonder how clear-cut was Gaider when he said: "no, all enemies don't scale". What does it mean? Cca 0,5% don't scale or cca 30% don't scale?

After all, sometimes he spreads misinformation when it comes to DA game mechanics. I am not saying he does it on purpose, he's probably not sufficiently informed about some aspects of the game he's writing for.
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October 20th, 2009, 22:03
Desslock added a comment in that thread too, that was encouraging:
Some people will find it too hard, I suspect, but as he noted, the difficulty can be adjusted at any time. Tough tactical battles is definitely positive feature for many RPG fans, particularly anyone who liked the BG games.

He also confirmed how wrong that Eurogamer article was, however, for suggesting that you could play the game in real-time "on higher difficulty levels" because of the scripting engine - that's just flat out crazy wrong. You do have to put a lot of planning and strategy, and dynamically adjust your tactics, in any of the major encounters

'nut
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October 20th, 2009, 22:45
Some more info from people who played DA already over at QT3

From Woolen Horde

Originally Posted by Origin stories are great
The Origin stories are great. You don't put them in and just have a single Origin story and this is still BioWare's biggest and best RPG. The Origin stories and the flexibility they provide is just a metric ton of crazy awesome goodness on top of the incredible moist and tasty cake.
Originally Posted by Brilliant quests and levels, Failing the side quests can be GOOD!
there are some brilliant quests and level design. I especially loved the mage tower. You'll find out why. And a lot of the side quests you can fail, and that's all right. In fact, getting the quests complete will often seriously piss off a party NPC because they view it as a totally unnecessary detour…. and they're right! You can feel like a dick either way by letting some plot character down or hacking off half of your team. That's something I've never seen before.
Originally Posted by Tons of party banter
The characters and the interplay between them is unparalleled. We all know how much the elevators sucked in Mass Effect, but the great thing about them was the hilarious banter as the NPCs poked and prodded each other. Well, this entire game is essentially an elevator (bad analogy), because the banter is everywhere. And as you uncover more and more about an NPC, the other NPCs almost can't wait to verbally pounce on them about the latest revelation. Then consider how many NPCs there are, and how many different party configurations you can bring along, and my mind is officially blown. Even the mutant war dog (who is also totally awesome) is a hoot, and he can't speak any words! You'll just want to replay the game over and over again with different party combination to hear what they'll say. And because the conversations progress as you go over the course of the 50+ hour game, there's not a lot of repeating going on. I mean, seriously, mind blown.
From Desslock:


Originally Posted by "game" the Influnce System with the Gifts
It also gives you a way to "game" the influence system — since characters like particular gifts a lot more than others — you can find out generally through getting to know them if you've advanced their dialogues sufficiently. But you can also learn by trial/error - save the game first, then give every gift in your inventory to a character to see if there are any hidden "gems" for that character - reload/do the same thing for the other characters. I hate lame "gaming" the system like that, but on the other hand, I hated not getting access to all the dialogue options more. I'm not really a fan of the influence system in KOTOR/NWN2 and DA, although it's definitely better implemented here than in any previous game.
For me, I don't mind this at all. It is kinda like the buddy system in Persona 4, which I have very fond memory of.

Originally Posted by Sidequests, War dogs, and how going off the track too much can have negative impact on followers
Heh, the war dog will also start whining almost immediately if stop to have an extended conversation with an NPC. It's a dog of action.

There actually aren't that many ancillary quests, and to be honest the ones that exist actually seem somewhat distasteful, because the threat posed by the main plot has been made so clear. It seems weird to detour to stop some pickpockets or make some potions for someone when a horde is bearing down on you.

That's obviously an issue all RPGs face, but you're so integrated with the main plot in DA that it really seems like you're shirking your responsibilities, unlike for example in Oblivion — although there's far more latitude in Oblivion to "wander the Earth" and do whatever you want, ignoring the main threat, in that game it also seems like you're just "joe schmoe", and that there's governments, soldiers, etc. who may be more suitable to address that threat. It's not necessarily your business. That's not the case in Dragon Age, since your role is fundamental and all would be lost without you, making little ancillary chores seem like far less realistic options.

But that's really a strength of the game, because its plot also really draws you in, and as Woolen indicated, you're also suitably scolded for detouring, which may be an RPG first.
Originally Posted by A lot of side quests are related to the main plot
Yes, many sidequests arise through the main plot - you have a specific objective in that area, and in the course of exploring, you pick up a few ancillary goals — i.e., you go to visit the Mages to enlist some help, and realize that you need to help them with a few problems of their own first.

But there are also "job board" quests, which are essentially completely ancillary, although they reflect the developing state of the world (i.e. go and see what happened to this merchant caravan, and you see evidence of an enemy army on the march). In the main city (and the few towns) you'll also get some purely ancillary stuff — i.e. rob this warehouse, help this boy - that's the stuff that often seems misplaced - if you're strictly roleplaying a character I'm not sure you could rationally justify those diversions.

The companions also have their own quests, and they are generally cool, or at least open up some interesting character insights.
Originally Posted by Dungeons seem to be more fun to "crawl" in
Almost all the battles in the dungeons feel like action set-pieces and pose unique tactical challenges, instead of being generic battles with substantially similar foes. Aside from the writing, it's Dragon Age's best strength.

Avoid the Crazy Chicken. It is childish. Don't do it. We beg you.
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October 21st, 2009, 15:19
I just hope I can tone down the blood. From the little I've seen it seems that characters sweat blood.
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October 21st, 2009, 16:04
Cool, sound like a classic or a near classic CRPG that only pop-up every few years once. The potential parts that could spoil the game are the blood and sex. Many commented those parts as feel very much forced; wonder how and where Bioware got the idea that they were necessary to DA - The Witcher?

Can't wait to check up the game myself to see all those good things mentioned. Two more weeks until the release!
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October 21st, 2009, 16:10
Originally Posted by Dungeons seem to be more fun to "crawl" in
Almost all the battles in the dungeons feel like action set-pieces and pose unique tactical challenges, instead of being generic battles with substantially similar foes. Aside from the writing, it's Dragon Age's best strength.
This definitely made me smile.

Despite all my rage.
I'm still just a rat in a cage.
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October 21st, 2009, 19:29
Giving gifts ? First sight of "social role playing" ?

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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October 21st, 2009, 20:49
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Giving gifts ? First sight of "social role playing" ?
Maybe in PCs, but console RPGs have had this for ages (if you mean social as in non-multiplayer social). In fact, Persona games are almost based on it.
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October 21st, 2009, 21:08
Originally Posted by Remus View Post
The potential parts that could spoil the game are the blood and sex. Many commented those parts as feel very much forced; wonder how and where Bioware got the idea that they were necessary to DA - The Witcher?
Sex should be part of serious games, everything else in RPGs is. Its a prime motive for why many people do things they do. Its never done that well though.
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October 21st, 2009, 21:23
I believe to acquire Dogmeat in the first Fallout, way back in the early 90's, you had to give him some food. So this isn't really a new idea. As long as the gifts make sense within the context of the game, it'll be bearable.

I'll be honest, all of the chit-chat that is said to be in this game is tampering with my excitement level. I prefer to explore, stat manipulate, and throw magic around. I generally enjoy things like alchemy and crafting. I generally hate blah, blah, blah. If it wasn't required to actually open up gameplay options, ie quests, treasure, dungeon locations, I'd never speak to my companions.

As far as the sex and blood goes; why do we get rated X blood and rated PG-13 sex? Turn those two around! I really hope we can turn the blood down or completely off.

'nut
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October 22nd, 2009, 10:04
Level scaling?

How sad…
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October 22nd, 2009, 10:26
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Level scaling?

How sad…
Every bioware game has had level scaling since BG1. Probably best to steer clear of their games if you don't like it.

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October 22nd, 2009, 11:38
Originally Posted by bjon045 View Post
Every bioware game has had level scaling since BG1. Probably best to steer clear of their games if you don't like it.
I don't recall level scaling in BG - so it must have worked well.

It really depends on the implementation, and beyond that - it's only a serious issue once you notice it.

Mass Effect, for instance, had a horribly noticable scaling.

But anyway, I'll lend you a hand in terms of understanding the nuances of taste.

One can like something overall, even if one doesn't like every aspect of it.

So, since I expect to like Dragon Age as a decent game - there's really no point in steering clear, now is there?
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October 22nd, 2009, 11:43
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Level scaling?

How sad…
You or the game? j/k

Many RPG have level scaling. Some do it well others do it badly. In fact I only know one game which does it bad and that is Oblivion. May be I have not played enough RPGs

I really don't want to get to the end boss who is supposed to be the baddest of the baddest and him falling over like wuzz! If levelling scaling is the way to keep him challenging then so be it.
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October 22nd, 2009, 11:56
Originally Posted by lostforever View Post
You or the game? j/k

Many RPG have level scaling. Some do it well others do it badly. In fact I only know one game which does it bad and that is Oblivion. May be I have not played enough RPGs

I really don't want to get to the end boss who is supposed to be the baddest of the baddest and him falling over like wuzz! If levelling scaling is the way to keep him challenging then so be it.
I know of no game where level scaling improved my experience.

I know of several games where it was detrimental to my experience.

That's really all there is to it.

If you like it, fine - no need to speculate endlessly on how I'm wrong because I don't agree.
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October 22nd, 2009, 12:35
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I don't recall level scaling in BG - so it must have worked well.
You don't recall it because there was none in BG 1 as you correctly assumed.

In BG 2 level scaling was very limited - i.e. named/unique enemies never scaled. Level scaling was done by adding a certain amount of *extra* generic enemies to *some* areas depending on your level; and that was an exception as well. It's so different than what DA does it's not even comparable.

I guess I'm much more tolerant to adding a couple of extra creatures than altering the default ones up and down depending on your level.
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October 22nd, 2009, 12:41
Yeah..

Level scaling is the easy way of handling balance, and if the player isn't aware of it, then it can work.

The problem is that to many of us, the experience of growing powerful is INCREDIBLY vital to the game - and if we become aware that power is irrelevant - then the game is potentially ruined.

Not all feel the same way, and obviously it's a direct result of the audience changing from enthusiastic to casual.

I suspect the reason Oblivion wasn't hurt more because of level scaling, isn't so much that the casual audience didn't mind it - but that they weren't aware of it.

But that's just a theory.
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October 22nd, 2009, 12:52
I feel the same way you do. Basically it's lazy design.

Also, it doesn't matter to me if I notice there is level scaling or not; knowing there's level scaling spoils my experience to a certain degree no matter what.
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October 22nd, 2009, 12:54
Originally Posted by Tan View Post
I feel the same way you do. Basically it's lazy design.

Also, it doesn't matter to me if I notice there is level scaling or not; knowing there's level scaling spoils my experience to a certain degree no matter what.
If you know it's there, you're hardly capable of not noticing it

Certainly, that's how my mind works.
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