Dragon Age: Awakening - All News
Thursday - October 14, 2010
DA: Awakening - Walkthrough @ GameBanshee
GameBanshee let us know they have completed their illustrated walkthrough for Dragon Age: Awakening.
Tuesday - August 31, 2010
DA: Awakening - Now on Mac
Dragon Age: Awakenings is now available on Mac; a snip from the press release:
TRANSGAMING BRINGS THE BIOWARE EPIC DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS - AWAKENING EXPANSION PACK TO MAC
Toronto, Canada – August 31, 2010 – TransGaming, Inc. (TSX-V: TNG) announces the release of Dragon AgeTM: Origins - Awakening for the Mac. The Awakening expansion pack for the critically acclaimed, dark fantasy series game from BioWareTM, a division of Electronic Arts, is available now for all Mac gamers through TransGaming’s digital download Mac games portal, GameTreeOnline.com. GameTreeOnline is also the primary destination for all Dragon Age: Origins Mac DLC add-on content packages at www.gametreeonline.com/bioware/dragon-age/.
Wednesday - May 26, 2010
DA: Awakening - Review @ GPM
A negative review of Awakening at Gameplay Monthly carries a score of 'C-'. Damning it with faint praise, they describe it as "not terrible" but criticise the difficulty, story and character interactions:
Dragon Age: Origins could be easy as hell if you know what you were doing and how to min/max. But this was more a reward to mastering an otherwise very punishing game. It was surprisingly easy to get a party wipe even on normal if you simply didn’t pay attention. Awakening? Not so much. Unless you really don’t know how to play the game and use your now vast abilities, the game is pathetically easy, allowing you to solo on the highest difficulty without much trouble.
Source: Blues News
Saturday - May 22, 2010
DA: Awakening - Alternative DLC Import Mod
We posted a newsbit earlier in the week about a mod to import the DLC items into Awakening that BioWare couldn't manage but Archmage Silver wrote in to point out a popular alternative by Mad Method. The advantages of this method are listed in the description, so head over for the details.
Tuesday - May 18, 2010
DA: Awakening - Import Mod for the DLC Released
This mod lets you import all your DLC items over into Awakenings from the original game, DA: Origins. No mopre running around nearly naked because you have been stripped of all your items when importing a character from Origins into Awakenings. The mod also makes it so that you can use your hard earned Power of Blood Talents from liberating Warden's Keep.
You can get it from Dragon Age Nexus, Fileshack, Filepanet, Atomic Gamer and Big Download.
Tuesday - April 27, 2010
DA: Awakening - BioWare Working on PS3 Fix
It seems the latest 3.30 firmware for the PS3 causes Dragon Age to crash frequently, so BioWare are working on the problem. From Fernando Melo in this thread:
Thanks again for your patience - it is pretty clear that despite this affecting other titles, that it has impacted on DA substantially. We're hopeful there is something we can do from our end to work around whatever was introduced in 3.3. In the meantime, please continue to send us information that will help us narrow this down.
Monday - April 12, 2010
DA: Awakening - Spirit Warrior & Guardian Analysis
Greywardens.com has yet more content, with an analysis of the Spirit Warrior and Guardian specialisations and also a look at the role of werewolves in DA lore.
Friday - April 02, 2010
DA: Awakening - Reviews @ GameBanshee, 2404
I was going to do a full Awakening roundup but these two were sent in, so let's run with them for now. GameBanshee has posted a fairly critical review of Awakening:
Overall, I was underwhelmed by Awakening. The expansion pack is competently made, and it might provide you with 15-20 hours of entertainment, but as I played it I kept feeling like I was getting Origins leftovers. Now, I enjoy leftovers from time to time, but I'm not really a fan of paying $40 for them, especially when they could have used a few more minutes in the microwave. So buyer beware. If more of the same sounds good to you, then you’ll probably like Awakening. But if you were hoping for something new and unique, then not so much.
...and a more positive one at 2404.org, with a score of 8.1/10:
Still, when distilled down to its core, I did enjoy Awakening a little bit more than I did Origins. I found the focus in the story to be very strong, and I always felt like what I was doing was important or building towards some goal. Perhaps Origins would have benefitted from a bit more focus and less needless map screen marching, which still makes an appearance here but is far less annoying. I would love to describe and discuss the ending and my observations about the importance of the decisions you make within the game, but that would add far too many spoilers to a simple review (expect an upcoming blog discussion). Overall Awakening is an expensive but fun extension to a quality game and easily recommended to fans of the series.
Wednesday - March 31, 2010
DA: Awakening - Shadow & Legionnaire Analysis
Greywardens.com let us know they've kicked up an analysis of the Shadow and Legionnaire specialisations in Awakening.
They also have a look at the BioWare Bazaar controversy.
Monday - March 29, 2010
DA: Awakening - Battlemage & Keeper Analysis
Greywardens takes a close look at the new Battlemage and Keeper specialisations in Awakening:
Why you want one in your party: A Battlemage is your best friend when seeking to defeat large groups of enemies in close combat. Hand of Winter is indispensable for controlling kill order, mitigating damage, and for getting those irresistible shattering kills. For battles with lots of low-health enemies, or foes with immunity to one elemental damage type, Elemental Chaos is worth its weight in lyrium. Their prowess on the front lines makes the Battlemage an ideal companion for warriors and dual-wielding rogues.
Friday - March 26, 2010
DA: Awakening - Review Roundup #2
We're past due for another Dragon Age: Awakening review collection, so here's a short one to warm up.
Associated Content (catchy name) asks Is Dragon Age: Awakening a Worth [sic] Expansion to an Epic RPG? Yes, they say:
Unfortunately, you won't get nearly as much gameplay as you did in the original Dragon Age: Origins. However, looking at the game on it's own, it is very enjoyable and is definitely worth your money. With more additions all around, and only a tiny hit on the story, Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening is a well-polished and great expansion.
Playing with Words, on the other hand, is so conflicted they decide to avoid a conclusion. Here's part of their criticism:
Awakening is so easy it hurts. I imported my level 23 rogue and set the difficult to Hard and never once saw the Game Over screen. Hell, the only time a party member died was when I got complacent and didn't heal anyone, or when a boss cheaply one-shotted them. On the other hand, with the new talents that are available from the get-go, I could one-shot epic Rage Demons and friggin' Golems, while also tanking 3-4 enemies on my rogue. Enemies just don't do any damage anymore.
Thanks to Omega for those two. Let's list a handful more.
- GameArena scores 7/10, saying Awakening "adds nothing", though if you enjoyed Origins, "it won't disappoint".
- GameCritics expected "more meat on the bones for $40", quoting the length at 16 hours.
- Game Revolution says "in its quest to negotiate a middle ground between a lengthy side mission and a full-on sequel, it hits and misses". Score - 'B'.
Thursday - March 25, 2010
DA: Awakening - Database @ GameBanshee
GameBanshee let us know they have added a bunch of Awakening content, expanding their equipment and codex database and so on. They've also started their annotated walkthrough.
Sunday - March 21, 2010
DA: Awakening - Walkthrough Starts
Dragon Age fansite Greywardens.com writes their walkthrough of Awakening has kicked off with the first area, Vigil's Keep.
Wednesday - March 17, 2010
DA: Awakening - Review Roundup #1
Well, Awakening is here and the major sites have been quick to get reviews out. Here's our first roundup.
1Up awards a B+, calling the gameplay "pretty good but somewhat flawed":
This expansion does follow the BioWare formula, so you're given a handful of regions and a directive to take care of them however you want. Quests range from more imaginative than in Origins (investigating a literal ghost town) to the expected (go underground and clear out the darkspawn). In-between story-critical quests, you're often asked to deal with political matters back at the fortress, such as making, "who is right/wrong" judgments and resolving genuine dilemmas (will you allocate troops to the farms, or to the city?). Finally, there are numerous sidequests: puzzles to solve within dungeons, helping a party member deal with family issues, or taking on a spectral dragon. As good as these quests are, they also fall victim to the glitchiness from having a big game with so many moving parts within; I've had quest triggers either fail to initialize (meaning I couldn't progress), or trigger incorrectly (in one instance, I helped the cops rather than the criminals, but even after killing said criminals, the guards treated me as though I sided with the bandits, until I reloaded and replayed the entire quest chain).
Thanks to Thrasher for that link.
On to GameSpot, with an 8/10, calling it "entertaining but not groundbreaking":
They say you can't go home again, but whoever coined that old adage apparently wasn't talking about the realm of Ferelden. Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening returns you to this familiar and fair fantasy world, where degenerate demons called darkspawn have ravaged the land. The forces of evil may still lurk, but fans of 2009's wonderful Dragon Age will settle easily into the game's first full expansion pack, which harbors few surprises but delivers all the loot-happy adventuring that they'd expect. Awakening is not as exceptional as the main game; its story and characters make little impression, which is a disappointment compared to Dragon Age's splendid yarn. But in spite of some story frustrations and scattered bugs, Awakening is more of a terrific thing. It isn't a groundbreaking expansion, but it's an entertaining one that reminds us that if it isn't broken, there's no need to fix it.
IGN goes a little higher at 8.5/10 and they liked the story and characters more than GameSpot:
It should come as no surprise to fans of the original game that Dragon Age Origins Awakening is going to give you more of what you want. There's an epic story with choices that really matter, fantasy combat with loads of amazing enemies, and a deep character system with lots of flexibility. It has a strong narrative connection to the original game, but the sense that your previous choices matter isn't as strong as we'd have liked. I still miss the old companions, but the new characters are just as interesting once you get to know them.
VideoGamer also goes for 8/10 and here's a more negative quote to balance the ledger:
Still, there's a feeling that an opportunity has been missed here. As an expansion released some time after Origins, we had hoped Awakening would address some of Dragon Age's problems. It doesn't. The game, functionally, works and plays exactly the same. It's still much better on the PC, where you can zoom out and fine tune your battle strategy with the mouse and keyboard. The graphics, as they did in Origins, at times look half a generation behind Mass Effect 2. And the archaic PC RPG design remains untouched.
Lastly for the moment, Game Informer scores a very specifc 7.75/10, who quote 15 hours rather than the 25 indicated in most of the others:
All of the features where Awakening could have built on the Dragon Age foundation are sidelined, like the team at BioWare knew where to expand but didn’t have the time to flesh them out. Building up your base at Vigil’s Keep is just a handful of simple upgrades. Governing the region is handled in a single sequence where you mete out justice. Unraveling a conspiracy against your rule is a brief sidequest. Maybe a 15-hour adventure isn’t enough to time to dig into these concepts, but they feel pretty hollow and unsatisfying as implemented.
Tuesday - March 16, 2010
DA: Awakening - Now Released, New Trailers
Dragon Age: Awakening is now available in NA (and Europe and APac in a couple of days) and BioWare has released two new videos. There's a new character called Nathaniel Howe and a new launch trailer. Here's a note on that launch trailer from Chris Priestly:
While you may have seen some of this content before, if you stay till the end, you will see a glimpse of a new Awakening villain we have not revealed previously that plays a MAJOR role in Awakening. BUt maybe I have said too much? Check out the video!
DA: Awakening - Review @ Eurogamer
John Walker of RPS has his review of DA: Awakening up on Eurogamer.com. Bioware's expansion is highly praised and lands a 9/10 score.
Awakening is a mighty fine addition to the Dragon Age canon, and a rewarding continuation of its story. Perhaps most interestingly, the volume of choices you make leads to what might be an even more variable ending than the previous one. There are some incredibly tough choices to be made, some peculiar allegiances to form, and a region to save from the darkspawn. You're a Grey Warden, it's your duty.
Monday - March 15, 2010
DA: Awakening - Press Event Review
Grey Wardens has a review of a press event they attended in Germany about DA: Awakening. The piece chronicles their trip and also has a video interview with Fernando Melo.
Saturday - March 13, 2010
DA: Awakening - Preview @ Atomic Gamer
Atomic Gamer got some time with Bioware's upcoming expansion to Dragon Age and posts their impressions, which are over all positive.
Here'a a spoiler-free snip on content and play time:
The skepticism over whether Dragon Age can have a full-featured expansion so early after Origins was released is justified, but what people may not understand is that most of the content for the original game was complete months before the release date - the tech guys put together the 360 port while the developers stayed on task building Awakening content. So when you look at it that way, this expansion has already had almost a year's worth of development
...BioWare seemed reluctant to put an hour count on Awakening, but I was assured that it lasts longer than most full-priced single player games do. If you are one of those types that defines a game's value in hours of playtime per dollar spent, Awakening is not likely to satisfy you quite like Dragon Age did, but it should still be a hell of a lot of fun with more of what made the first game so engrossing.
Friday - March 12, 2010
DA: Awakening - Justice Character
From the Awakening site:
Not all the denizens of the Fade identify with darker emotions like rage and pride. Some embody the nobler qualities found in humanity: faith, hope, compassion, and justice. Click here to meet a champion of justice.
DA: The Awakening - Interview @ GameSpot
Ferret Baudoin chats with GameSpot about "High-Level Abilities, Characters, Items, and Story" from Awakening:
GS: What do these new skills and professions add to the game? Were there some gaps or interesting opportunities in the original Dragon Age that these high-level classes and abilities fill in?
FB: In Origins, mages were very potent forces on the battlefield. Many folks found that a three-mage party was one of the most powerful combinations out there. So while mages certainly have been given some neat new spells, we spent extra time on rogues and warriors to make them more valuable additions to your party.
It's really paid off. Archers have received a significant boost to their damage-dealing capabilities. Dual-wielding rogues are simply murderous when their weapons are fully slotted with runes (especially if a friendly mage adds a "flame weapons" spell to the mix). And a fully decked-out warrior can wade into the thick of any fray and hold the line until the party annihilates the opposition.
The result is better balance between the classes and their roles. A lot more party combinations are fun and entertaining.
Thursday - March 11, 2010
DA: The Awakening - Architect and Knotwood Hills
With days left before the expansion hits, BioWare has given fansite Greywardens.com a couple of reveals for Awakening. First, they have a page on The Architect:
The Architect is the first darkspawn to develop a will of his own–an unusual outcast who seems not to be subject to the call of the Old Gods, nor to the other darkspawn compulsions.
But although he is highly intelligent, the Architect has little understanding of humanity. Treating him as anything other than what he is–a darkspawn–would be folly.
...and Knotwood Hills:
To the west of Amaranthine is an area they call the Knotwood Hills, so named because of the dead, gnarled trees that dominate the landscape. For reasons undiscovered, the hills are inhospitable and barren, in striking contrast to the fertile farmland of the rest of the arling of Amaranthine.
Wednesday - March 10, 2010
DA: The Awakening - Exclusive Interview @ Grey Wardens Fansite
During a promotional event held in Germany last week, fansite for Dragon Age: Origins, Grey Wardens, talked to Fernando Melo, Biowares online producer. The interview moves in different directions, but here's a snip where Fernando speaks about the fiasco that was Return to Ostagar:
The delayed release of Return to Ostagar caused a fair amount of drama within the community. While these things happen in the world of software development it never paints a good picture of the company, at least not in the eyes of the average End User. Is there anything BioWare has changed in their digital distribution methods to better combat such a delay in the future?
This was a big blow for the team as well. We really wanted to make this a special content piece for fans to enjoy over their holiday season, and the team worked extremely hard to try to make that come true.
Instead Return to Ostagar (RtO) was to become something along the lines of a ‘perfect storm' for us where a lot of small faults and circumstances, not only internally but also externally to us, all came together at the same time and in a really awkward time of the year. This managed to divide everyone's efforts and attention in such a way that issues got through the previous processes that normally would have spotted it - certainly well before it ever made it to the public.
Since then, RtO has turned into an important case study for us, and we've changed quite a lot of our own process actually - not only with how we develop and test our content and patches, but also in how we will communicate these going forward.
Tuesday - March 09, 2010
DA: The Awakening - Video Interview @ GameSpot
GameSpot's On the Spot video feature sees Bio Brand Manager David Silverman demonstrating Awakening. There's around 8 minutes of footage and discussion, so well worth a look.
DA: The Awakening - Interview @ GameBanshee
GameBanshee catches up with BioWare's Ferret Baudoin to discuss Awakening:
GB: By the time a character reaches level 20 in the base game, there really aren't any desirable talents left to choose from. How do you intend to keep things fresh and ensure that we have plenty of appealing advancement options when the level cap is raised even further? How many more spells and other talents are you implementing in the expansion? Will these fall under the existing talent trees (Archery, Entropy, Two-Handed, etc.) or will we be seeing additional talent categories for each class? Care to give us an example or two?
Ferret: When we extended the level cap in Awakening (from 25 to 35) we also added a ton of new spells and abilities. There’s over 50 new ones to choose from, so there’s more new high level talents than you can get with one character. There’s two basic type of talents we’ve added – the talents that support our new specializations and those which are available to the core classes. The ones that give more goodies to the core classes fall into existing talent trees. Each type of weapon combat has another talent chain added to it. So two handed weapons, weapon and shield, dual wield, and archery all have four new abilities apiece. Mages get two new spell chains, as well. You have to be high level to pick up the new talents, but they’re often more potent than anything you’ve seen before.
An example of a warrior ability is “Peon’s Plight”. This ability allows a warrior to outright kill any one normal or critter level enemy, or deal a lot of damage to anyone else. This allows warriors to really change the tide of many battles. For example, if you start a fight and you see a non-elite Hurlock emissary in the back ranks – just bull rush him and lop off his head in one fell swoop. Conan would be proud.
Another awesome ability that both warriors and rogues can pick up is “Accuracy”. It’s a modal ability for archers that once activated increases the effectiveness of all of your ranged combat stats. The difference is immediate and noticeable. If you get the entire Archery ability chain it feels like Legolas has got your back.
DA: The Awakening - Hands On Preview @ Inc Gamers
A hands on preview for Dragon Age: The Awakening can be found at Inc Gamers.
They seem to think that more of the same is a good thing. Their focus is on Vigil's Keep which they find very different from the original Dragon Age game - (some spoilers to follow):
Once you fend off the Darkspawn in the initial attack you're granted control of it and, indeed, the title of Arl, essentially making you the ruler of Amaranthine. In a fashion inspired by the class keeps from Baldur's Gate II, all the problems of both Vigil's Keep and the region on the whole become yours. With the increase in Darkspawn attacks, will you send soldiers to defend the city, or spread them out throughout the countryside to keep the farmers alive? Will you focus on expanding trade to maintain and build up the region? Can you spare the manpower to guard ore deposits so that your soldiers' weapons and armour are improved, or will you have them defend a quarry so that Vigil's Keep's walls can be reinforced?
If this sounds like Bioware were inspired by the classs keep of BG2, I wouldn't be at all surprised.
Source: RPG Codex
Saturday - March 06, 2010
DA: The Awakening - Penny Arcade Updated Comic
Penny Aracde has yet again updated their comic for Bioware's Dragon Age: Awakening.
This fourth installment can be viewed at the official site.
DA: The Awakening - Hands on Preview @ IGN
IGN has a preview of their hands-on experience with Dragon Age: Awakening - the expansion to the original game, which will be out on March 16th 2010. The preview focuses on how you can develop your player character in Awakenings, regardless of whether you import your avatar from the OC or not. Apparently, rogues can now become Shadows or pursue a more combat-like career:
Rogues are given the chance to shift more towards warrior-style combat by becoming Legionnaire Scouts, which should be familiar to those who remember the lengthy stay in Orzammar. Alternatively, rogues can push even further down the rogue path by training as Shadows. Shadow rogues are excellent assassins, laying ambushes for their enemies and using decoys and hallucinogens for concealmement.
Friday - March 05, 2010
DA: The Awakening - Interview @ Gamasutra
This short interview with BioWare online producer Fernando Melo is ostensibly about DLC in general but I'm going to file it under Awakening:
In your presentation, you emphasized that this is a "content" expansion more than a "features" expansion -- less of a bullet point list, more straight-up game expansion. Is that down to you and the players seeing the primary strength of Dragon Age as being its story and world content?
FM: It is. More than "content," generally, it’s really the story. That’s what made Origins so special, and [it's what] people really seem to gravitate towards. There's a lot of depth, very memorable characters, and the fact that you make choices and you get to live out the consequences.
There are new features in there -- you can now do rune crafting; there’s some combat balancing; there are all-new tiers of items; you have smarter, higher-level enemies; you can use higher-powered spells; and there’s a re-spec ability.
But all of those are fairly subtle. There isn’t one whiz-bang feature we wanted to prop up. It really is about driving a whole additional part of the lore, and we felt that that was what was going to resonate best with fans.
Thursday - March 04, 2010
DA: The Awakening - The Disciples
There's a Creature update from BioWare for Awakening:
We have a new update on the Dragon Age: Origins Awakening creatures page - The Disciples.
Players think of the darkspawn as mindless fighters or footsoldiers of the darkspawn, and until Awakening this was mostly true. However now you must face a new threat. Intelligent, talking darkspawn with powers and abilities that can rival even the strongest of Grey Wardens. Where do these talking darkspawn come from and what new allies are they bringing with them into battle?
Check out new screenshots and video of the Disciples on the Dragon Age: Origins Awakening creatures page here: http://dragonage.bioware.com/awakening/world/creature/disciples/
Wednesday - March 03, 2010
DA: The Awakening - Oghren Returns
One of the returning characters in Awakening is Oghren and BioWare has kicked up a short bio:
Oghren of Orzammar is known throughout Ferelden for fighting alongside the Grey Warden who halted the fifth Blight. Some say Oghren was the hero's constant companion; others suggest he merely rode on the Warden's coattails. But the stories all agree on two important points: that Oghren is a beast on the battlefield, and that he can easily imbibe liquids that would fell lesser men. After the archdemon was defeated, Oghren settled down with his old flame Felsi and had a child. Those who know him say that he was truly happy, at least for a time. But Oghren is a warrior born and bred, and, as he is fond of saying, you can take a warrior out of the fight, but you can never take the fight out of the warrior.
Tuesday - March 02, 2010
DA: The Awakening - Dragon Bone Wastes and Rogue Updates
Two new updates from BioWare for Awakening. First, the Dragon Bone Wastes have been revealed:
Dragon Bone Wastes
Far to the south of Thedas, nestled between high, forboding mountains, is a place where they say dragons go to die. There, in that harsh and wild land, a dragon at the end of her days would lie down and allow the bitter cold to take her.
...and the Awakening wiki has new Rogue material. There are a few links for this, so I'm going to rip it straight from Chris Priestly's post:
We have updated the Dragon Age: Origins Awakening Wiki with an update on the Rogue class. You can check out the wiki here: http://social.bioware.com/wiki/dragonage/index.php/Category:Awakening
There is information on a new Specialization class - Shadow http://social.bioware.com/wiki/dragonage/index.php/Rogue_Specializations
2 Shadow skills Pandemonium - http://social.bioware.com/wiki/dragonage/index.php/Shadow_Skill:_Pandemonium
Shadow Form - http://social.bioware.com/wiki/dragonage/index.php/Shadow_Skill:_Shadow_Form
New Rogue skill Heartseeker - http://social.bioware.com/wiki/dragonage/index.php/Rogue_skill:_Heartseeker
New Dual Wield skill Unending Flurry - http://social.bioware.com/wiki/dragonage/index.php/Dual_Wield_Skill:_Unending_Flurry
All pages have information, screenshots and videos.
More wiki updates still to come. Stay tuned.
Saturday - February 27, 2010
DA: The Awakening - Mhairi Video @ Curse
This latest party member is a female warrior. Meet Mhairi:
When Mhairi was a child, she was enraptured by tales of kings and nobles. All she wanted was to be like them, to fight for what she believed. Betrothed to a trader when she turned 16, she saw the life that lay ahead of her and enlisted in the army instead. Her fierce loyalty and devotion to Ferelden earned her the love and respect of her commanders and brothers-in-arms. King Cailan’s betrayal and death hit Mhairi hard, and when she learned of the two Grey Wardens who quelled the Blight almost single-handedly, she vowed to serve the Wardens. When the call came for volunteers to help rebuild the order at Vigil’s Keep, Mhairi jumped at the chance to join.
DA: The Awakening - Live Demo Next Friday
BioWare is spruiking a live demo at Xfire next Friday, featuring Ferrett Baudoin:
Join us at 5 PM PST, on Friday, March 5th for a live broadcast of Lead Designer Ferret Baudoin playing Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening over the Xfire network. This demo will offer unique insight into the level design and of course show off some of the new features found in the expansion. Following the live gameplay demo, there will be an interactive chat session where your questions about Awakening will be answered. We will also be giving away 10 PC copies of Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening and 10 copies of the Dragon Age novel The Stolen Throne signed by author David Gaider. So head over to the Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening live broadcast page, create a bookmark, and set an alarm for 5 PM PST. You don't want to miss it!
DA: The Awakening - Preview @ IGN
IGN play through the first few hours of The Awakening so obviously a few spoilers here.
Dragon Age is an amazing game that has laid claim to an embarrassingly large amount of my time over the past few months. From puzzling out the ethical problems posed by Zarthian's questionable motivations to cursing and screaming through repeated battles against the Broodmother, the game has continued to captivate me since it was first released last year. Thanks to the upcoming Awakening expansion, there's a chance to continue the story past its conclusion to see what happens in the wake of the Grey Warden's final moments in the original game. I've been playing through the PC version of the expansion over the last week or so and, rather than do a straight feature-focused preview, I thought I'd just give you a big picture view of the first few hours of the game.
It goes without saying, of course, that some of the information that follows spoils the first game. That's assuming of course, that you consider the player's potential to actually do something positive about the Blight as a spoiler. With that said, you won't find any details here that spoil the Awakening story beyond the basic introductory information. We're even holding back on a few specific details for the sake of those who don't want to know absolutely everything about the opening hours of the game.
Now that's out of the way, so let's get on with it.
Wednesday - February 24, 2010
DA: The Awakening - Amaranthine Update
There's a new World update for Awakenings, revealing details and screens of Amaranthine:
The arling of Amaranthine winds along the sinuous northeastern coast of Ferelden. The Waking Sea is known for its temper, and the storms that sweep in from the warmer northern waters are sudden and brutal. Rising above these turbulent waters is the city of Amaranthine--once a modest fishing village, now an important and prosperous port city and a center for trade in northern Ferelden.
Sunday - February 21, 2010
DA: The Awakening - Interview @ Bioware Blog
Chris Priestly has updated the Bioware Blog. He has talked to Ferret Baudoin, the Lead Writer (and Designer) for Dragon Age: Awakening about Sigrun, the new NPC.
Here's a snip:
Why would you want her in your party?
As a legionnaire scout, Sigrun has access to abilities which make her very durable in a fight. She's a dual-wielding rogue who is adept at hiding and sneaking. With a few good runes on her weapons and some of the new epic rogue abilities, she can be a damage-dealing machine who strikes suitable terror in her foes - especially when she strikes from behind, where her quick backstabs add up to impressive numbers.
DA: The Awakening - Q&A with Bioware's Victor Wachter
Bioware's Victor Wachter has posted a Q&A thread on the social forums answering some of the questions about Awakening. Here's a snip:
Should I gear up in standard Origins gear before loading my save game into Awakenings?
It's a good idea to wear your best gear going into Awakenings but we said above, don't expect to be wearing it for too long. The challenges in Awakening are greater, but so are the rewards. There are lot of very nice upgrades to be found in stores, the fresh corpses of fallen foes, and sometimes with the help of a rogue's lockpicking skills.
DA: The Awakening - Updated Wiki @ Official Page
Hello Awakening fans. We have started updating the Dragon Age Awakening wiki with new information. This wiki will chiefly iullustrate the cool new elements in Awakenign that are not in Dragon Age: Origins. In today's update, we have updated a new Mage Specialization class the Battlemage. We've also added 4 new spells each with screenshots and a video of the spell in action. Check out Arcane Field, Elemental Chaos, Hand of Winter and Repulsion Field.
Friday - February 19, 2010
DA: The Awakening - Interview @ Bitmob
Bitmob has talked to Fernado Melo about DA: Awakening. This has resulted in an article titled "No Time for Romance: A Dragon Age Awakenings Interview." The title reflects that there will be no romances in the expansion. Here's Fernando's thoughts on this:
Bitmob: The sexual relationships in Origins were another polarizing feature -- are those going to make a return in Awakening?
FM: They will not. It'll be interesting to see peoples' reactions to it, because it was by far one of the things they enjoyed. I think there was a real risk, though, of us trying to add romances in [that] would've felt tacked on. The story doesn't lend itself to it; when you play through it, you'll realize the pacing is very different from Origins, there's a real impetus to just get on and solve the problems at hand. The characters that you're playing with all have strong enough backgrounds that you would need to really invest a lot of time to turn those characters around into something that was romanceable.
Time will tell; I think that we'll definitely get called out on it, but I think it was one of things that was the right decision to make, rather than trying to shoehorn something in. We'll just have to keep evaluating it based on content-to-content. Some cases where it makes sense we'll absolutely do it, and where it doesn't, we won't.
Source: Blues News
DA: The Awakening - Sigrun Video @ G4
Chris Priestly mentions in this thread at the Bioboards that G4 now has a new video showing Sigrun, a new character in DA: The Awakening. It seems that Sigrun is a dwarf
as the text mentions Orzammar.
There is only one way to leave the Legion of the Dead: by fulfilling a vow to die in battle against the enemies of Orzammar, a sacrifice that absolves any guilt. Sigrun craves a chance to prove she is more than a worthless gutter-rat, but it's hard to rush headlong into a battle you won't survive. After all, when you grow up casteless, you learn to fight for everything. You learn that you have to watch out for yourself, because no one else will, and the Stone knows no one's going to miss you when you're dead. Sigrun's a survivor, and old habits die hard.
DA: The Awakening - Preview Roundup
Here's a handful of Awakening previews from some major sites. First, TeamXbox, who are just a little wobbly with their history. Anyway, apparently Awakening has been in development for a year:
"A lot of games are made with the goal of thinking and wondering where you can take it," says Melo. "Dragon Age is the reverse of that in a lot of respects. We have a lot of stories to tell, and Awakening is the next book." This comment resonates quite a bit, given BioWare's history with the Forgotten Realms universe with Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale and Neverwinter Nights, each of which makes heavy reference to the rich fiction established by hundreds of novels.
In case it's not obvious yet, Awakening is not DLC. This is an expansion in the classic sense of the word, in the grand BioWare tradition. Development on Awakening has been underway for more than a year, concurrent with the final development phase of Origins. With the tech and tools already well in place, a side team has been able to create a pretty substantial amount of new content for players when it launches in March.
Here's a bit from 1Up about additional character abilities:
Along the way though, I check out some of the new abilities for each class. Most Dragon Age fans will remember how out of whack the balance was in favor of the mages, who can clear an entire room with a fireball while warriors and rogues struggle to even stay upright. BioWare admits as much.
"I think, particularly with the new specializations, we've been able to make warriors and rogues cool again," Melo tells me. He follows up, "One of the nice things is something like [character specializations] Shadow or Legionnaire Scout will give you a lot more close-quarters sustainability. So you can actually become a proper secondary fighter, whereas in Origins I remember it kind of suffered a bit, unless you really started to expend points toward a strength-based build, or something like that."
1Up on the "book" analogy, which you'll see in a few of these articles:
How much content can you expect in Awakening? It seems like everything is getting an upgrade. You'll find new class specializations, new skills, an increased level cap, plenty of new items, and obviously new quests, enemies to kill, and areas to explore. It's also firmly rooted in the fiction of the game world, as Fernando Melo, online producer for Dragon Age, explained. "We spent a lot of years developing the world of Dragon Age, and Awakening has a very defined place of what it's trying to reveal both geographically but also in terms of storytelling and timeline it fits into. Awakening is something that is a massive way to add not just a chapter to the story, but a volume, like a new book to the world. But each of the downloadable content types, even down to the really small items, will usually be very rich with lore or they'll foreshadow other things that are to come. Eventually these things converge and paint a much bigger picture."
...and getting away from previews just for a minute, you may be aware that your existing DLC won't transfer to Awakenings. Here's Chris Priestly's underwhelming explanation on the Bioboards:
Dragon Age: Origins DLC (from DAO or other prior DLC) is not available in Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening as we've already said.
While I know some fans are not happy with this, the main reason is, due to the advanced level of Awakening, the items you want to bring in would be rapidly less effective than the materials you start with or find early on in the game. Yes, in DA:O Starfang (or similar) are very powerful, but since you can reach level 30+ in Awakening, they would be ineffectual.
Trust me, there are heaps of cool new armors, weapons, spells, etc that you will want to use in Awakening that you will quickly learn to appreciate even more than your DLC items from DAO.
I think my character might end up naked when I import him.
Thursday - February 18, 2010
DA: The Awakening - Magic, Dialogue Trailers @ 1Up
Hopefully these two trailers are new - they are to me, at any rate. 1Up has a magic trailer, which shows off a montage of quick glimpses of combat and a "dialogue" trailer, which doesn't really show much dialogue but rather two short snips of humorous party banter.
DA: The Awakening - Hands-on @ GameSpot
The first actual hands-on article for Awakening is up at GameSpot. After the intro, they delve into a description of the early gameplay, so some might see this as spoiler territory. With that in mind, here's a generic feature quote:
BioWare suggests that Awakening isn't about one new whiz-bang feature that totally changes the gameplay, but rather, about offering more of what fans seem to care about most--a deep story with memorable characters and real consequences for the choices you make. The expansion is being developed by the same team of writers, designers, and artists that created the original game, but it will offer plenty of new stuff to play with, including six new characters to join your party, new elite character classes, tons of new high-level skills, an expanded level cap up to level 35, and more than 500 new items, including new, higher tiers of weapons and armor for your adventuring party.
Tuesday - February 16, 2010
DA: The Awakening - Kal'Hirol Location
BioWare is highlighting a new location for Awakening called Kal-Hirol, although I'm not sure we've covered Blackmarsh or the Wending Woods before, so head to the World page for all the updates. On Kal'Hirol:
The dwarven fortress of Kal'Hirol was long known as a center of learning for the smith caste. Its workshops are where Paragon Hirol conceived his famous improvements to golem resilience and power, and where Hirol's favorite student developed a method for storing refined lyrium that is still used today. These breakthroughs brought Kal'Hirol great prosperity; its passageway are said to have glittered with gold and silver. But the fall of Kal'Hirol is shrouded in mystery. All that is known is that the fortress's elite one day showed up at Orzammar's great doors, exhausted and in despair over the loss of their home.
Saturday - February 13, 2010
DA: The Awakening - New Official Page
BioWare has kicked up a new official page for The Awakening - nothing new I can see so far but no doubt further updates are close as we approach the March release.
Friday - February 12, 2010
DA: The Awakening - Velanna Video
EA keeps releasing the little introductory videos for The Awakening before they get around to updating the official site. So, Evil Avatar has a little video for Morrigan II Velanna or you can head to Youtube for both Alistair II Anders and Velanna together if you missed the Anders one.
Thursday - February 04, 2010
DA: The Awakening - The Children Trailer
Here's a new DA: Awakening trailer, titled The Children. Here's Chris Priestly's description from the forums:
When the Blight pushed the darkspawn to the surface, human expeditions were able to venture deep underground for the first time in centuries, meeting very little resistance apart from stragglers. Then people started disappearing. Men would make camp and wake to find one of their number missing. Scouts left on missions, never to return. Search parties found no trace of the lost men, not even their bones. Some saw movements in the darkness, a shifting of shadows that torchlight would reveal as nothing. When a single warrior survived from one squad, he spoke of nothing comprehensible except grinning worm monsters that devoured his companions. The expeditions made haste back to the city.
Check out the new Children video over on Gametrailers.com here: http://www.gametrailers.com/video/exclusive-the-dragon-age/61560
Wednesday - February 03, 2010
DA: The Awakening - Vigil's Keep Screens
BioWare has kicked up four screens from a location called Vigil's Keep in Dragon Age: The Awakening.
In other Awakening news, BioWare has opened a dedicated forum for the expansion.
Tuesday - February 02, 2010
DA: The Awakening - Anders Video @ IGN
IGN has a video showing off the new character Anders from The Awakening. Here's the accompanying blurb:
Many mages chafe under the Chantry's control, and Anders is no exception. Although most mages are brought into the Circle at a young age, Anders was an adolescent by the time the templars found him: he had an understanding of the outside world and knew full well what he was missing. To him, the walls of the Circle Tower were nothing more than a prison. A born troublemaker, Anders repeatedly broke out of the tower, displaying great ingenuity. But for all his resourcefulness and talent, he could never quite elude the templars. It's a lucky thing that Anders despises blood mages as much as the Chantry does, else he might have been executed as a suspected maleficarum long ago. In truth, all he wants is freedom--well, freedom, a good meal, and a pretty girl on his arm. That's not too much to ask, is it?