Boots’ Guest Game Log #5: – Dragon Age: Origins

Hey guys! My buddy Tony (AKA Boots) is popping his Dragon Age: Origins cherry and has graciously volunteered to keep a guest game log. This will work similar to the logs I keep, but you know I need to add in my own snarky remarks in red ;)

Boots’ Guest Game Log #5: – Dragon Age: Origins

Remember kids, this is a Game Log, where we talk about our experiences throughout play in great detail. So SPOILERS ABOUND (maybe)!!!

As I mentioned in the last installment, I am falling slowly in love with this world. The lore behind the Ferelden and the Blight is highly intriguing. Throw in tales of persecution (apostates), corruption (stupid Loghain), and heartbreak (multiple examples) and you have a world that carries true emotion. It’s been a fun journey up to this point and I’m having a good time.

[::puffs chest out::]

That’s not to say that there haven’t been faults, however. In fact, there have been many, many flaws that have soured my experience on the 360 version at times throughout my travels of this land. Some of them have passed as I got the hang of certain things, others continue to haunt me to this very day. So, instead of a progress report, allow me to take a “sidequest” and talk to you about some of the things that have given me reasons to rage.

[::un-puffs chest:: You’re playing on the 360. THERE’S your problem! But I’ll shut up and listen to your bitching like a good friend. (Minus the whole “shut up” part.)]

Part One: Tactical Meltdown

Here’s the thing. I’m good at walking up to an enemy, hitting the attack button, and watching them perish at my hand. It’s easy, it’s intuitive, it feels good. This is how I also try to play RPGs. Most times, it’s not a terrible strategy. However, in Dragon Age, you can’t just do this and be victorious.

The problem lies in your party. You have to tell them what to do. And while you can switch to each of them and control them individually, that doesn’t fly when things are getting dire. Many times in missions I have found one particular party member dying frequently, forcing them backwards on the level progression.

The solution, of course, is the Tactics menu. Here you can set things up so your allies will perform certain actions depending on the battle parameters. Use a health potion when it dips to 25%, attack the nearest enemy, cause paralysis on your target… setting like this do wonders for the survival of your friends. It’s really quite a simple system and fun to play around with.

[I was gonna say, OHAI BRO, there’s this thing called Tactics. ;D]

Health is pretty important.

Of course, the game could have coached you through this bit of important gameplay, but NO! Either I missed it, or there was absolutely no proper tutorial on how to use this feature. The worst thing a game can do is have a wonderful trick to employ but not train the player on how to take full advantage of it.

As I struggled against a group of Blood Mages in an abandoned building in Denerim, I was feeling quite inadequate in my skills and turned to Twitter as a last resort. Once somebody told me of a proper way to utilize the Tactics feature, I’ve been pretty good since then, but I was a bit bothered that the game never trained me in its use.

But at least I know I don’t suck, now.

[You suck for not exploring all of the menu options, n00b! Also, <3]

Part Two: The Unspinning Wheel

Another case of “I know it’s there, but nobody told me how to use it.”

Thinking back, that sentence may or may not reflect why I’m divorced…

But let’s not get into that. I’m talking about the in-game rotary menu. Normally, I just assigned wanted skills to the controller buttons and accessed inventory by pressing the Back button and going from there. It wasn’t a bad thing aside from the constant shuffling of duties for the triggers, bumpers, and control stick. All was fine until one of my characters got injured.

You see, after playing for a good 5 hours with the affliction (which was never indicated as an injury and I thought was some sort of buff), I discovered that I needed to use an injury kit. So into the inventory I went, found one and pressed “A”.


I did it again. No luck.

This went on for some time and I was growing further and further angry with each failure. Luckily I was on a Skype call with someone who is also playing the game as this was happening, so I asked her what I was doing wrong. She asked me if I was using the “wheel” to access the item. I didn’t think that would be a big deal since the inventory should also work.

Left side bad, right side good.

Well, it doesn’t. You have to use the wheel.

Ok, so that’s cool. I can deal with that. Of course, now whenever I’m skyping with the same fellow player and expressing any kind of trouble, she always says “Use the wheel.” Such a smartass. XD

[HAHAHA! Dude, that sucks. To be completely honest I don’t remember that flaw seeing as the last time I played DA:O (on the 360) was YEARS ago. PC, my friend. PC.]

Part Three: Backpacks -OR- I Am Not An Outdoorsman

Item limits are a problem, especially in RPGs. Having them in a game that’s loot-driven is especially difficult, but normally there are ways to alleviate the issue. Dragon Age: Origins has these in the form of backpacks, which you can buy in certain shops around the land of Ferelden.

Assuming, of course, that you A) have the money, and B) remember to look for them.

You see, as a n00bketeer to this game (fantastic cross-promotion), I didn’t have the wherewithal to look for these and may have missed a couple early opportunities to gain more inventory space. In fact, I missed the first three: Two in Ostagar and one in Lothering.

Needless to say, I cannot return to those areas after the darkspawn have raged through, so they are lost forever to me. As it stands, I did manage to find one in the Grey Warden camp and one somewhere else, but I still have the problem of being way too full when I go to pick up weapons and armor and things. It would’ve been nice if there was some indication of backpacks as a necessary item, but maybe I’m being picky.

[Yeah, that is rather unfortunate. I could be a smartass and blame you for not checking all of the merchant’s items, but you’re right. I ADMIT IT. I mean, what if someone NEVER figured out backpacks were a thing? That would royally blow.]

Just give me a storage closet like Fallout. That’d be nice.

Then again, this world has demons, mages, dragons, shape-shifting witches, and all kinds of otherworldly influences. It couldn’t hurt to give me a goddamned bottomless bag for my stuff, could it? Sure it’s unrealistic. So are talking trees, but that’s in here, too. I mean, really… cut me a break, BioWare!

I’ve heard tales that one of the DLC expansions helps alleviate this issue, but I’m not about to give money to fix what should be basic game design. Also, I’m poor, so eff that.

[Bahahaha. A bottomless bag would be rather helpful, especially for one like yourself who hates inventory management. But really, that’s just you being lazy. MAN I’m on a role tonight.]

So, in my total Dragon Age experience, these are probably the main issues I’ve run into. I have a few more but they don’t require me going into detail since they’re pretty easy to forgive. I just wish the game had been better at teaching me the proper way to play it at the outset. I don’t buy all the guides to every game (fifteen times) like the Blonde Nerd herself does.

[HEY. I only own three per game. And that’s only because they’re made by different publishers. IT IS TOTALLY JUSTIFIABLE.]

Maybe I should blame myself. I’m a gamer from an older time. I should’ve known better and read the manual thoroughly. That probably would’ve saved me a lot of time. It’s quite extensive for a current-gen game, too.

But now that I’ve got my whining out of the way, it’s time to return to the game with fun on my mind as I help Viktor and the gang gather support for the Grey Wardens and continue their quest to hunt down Teryn Loghain and stop the Blight.

With a perpetually full inventory.

At all times.

[YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. I can’t wait to see your reaction as the story unravels. ::rubs hands together::]

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