Pimpin Reviews: Dragon Age Origins DLC
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When BioWare's labs in sunny Edmonton started development for Dragon Age: Orgins, they didn't set out to just create an incredible game. Instead, they also sculpted the setting for a brand new series, as well as possibly the most ambitious plans to support a single game with an unprecedented amount of Downloadable content. During the span of the next two years, BioWare plans to launch a variety of content either made in BioWare's own headquarters or via the games online modding community -Which this reviewer is a proud member of-. With four sets of DLC already available on the market today, and an expansion pack in the near future, its evident that BioWare is hitting it hard and fast. But the question remains, is it all any good?
The problem with reviewing downloadable content is that the rules are tweaked just a little bit with every release. Because of this it's hard to explain what is good versus what is bad DLC. The review will cover all available DA:O DLC to this day; The Blood Dragon Armor and the Stone Prisoner, which come free with any new version of the game, as well as the Warden's Keep and Return to Ostagar add-ons.
With Warden's Keep BioWare launched their new creative method of selling their DLC. If you play the game long enough, a merchant man named Levi Dryden will randomly show up within your group's campsite. The name Dryden used to mean things to people, seeing as Levi's grandmother was the Grey Warden captain at the titular Keep at a mountain at Warden's Keep. However, due to a quarrel with the Tyrant King of her era, the family's reputation was forever marred. Now, Levi wants you to travel up to the peak to battle all the undead Wardens and Ghouls who infest it, and hopefully discover evidence of the events that occurred.
Should you accept, the game will take you to the console's marketplace to buy it for a cold hard 560 Microsoft points, the real world equivalent of 7 USD. The game plays a lot like one of the main games many side-quests. The atmosphere and plot flow well with the rest of the game, and has a small glimpse into the extensive lore of the Grey Wardens. It even features multiple endings and decisions to make akin to the games trademark moral choices.
Why would they need such high doorways? Its practically begging trolls to come
Completing the quest leaves some goodies behind as well. If you manage to slay thee demons and solve the mystery, the keep will be all yours for you to helm. The Keep offers a new base with two new merchants, a new weapon material, and an inventory chest. Considering that the game itself features limited inventory space, it is a desirable add on. However, it does feel like the feature that should have been included in the game. It also features some nifty weapons and armor, and some new abilities.
However, the add-on is incredibly short. Depending on the selections made, it has only two to four boss battles, and only a couple of rooms and monsters. It only lasts about an hour, and while it is fun to divulge into more of the games combat and lore, it feels very underwhelming for the hefty price tag. The Warden's keep is a good start in terms of quality DLC for Bioware, but isn't as satisfing quantity wise.
The Stone Prisoner
The Stone Prisoner came as a freebie to any player buying a brand new version of the game as part of EA's 10 dollar first day DLC action to combat used game sales. As in The Warden's Keep, the DLC is presented by a lone traveling merchant who will sell you the control rod for a rouge golem for the low-low price of 15 USD.
Accepting his offer will result in traveling to a new village that has been over run by Darkspawn. The golem, Shale, stands still in the middle of the village and the only way to free him is to unravel the series of unfortunate events that have taken place in this little village. The reward, of course, is the titular stone prisoner, i.e the Golem Shale. After solving the little quest (and sub quest) involving the village's misfortunes, you're given the option to recruit Shale as a party member for your team.
Fe Fi Fo Fum!
And Shale's a damn well worthy addition. With the ability to customize between ranged attacks to gigantic tank, Shale proves very use full in all areas of combat. This also unlocks new weapon types and appearance customizations for the character. Not only is Shale a pleasure to have on the field, but also a delight off it. Shale features some of the funniest most cynical banter and trademark sarcasm. He flows incredibly well with other companions and has incredibly well produced voice work, as well as his own personal quest.
The question still falls to whether or not the add-on is worthy of its hefty price tag. Shale is one of the most remarkable companions of the game, and in a game like Dragon Age: Origins which heavily relies on the companionship of others, that's an important aspect. The DLC is great, and even better if you get it free. A definite buy for Dragon Age Fans.
By the way, if anyone has an unused copy of The Stone Prisoner, Atvomat_Nikonov could sure use one.
Blood Dragon Armor
Usually I like to be a little bit more elegant in my reviews, but I just have to say that this armor is straight up ugly. The graphics in Dragon Age aren't all that impressive, and the armor just makes thing look even uglier. As a promotion prize for buying the game new, it almost seems like an insult. The armor barely looks like the picture, and its only redeeming quality is you can sell it off to buy something better. I wouldn't spend a dime on it.
I hope this is at least covering a bad hair day
Return to Ostagar
I suppose the pettiest gripe I could possibly make about the add-on is that its name totally ruins any surprise that it was going to offer. For a measly 5 USD, you can return to the ill-fated battle field at Ostagar, where in the stand alone game both the new King Calain and the Warden leader Duncan were prematurely slaughtered at the hands of the Darkspawn. The add-on starts when you randomly run into the other lone survivor of the battle itself, who passes onto you the key to a chest filled with the important documents of the good old king.
So the motivation, of course, is to return for revenge. However, returning to Ostagar should have felt like a much more rewarding and powerful event. First of all, RtO tries to make you feel empathetic for the late King Calain, but from the brief conversation with him in the beginning of the main game he proves to be nothing to but an idiotic, goofy, naïve, and incompetent ruler. How can we feel remorse for the guy?
Have at! Foul Demon!
And while picking up the old armaments of the both the King and Duncan is a nifty experience, it's hardly anything worthy to an end game character. But even beyond that the add-on reverts back to the Warden's Keep curse, its just far too short. Beyond that it's simply way to easy, and the final boss was nothing different that what we faced in the regular playthrough. And to add insult to injury, there barely enough dialogue to fill a page of Microsoft Word.
Return to Ostagar was a name that promised the epicness from something out of Lord of the Rings. Put in truth it's more a quick stop, but for 5 dollars one can't really complain. Regardless, I could have spent that money on a big slushy.
The problem with most of this downloadable content is that it simply is not made for end game characters. This becomes most clear in Return to Ostagar, which was released months after the original, but still features almost no dialogue for the most important characters. The steep price compared to the low play time pushes it in this tough economic period. What's become evidentially clear, is that BioWare has learned how to make content, but still has milestones to go on the verge of Premium Content