Eyes on Dragon Age: Origins

We were lucky enough to get a little look at Dragon Age: Origins at this years Gen Con Indy convention, and what we saw didn’t disappoint. Dragon Age looks to be the very culmination of everything BioWare has done right.

Fans of Mass Effect can expect the same if not a deeper level of choices from character interactions to plot direction that have a lasting effect in the game. For example, in the demo, we saw a man locked up in a cage. He told us about a key he had swallowed to hide from the guards that had just recently come back into his position. He wanted to trade the key, which unlocks a box full of magic items, for food and water. But instead of trading, the audience decided to just kill him and take the key. Surely this will come back to haunt us in some way.

We were told that, like in Mass Effect, side plots like romantic relationships would be part of the game. How this would play out has not yet been said, though we can imagine.

BioWare has repeatedly said that they are happy to be returning to their fantasy roots, and the house of Baldur’s Gate hit the mark with the amazing party-based gameplay. Players can control any character in the party and members are mostly chosen by the player, so teams can be built to preference. The gameplay encourages players to think out their moves, pause the game and use the camera to look around to find the most effective route.

The melee system is as any would expect, but the real fun came when we got to see the magic system. Here spells and magic could be combined to devastating effect. In a room with several enemies, the mage cast a circle of what looked like oil or tar. This slowed the enemies movement, which alone would have been great, but then the mage sent a fireball into their midst and the floor around them erupted into a firey disco from hell.

The demo took us through introductions and a basic tutorial. The attention to detail was amazing and the voice acting was spot on throughout the entire thing. At one point the camera panned down from castle walls to the battlefield to observe the thralling combat below. The sight was more impressive as this was during gameplay and not a full motion video. The demo ended with a large boss battle — shaky cam video above — where the party took on a troll. To much cheering, the troll repeatedly grabs party members pummels them several times before finally being cut down in a shower of blood and some great looking combat.

Dragon Age: Origins looks like on of the games to look forward to next year. However, BioWare stated that in no way are they afraid of pushing back the release date and will settle for nothing less than perfection with this game, so don’t hold your breath for 2009 just yet. They also hinted, and it was confirmed on G4TV’s X-PLAY last night, that this title would be coming to yet unnamed consoles a year after its PC release. If this demo is just a taste of what gamers can really look forward to, then it is definitely worth the wait.