Why is Dragon Age more Tempting to Me Than Mass Effect?

So, while waiting for compiles, I’ve been browsing on TV Tropes again. This is, of course, probably a bad idea. But while browsing the Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II pages, something struck me: despite my liking both series, I’m in general much more tempted to play the Dragon Age games than the Mass Effect games. This is borne out by the fact that I’ve played Dragon Age Origins four times: City Elf, Dalish Elf, Dwarf Noble and Mage and Dragon Age II twice, but only played Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 once each. Of course, I’ve only played Dragon Age Inquisition and Mass Effect 3 once each, but then both of those games disappointed me roughly equally. Still, it’s mostly the length and having to face the Dragon Age Keep again that really stop me from replaying the former, while the gameplay change in ME 3 is the big push for my not replaying it, along with not having as much interest in playing it.

So why do I, I suppose, like Dragon Age so much more than Mass Effect?

Well, I think the starting point is how Dragon Age Origins is more personalized and personalizable than Mass Effect is. You have a number of different Origins in DAO, all of which have different hooks into the story and the rest of the world and so have an impact on the character. And then you do seem to get a lot more choices in how the world will turn out that you get in Mass Effect. This means that the game is different and so triggers my alt-o-holism: I can replay the game as a different character and get a different story, beyond my interpretations of their personality. Which is also abundantly present in DAO and less so in ME because of the Paragon/Renegade divide. DAO lets me build a world more my own than ME does.

There’s also an issue with the gameplay mechanisms going into DAII and ME2. For the most part, the gameplay changes in DAII are ones that work for me. I loved bouncing around as a rogue in my second playthrough, and while I didn’t care for having to constantly basic attack it worked relatively well. I did, however, loathe the teleporting enemies that ended up showing up behind you from already cleared areas so that positioning didn’t much matter. And limiting the action to Kirkwall and having quests appear in areas that you can go to individually really, really worked for me, as as I’ve commented before it allowed me to get into a very addictive playstyle for me: go on the dayside, clear all quests except for the story quest, hop to the nightside, do the same, hop to the outskirts, rinse, repeat. Meanwhile, ME2 made the resource gathering sidequests incredibly annoying, ditched the Mako, and ditched the cooldown mechanism which I really enjoyed in ME. So the gameplay changes in DAII were most often positive ones for me, while the ones in ME2 were mostly negative.

Following on from the first game, I think that while the characters in ME2 were far superior to the ones in DA2 for the most part — although Varric is cool — I think the story was better in DAII. I’ve commented before — too lazy to find a link — that I didn’t mind the story as much in ME2 as others did (like Shamus Young) because I saw it as nothing more than an excuse to go around recruiting interesting characters, but because of that DAII’s story is better because it actually has one. And as I commented in myanalysis run of DAII, on replaying it the story does come across better than it did originally, once I paid attention to it. There’s more of an attempt to build on what DAO did and more attempts to set up for DAI. It’s not perfect, sure, but it’s better than what we got in ME2.

And, finally, add to all that that I’m not a huge fan of cover shooters and so the gameplay of Dragon Age is going to appeal to me more and it’s a slam dunk. Which is a shame, because I’ve played a lot of fantasy based RPGs and Mass Effect is one of the few science fiction based ones that I can play. Although, the fact that I like Knights of the Old Republic and The Old Republic better might hurt Mass Effect as well.

On that note, I am indeed again tempted to play at least the first two Dragon Age games again. However, I have no time to actually do so, and the desire will probably reside by the time I do.

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