Playing Dragon Age Origins on PC

I made it a goal to play Dragon Age Origins on PC, for one reason:  I got the version from GOG and it includes pretty much all of the DLC.  Now, I’ve played DAO a few times on console because it was more convenient for me to do that, and I came in a bit worried about the interface and the combat.  I had played a little bit earlier and didn’t find it to be that bad, but I was still a bit worried about it.  I played a couple of weeks in my normal time, but for the past couple of weeks I was on vacation and so managed to play it pretty much every day, so let me outline how that’s all worked out.

The first thing is that this time through I started to struggle with the interface.  I actually am not having much difficulty triggering abilities as the ability bar is pretty usable, but what I’m struggling with is the mouse pointer.  In order to change which enemy you’re targeting, you need to select it with the mouse and right-click on it, but in combat I am having a lot of trouble seeing the mouse pointer to do that, and the auto-selection doesn’t always work all that well.  Since you need to be fighting something for an ability to automatically target it, if that hasn’t kicked in or you haven’t properly selected an enemy yet you would need to click on them with the mouse … which means that I’d need to be able to see the mouse pointer.  So I often spend a lot of time with my main character not doing anything while I try to figure out how it’s all going to work, which is very frustrating.

I’m also finding the combat more difficult than the console versions were.  I’m playing as a two-handed warrior using greatswords, but previously I played as a two-handed dwarf warrior using axes and don’t recall things being as difficult as they are here.  I really had a difficult time in the ancient ruins with the Ashes of Andraste, although a big part of that was because at least in this version the game loves to spring enemies from behind on you, which means that they targeted Wynne who was my main healer, and once she went down things tended to go poorly, especially since I really hate flipping between characters and so like to play only on my main character.  I have the others set up to use healing poutices as part of their tactics, but sometimes they don’t use them quickly enough and I don’t use them quickly enough either.  Which meant that with the drakes I had to reload a few times to finally beat those fights, which also happened when the enemies were primarily mages.  I had to learn in this game to seek them out because otherwise they’d pretty much devastate the part.

Which reminds me of something that I thought of while reading “Dungeons & Desktops”, which talked about how many CRPG makers really disliked the ability to save anywhere.  Yes, you can use that to save scum and avoid all negative outcomes — and I can’t say that I didn’t do that on occasion — but one reason to have that is to avoid having a player having to make up too much time if they happened to get something wrong or make a mistake.  I was doing pretty well in the ancient ruins until the drakes appeared, and if I hadn’t been saving after every fight I would have had to fight them all over again when the drakes suddenly appeared and I had to learn a new strategy for them.  That would have made that surprise far, far more annoying and frustrating than it was.  If a game is suddenly going to spring sudden potentially fatal surprises like new enemies or an increase in difficulty they had better let you save before they do that in case the surprise causes you to die and have to replay a significant amount of the game just to get back to where you were.  This is the sort of thing that really frustrated Shamus Young about “Dark Souls”, and in fact a sudden increase in difficulty added to the fact that you could only save a long time before hitting that point is actually responsible for my not being able to finish the original “Persona” game.  So while the save systems do mean that people might be able to save scum, the alternative is far worse.

Anyway, back to the combat.  After leveling up and getting better equipment, I’m doing better, or at least can usually take on darkspawn without too much trouble if I pay attention.  But my party has my main character, another warrior (Alistair or Shale usually), Lelianna because I need a Rogue for locks, and Wynne for magic and healing, and in some really, really big fights Lelianna has saved my bacon.  In the fight against the elf Keeper, I had cleared out all the enemies but the spellcasting Keeper killed off everyone else, so after recasting Lelianna as an archer early on — which I never did on the console — I had her stand away and pick him off with arrows, using a health poultice as required.  I expected to have to reload and try again, but she managed to win.  The same thing happened against Flemeth, but I only won that one because Flemeth wouldn’t move from the one spot and as long as I kept out of melee range I could plink her to death with arrows.  Against the dragon at the ancient ruins only the main character went down, and that was probably only because I was out of Wynne’s range behind the dragon and not paying attention.

At any rate, I’m not really enjoying the combat but it’s not incredibly frustrating either, so it shouldn’t stop me from finishing this run.  I just am not finding it as easy as it was on the console for some reason.

The main reason to pick this up was to get Shale, but I found that Shale was less hostile than I figured she’d be from watching Chuck Sonnenberg’s Dragon Age Origins playthrough.  She also had some hilarious lines when I explored the fact that she calls the main character “it” all the time.  When I asked if she was going to call me that all the time she gave the simple answer of “Most likely”, and when I commented that she didn’t talk about her previous owner that way she said basically that it was a quirk of hers.  I’m running with her in the party now but will need Alistair at some point, and will need Oghren for the Deep Roads, which is where I’m at now.

Overall, I’ve kinda liked the DLC but didn’t find anything that I would have really missed, other than Shale.  I’m looking forward to trying some of the separate DLC, such as Awakenings and “The Dark Spawn Chronicles”, both of which I will try.  I don’t know if I’ll do “Lelianna’s Song” or not.  I’m also thinking that I have to take Morrigan’s deal despite the fact that my female Warden is going to marry Alistair because I don’t know if getting him killed will still let her be queen, which is what I’m going for here.

Ultimately, I’m having fun when it isn’t frustrating me, and it doesn’t frustrate me all that much.  Hopefully I can get through the rest of it without too many issues.

One Response to “Playing Dragon Age Origins on PC”

  1. Accomplishments Update | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] the playthrough for the “Halcyon Diary” series.  I also did manage to finish a run of “Dragon Age Origins” so that I could get a playthrough with Shale, and also tried the “Darkspawn Chronicles” […]

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