Category Archives: RPGs

New Dragon Age 2 Trailer

So I debated a bit about posting on this based on my disdain of pretty looking trailers and my frustration with the previous Dragon Age support and DLC, but I decided it warranted a quick post.  To recap a little bit, I’m still a big fan of Bioware and absolutely loved Dragon Age Origins.  However my main issues have come from their support and rollout of content which makes me leery  about their ability to support an MMO.  Their decision to push out more DLC as opposed to fixing some major gameplay issues was a big issue for me and concerns me quite a bit for their future games.

With all that being said, I will continue to watch Dragon Age 2 as I really do enjoy single player RPGs as they’re a nice distraction from MMOs or during periods when I’m stuck without a good internet connection.  I am intrigued that they decided to only have one character option as opposed to all the diversity in Origins and Awakenings but that should allow them to focus the story a bit more.

On to the trailer, I certainly recommend checking it out as like other trailers it does look VERY good.  If this is anything like the previous Dragon Age trailers the skills we see here will be similar to the skills available in the game, just not quite as flashy.  So there seems to be lots of fire and summoning ability and this character seems to be a mix of a mage and warrior which could prove interesting.  It strikes me as something along the lines of a Spirit Warrior that wields a huge sword but can utilize some sorts of “magic.”  I’m curious if this is representative of one class or a combination of a couple, as it seems like they might limit some of the re-playability of DA:2.  But there’s still LOTS of time to flush things out as the release date isn’t until March of 2011.

Just like The Old Republic, DA:2 is one of the games I’m eagerly watching but by no means are either of them automatic buys.  Depending on how the next 6 months or so go with their information roll-outs I may decide against them, or at least not buy on launch day. 🙂


What Podcasts are you Listening to?

I figured I’d toss this out to folks and hopefully you can help me fill out my Podcast directory a bit.  I travel quite a bit so I do have lots of time to make it though various shows but I’m finding myself running out of episodes which is just a bad thing.  So, help me figure out what all I’m missing 🙂  I do have some other sports related ones that are seasonal (Football and Hockey) but primarily I’m looking for either gaming related or techie stuff.

As of now I’m currently listening to:

  1. LOTRO Related
    1. A Casual Stroll to Mordor
    2. LOTRO Reporter
    3. LOTRO Cast
    4. Through the Palantir
    5. The Late Night LOTRO Show
    6. The Tolkien Professor
  2. The Old Republic (Might have to take a break from these, or trim it down)
    1. Darth Hater
    2. Mos Eisley Radio
    3. TORO Cast
  3. General Gaming
    1. Massively
    2. The Multiverse
    3. Shut up.  We’re Talking
    4. View From the Top
    5. 404 Radio UK
  4. Tech Stuff
    1. Buzz out Loud
    2. The 404

So what else do you guys have on your music player of choice?

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Shifting play-style

For the past couple of weeks I have been branching out for a bit from LOTRO mainly from a lack of dedicated time.  Not that I don’t have time available but that time is frequently and without warning interrupted which makes it very hard to do some of the things I enjoy in LOTRO, like raiding and group content.  Because of this I’ve been shifting a bit from my normal play style in LOTRO to some other avenues.  This has also been part of the reason for a lack of activity here as I just haven’t had all that much to write about.  But for now this just feels like a little bump in the road.

Inside of LOTRO this has included a lot of the spring festival and the Ale Association quests.  I’ve also been running a fair number of skirmishes but those can require attention depending on what skirmish and tier I’m attempting.  And I’ve also been running around with my baby RK who just dinged 22.  I’ve been enjoying the new Lone Lands area quite a bit as it is a MUCH better flow from Bree, although for an RK it is a little dis-jointed.  The transition along the book epic lines was great as it takes you straight from Bree to Candaith and for me I was around 20ish before finishing off book 1 as I had done a number of other things in Bree.  The issue I ran to on my RK was the level 15 class quest for RKs is there in the Lone Lands and I ended up picking up some other quests that did throw me off a tad.  Nothing terrible, but I’m really trying to walk through this zone in order and I ended up with some scattered quests as I normally grab all quests I can see 🙂

Outside of LOTRO I have been checking out a few other games as well.  I’ve pretty much stopped playing Dragon Age as Awakenings seems to have lost its luster for me.  I did enjoy it, but it doesn’t have nearly the same re-playability as Origins did.  It certainly is replayable, but after the second time I just wasn’t that motivated, unlike the 5 times I went through Origins 🙂  Maybe that’s just because there are enough similarities that I don’t distinguish between the two.  But certainly if you haven’t checked Awakenings out I do recommend it as the new skills and abilities are LOTS of fun.

Another single player game that I’ve been playing off and on has been Mount and Blade.  I’ve talked about Mount and Blade before and it is getting more press now that they’ve released Warband.  I’ve downloaded Warband and have checked it out a little bit but I’m still on the trial version so I haven’t made it all that far.  The graphics updates are great and they’ve redone the map completely such that it seems much more conflict centric.  There are a number of other tweaks with romances and NPC relationships and the like that sound really intriguing but I have yet to see them.  I still haven’t gotten quite used to the new swinging animations so my horseback attacks are pretty bad at the moment.  I’m still on the fence about if there are enough differences between Warband and the original to warrant me buying the new version as I think the biggest new feature is a multiplayer aspect which while intriguing, doesn’t interest me at all.

The final game I’ve been playing lately has been Age of Conan.  I tried it out a little bit when they first launched and just couldn’t get into it.  I will admit that I didn’t play all that much as I just couldn’t get the hang of the combat system.  But when they announced the revamp of their trial system to allow full access to the starter zone for as long as you want I figured it would be a good time to check it out again.  Plus the upcoming patches and expansions are interesting enough that I wanted to check things out.  So far I’ve rolled 4 different toons, 2 of the heavy armor classes (Dark Templar and Conqueror), a ranger, and a mage type (Herald of Xotli).  I haven’t done much with the Conqueror yet (the rest are at least level 13), but aside from the ranger the other 2 are quite different from the typical classes from other games I’ve played.  The Dark Templar is a sword and board tank type that also can use dark magic to de-buff and leach life off of enemies.  So in some ways it does mimic the play of the Warden, although with a drastically different back-story 😉  The Herald of Xolti (HoX) is a fire-based mage that also uses two handed weapons – which to me sounded like an interesting concept.  The HoX does have some good absorption buffs which mitigates their cloth armor restriction so in that way they’re also somewhat analogous to Wardens in LOTRO.  For all of these, I’ve mainly been focusing on following the individual epic class lines which are solo based.  I’ve had to do a little grinding to get to the level requirements, but for the most part it hasn’t been bad at all.

Based on my initial experiences, I am actually tempted to pick up AoC to scratch my PvP itch as it certainly is much more prevalent and rewarding then PvMP in LOTRO.  The graphics in AoC are really impressive and I enjoy the feel of the area only slightly less then I like things in LOTRO.  It has taken me a bit to get used to the combat system but now I really do enjoy it.  The biggest thing that got me was the targeting system – you don’t have to target a mob to hit it (such that you can get inadvertent AoEs) but there is an auto-face standard that I haven’t figured out how to turn off such that if I forget to target the mob in front of me I’ll keep spinning around to some other mob that I might have tabbed to.  AoC also has a combo system that reminds me of the Warden gambits but AoC has a visual prompt of what the next builder is supposed to be such that there’s not the same memorization requirement Wardens have.  AoC also has a nifty way of handling your class epic line in that you’re taken to a Night-time instance that is single player.  So all of your epics are done in that fashion at night, and if you want to join other folks you need to travel back to the day-time.  So far I enjoy that system, but I’m not sure how it works going forward.  Another enjoyable aspect of the story line is how the different stories play off each-other in that you’ll hear about other people in one class story and then actually get to play that part in another story.  I didn’t realize they did this at all until I was reading the quest and realized “hey, that was my ranger doing that” which does make me want to roll other classes to see where they fit in.

Now the only “issue” I’ve run into is partly my own fault but it also shows off a strength in my mind.  When I started, I decided on the PvP server as my home as I wanted that environment and wasn’t real sure how the PvP-RP servers would differ.  What this then allows for is common quest areas in the day-time environment are open combat.  As I’ve found already, these can be camped by higher level characters who enjoy killing newbs like me, repeatedly.  However, a couple things that I appreciate about how AoC handles this is they do have an instigator flag that will prompt guards to attack said “criminal” to discourage that act somewhat.  I will admit that I’m sure that times out after some interval and there are probably ways around it such that it doesn’t really do my – but it seems like this does create some level of punishment that stops some from just randomly killing people.  This flag also is pretty obvious such that you can see it from a good distance and have a chance to run if need be.  The other aspect is when you die there’s an immunity buff that makes it such that you can’t be harmed while close to the res circle.  I realize this isn’t perfect but it at least gives you time to map or log.  I’m sure others have a different take on this, but for me it hasn’t bothered me yet as they seem to have more rewards for PvP then penalties for dying.

The other game that might fit into this play style for me is Eve which I’ve played a couple of times but never quite got either.  It certainly has a lot of the planning and spreadsheet aspects that I like and success isn’t solely driven by how much time you spend in game.  Reading Tobold’s latest series of posts as he hops into Eve has brought this back into my thought process and I may have to give that game another go.

I’m hoping that I can get a chance to get back to a more dedicated schedule for my gaming, but for now it is what it is and I’m just trying to enjoy it as much as possible.

Dragon Age Awakenings Review

So I posted my initial thoughts on launch day but I’ve now had the chance to play through to the end of Awakenings and thought I’d share a more detailed review.  I’m not going to include spoilers, but I will mention a few “mistakes” that I made and suggest some other ways to do it.  So that might be considered a spoiler, but really I look at it as a preferred order to work through the quests.  With that said, I’m dying to talk about things so if anyone wants to talk specifics let me know and I’ll open up a Spoiler/Discussion thread.

For my first play-through, I used my Dual-wielding Warrior who I ended up re-specing a couple of times as I progressed and unlocked more of the specializations.  The new spec lines are MUCH better then the original ones and they’re all purchasable from the various vendors, so I highly recommend getting them as soon as you can.  As I referenced in my previous post, the Greywardens website has the scoop on all these for all the classes so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to check them out ahead of time.  Most of the cool skills/abilities can’t be unlocked right away (2nd skill in each line is a level 22 requirement) so you do have some time to get the books and play around a bit with them.  I did “cheat” a bit and save my game, buy a respec stone, check out all the specs, and if there wasn’t something I liked re-load my game 🙂  I ended up deciding to go with the Spirit Warrior and Guardian specs with the templar spec from the original game.  This allowed me to pretty well fit the role of AoE DPS and yet still survive as a tank when need be.  Guardian spec has some REALLY handy abilities for keeping agro and protecting the party while the Spirit Warrior line just rocks in general 🙂  This combination has crazy defensive bonuses and some really fun AoE skills which make for a great time.   For you LOTRO players, think Champion DPS with Warden survivability in heavy armor 😉  Also, the additional abilities in the Warrior line are incredibly useful and I used them in almost every fight.  I’m looking forward to really checking out the new rogue stuff and I’m saving my mage for last as there are what appear to be some awesome spells.

Another new aspect of Awakenings is the way Runes work.  You can still find them from mobs and vendors, but they’re also now a craft skill.  I will focus a bit more on this with my next play-through (I didn’t touch it till the end) as you can not only slot runes in weapons, but armor chest-pieces as well.  The crafting part was a bit confusing at first, but essentially it isn’t so much you’re crafting something new but more upgrading the rune to a higher quality.  So like it was in Origins, crafting isn’t crucial to the game but can provide some meaningful buffs if you want them.  In this pass, I didn’t craft any potions at all as I brought a bunch over from Origins, they still drop like candy, and I really didn’t seem to go through all that many of them.  But the poison/herbalism crafting hasn’t changed much at all since Origins.

The story of Awakenings kicks off right away, and in the pace never slacks off throughout the entire time.  For me, this is where Bioware shines and Awakenings doesn’t disappoint!  I never had a feeling of “when am I going to finish this zone” like I did in a couple areas in Origins.  This might also be because things are shorter, but I also feel like the general pace is just faster and conveys the feeling of desperation much better.  To keep things lively, there’s the same running commentary of your party members as you adventure so make sure you play with the sound on 😉  Also, the decisions to be made in Awakenings are MUCH harder (for me at least) as there are many “no-win” situations you’ll find yourself in.  Which certainly is fueling my desire to play again as I played through the first time being a little safe, I’m curious what else might change if my decisions changed.

For this play-through, I did crank the difficulty up to Hard (only did normal in Origins) as I did want a bit more of a challenge.  I did find it to be a pretty good mix as my characters all felt MUCH more powerful then they were in Awakenings and the monsters were nastier to boot.  I also use tactics quite a bit and have them set up in a pretty detailed fashion, so for me Hard seemed to be just right as it was challenging but not impossible.  For my final party, I ended up with my warrior, rogue, and 2 mages but this next run-through will be quite a bit different I think.  Mages are still REALLY powerful but Bioware did a good job of really amping up warriors and rogues.  I really didn’t have to worry about healing all that much so I may go with 1 warrior, 2 rogues, and 1 mage but we’ll see how things play out.

The other real nice advantage of Awakenings is you can TOTALLY customize EVERY character to be exactly how you want them to be.  The respec stones are in unlimited supply and useable by every character.  So even if one of the characters joins your party as 2-handed specialist you can re-spec them to be sword and board, or however fits for how you want to play.  This really allows for a TON of options as now you can have total control and not feel trapped by wasted skills that the other party members sometimes have.  And not that the skills they have initially are bad, but we know we all have our favorites 😉

One thing about Awakening that I was a little thrown off by was the absurd amount of money in this expansion.  One of the early quests you’ll get requires you to pay 80 Sovereign (similar to 80 gold in LOTRO) – I felt I had brought over lots of money from Origins, but I quickly was down to about 15 Sovereign and freaked out.  However, money quickly became a non-issue and I ended up having bought all sorts of books, respecs, etc and still finished the game with over 240 Sovereign 😉  So, when you see big price tags on items, don’t worry – soon enough you’ll have more money then you can spend.  I’m not really sure why they went this route as it seems quite a bit out of whack from Origins, but oh-well.  One thing the abundance of money does allow for is a VERY quick improvement in the gear of your entire party.  Don’t worry about anything you lost coming over from Origins as it will be VERY easy to get better gear.

So, now to the not so good.  There are (like all games) some issues you’ll encounter and some buggy/confusing quests.  One I’ll point out (I ran into this and saw it on the forums) is a quest where you have to confront Apostates.  If you decide to confront them, they’re supposed to attack you – however many (including me) have had issues with this.  The solution I had was to re-log and that seemed to fix it, but I’m not sure that’s a sure-fire solution.  There also are some quests that aren’t 100% obvious, but many of them are not bugs just a bit harder to find or poorly written.  Like Origins, Awakening does have different areas you’ll have to adventure in and the main thing I’ll suggest is DON’T save the Wending Wood for last as this will cause problems for you.  Another down-side is since there are no romance options, there’s really no story impact on reputation with your companions.  You can still unlock the skill upgrades (which are nice) but aside from that I don’t really see a downside but I guess it is possible they could leave you as they could in Origins.

To wrap things up here I really enjoyed Awakenings and will be playing through it at least 2 more times on my rogue and mage.  I ended up finishes at level 32 on my Warrior, although I missed out on quite a few quest turn-ins, with a play-time of roughly 17 hours.  I’m pretty sure I did most of the content, but it is quite possible I missed some follow-on quests.  I feel confident in saying that if you like Origins, you’ll like Awakenings as well.  Now I will admit, I wasn’t real excited about the $40 price tag on it but I know I will get at least 45 hours out of the game, and most likely will play it a 4th time as a new character.  So, for under $1 per hour, that’s not a bad deal at all!  When you combine this story with all the optional twists and turns, total freedom in class and party design, and solid graphics and sound you get an incredibly enjoyable experience!

Here’s looking forward to Feb. 2011 and the rumored Dragon Age 2 launch.  And in case you bought the electronic version, there’s a slick in the box version that has a card with that date and the Dragon Age logo on it 🙂  So something is coming, we just don’t know for sure what.

Dragon Age Awakenings Launch

So I ended up stopping off at my local Best Buy today to pick up DA:A as there wasn’t a real reason to pre-order or anything like that.  I’ve got about 5 hours or so in on my archer rogue and my dual-wielding warrior combined so I thought I’d give a few thoughts.

First off, if you haven’t read up on it the folks over at have a great page dedicated to all things Awakening.  I’m going to try very hard to avoid any spoilers, so here are my initial thoughts.

The carry over from DA:O was pretty smooth although I had my Warrior come over with no weapons 😦  I realized that all DLC wasn’t going to transfer but I thought at least the meteorite sword wasn’t DLC but oh well, I can already tell we’re going to get much better stuff soon enough so I”m not terribly worried.  There is a thread on the forums about a way to “fix” this which does appear to work, but I’m not claiming it is the correct way to do it.  If you’re interested here’s the link. However, I am a little concerned that it appears the Warden’s Keep Blood skills don’t seem to be working quite right but maybe I’m just not paying enough attention.

I’m enjoying the story so far as you pretty much jump right into things with a couple of subtle hints about what has transpired in DA:O but nothing terribly game changing.  It does move pretty quick, but I think I’d rather have that then a slow start, but that’s just me.  And for those of you who complained that your decisions didn’t matter in DA:O, already I’ve seen quite a few that could have totally changed the course of my adventures and some are pretty tough calls!  I’m real curious to see how this builds and where the story goes as so far I’m much more hooked then I was at this point within DA:0.

And lastly, I’ll comment on the new skills and such – many of them sound VERY cool, can’t wait to check them out as I level up.  As for the new Specializations many are obtainable right off the bat either as drops or vendor purchased so that’s not a huge deal.  And probably my favorite item is the re-spec scroll that is at one of the local vendors 🙂

More later – assuming I can pry myself away, but I will admit most of my upcoming news will be more DA focused and less LOTRO…

More Awakening

And the news from Bioware keeps on coming 🙂  Some of it is good, and some is not so exciting (for me at least)

They’ve released on their wiki site information about some of  the new Mage spells which do sounds pretty darn cool!  This is coupled with the announcement that one of the new specialization lines for mages is the Battlemage.  But one of my concerns from my previous post was confirmed in that many of the Battlemage spells (which were showed in the videos) can in fact create friendly fire incidents and as such careful positioning will be required.  Basically this line allows the mage to create a pulsating ring of various kinds of damage depending on the spell used.  Certainly some cool stuff, but will be a bit tricky.

The Friday update also released info on Sigrun, and there’s a blog from one of the lead writer’s going into more detail on her story. Not a whole lot of new information but nice to fill out the back-story of this character.  Also, I might have missed this somewhere else, but they talk about runes that can be added to weapons (I’m guessing a similar concept to how LOTRO does it for legendary items), which will be a nice way to further customize things.

And finally, the Awakening FAQ has been updated with information from Bioware’s new Community Facilitator.  This is the “bad news” I was referring to at the top of this post.  DLC items will not carry over into Awakenings, which means that content from an item perspective (one of the selling points) is a total waste.  I still appreciated the storylines but it does strike me as a bit odd they resorted to this decision.  However, at least the Warden’s Keep abilities will import, so that’s a good thing as I do like those 🙂  Oghren is confirmed to be the character joining us which does sadden me a bit but at least they do confirm there are cameos from the other characters that will follow the choices we made in Origins.  They also imply (or it might be a straight admission depending how you read it) that we’ll only hear from Alistair and Wynne, which is also disappointing, although I can understand the decision as those are potentially the only ones who stick around.

Some other information throughout the FAQ, but those were the main items I saw.

For the most part, some good things coming but I am a bit bummed about the character choice and follow through of the storylines with the rest of the companions.  We shall see as we get closer but things overall are looking good!

Dragon Age Awakening updates

So yesterday was a pretty big day for Awakening news with 2 gameplay videos and another character revealed.  Once again, we see more shots of Oghren (the dwarf from Origins) included in these videos so there are theories that he’s the character who rolls over from Origins.  I really hope it is not him and that they’re just teasing us, but we shall see.  Overall, I really don’t think there’s a bad choice (other then maybe Sten) for the returning character but my favorites would be Morrigan, Alistair, Leliana, or Zevran.  Heck, even having the dog return would be fun 🙂  Whatever they decide, I do hope there’s some tie in a codex (their version of a deed log) entry or some other in-game mechanism to learn about our previous companions.

First off, 2 new reviews are up as both and were given a chance to play through some of the game.  Both reviews are somewhat similar and mention that Awakenings really isn’t about any specific feature but more amping up what we all loved about Origins.  There’s some discussion on some of the new surprises from the various mobs as well as some new tricks up the sleeves of our characters.  But overall, there really isn’t all that much new information coming out of these reviews.

For me the real exciting new things were out of the gameplay footage.  You can find the videos over on and while there is some footage we’ve already seen there’s some really interesting new pieces.  Mixed in with the gameplay is some more shots of the new areas which do look very cool – not that I’d expect anything different as I quite enjoyed the look and feel of Origins.  So far, the two main classes we’ve seen announced have been mage-types so it was cool to see some of the new spells in all their glory.  There’s a number of AoE spells and I’m curious how that will impact your party as Dragon Age has the concept of friendly fire.  Many of the AoE spells I’m real careful with as my party members aren’t always out of range 😉  The is also a bit at the start of the 1st video with some melee action and a skill that reminds me of the warrior skill from drinking the blood that’s an AoE knockback.

And finally we get introduced to Sigrun who’s a member of the Legion of the Dead.  Some interesting back-story as well as some more cool footage in the videos.  We do get to see her in battle, but nothing new or exciting from a skill perspective other then she’s a dual-wielding warrior type.

So far, I’m pretty happy with the direction they’ve taken our new companions as it really has opened up the expanse of this world.  Instead of just bringing in new Grey Warden recruits from Ferelden we’re gathering people from a much broader area.  Also, the new skills and spells are looking pretty cool such that we will truly feel like we’re getting more powerful!  I am curious to see if they’ll balance things out a bit more such that magic isn’t as overpowered as it is in Origins.

I haven’t pre-ordered this, but certainly am planning on buying this expansion as it really is shaping up to be pretty impressive!  Now granted, if they toss out some deals or incentives to pre-order I might change my mind but there really is no driver to buy now as opposed to waiting till the release.  Especially since their previous update was delayed by over 3 months.

And yes, I’ll be back to more LOTRO news – but I was pretty excited about this news 🙂

More Single Player Focus recently

So I’ve been quiet lately and that’s mainly due to real-life distractions and work getting quite a bit busier for me.  I really haven’t had much time to fully devote to a game so I’ve steered more towards single-player games that I can pause 🙂

I’ve got a backload of LOTRO items, and will be getting back into a better blogging routine as I”m really itching to get back to Middle-Earth.  Especially since there’s a new raiding group that I joined so I’ll have a chance to get back into some more of the end-game stuff that I so enjoy!  I’ll be working on my minstrel and as such you’ll probably see some more posts on his progress and how I handle skirmishes as well.

The biggest in-game news for me is that my mule kinship (which was formed with the help of some of the blogging community) reached rank 7 and the kin-house right behind my house was still available.  So I’ve been slowly moving things around and filling that up, and working to re-build my bank account ;).  Here’s a shot of my minnie out front of my new and sparsely decorated house.  Too bad you can’t mail items across servers as I know Merric and Goldenstar have TONS of household items 😉


I’m sure you can guess the main one single-player distraction, yes that would be Dragon Age: Origins.  I’ve been through the RtO content and then decided I would finish the game on my dual-wielding warrior.  I probably should have upped the difficulty to hard (or whatever’s above normal) as it was pretty easy for me, but then again I was really mainly playing to finish up the storylines and play with some different options.  I’m not real sure if I’m going to play another go-around, we’ll see how RL goes.  And if I do another game, I will up the difficulty and most likely NOT do Orzamar as by far that zone is the longest and least enjoyable for me.  I did find some new spells that I hadn’t used before (the mana-leech line is un-real) so I’ll probably try some other things out too.  I may also try out some more of side-quests as I think I’ve only completed something like 60% of the game (which seems weird).  But I am getting pretty excited for the expansion as they are slowly letting news out on it.  There’s been a video of a new boss, the first announced character Anders (also in the gallery link), and screen-shots of Vigil’s Keep. I’m still waiting to see the other characters, how the skills and such will change, and probably most importantly which character is continuing on with us on our journey.  But we still have 6 weeks before launch, and here’s hoping it is smoother then Ostagar 😉

The other game I’ve picked back up is Mount and Blade which is developed by Taleworlds  There are a number of things I really like about this game, even though it isn’t the best looking or most recent game out there:

  • I love the way they’ve done mounted combat – it does take a bit to get used to but I really enjoy it
  • I’m a medieval timeframe junky and enjoy building an army, reputation, and trying to acquire/hold land.  Plus who doesn’t have fun storming the castle!
  • Even with the as-shipped game there’s multiple factions, lots of armor/weapons, and troop variations that all make lots of differences
  • There’s still a pretty active community that’s not only helpful but is releasing custom built content and modifications too

The game isn’t perfect (especially since it likes to overheat my poor GPU for some reason) but it is a nice enjoyable distraction for me at the moment.  So if you like the period and are interested in a game that combines strategy with more dynamic combat you might want to check it out.  The demo allows you to reach level 7 and the full version costs $30.

Finally, Return to Ostagar

So the PC and XBox versions of Bioware’s Dragon Age Origins first post launch downloadable content have been released and are available to play after quite a LONG delay.  No word on the PS3 version though.  I have no clue what happened, and really don’t care as it is behind all of us.  I downloaded it last night, and ended up playing through it on my dual-wielding warrior.  Granted, she is level 15 and working through the dwarf area before heading to the Landsmeet so my party is already pretty well decked out.

There’s lots of the information on the DLC already out there, but I’ll try not to spoil too much but you’ll notice the note before my last paragraph where the potential spoilers are.  The content itself isn’t all that long but it was enjoyable to wrap up all the loose ends.  Lots of good dialog and flashbacks mixed  in with the various battles.  I felt the duration and pacing felt about right – as it is about as long as Warden’s keep, possibly a bit shorter.  Some good teasers and hints for what’s coming up in the expansion, so that was a pleasant surprise.  A couple of potentially tricky fights, but I’m still on the medium difficulty on my 3rd play-through, so nothing terribly difficult.  For me, I enjoyed it and it was worth the$5.  Will I be getting more DLC for DA:O?  I’m not sure – but I will be definitely getting the expansion.

(spoilers follow)

Now for a bit of the down-side (and spoiler info) as there a couple of things I didn’t like.  First off, all the items obtained are Tier 5 (best is Tier 7) and the armor only helps from a stamina perspective and coolness factor.  I figured if Alister’s going to be king he should look the part, so I’m sacrificing a bit of his survivability for looks ;).  But I find it very weird that the king isn’t wearing better armor or that I have a number of weapons better then Duncaan’s swords.  It just struck me as weird that for content geared at level 13/14 ish (just going of the Strength requirement for the armor) that it is so much worse then Wade’s Dragon Plate and the Juggernaut set.  But I think the most disappointing part was they didn’t have anything in there regarding Duncaan as I we should’ve at least been able to bury him.

Anyway, I’m glad I played it and now I’ll finish off this play-through and get ready for Awakenings.

Dragon Age Awakening Preview

So this will be a bit of a retraction from my previous Bioware rant 🙂  I’m still not completely happy with Bioware over their handling of the Return to Ostagar DLC fiasco, but I am VERY excited about this upcoming expansion.  If you haven’t see this article, IGN UK has a 3 page interview/preview of the upcoming expansion with Fernando Melo the online Producer for Dragon Age.  There’s some really great stuff in there (cool pics too) and much of it hits directly at what concerned me with the initial announcement.  Also, check out the trailer if you haven’t seen it – Bioware does some really good videos and this game has had some amazing ones.  Overall, it looks like this will be an amazing expansion and will really bring lots to the game – even if you haven’t finished Origins yet!  To re-cap:

  • The time frame for Awakening story is several months after the events of Origins
    • Still lots of chaos from the blight and work to be done to rebuild
  • Our player characters role is the Warden Commander rebuilding the Grey Wardens
  • You can also start off a new character as an Orlesian Grey Warden commander
    • Or you can load a previous Origins saved character
    • The level of that new toon will be 17-20ish
  • New level cap is mid to high 30s
    • This is HUGE – really shows how much new content there will be
  • Sounds like ending specifics will carry over from saved games – it isn’t just a generic starting point like the trailer implies (I’m trying not to spoil too much)
  • An option is available to re-spec your imported character to take advantage of new attributes, skills, talents, spells, and specializations
    • This is pretty nice as well such that old characters can take advantage of new cool things
    • Plus it is mentioned there’s a story behind it, not just a random option
  • The size of the expansion is “bigger then most retail games”
    • This had me concerned initially so I’m glad to hear this comment
  • At the end of the interview, there is a discussion about RtO delay
    • Late January is the new “target”
    • The issue was a major bug that effected all platforms, not just one and made it through their internal reviews and one of the external before being caught by the third.
    • Other cool teaser is that different characters will react differently during the RtO storyline.
      • So I’ll probably end up running through that content a few times on my current play-through

Still not real happy with Bioware’s support, but if they keep on putting out such amazing content they will continue to get my money!