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GDC Dragon Age Preview Roundup

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GDC Dragon Age Preview Roundup

Preview - posted by Edward_R_Murrow on Thu 2 April 2009, 05:45:27

Tags: BioWare; Dragon Age: Origins

Quite a few more previews of Bioware's Dragon Age have surfaced after the Game Developers Conference, some of which contain snippers of new information. First up is a preview from GameSpy.
After the first demo, where they showed how a well-timed fireball could ignite a conjured oil slick, spell combos have been conspicuous in their absence. I guess it wasn't surprising; the concept seems to lend itself well to gimmicky effects. In any case, they reemerged in this most recent demo. The form wasn't too surprising: an enemy that shattered into slivers of ice after being frozen by a "cone of cold" spell and having a "stonefist" hurled at it. Laidlaw said, however, that Dragon Age's answer to the Mass Effect codex will track spell combos as you discover them. This leads me to believe that there will be plenty of them, and that you might not always catch them when they actually happen. Both bode well for the integrity of the concept.
Every Dragon Age demo we've seen so far revolves around the player character trotting the continent in order to muster an army to fight off the evil that's invading the land, and all that. I've always suspected that there's something more to this than just a premise for a bunch of story quests -- like, perhaps, an actual element to the game, sort of like the keep in Neverwinter Nights 2. When Laidlaw said something about "treaties" early on in the demo, I made it a point to follow up. Unfortunately, he wasn't super candid. While he did say that the choices you make with regards to which groups you recruit will have some sort of bearing on how things play out, he didn't go into specifics.
Then comes one from GameShark, which is a bit more in depth than the others.
It's then that Bioware showed off the main emphasis of Dragon Age's quests: free will.

What you do is your call. You can say “Screw you guys,” and ignore the needs of Red Cliff in order to go after completing your main quest sooner. Alternatively, you can play the great charitable hero, help all the little people, and put off your main tasks. The choices made will impact the game, no matter which one you make; for example, if you ignore the pleas of the Red Cliff citizens, later in the game you might run into a situation where someone from the town could have helped you in some way—but won’t or can’t.
Even within these optional side quests—there are further optional side quests. (Layers within layers; think of quests like onions?) Knights are helping the town militia defend their homes, but the militia gear is … well, crap, because the blacksmith has shut down his forge due to depression over his daughter being held captive at the monsters' castle. If you convince him you'll save her, he'll fire the forge back up, and come battle time the militia will be sporting good gear. If you can't, he'll lock his doors once again, and come battle time the militia will be fighting with rags and worn out gear.
During the battle, we were shown a bit more detail on it works. As promised, you can play the game in one of two ways: focus on one character and let AI handle the others, or switch between characters, pausing at times in order to utilize the best strategy.
And finally is a preview by Ars Technica.
The game will feature three playable races: elves, humans, and dwarves. While it may be tempting to play one of the non-human races—they tend to be cooler than us in most fantasy settings—it was revealed that these species have a tough time; they're considered second-class citizens and servant races. If players choose to be an elf, they'll often encounter people who talk down to them.
For the preview, we were shown the player's party going to a region called Redcliff in order to recruit a noble in the overall battle against the Darkspawn, a race of beings laying waste to the kingdom. Before players can get Arl Eamon to pledge his support, they are asked to help repel the attacks of an army of undead that's been plaguing the local town.
An army of undead and a "screw you" solution to Red Cliff? Perhaps enslaving entire nations with necromancy may not be too far off...
Spotted at: Gamebanshee

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