Warning: This article contains spoilers. I would, however, appreciate if you did not spoil anything beyond the point of the game that I discuss.

Areas spoiled: The Joining, The Battle of Ostagar, Aftermath of Ostagar

When last I wrote I had just finished up the Origins story for my elven mage, Fiona, and was preparing to dig into the meat of the game. Unfortunately reality bit me in the rear, and I’ve only been able to invest another four hours into the game (bringing me up to a total of six).

I’m still having a blast with Dragon age Origins and have been pleased to see that the difficulty has been slowly ramping up. Here is another batch of random thoughts on the game:

- Yahtzee’s review of Dragon Age origins is hilarious, as always. It inspired the title for this article, in fact.

- I’ve seen numerous complaints that the NPC speech in the game gets tedious after listening to it once. Here’s a hint: press ESCAPE to force an NPC to shut up!

- Likewise, I heard one intrepid podcaster bemoan the lack of hotbar real estate. Pro tip: you can expand the hotbar to fill the entire bottom of your screen, opening up roughly a dozen new spaces to slot in skills.

- I have a love/hate relationship with the design decision to severely limit exploration in outdoor areas. One one hand, it’s so old fashioned to artificially wall off entire areas of the game world (or to prevent players from walking into ankle-deep water). On the other hand, these limitations prevent me from obsessively combing every inch of every map in a desperate quest to find hidden items and areas – which saves me a load of time.

- The Joining ritual, which sees your character become a full-fledged member of the Grey Wardens, is powerful stuff. I have to wonder though, would it have been more interesting to have the player choose what to do after Daveth dies drinking the darkspawn blood instead of showing the explicit price of failure through Jory? Clearly Duncan couldn’t just kill off your character, but the decision would have been far less black & white.

- Why can’t any fantasy game make helmets look decent on a character? Every character that puts on a hat in a fantasy game immediately ends up looking worse. I turned them off back in World of Warcraft, I disable them in DDO, and it kills me that there’s no way to hide head gear in Dragon Age Origins because they are terrible. My version of Alistair is stuck looking like a moron now, and I’m avoiding wearing a hat on Fiona.

- The movies for the Battle of Ostagar are slick and polished, although quite cliche. Tolkien would be proud.

- Speaking of the Battle of Ostagar, the tower sequence is a nice introduction to some tougher content, and the Ogre at the top is a particularly mean customer. He ended up not liking my mage at all, and I had to kite him constantly to keep from dying. (And yes, Alistair was trying to tank.)

- Also in the tower, the clickable ballistas and dog cages were a great way to mix up the experience, and add in a layer of strategy above simply moving around and manipulating skills on my hotbar.

- With the battle over with, I’m currently sitting on the outskirts of Lothering and deciding what to do next. I’m tempted to side with Morrigan and go after Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir first. The treacherous bastard deserves death.

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