I finally got my hands on the first major expansion pack of Dragon Age which is Dragon Age Origins Awakening. The story takes six months after the main game where, depending on the choices you made in the first game find yourself Warden-Commander of Vigil’s Keep. Much has happened in the past six months. Your former companions have moved on with their lives and now must rebuild the Grey Wardens of Ferelden. At the end of the main game, the Wardens were given the Arling of Amaranthine which were once those of Arl Rendon Howe and it is those lands which you will build your future.
You travel to Vigil’s Keep with Mhairi, a Warden recruit. But things are not as they seem as it has been overrun by darkspawn. Mystery surrounds the darkspawn invasion since you have already ended the blight but the darkspawn still remain in organized numbers. You are able to quickly form a full party including your former teammate Oghren and a new apostate mage Anders all of which you draft into becoming Grey Wardens.
Unfortunately at this point, there are some issues when importing your character from the main game.
- Armor and weapons that came with any DLC apart from the “Return to Ostagar” will not be imported. So if you’re wearing you Blood Dragon Armor with your Starfang sword, you will appear in the game naked and weaponless. (The only explanation I can of for this, the first DLCs, “Warden’s Keep” and “Stone Golem” are embedded in the original disc unlike “Return to Ostagar”. Why couldn’t they just include the whole thing on the disc. There’s 23GB of space on the PS3 disc!?!)
- Depending on your choices in the final moments of the first game, it determines who your king or queen will be. But you can somehow import your character even if you died. So even if you made Anora ruler of Ferelden, sacrificed yourself for the good of Ferelden, import your character, the King will Alistair. There’s no explanation on how you came back to life whatsoever. There is no Mass Effect 2 moment where you stay dead and cannot import your character into Mass Effect 3. Maybe Bioware will fix this in the future but I’m surprised that they let this one slip by.
- You don’t get to bring your dog along. This really sucks. I mean, the Dog and I went through the whole blight together and came back. And now that I’m Warden-Commander, he’s not with me? This just seems sooo wrong.
Your companions undergo the joining and Mhairi does not make it. It’s sad I know. She was actually quite an interesting character for the scant hour that she was in the party and you even have the opportunity to level her up. It just feels wrong.
Now that the darkspawn have been driven out of Vigil’s Keep it’s time to rebuild. Rebuilding costs money and resources. You’ll have to micromanage the arling both politically and financially if you ever hope of defending it against the darkspawn.
There are only a few places to go to and all of them are in Amaranthine. You are unable to return to Warden’s Keep to get your things nor can you go anywhere else. You are stuck with your inventory from your last save and that’s it.
So the journey to unravel the mystery begins and along with it are new companions. None of which you can have a romance with. That’s just it. A RPG with no romance in it.and this is Bioware we’re talking about. What the?!? Where’s all that deepening of the storyline and relationships with your character. I should’ve gotten the message when they killed off Mhairi in the start. But leaving this out is a big step back. There’s no mention of your previous relationship (Unless you married the king or queen that is.) or even a glimpse about it. Makes you wonder if Bioware had thought it through. I can understand the no romance part if you married the king or queen. But if your romantic interest died and all, shouldn’t you get another chance at a relationship? Bioware thinks not. Can it come in a future patch? Please?
The new abilities and skills are a huge change to the game. The new jobs are unlocked by purchase. So all the sovereigns you amassed in the main game are carried over and believe me you will need them. New jobs like Shadow and Battlemage are really helpful which the warrior ones are pretty good in
There’s no more camp. Instead you’re all in the great hall of Vigil’s Keep. You get to collect trophies from the areas you visit and are put on display at the hall. What is disappointing is the lack of further PC-NPC interaction once you’re there. Interactions are only done when a companion reaches a certain friendship level and it automatically runs once you enter the hall. Personal quests are unlocked based on your “friendliness” status is. If it’s a little low, no chance of that happening. Go give some gifts and see where it goes but I bet you it doesn’t get very far. Although Bioware is considering a “Romance pack” for both Dragon Age and Mass Effect. I just wished that they had made the ones in Awakening the default.
I just wished that I could still visit the other areas in the game such as Denerim or Warden’s Keep (obviously to get my stuff) and not let the game just end like that. Much like what happens in Mass Effect 2, where even after you’ve defeated the collectors (provided that you survive) you can still play the rest of the available DLC coming out without having to play through it all over again.
If you loved the first game, then this one should feel just right. Newcomers to the game should play the main game first. Don’t cheat and create an Orleasian Warden. Like Mass Effect, to really experience the game is to import your character. There was an issue with the Warden’s Keep expansion mainly due to the Party Storage Chest which characters really needed in the game and it was only available as a DLC. Bioware has done good and has included this in this expansion.
I’m done with my first playthrough. Now on to load another saved game with completely opposite choices.