Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening

As I blogged the other day, I received Dragon Age Origins: Awakening (Xbox 360) on Friday.

Friday evening, I unwrapped the disk and quickly flicked through the manual (Yes, I am one of those annoying types who goes out of his way to RTFM). I was excited to see the new specialization classes and eager to see if I could pull in my Elven Necromancette (from my second play through, those who have played Dragon Age Origins through to its conclusion will understand why I was concerned that I may not be able to).

Deciding not to risk it, I inserted the disk and prepared to select the character from my first play through, an upstanding member of the Human nobility named Armaitus.

Skipping through the characters in my list (there are several, due to my achievement-whoring) I noticed that both my Human Rogue and my Dwarven Warrior appeared to be stood in their grundies. I figured they were just loading the items to display as I happily confirmed that my dodgy elf mage was indeed available to play.

I decide to stick to the Human and play through in the order that I played through the original game. After a short loading screen and introductory scene I am deposited in the opening combat fighting entirely in my tighty wighties. In fact, not only that but I’m fighting with a decidedly underpowered sword instead of my usual kick-ass sword and sword combo.

It seems the reason for this is simple, items from previous Dragon Age DLC is not available in the new expansion. No Blood Dragon Armour, no Starfang – just the items from the original game.

A bit of research leads me to learn that this is partially by design. A bug in the import means that my replaced item aren’t actually replaced. Had I imported a younger character then I would have been upped to level 18 and given funky Grey Warden Armour. As it is, I am left to fight darkspawn in my kecks.

One Bioware chap posts:

After checking with the Devs, researching, investigations, shouting, crying, fist fights, green beer, more research…
yep, it is a bug.

When you import a character from DAO into DAA it does a check. If your character is under lvl 18, you are bumped up to lvl 18, equipped with appropriately leveled weapons and armor and are ready to go. When you import a character that is lvl 18 or over, you do not get set to lvl 18 and equipped with items.

However, if you are over lvl 18 and import a character wearing DLC items that do not carry over (like the blood dragon armor for example), you are not getting the armor that under lvl 18 get. “Technically” this works correctly, but it just makes no sense and is definitely considered a bug.

The simple work around is to go into your saved game in Origins, switch to weapons/armor that are not DLC, save, then import that save into DAA.

Sorry to all the unintentional nudists out there.

As infuriating as I found this, I continued through the introductory sequence becoming more and more irate as tutorial style windows keep popping up and telling me how to play. I wouldn’t mind but having played through Dragon Age: Origins with six characters, I think I’m a fairly competent player by now. Surely Bioware realise that people playing the expansion will have already played the original.

Eventually I level-up and the game tutorial alert screens cause the game to crash. By this point, I am very disappointed.

Not so disappointed as to give up however. I try again with my Elvish necromancette and despite the narrative glitch (that people who have completed the original game in a certain way will understand) I enjoy raining down fully clothed elemental death on my enemies before breaking for dinner.

Dinner brings me calmly back down to earth. I settle on the fact that if the game wants me to play in the nude then I will play in the nude. The new Warden Commander is obviously hard enough that he can take down Hurlok Emissaries in a Jock Strap. This time the game doesn’t crash on level up.

The first hurdle overcome I settle into a weekend’s satisfactory gaming. The expansion is actually very well crafted, enjoyable and intelligently put together. The new characters are engaging and returning characters well chosen; the fights are also very challenging. My previous game choices have obviously been retained and the new skills, items, specializations and rune crafting ability work really well. The game is still very buggy; maps don’t always load for instance. Overall though I think it is worth the investment. Maybe not at 3200 msp but certainly at £25.

I still haven’t completed the game but I can’t be far off now; my level 31 Rogue still has a way to go but I’m already looking forward to the Elfette’s play through.

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Waiting For The New Dragon Age DLC/Expansion

Sometimes I am just far too keen. I pre-ordered Dragon Age Origins: Awakening (Xbox 360) from Amazon ages ago but just spotted a tweet from @MrPointyHead from Inside XBOX.

Weirdly, that link to the Dragon Age DLC doesn’t work – try this: http://bit.ly/9QZbnL

I know patience saves me money (3200 MSP is a little extreme when compared to Amazon’s £24.99) but having played through the original more times than is sane, I’m keen to get stuck into new content.

I think Dragon Age is probably the best Bioware offering yet (I love Mass Effect but I prefer fantasy hack and slash); I’ve loved the game so far and still haven’t explored all the character possibilities (The thought of having to survive the Circle Tower and the Fade again is what’s putting me off starting a seventh character).

The previous DLC has been of a good standard, although Return to Ostagar was a tad shorter than I expected.  I have high hopes for this new expansion none the less.

Oh, there’s a walkthrough available too, for those that use them.