I have been reading articles and listening to podtoids, and they have been saying how Dragon Age is one of the best games of the year. Another article talks about how JRPGs have suffered from a lack of evolution. I decided to hold back my comments on DAO until I had time to write a blog to articulate my feelings better. Dragon Age is not my Game of the Year. Bioware is not my publisher of the year. Here is why. (Disclaimer: I have not yet beaten DAO. I plan to try to go through the rest of it, and because of this, some of my points may be invalid. )
Knights of the Old Republic. Mass Effect. Dragon Age Origin. These are all the same game! First, here is your into story. You can pick a branch of your character that will affect the first x amount of time (Granted in DAO, x was over an hour). Then you have some mission that is your tutorial, only to be forced to go rogue. From here you branch off to having to go to one of three places. Here’s the kicker: you get to pick the order! Cool, right? Yeah? It doesn’t matter when you go to place A or place B, because they aren’t interlinked at all. This lack of continuity is one of the things that bothers me about the formula. I feel like one of the reasons to play an RPG is for the story, and that the story should be fluid. What going to planet/galaxy/town A B or C does is say “You know the main story? Its still here. But here is a completely irrelevant subplot that isn’t linked because of continuity purposes, but will relate to your goal at the end”. The first time I had the pick your own path thing, it was kind of cool. The second time, it lost some appeal, but was still an alright method. In DAO, I was disappointed by it. Maybe I just expected more. Now as I have said, I have not beaten DAO yet, so I have not gone through all of the uniting paths, but if I had to guess, once I am done with the uniting the different peoples, there will be some sort of twist, rendering most of my work useless. I just wish that Bioware would take their next RPG to a different method. High hopes, I know.
Its WoW…but offline
I would like to preface this by saying some things about my girlfriend. She is pretty new to the videogames scene, but she has her inputs on games I play. First, if I ever became addicted to WoW, she will break up with me. There are some NSFW reasons behind this. She said this game seemed like WoW, and I agree. The play style of “press A once, wait and hope you don’t die” is not my favorite. I enjoy a little bit more reaction, and my girlfriend was disappointed with this scheme. However, this is a minor gripe. In fact, my next point is the major difference between WoW and this game, which frustrates me to no end.
My RPG Experience
Not from DAO...this guy is from FFTactics My brother and I used to play RPGs all the time. He was a grinder at heart, and did not mind putting in the sound track to Blues Brothers, and rock out for a couple of hours while grinding in Chrono Trigger. Being level 50 against a level 35 enemy is a great feeling. An RPG to me is only as hard as the time you don’t put into it, and that is one of my favorite parts. An RPGs difficulty should be inconsequential, because if an enemy is too hard, just go back an area, and grind until that enemy is easy. Dragon Age has enemies that will kick your ass at level 1 the same at level 20. It is the Evolved Mutant Dire Rat from Hell!!! Am I to believe that the bandits have been doing the same stuff I have been doing, killing hordes of darkspawn so that they can be at my pace, so that instead of being at human strength, they are equivalent to the first time I fought an Ogre. What the hell! There was an alternate system mentioned on a podtoid I believe that suggested to let you grind for a bit, to be maybe a level or two above. Let me explain one of my favorite video game memories. Final Fantasy Tactics had enemies that leveled with you as well, but only the enemies in the outworld, all of the plot enemies were constant. About one fifth of the way through the game, I had a wizard who was capable of summoning the most powerful summon, and easily wiped out the entire enemy team. My patience was rewarded, and the fact that enemies leveled with me only helped this.
These are my reasons why, if I had a chance to vote for GotY or best publisher ever, I would not vote for DAO. Let me know what you think.