My Favorite Video Game

Why, look, another Geekgasm post! The prompt: My favorite video game.

I am something of a gamer. Most of my attention going to role playing games, or otherwise big-story games. I love The Elder Scrolls and Assassin’s Creed, L.A. Noir and Mass Effect, but my all time favorite game?

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I love the whole series, in fact. Although the second game was not nearly as good as the first, I remain loyal to my favorite series. Here’s why.

The Story

No matter the execution, the story to each game is fabulous.

In the first game, Dragon Age: Origins, you become something known as a Grey Warden – warriors who use a taint in their blood to hunt Darkspawn. The Grey Wardens have been gathering to fight the Blight, the Darkspawn (led by a high dragon) attacking the surface and destroying everything in their wake. When the king is betrayed, and all but two Grey Wardens slaughtered, it is up to you and the other remaining Warden to gather an army, reunited your country, and stop the Blight.

One of the great things about this game, is you get to choose between three races: a human, an elf, or a dwarf. From there, there are six possible origin stories you could play through: a human or elvin mage, a human noble, a city elf, a dalish elf, dwarf noble, or dwarf casteless. Each is a unique story, and determines how many other characters will perceive you throughout most of the game. For example, if you’re in elf, when you’re at Ostagar (the Grey Warden camp) more than one person will assume you’re just a servant, which leads to some interesting dialogue. Or, if you’re a human noble, you have the option to take the throne. Stuff like that.

(The canon story: You are a dalish elf, you make Alistair king, and you die killing the Archdemon)

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Origins also have some great downloadable content, my favorite being Dragon Age: Awakening. This story follows your Warden (or you could make a new character, if you like) after the events of Origins, as the new Grey Warden commander seeking to rebuild the Wardens. In this one, it adds layers to the Darkspawn story as the Darkspawn have begun to orchestrate ambushes, organized attacks that were previously unheard of. Some of them can even talk. And you have to get to the bottom of it. It’s really cool.

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The second game, simply titled Dragon Age II, while questionable in its execution, also has a really awesome story. The story follows a voiced character, Hawke. There are way less options in this game, as Hawke can only be human and always have the same origin story and one of two possible endings (as opposed to four in the first game). But, unlike the first game (which takes place over about a year), this game takes place over seven years and segues into the larger issue for the entire series: The conflict between the mages (witches) and the templars (their keepers).

This game starts at about the same time as Origins. Hawke and his/her family is fleeing their home in Lothering (a town destroyed toward the start of DA:O). They are fighting their way out, trying to find somewhere safe, perhaps a way out of Ferelden. They manage to get to a ship, and find themselves in Kirkwall, a place that used to be a center of slave trade for the Tevinter Imperium (a country run by mages). In the first act, Hawke is poor and trying to find a way to support his/her family. They get themselves attached to an expedition into the deep roads (with the help of Varric Tethras) where they are trapped by Varric’s asshole brother. You fight your way out of the deepraods, and come out filthy stinkin rich. Act II is what really starts to set up the main conflict, although it is masked behind the conflict of the Quanari, a horned race in the world of DA. A group of Qunari are ‘stranded’ in Kirkwall, and you spend this part of the game figuring out what’s going on and enjoy an epic boss battle toward the end. We emerge into Act III, and you are the Champion of Kirkwall. The mage/templar conflict is getting way out of hand and you have to try some way to resolve it. No matter what you do, it doesn’t work and you have to pick a side. In the end, Hawke is either the leader of Kirkwall or a fugitive. The former doesn’t last, as we find out at the start of the game, Hawke is missing.

Oh yeah. The whole story of DA2 is told after the fact. Cassandra, a Seeker for the Chantry (basically, the main church which the templars answer to), brings in Varric (epic dwarven bard) to tell her what really happened around the Champion the Kirkwall so they can find him/her and attempt to stop the war that is about to break out. So that’s cool.

(Canon: Hawke is a mage, romance with Isabella, side with the mages)

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This one hasn’t actually come out yet, but the gameplay looks beautiful and the story sounds awesome.

A cataclysmic event has plunged the land of Thedas into turmoil. Dragons now darken the sky, casting a shadow of terror over a once-peaceful kingdom. Mages have broken into an all-out war against the oppressive Templars. Nations rise against one another. It falls to you to restore order as you lead the Inquisition and hunt down the agents of chaos – your choices will forever change the Dragon Age.

In this one, it has been heavily hinted that you will meet Hawke and the Warden somewhere in the game, and you will have the option to play as a human, an elf, a dwarf, or a qunari (rumored). Also, Varric will be returning as a companion!

The Companions

In these games, you have a group of people who go with you and help you with these. these are you companions. You can build friendships or rivalries with them, do their personal quests and, in some cases, you may have the option to kill them, as only a couple of them are required.

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These are most of the possible companions in DA:O. From left to right:

Oghren, drunken dwarven warrior. Leliana, bard, former assassin, former chantry sister (similar to a nun). Morrigan, apostate (mage who isn’t tied to the chantry – this is illegal). Sten, qunari. The Warden as a dwarf. The Warden’s Dog. Alistair, Grey Warden, former templar, royal bastard. Wynn, circle mage. Zevran, city elf, assassin. Shale, it’s kind of hard to explain what she is. She used to be a dwarf.

While you have relationships with your companions, they also have relationships with each other. For example, Morrigan and Alistair hate each other. Sten seems particularly fond of your dog. Zevran and Oghren have a beautiful friendship (by beautiful, I mean funny). Stuff like that.

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The companions of DA:A. From left the right: Oghren, again (this time as a warden). Nathaniel Howe, the son of one of the bad guys in Origins. Ser Gilmore & Dog (I believe this is a mod for PC). The Warden Commander. Valenna, dalish elf. Sigrun, dwarf. Justice, a spirit from the fade possessing a corpse. Anders, a runaway mage turned Grey Warden.

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Companions for DA2. From left to right:

Fenris, former Tevinter slave hiding from his former master. Isabella, sexual pirate queen. Varric and his chest hair, dwarven bard. Aveline, former warrior in the Ferelden army, now guard captain in Kirkwall. Male mage Hawke. Carver, Hawkes brother (if Hawke isn’t a mage, the companions with be Bethany, Hawkes mage sister). Merril, former Dalish elf, blood mage (blood magic is illegal). Anders, except posssed by the spirit of justice and no longer any fun at all. Sebastian, prince of Starkhaven.

The companions are easily the best part of DA2. Their stories with each other and with Hawke are just lovely. Varric has a nickname for every one of them, and often meets Fenris or Anders (separately – they hate each other) for cards. If you don’t romance Fenris or Isabella, they’ll get with each other.

Many of them appeared in Origins or Awakening. In DA:O, you meet Isabella in the whorehouse in Denerim. She’s an old friend of Zevran’s. Merril appears in the first game if you do the Dalish elf origin, as she is the first to the keeper of the Warden’s clan. Anders and justice are, of course, in Awakening. Alistair, Zevran, and Leliana also have brief appearances in this game.

And we can’t forget the honorary companions.

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Sandal and Bodahn Feddic. Dwarven merchants who have appeared in every single one of the games so far. They are expected to return for the third game.

The Mystery

There are a ton of unanswered questions throughout this series, most of them revolving around something to do with mages. For example, after the events of the first game, Morrigan runs off. If you have the DLC Witch Hunt, you can go looking for her. When you find her, she alludes to the world being on the ‘precipice of change’, and gestures to an unnamed object which she had left you. Even in the second game, we do not find out what this object is.

Another mystery revolved around Sandal, the savant. He is a rune crafter, though he could not function on his own. The mystery surrounding Sandal is original brought up in the first game. When you’re fighting your way to the Archdemon, just before you find it, you find Sandal alone in a room full of dead darkspawn, and he is covered in blood. Upon question him, he just says “Enchantment” excitedly. Toward the end of the first act in DA2, you, again, find sandal alone in a room full of dead Darkspawn, with an Ogre frozen solid (i think this happens twice in the second game). When you question him, he will say “Boom!” Then, referring to the frozen Ogre, says “Not enchantment” and runs off. Throughout the second game 9since he lives in your house for most of the game) you hear his chanting strange things, and whispering about a mean old woman who leave him alone.

Perhaps the greatest mystery in the whole series surround Flemeth, Morrigan’s mother.

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In the first game, Flemeth pulls the warden and Alistair out of the burning tower and nurses them back to health. She is the sole reason they survive, and even sends Morrigan with them to make sure they succeed in stopping the blight. But, *spoiler alert*, you find out toward the end of the game that Flemeth sent her daughter to perform a ritual that would get Morrigan pregnant with a child who had the soul of an old god (basically, the kid would be unreasonably powerful). And it is very clear that Flemeth wants that baby. Knowing how Flemeth has expanded her lifespan, if she were to possess the child once it were trained, she would be unstoppable. *End spoiler*. In the second game, she rescues Hawke and his/her family, and is the only reason they survive long enough to get to the ship that takes them to Kirkwall. When she re-emerges in the first act, the talks about the precipice of change and the things that need to be done while the world is changing. Knowing this, we can expect her to return for the third game. it is still unclear whether she is a good guy or a bad guy – it is more likely she is neither.

The Romance

I am a dirty sap. In both the first and second game, there are four romance options (well, four romances you can complete). In the first game, the options are:

2j4378o Alistair: Bastard son of the late King (and brother to King Cailan).  He is a human warrior, a grey Warden, formerly a Templar, and  just an all around good guy. He’s not one to stand up for himself  (you can convince him to start doing that later in the game), and  likes to make jokes out of things. You can only romance Alistair if  you are female. The conflict in this romance is, if you make him  king, he might not be able to stay with you. Also, he’s a virgin. This  is a very sweet romance.

Morrigan_profileMorrigan: Apostate, daughter of the mysterious Flemeth, Morrigan is headstrong and slightly rude. She’s not very good at interacting with other people, but will value the Warden more than anything else. She always stands up for herself, even when it’s unclear if shes being attacked. You can only romance her if you are male. Her major conflict comes after the romance, in that she tries to run away, but the warden has the option to follow her. The sort of relationship you have with Morrigan is almost reluctant, but hugely sappy (like the Alistair romance).

Leliana Leliana: Former assassin and lay sister of the Chantry, Leliana can be in  a romance with either a male or female. She will actively seek a romance  with a female warden if they become close, but certain dialogue options  have to be taken if a male warden wants to be with her. I have not  actually done this romance, but it is just as sappy as they others. They’re  all sappy, really. The thing with Leliana is that it’s a bit less like a soap  opera, growing into something that is quite lovely.

Zevran_the_CrowZevran: This is my favorite romance in DA:O. Zevran was raised in  a whore house until he was seven, at which point he was purchased by the Crows, a group of assassins. You meet Zevran when the crows send him to kill you, and he fails. You have the option to kill him or bring him along. Zevran is a ton of fun, so i recommend bring him along. he can be romanced by either a male or female, as if pretty open about it. In this romance, every step of the way if your choice. He doesn’t even kiss you without asking first, making the nature of your relationship entirely up to you. The conflict here is that Zevran had been taught to crush feeling like love, so he is extremely reluctant to open up to the warden. When he does,  it’s just perfect.

All of these characters (save for Morrigan) have cameos in DA2. Morrigan appears in the trailer of Inquisition. When makes me very hopeful that the romance options in the second game will make appearances in the third game. Every romance in the second game can be with male or female Hawke, but it doesn’t always make sense for me. The second game options are:

IsabelaDAII Isabela: Sexual pirate queen. he romance is reminiscent of Zevran’s romance  in that she is super sexual and reluctant to open up the your character. She is  very fun, enjoys what she does, and struggles with doing the right thing.  Somewhere inside, she is a good person. She does not agree with any kind of  slavery, losing payment by freeing a group of slaves she was supposed to  deliver to other pirates. She’s very headstrong and won’t let a man control  her, but it also very aware of her appearance and sexuality and how much fun  it is to use it. If you are friends with her or in a romance with her she will  attempt to save your life in the second act, even though she risks her own life  by doing so. This is, by the way, my second favorite romance in DA2. it  makes sense with a male and a female. Some more on Isabella: She has a thing for elves (I know that feel) and she gets around. She and Zevran had a purely sexual relationship when he killed her husband, and pursues a similar kind of relationship with Fenris if neither of them have been romance by Hawke. She also had an encounter with Anders before he was possessed. When you meet her in DA:O, you have the option to have an orgy with her. Some weird things can happen in these games.

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Merrill: A sweet and innocent young dalish elf, obsessed with restoring the lost history of her people, and a blood mage. Blood magic has a lot to do with talking to demons and things like that. It’s not very smart. despite that bit, the romance with Merrill is adorable. She blushes every time you flirt with her, and stumbles over her words when you are present. She is very wise, especially later in the romance, and can become a huge comfort for Hawke. I did this romance with a female Hawke, and it felt very strange. The Merrill romance feels very natural with male Hawke, especially.

Andersedited Anders: The Anders romance actually felt more natural for me when I did it  with male Hawke. This romance is a completely unapologetic soap opera  sap fest, since Anders is off-his-ass insane. Since he let Justice possess him,  Justice was twisted into a spirit of Vengeance, and it became very unclear  where Anders ended and Vengeance began. but it’s kind of one of those  things where, if you flirt with Anders once, he’s completely in love with you.  he’s like a puppy half the time. Even after what happens in act 3, he will get  so excited if you decided to keep him around and can even be persuaded  with fight against the mages at the end . Which is big, because he’s a mage  activist. If you side with the templars at the end, you will have to kill him  unless you get him to help you. Which is very easy if you’re in a romance.  Because, again, he’s a puppy.

Fenris_closeFenris: This is my favorite romance in both of the DA games so far. Fenris is a broody elf with a fantastic voice and, oddly enough, perfect puppy dog eyes. He is an escaped slave from Tevinter, has a slightly logical aversion (animosity) toward mages, and has a nasty habit of crushing people’s hearts with his bare hands. Like Isabela (who is always at the bar when she’s not in your party) Fenris has a bit of a drinking problem, I think. When he needed to throw something, all he had is alcohol and he takes a swig first. He’s also very fun to talk to when he’s drunk. Because he, you know, smiles. He has no recollection of his past, as it was all wiped away when his master put those lyrium tattoos on him (they’re basically magic tattoos – they allow him to basically be a ghost on the battlefield and are constantly burning). He is very angry. Just, at everything. And he’s reluctant to let anyone get close. No matter what you do, he will leave you in the second act because he’s stupid (leave the romance, not the party), but you can get him back in the third act after the confrontation with his former master. The one word I would use to describe this romance: Passionate. Perhaps, very passionate.

I have beat both of these games multiple times, and in both games have had to get a second xbox profile to cheat the character limit. The third game comes out in fall of 2014, and it will likely cause me to flunk out of school. I will have no regrets.

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