Dragon Age DLC round-up.
Dragon Age was released towards the end of last year and won the hearts of many RPG fans. Since then Bioware have slowly trickled out plenty of DLC for the game to keep players revisiting the universe they’d so lovingly created. But is any of it worth your cash? Read on as Gareth describes what you’ll be in for if you drop the readies on these bits of downloadable content.
This initial DLC was released with the game itself. One of the first cases where if you bought the game first hand you’d find a code inside which would let you get this DLC for free, where as if you bought a second hand copy or rented then you’d have to pay 1200 MSP (£11.99 PS3, PC). Certainly not worth 1200 MSP (a lot of full XBLA games cost that much, or 800 and the massive GTA DLCs cost 1600), but you get a whole new character who has their own personal quest, plenty of dialogue and links into some of the main quests as well.
Shale the golem is the character you get, a fan favourite. Shale is a warrior, of which there are plenty in the game, but ‘it’ is an amusing character to have around and there are two achievements attached to this DLC. You can purchase the game new for about £13 these days so do that rather than spending the extra cash on this.
This DLC was also released at the same time as the game but had to be bought for 560 MSP (£5.49 PS3, PC). Players are greeted by a character in their camp who asks for help with a quest. In order to accept the quest you have to buy the DLC (the future of in game advertising?). A bit of a cunt’s trick, but also of great annoyance was that this DLC contains the only method for storing any goods you want to keep without carrying them around with you in your limited inventory in the form of a party chest.
The quest itself is quite interesting and enjoyable, the Warden’s Keep being the old home of the Grey Wardens. It takes less than an hour to complete however, but does contain the previously mentioned storage chest, a very good weapon, six new abilities (two per class) and two achievements so is arguably worth the price.
This DLC had a troubled release, with it being delayed, then uploaded to Live and then taken down again due to bugs, but was finally released two months after the release of the main game. You return to Ostagar from the beginning of Origins’ main story to discover [spoilers!] what went wrong [/spoilers!].
You can take Alastair with you as well as others to hear their take on what’s happened, though this DLC is a little light on actual story telling. You’ll mostly just be fighting your way through darkspawn, collecting a decent set of armour and a few good weapons over the course of an hour or less. At 400 MSP (£3.99 PS3, PC) it’s one of the cheaper DLCs for Dragon Age, but it’s still arguable whether it’s worth it. The equipment is quite good and there’s an achievement in it, but that’s about it.
Unlike your usual DLC this is a full expansion, similar to the two GTA DLCs. Dragon Age Awakening can be bought for 3200 MSP (£31.99 PS3, PC) on Xbox Live or for considerably cheaper on disc. As you’d expect from a full disc based expansion this DLC is more than the simple one hour long quest that most of the other DLCs are. Altogether this DLC will probably take you about fourteen hours, as you import a character or create a new one as they rebuild the Grey Warden’s defences after the end of the main game.
Doing this involves doing quests around the base itself (which will upgrade as you complete quests) and helping out civilians who will then contribute to your base. You’ll recruit a few new characters, an old one and unlike the other DLCs this feels like a true extension of the main game. You’ll make important decisions, have conversations with your party to make them like you more (or not), give gifts, have random encounters on the road, you can now level yourself up to beyond level 30 and there are eight new achievements. There is also a decent story element here. It’s not worth 3200 MSP however, but if you can buy the disc version for about £13 then you’re in for a treat.
Darkspawn Chronicles is a little different to what you’d expect from a Dragon Age DLC. Released for 400 MSP (£3.99 PS3, PC), you take control of a darkspawn army as you replay the final battle from the main game from the enemy’s perspective. As such there is very little story telling (indeed, this is more of a ‘what if’ story) and no puzzle solving. You simply play as a Hurlock Vanguard as he takes control of other darkspawn to create a party to defeat the city guard and Grey Wardens.
There is an item up for grabs which you can import into your main game, three new achievements and the ability to play as the enemy is an interesting one, but again the run time of this is very short at about an hour and as it doesn’t play to the main game’s strengths (character development and choice) you have to decide whether the concept alone is worth the price of admission for you.
Costing 560 MSP (£5.49 PS3, PC), Leliana’s Song takes place before the main game and puts you in control of Leliana. During this DLC Leliana is an Orlesian Bard and you’ll follow her and her crew to discover what exactly happened to lead her to the Chantry and eventually your team in the main game.
Again this DLC is relatively short (just over an hour) so whether it’s worth the cash is your call. Leliana was a fan favourite in the main game and this DLC develops her background well and I actually preferred her personality in this DLC. There are a decent amount of conversations, a few enjoyable quests which aren’t as straight forward as the usual DLC fair, a new item which you can import into the main game and you’ll meet a couple of new characters to boot. One of the better DLCs simply because of the additional back story, it brings three new achievements with it.
Released recently for 400 MSP (£3.99 PS3, PC), turns out The Golems of Amgarrak is the penultimate DLC for Dragon Age: Origins. You can import a character (including a high level one from Awakening) or create a new one and it involves going into the Deep Roads with a dwarf to help find an investigative team who have previously gone missing. This is totally combat based, with only a minor puzzle element and two conversations spread over the hour long stand alone mission. To extend the play time of this DLC Bioware have made it very difficult (though obviously you still have the ability to change the difficulty) and have introduced the first achievement to be dependent on difficulty (defeat the boss on Hard or higher).
Easily the weakest DLC yet, as it doesn’t link into the story at all, doesn’t give any back story, doesn’t give you a different perspective on anything and there is very little character development at all (despite containing two new characters). It does introduce three new achievements though.
Just released this week and supposedly the final DLC for Dragon Age: Origins, Witch Hunt will set you back 560 MSP (£5.49 PS3, PC). The story of this DLC follows your Warden from Origins (or a high level one from Awakening, or a brand new one) trying to find Morrigan after [spoilers!] she disappeared at the end of the main game [/spoilers!]. You will revisit many areas from the game and other DLCs and there are little nods to moments or characters which is a nice touch. There are a couple of new characters who are underdeveloped as we are used to now, one returning character from the main game and four new achievements. As this is the last DLC the ending tries to tie up some loose ends from the main game whilst hinting at a few story threads for the sequel due early next year.
Although no where near as weak as the last DLC, again this one is a disappointment. There are no new areas to visit and there is little real story until the last ten minutes which is basically just a conversation which you will probably be able to find on Youtube already. Plus there are reports of the DLC misreading (or possibly just ignoring) your choices from the end of the main game, meaning things will be mentioned which didn’t happen to your character and so although you’ll get an ending, it won’t be your character’s ending. Whether just over an hour of gameplay and some closure is worth over £5 though is up to you.
A very mixed bunch, for sure. None of these are must buys. The main game is incredibly long by itself so unless you’re going for the max, achievements-wise, or simply need more Dragon Age in your life then you aren’t really missing much when it comes to these downloads. Saying that, I did enjoy Awakening (if you can get it for a reasonable price, not 3200 MSP) and Leliana’s Song a lot and the Warden’s Keep DLC proved useful in all my playthroughs. Witch Hunt does set up a bit of story for Dragon Age 2 but I’d suggest waiting for it to be discounted before picking it up as it’s quite a lot of money for what you get.
Assuming you got the Stone Prisoner for free with a new copy of the game the others aren’t particularly worth it in my opinion, with Bioware seemingly forgetting what made Dragon Age such a great game in the first place when making the majority of these DLCs.