Dragon Age: Origins (PC) E3 2008 Preview

Developer: BioWare Corp | Publisher: Electronic Arts

I partook in a presentation for Dragon Age: Origins that was given at E3 2008. Giving the presentation was BioWare’s Dan Tudge, who is the project director for the game. He didn’t give us a lecture about the game before we actually got to see anything; we jumped right in with another BioWare employee showing us the game, with Dan explaining as we went along.

Dragon Age: Origins is BioWare’s spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate. The game itself actually melds Knights of the Old Republic with Baldur’s Gate, from what I saw. As experienced in Knights of the Old Republic, you are able to pause the game and give orders, as well as make decisions during the story scenes that can impact the way the story is told to you. The Baldur’s Gate influence obviously comes from the actual theme of the game – you’re fighting in a medieval-style game with many types of ogres and stuff like that. Maybe even a dragon comes along sometime, not that I saw in the demonstration, however. From the ground up, the game is built as a fantasy game for core RPG fans.

Similar to other recent PC RPGs, there is a bar along the bottom that you can select for certain attacks. This comes in handy when you pause the game and give orders to your allies and your own character. Seemingly, you can change your main party character, although I might be confused to that fact, since I didn’t actually see them change it. Hit points and mana seem to recharge as time goes on, not particularly needing someone to heal outside of battle, though it becomes vital to have someone healing as battles get more intense.

The battle system is party-based tactical. You can have a single member or up to four at one time. When I asked how many party members you could have, they said “what we’ve shown is four.” This sort of implies it might be possible to have more than four party members, as they said multiple times that the game is “scalable” combat. If this means you can have a whole army under your command, then it’d be an interesting thing to see, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Obviously a big part of these sorts of RPGs is loot and the inventory system. There will be loot — that much is certain. As for the inventory system, it is said to be more like Baldur’s Gate than Mass Effect, which supposedly had complaints about its inventory system. The inventory and equipment system was shown briefly.

As party members go through more and more battles, we see blood and gore that was sprayed by defeated enemies still left on characters. I don’t know if it goes away eventually or if it is replaced by new blood, but Dan Tudge was apt to point out that the characters do show signs of being in earlier battles

BioWare is determined on establishing Dragon Age as a new franchise. The “Origins” subtitle is symbolic to BioWare because they are going back to their own “origins” by creating this new game franchise. On top of that, Dragon Age: Origins is meant to be the first in the series, so its meant to give background information that the later games fall back on. They’ve been working on the game since 2004, so they are definitely planning for the game to be out in 2009 for the PC only.

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