Dragon Age: Origins isn't as bad as its E3 trailer looks

Seeing Dragon Age: Origins this time, we were skeptical. BioWare’s making it, which is good – they made Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights (two of our favorite PC RPGs) – but there’s also this:

Above: The trailer above is only one of three featuring Marilyn Manson’s “This is the New Shit”

Did you see the knight in full plate mail doing a hair-metal knee slide under a dragon to inflict some kind of fish-filet belly opening cut? (It happens towards the end).

It’s confusing. Is Dragon Age a serious game with armor class, character levels and rules? Or do you push the X-button as quickly as possible and watch your character impale everything with showy and impractical swordplay? We went to see it with the intention of finding out and came away from our play time feeling that, behind the trailer shot in super kill-o-vision, there’s most likely a serious role-playing game with magic swords, dialogue and healing spells – all things we really, seriously love.

Here’s why:

Marilyn Manson is not in the game

Marketing guy 1: “What are the kids into these days?”

Marketing guy 2: “Marilyn Manson.”

Marketing guy 1: “really?”

Marketing guy 2: “Yes, they don’t think he’s wack at all.”

Marketing guy 1: [after heavy breathing and brow furrowing] “If we put him in the trailers… the kids will buy more copies of the game!”

That’s our best approximation of how the E3 trailer was created. It’s stuffed with action, loudness, and catchy, action words, like “death,” “sacrifice,” “victory,” and “war” without any context, but don’t assume it’s meant to be misleading. It’s just trying to get our attention – you know, like a trailer.

Our theory is that the trailer dumbed down a serious RPG because Manson is more marketable than serious role-playing. We hope that’s not really true and we think the people actually making the game agree, since while playing the game, Manson was mentioned only as often as he usually is when we do things.

Character creation is important

Dragon Age: Origins doesn’t follow D&D rules, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a deep and complex character creation system – the game just gets to create its own.

There are six starting characters, from dwarven noble to city elf, with their own introductory sections. You’ll picks the warrior, rogue or mage talents to learn as you progress, as well as a set of skills open to all characters. We’d show you a picture of a character’s stats screen, but we don’t have one.  Suffice it to say that even the Tower Guard we teamed up with had a lengthy list of skills to learn… but - as with all characters with no name - he probably won’t live long enough to use most of them.


Raaaarrrrwww! There’s a lot of blood in the Dragon Age trailer. We wanted to hand someone a moist towelette.

It’s not an exaggeration. There’s a lot of blood in the game. The difference is that some of it will probably be yours. We took on an ogre with our group of four several times. Being a large foe, he wasn’t afraid to pick anyone close up and punch them in the face, which made it clear that it’s rare for larger enemies to fight like they’re actually big enough to pick you up and eat you. If this happens to one of your characters, the best way out is to use a freezing attack or stun the brute into dropping his victim. Makes sense, right?

Above: The guy being held up in the air is really hoping for a cone of cold spell, about now

The same type of brutal animation is applied to your killing blows. To finish off an ogre our friend the tower guard slipped out of his standard attack animations and climbed right up the front of him and stuck a sword in his face.

There is a story and it's not just "The Darkspawn have returned. Dun, dun, dunnnnnn!"

No, we don’t know what it is yet. We did, however, ask if the focus of the game was on combat. The answer is, while there is going to be plenty of fighting, the focus of this game is on the story.

Since the demo we played was essentially a couple of fights, the only characters we could talk to were our three fellow party members – the ogre didn’t have much to say. We don’t have many details on the plot, but it’s difficult to condense a good story into a trailer or even an hour-long demo. Keep in mind that the plot is designed to keep you interested for dozens of hours and it’s easy to see why it might come across as trite or silly if you try to condense it into a few seconds (e.g. “The Darkspawn have returned!”).

Jul 10, 2009


  • shelcobsohn - July 13, 2009 10:02 p.m.

    also... yonder the great needs to pick the sand out of his vagina. the article wasn't really that long, only a page. and that trailer truly did suck pussy eating cow testicles, if you know what i mean. yonderthegreat you need to get laid, seriously. send me stuff.
  • yonderTheGreat - July 13, 2009 1:11 a.m.

    YAY! Something to get me to comment. Gamesradar, I ask you this. How many of these comments made you say "Well, yeah but..."? Assuming you read these of course. Well, I must interrupt there. This article took longer to read than the trailer took to watch, which means you had more of an ability to get your point across. And guess what? A lot of people missed your point. I'm assuming you *DID* see "IN WAR... VICTORY" and "IN PEACE... VIGILANCE" and "IN DEATH... SACRIFICE." You said 'catchy, action words, like "death," "sacrifice," “victory,” and “war” without any context' Well, either you're only halfway literate, or you were making a point, and didn't get it across with 100% success. I'm pretty sure it's the 2nd option. You were pointing out (legitimately) that very, very, very (if any) of the plot is teased at with this trailer. Of course, that's a marketing decision. Point being... BioWare didn't get across 100% of what they were trying to (and I don't include "intro to the plot" as part of what they were trying to get across) get across in their 1-minute trailer, just like GamesRadar didn't get across their point in this however-long-it-takes-to-read article. Now... onto the choice of score. Here's how I view it. You remember when those "I am Mac, I am PC" commercials from Apple first started airing? Well, most of us are *NOT* Mac. Proudly. A lot of that reasoning is because Mac users come across as arrogant, condescending jerks. These commercials simply reinforced that perception. Of course, Apple was simply appealing to their base demographic. BioWare had a similar choice. Do they pull and "I am Mac" and appeal to their base demographic? Or do they go down the road that is often mistravelled and try something new? They chose to try something new. Often, this backfires. We'll see if this backfires against BW. Personally, I'm glad to see it. All this being said... I'll apply Occam's Razor. BioWare got eaten up by EA, the king of low-brow appeal. This is the result.
  • BanHer - July 12, 2009 11 p.m.

    "Baulder's Gate and Nevewinter Nights"? Oh, you mean BALDUR'S GATE and NEVERWINTER NIGHTS. No offense, Paul Ryan, and I'm hoping it's just a typo, but... come on, your write for an online gaming magazine. And you're paying respect the developers of those two games and other great ones.
  • throughironsights - July 12, 2009 10:19 p.m.

    putting marilyn manson to this game is like using korn for mass effect. Absolutely terrible. TERRIBLE
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - July 11, 2009 7:22 p.m.

    As a fan of KOTOR, Mass Effect and BioWare in general, AND as a semi-fan/tolerater of MM-esque music, I agree that the trailer in question was a bad mix. They just don't go together at all. I've seen many presentations on Dragon Age and NONE of them embody the "HELL YEAAAAAAH" tone the MM music suggests. The gameplay is the same refined, focused stuff we've come to expect from BioWare, and is no more balls-out violent than I've seen elsewhere. A sweeping LOTR-style score would have fit better, but I understand the need to make your trailer stand out at E3, so... yeah. Strange trailer for a likely awesome game.
  • smallberry - July 11, 2009 5:23 p.m.

    Damn this game can't come out soon enough. I recently got my borrowed copies of Baldur's Gate 1 and 2 and Icewind Dale back so I'm going to go through those again.
  • Daedazrael - July 11, 2009 11:05 a.m.

    @cart00n and kryptkeeper666 The problem with "This is the New Shit" being used is not in the choice of artist and song themselves, but rather the specific genre of music. Bioware, as you probably are very well aware, is a company known for their sweeping epics and deep character development. Hell, they were able to take Sonic's motley junk-heap of secondary characters and turn them into a likable and interesting supporting cast. Dragon Age is no exception to this tradition. I have tried my hardest to keep up with the game from it's announcement, and from what I can see they have crafted a very in depth system with which the player connects with the character, that being the origin stories told at the beginning of the game and its influence on the overall story. This brings me back to Marilyn Manson. While his music would be appropriate for a sort of mid-90's era sequel to Brutal Legend, it is not in the least needed for what is basically "A Song of Ice and Fire" in video game form. The trailer suggests, through its use of Manson's music, that the game's M rating is mostly used for violence and adolescent sexual fantasy fulfillment. A rhythmic yet somber orchestral piece would have been better suited to evoke the sense of emotional depth and moral ambiguity that Bioware is aiming to creat in Dragon Age. THAT, is why Manson does not work here. On Dragon Age itself, this is probably my most anticipated RPG of '09, particularly due to the aforementioned "A Song of Ice and Fire" influence. The game does a great job of creating the same sense of darkness and foreboding that the books have. ReCAPTCHA: Loon herding
  • JohnnyMaverik - July 11, 2009 12:27 a.m.

    I have to admit that I actually kinda liked the trailer's -_- I can see why some people don't though. However one thing is for sure... this game looks extremely promising. Not a big fan of "tactical combat" or as i prefere to call it click and kill as in I watch, sit back and hope what ever gets killed isnt my char, but it was done well in KOTOR and in the end I grew to really quite like it, NWN's not so much... NWN2 was my worst nightmare since everything seemed to happen too fast for the tactical stuff and the camera got in the way (not developed by Bioware might I just add). So... hope its more like KOTOR than NWN's. Personally I'm far more psyched about Mass Effect 2 but I'll definatly pick this up at some point before 2010 is out.
  • Doomwaffle - July 10, 2009 11:31 p.m.

  • Doomwaffle - July 10, 2009 11:30 p.m.

    You guys failed to notice that it was supposed to be "IN WAR... VICTORY" and "IN PEACE... VIGILANCE" and "IN DEATH... SACRIFICE."
  • OwlPacino - July 10, 2009 8:39 p.m.

    I saw the combat trailer for this game, and I have to say, the Human versus Human combat looks brutal, fun, and even looks as good as the combat in KOTOR did. I didn't like the animation for fighting the Ogre though, it looked like it was from an MMO. But maybe that's just me.
  • cranster209 - August 8, 2009 10:33 a.m.

    this is going to be the best game that EA has brought out in a long long time. :D
  • NovaProspekt - July 15, 2009 5:14 p.m.

    Soooo is this game really not going to be online or co-op in any way?... Cuuzzz that kinda pisses me off. Isn't a game like this supposed to be co-op, and you play with the bots if you have no friends? but instead you just have to play with the bots all the time? That doesn't make much sense to me... Somebody PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong bc I really want this game but theres no way I'm buying it if I have to play with retarded bots the whole time...
  • Karapeters - July 15, 2009 4:34 p.m.

    We know we're not really going to get something as deep as Baldur's Gate II, but we can dream. Maybe a solid storyline and good character customization? Blood spatters and jiggly boobies aren't going to work on me or my purse.
  • Kouin - July 14, 2009 2:35 p.m.

    Trailer makes it look like a Summer blockbuster. Given the pedigree of Bioware, deep RPG experience and a trailer that screams blood, lust, and war... October can't come soon enough!
  • shelcobsohn - July 13, 2009 9:55 p.m.

    i wasnt really excited for this game until now. i am definitely going to keep an eye on this one. send me stuff, i like things
  • AnonymouZ - July 13, 2009 6:24 p.m.

    Well said yonder. well said. x)
  • jorhorror - July 13, 2009 12:34 a.m.

    Frankly I couldent give two shits about this game but I do agree that the MM music didnt at all fit the trailers. Perhaps some cob or lamb of god would have been a thousand times better but hey, MM has to make money somehow right? Im more excited about the 3 up and coming Fallout 3 DLC's.
  • BanHer - July 12, 2009 11:19 p.m.

    Oh God. Just shoot me. "come on, your write"... sorry. Really, though. That was a typo. Get your game names right. Good article, btw.
  • Estacado - July 12, 2009 4:44 p.m.

    i really want this game, looks fun and bloody

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