Dwarves. We already know what dwarves are. Dwarves are short, but strong. They make for good warriors and live underground. We already know all about dwarves, elves, mages, and dragons. So we thought we already knew all about everything Dragon Age: Origins could possibly throw at us while browsing through the unsurprisingly wide selection of beards for our upcoming dwarf warrior in the character creator. But after crafting one of the most generic dwarves of all time, the familiarity of Dragon Age’s typical fantasy setting quickly faded, and it quickly blossomed into one of the most engrossing role-playing games we’ve played in a long time.
History: From Modern English dwarf, and that time you read Tolkien, played Dungeons & Dragons, or did anything remotely geeky between the age of 12 and 37
Definition: 1 a: a mythical creature of small statue who dwells underground; excels at metallurgy, forging battleaxes, growing beards, and holding a mob’s agro
Above: A dwarf. You can totally play as one. Of course, there’s much more
This is high fantasy at its finest. So how does this title set itself apart from other RPGs that have done elves and dwarves to death? As with previous BioWare RPGs, like Mass Effect and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, it has to do with the game’s detailed lore, memorable characters, and an excellent combat system. But it’s the bounty of meaningful choices you have to make that really makes you feel like you own your story in Dragon Age - and it all begins when you create your first character.
We rolled a dwarf warrior and opted to give him the background of a commoner. These seemingly superficial choices dropped us off in the slums of the dwarven capital city, Orzammar. As a low level commoner, we found ourselves doing dirty deeds for an underhanded crime lord just to survive. We exchanged harsh words with our alcoholic mother. We abandoned our poor sister. We lied. We stole. We murdered. And if we rerolled this character, we’d probably do it all again.
Above: Blood flows like wine in Dragon Age: Origins
That’s because Dragon Age doesn’t make you feel like a scumbag for acting less than chivalrous. For every problem there are several solutions, each with their own set of pros and cons - and deciding the best course of action is great fun. Had we chosen a different race and background, we would have experienced a completely different introduction to Dragon Age’s world. There are six origin stories in total, all unique and equally compelling.