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Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition 6-Years Later Review

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Awakening Expansion Review:

Unlike the other DLC, Awakening represents a true expansion on the base game by adding many hours of content that builds on the base game. It is not just a side story, but a continuation.

It begins with you traveling to the land that has been given to the Grey Wardens as a new base of operations for Ferelden. With the Blight ended and Archdemon defeated, now is a good time to rebuild your order. Upon your arrival though, you find the keep is under attack by darkspawn. Such attacks are not unheard of as darkspawn do appear outside of Blights, but this is different. They have an order to them that has only been seen when an Archdemon controls them. You have no time to consider what this means though, as you must move in and save the keep.

You start the DLC with one companion, a warrior, and soon find a mage that can join you as well. Before long you will find another and have a full party in time to face an enemy like you have never seen before: a talking darkspawn. Up to now, darkspawn have always existed as mindless creatures of destruction, except when an Archdemon directs their destruction. A talking darkspawn capable of ordering others is a terrible surprise and one that must be dealt with.

After reclaiming the keep, you get to experience what it is like to be the Warden-Commander by giving orders, answering pleas, and conscripting others into the order. It is actually possible to make all of your companions Grey Wardens by the end of the campaign, which seems more important for morale and setting what the epilogue will be than actually impacting abilities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of the gameplay is what you find in the base game, although a little tighter as it does not have the sheer number of missions. It has added a lot, including new specializations, abilities, and skills. The most interesting, in my opinion, of these additions is the runecrafting skill. In the base game, runes could only be found and purchased, but in Awakening you are actually able to craft runes from recipes and make some very powerful ones at that. It is a somewhat cumbersome system if you are not the character with the runecrafting skill. One of the best sources for materials is in an area that you cannot have a party, so you have to exit the area to make the runes, and then re-enter it to get more materials. The benefits can be well worth it, though.

Eventually you will uncover how that and other darkspawn are able to speak, and even how the Blight you just ended started. Near the end of the expansion you will also be given what I think may be the hardest decision in Dragon Age: Origins. I applaud the decision being there, because it adds weight to the expansion that these events are deadly serious.

 

 

The experience itself was a great deal of fun, and was perhaps more fun than the base game. A primary contributor to that is how it is tighter. The added spells and abilities help a great deal as well. Unfortunately the game often crashed for no apparent reason. Luckily I have a habit of quicksaving more often than the crashes. At 14 hours and 40 minutes, Awakening is practically a whole game onto itself, and you know what, it is just as good as the whole game it expands on. This is definitely worth playing, but only after completing Dragon Age: Origins once. You do not want to spoil anything for you, and you can import your save into Awakening, along with much of the equipment you have. (Some DLC gear is not imported because of software bugs.)




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