Dragon Age Origins Awakening Expansion Review

Just 3 months after Bioware released their D&D Dragon Age Origins game, they release a brand new expansion pack and hints the true sequel will follow next year in 2011. Not a bad thing… As long as the game’s quality remains more or less the same.

In “The Awakening“, you’re now the Warden-Commander who is out to re-establish the Order of the Wardens but upon arrival at Vigil’s Keep in Amaranthine north of the old Denerim, you find it’s been attacked by Darkspawn – An evolved kind that seem more intelligent and can talk. Now it’s time for you to get to the root of it all while meeting a whole new cast of characters.

After a lengthy patch to 1.03 and installing the expansion, you’ll find it doesn’t get its own shortcut. You find it under “Other Campaigns” instead after loading up the original game which kind of makes you wonder how much content there is.

Gameplay

You’re given the option to create a new character or import your old one. The odd thing is it doesn’t let you keep any of the equipment from the download content. Once that’s done, you’re thrown right away into combat with around two new characters. Unfortunately you can’t talk to them like you can in the original.

On the other hand, decisions don’t feel quite as engaging as in the original because you don’t talk to many key characters that might end up changing the course of the story. I also find it kind of stupid how you can recruit any character you want as a “Grey Warden” which makes it feel as if nothing really important’s going on any longer. It’s also disappointing most of them aren’t even successfully recruited and despite having a number of gifts to pick up, you can’t actually speak to the new characters to increase friendship.

There’s some new skills – About one new row for each class such as granting you extra health or mana. There’s a lot more quests to do than all the download content that has only lasted for less than an hour so far.

Presentation

Since this is just an expansion, there’s really not much change visually. You’re generally trekking through dark, dimly lit environments most of the time but occasionally you’re back out in the wild full of the familiar but wonderful looking ruins and foilage. Nothing you haven’t really seen before mostly.

Voice acting wise you can actually recognise Alistair’s voice right away. Dialogues start out pretty dreary because characters come and go so quickly but it gets interesting eventually as they talk to each other with one or two faces making an appearance.

Summary

If you want more of the same then Dragon Age Origins The Awakening expansion is for you. The decision making that made the original game compelling isn’t quite so great here but on the scenario front it still reads great, expanding on the original game’s story and answering some of the questions left behind. Quite a number of challenging battles on the gameplay front too. It’s just a pity they don’t allow you to chat with your party members at camp this time or just while travelling even. That said, it will be interesting to see where the story leads in next year’s true sequel. A fair filler until then even though it can feel

Time Completed 13 hours

Good

  • Lots of quests.
  • New characters.
  • A personal storage chest.
  • Dialogue between party members still entertaining.
  • Decisions made from original game carried over (in a way).

Bad

  • Most decisions don’t feel quite as engaging.
  • The camp is gone.
  • Can’t make use of download content equipment.
  • Can we have skeleton keys for chests yet?

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