Reviews

DAI: It’s A Kind Of Magic

The Mage Run-Through

 

WARNING: Spolier’s through out this article. If you haven’t finished the game… hurry up. Also mild swearing might come up. Twat waffle.

 

OK, this article is a mash-up of review/playthrough. Personally, I love anything by Bioware and they can do no wrong in my eyes. Except the end of Mass Effect 3 because pretty lights aren’t an ending. You dun goofed there Bioware. Anyhow, whilst I eagerly waited for the DAI, I was already planning on how my first run-through was going to go. Like the first game, you have multiple backstories, races and classes you can choose from. However, you have one extra slot qunari which is DA’s equivalent of any overzealous religious group. The player’s options now feature a dwarf, human, elf or qunari.

 

tarot cards

Look at all the pretty

 

 

In Dragon Age 2 Bioware tried to make it a bit more like MS with Shepard by having you play as Hawke. It was an interesting move and I didn’t hate it. But It wasn’t as interesting. I enjoyed the option of four separate backgrounds as it changes how people act around you. Be anything other than a warrior or human rogue and everyone hates you. My first avatar was an elf-mage. Basically I was DA Satan. I didn’t want to play as a human because I was kinda forced to do that in DA2 with Hawke. Even though I enjoyed the change, I liked the fact DA differed from MS by giving the option of multiple backgrounds.

 

elf

Nobody likes me until I save the day.

 

 

Since the first game was heavily based on D&D, mages often have the folly of having either poor as shit armour classes or a robe that would do bugger all. Choose anything other than that and your character is given a handicap. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there was a battle-mage armour class. I didn’t have to poor a load of points into defensive spells and rely on my NPC characters to save the day.

 

Once I was done making up my characters face (which totally didn’t take an hour) I was ready to start the game. Now, the previous game saw the explosion of the Chantry (basically DA’s version of the church) which starts a war between the military church order the Templars and the oppressed mages. Thank you Anders. The leader of the Chantry Divine Justinia has called together a meeting in hopes to heal the war. Then the meeting is blown up and your character is the only one to survive. Fun right?

 

As a dalish mage, my background in this case features include growing up away from the circles of magi and living with my fellow elves. So no one is going to believe my character didn’t have anything to do with killing a bunch of humans. Stereotyping bastards. The player wakes up to the Seeker Cassandra from the previous game telling you there is a hole in the sky known as the rift. The player is inflicted with a mark that is linked to said rift and is the only one that can close them. Also, the mark is killing the character. The fun really got started quickly. Turns out, a nasty darkspawn named Corypheus wants to cleanse the world by summoning a old god. There’s always someone wanting to bring forward a Cthulhu like god.

 

pretty

Isn’t he pretty?

 

 

After getting through the beginning cut scenes, which are beautiful in design by the way, I finally got to experience the combat system. I have to say, I was not disappointed. A few things have been tweaked. Previously, playing as a mage has had its problems. For one thing the reload time was off and you had to rely on lyrium potions in order to top up your mana. Well guess what, lyrium potions aren’t a thing in DAI. Unlike the first game, you only receive health potions with the option of researching others ones.

 

Mages in DAI have the ability to recharge rather having to consume tonics. The bigger the spell the greater the cost of course but each one packs a punch. Within the first act, my mage had the option of four speciality grids: Spirit, lightening, fire and ice. Depending on whether you want to be a healer or a fighter, these branches aren’t as heavy as DA2 where to forever to finish one specialty.

 

With my first run-through, I decided to be a tank mage by putting my points into ice and fire. I always made sure to either have Solas or Dorian as another mage companion to spam healing abilities. I would use Vivienne but she complained whenever I took her to places mildly uncomfortable. But so did Dorian. I can’t win with companions. I wanted to play as a tank because DAI allowed me to get into the middle of a fight without dying quickly.

 

Another change for the mage came in the form of the spell casting. Instead of the option of only four spells for the buttons, the player now gets the option of ten. However, you cannot pull up a wheel in order to cast another spell. I enjoyed the inclusion of the LT button that brought up another four spells. Choose carefully for each wheel as you won’t have the option of pressing LB and throwing out a spell from there.

 

The first two games was a bit annoying when you ran out of mana and potions. Spamming the player spam the X button until the enemy fell down dead was a bit grating. In DAI, until your abilities have recharged, the player has the option of holding down RT. This creates flurries of the staff power which ends with a massive attack depending on how long you hold it. Like previous DA games, the staff’s the player picks up along the way all have special abilities like fire or ice etc. Depending on the enemy, they will kick ass.

 

However, it is not until the second act where the mages (or other classes) get a speciality. DAO gave the player multiple choices for characters special class ability. I felt that was too much for someone to decide since all of them have uses. Within DAI each character companion is given their own branch that no one else has.

 

Dorian is given necromancy (nothing like raising the dead), Solas has rift magic (we’re supposed to be closing the damn things) and Vivienne is given Knight Enchanter (I have no comment for this, it’s actually useful). The inquisition mage has the ability of… rifts. Yup, you pick the special snowflake ability you had from the beginning of the game. I was hoping for another branch but it doesn’t seem to happen of the Inquisitor. Mildly unfair but the player can suck out their enemies life with a rift. It balances out when you’re trying to take down a bloody dragon.

 

I was surprised to have the loss of attributes points. Unlike the previous two games, the points are now automatically updated depended on your class. I didn’t see much point in having choice in where to put attribute points. Why give a mage anything beyond will or magic? In DAO the player did have the trouble of passive abilities as well as talents for characters. Persuasion was one problem because it always needed points in cunning in order to convince people to see your way of things. The developers have completely axed passive abilities which I was happy about. Playing as a mage, I only ever poured points into magic and will so the loss of them didn’t bother me too much.

 

Another reason I choose to play mage was the dragons. Imagine a game called Dragon Age having actual dragons in it. There are a total of ten dragons all of which escalate in levels as you bitch slap your way up the ladder. The beginning one starts at level twelve and the last one a level twenty-three. Each dragon has a resistance to sudden magic and weakness. Kind of like a Pokémon. A giant, scaly, very angry, sharp toothed Pokémon.

 

 

dragon

Uhh, Pikachu I choose you?

 

 

Warriors often just spam their heavy attacks in order to punch a dragon into the ground but that seemed quite boring to me. As a mage in combat, magic does take a chunk out of the dragons health and the player doesn’t have to get to close to bitch slap them. Basically, it’s easier and safer to play as a mage when it concerns dragons. However, it’s always best to leave rogue companions behind when taking on dragons. Best to makes a team with warriors or mages since they’re hard hitters.

 

The treatment of mages hasn’t changed much story wise in the game. Since the Chantry blew up (fuckin’ Anders), Templars also share an air of mistrust. The war has caused people’s opinions mages to get even lower though I didn’t believe that could happen. Everyone who isn’t an elf or dwarf hate you for no apparent reason. Unlike DAO, being the Inquisitor means NPC’s won’t call you scum to your face. In the sense of the story, I did expect a bigger pay off from DA2 when siding with a particular faction.

 

However, the choice between mages and Templars is made redundant when you have to choose someone to form a deal with in DAI. I like to call DA2 the ‘nobody is right’ game because both Templars and mages go to the horrible extremes to achieve their goal. It’s basically going for the lesser evil at the end of DA2. As you are no longer playing as Hawke the choice merely influences the ending of DA2 but still has the same conclusion. In other words I’m having MS3 ending flashbacks in regards to Biowares reliance of the choice system.

 

What I did enjoy was companion’s interactions with my character. In DA2, the player had a companion like Fenris who actively hates mages. But in DAI, everyone seems quite happy to fellow. I always thought Fenris was a well thought character but was constantly annoyed when he went on an anti-mage rant. Still, the players ability to bond with NPC’s can influence a choice.

 

 

characters

Look at all my friends!

 

 

The characters such as Varric, Iron Bull or even Cole are so well made the player can’t help feel sympathy or attachment to them. When you know a choice will personally influence them, you want to make sure that it isn’t too bad. There is a difference in DAI is there is a carryover companion from DA2. Of course you have the recurrence of Cullen and Leliana but you can’t play as them or see how events have influenced them.

 

When the player first encounters Varric, he has become jaded by the world. The person who caused the war (fuckin’ Anders) was a friend and he could not stop it, partially feeling responsible for the chaos. In a major mission wherein the Inquisitor gets thrown into the fade with the Warden and Hawke you have to choose who leave behind. I actually became upset when Varric lost Hawke because they were basically best friends in DA2.

 

I’m going to take a moment here to talk about the romance options here too. In DAO there a few characters who have preferences to a certain race and gender. DA2 every companion save Varric and Aveline is you sexual which doesn’t create nything interesting. In DAI the main reason I choose to play as a elf first was because I wanted to romance Cullen. He will only be interested in the Inquisitor if they are a female human or elf. He don’t want no quanri lady. I suspects he fears their strong Independence. Or rippling muscles, it could be that too. I also thought the inclusion of the advisers being romance options I good idea. The advisers take no part in missions with the inquisitor or fight alongside them.

 

 

Cullen

… I’m gonna climb that like a tree.

 

 

However, I couldn’t romance the delightful Dorian as he is only inclusive to a male Inquisitor. As much as I wanted to kiss that glorious face, I had to wait for a second run. I like having certain characters not be interested in the player romantic wise as it creates interesting relationships. There isn’t the chance of everyone falling in love with you. It also fleshes out a characters personality more providing to the player has awkward flirting moments with a straight character of the same gender.

 

After finishing my mage run, I did expect a bigger ending like death of companions or a massive world change. But it ended fairly pleasantly which surprised. During the games, I was forced make horrible choices even though I was also doing my ‘not a dickwad’ run. It broke my heart on multiple occasions because the developers love to emotionally wreck the player. When it reached the end, I was half expecting the world to implode on its self. I kept waiting for the shoe to drop but nothing happened. The bad guy is defeated and a party is thrown leaving a pleasant conclusion.

 

But the end credits scene made me believe there is more to come. I won’t go into much detail but a certain companion has a hidden identity which influences an entire race and possibly the world. That’s why I’m waiting for Biowares announcement for another Dragon Age game which I’ve nicknamed ‘the other shoe’. Just waiting for it to drop kick me in the butt. There is my conclusion of DAI with a mage and bit of review. I hope you enjoyed it, join back in retro corner soon where I will be going over Donkey Kong Country.

 

 

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