Dragon Age: Awakening Review
8.4our score

Dragon Age: Awakening Review aka “I think that my experience outweighs your valour.”

Dragon Age: Awakening is the largest DLC and the only real expansion to Dragon Age: Origins. It takes place after the main Dragon Age: Origins game, and completes the story of the protagonist’s exploits within Ferelden. It is quite a large offering, adding quite a bit of gameplay, story, as well as taking into account the player’s previous actions in Dragon Age: Origins. While promising, the offerings in Dragon Age: Awakening don’t quite live up to to the original, despite being quite a bit of fun.

Story aka “I only seek to release them from their chains.”

After the events of Dragon Age: Origins, the original protagonist (or a new one, if you so choose) is offered the opportunity to take over an area in the North of Ferelden to rule, only to discover a new and exciting adventure which will consume his/her time.

Dragon Age: Awakening - Killshot

Killing Darkspawn never gets old.

Dragon Age: Awakening touches upon the intrigue of Ferelden rulership, giving the player the opportunity to make a variety of decisions, minor and major, which shape the survivability of the lands under your control. It also delves deeply into the nature of the Darkspawn to a far greater degree than was done in Dragon Age: Origins, giving a few insights into the their existence and development.

The story is interesting, and a welcome change of pace, with many shades of grey present – something I consider to be a sign of an intriguing world, rather than an oversimplified, black and white one. As with Dragon Age: Origins, the NPCs are nicely developed, but in keeping with the overall theme, they too are quite morally complex. It’s a nice turn of events in a game when you can find yourself liking, or at least, being sympathetic towards, characters who aren’t really very nice people. A+ for characterization, really.

The companions in Dragon Age: Awakening are also much better than in the normal game, and they are the first companions that I really cared in a game about for quite a long time. Sadly, the level of interaction with them is more limited than in Dragon Age: Origins due to, well, the game being smaller, but some how they still manage to shine more brightly than any of the characters in the original game, despite having less opportunity to do so.

The story-important/moral decisions one can make in this game also seem far more realistic somehow, as in almost every situation you can see the benefits to all options available. Choices really do seem to be choices, rather than just ‘The Good And Sensible Route’ and ‘We Had To Put Something Else Here’. These choices really only change the epilogue, rather than much within the game itself, but they resonated with me far more than many of the choices in the first campaign.

Gameplay aka “I guess I’m still alive! Funny how that keeps happening!”

The gameplay is, as one might expect, largely in Dragon Age: Awakening, save for many new abilities, more equipment and a far higher level achievable. It’s mostly more of the same, which I consider to be nothing but a good thing. Really, if you liked the gameplay in Dragon Age: Origins, you will like it in Dragon Age: Awakening, and that’s pretty much all there is to it.

Dragon Age: Awakening - Inferno

One can never have too many spells.

Frustratingly, Dragon Age: Awakening is not precisely… polished. In fact, calling it polished would be incredibly generous. There are number of ridiculous bugs, such as it being impossible to raise influence with companions if certain quests are done before you find them (whilst it may be a spoiler, I’ll just say it anyway: don’t do the Orphan quests without being sure you have every NPC companion). Another great bug is that Dragon Age: Awakening uses some of the same resources as other DLC’s. The graphics file for a wonderful weapon one can have crafted by an NPC in Dragon Age: Awakening has the same name as the graphics for another, different weapon, that can be crafted by an NPC in Watcher’s Keep, causing annoying compatibility and disappearing weapon bugs.

And yes, there are more. Really, I can’t help but think that no-one actually played Dragon Age: Awakening before it was released, as there is almost no way to miss some of these.

Graphics and Audio aka “You took that beautiful music from us, and left us nothing!”

I could copy and paste the section here from my Dragon Age: Origins review here, but I won’t bother. Looks pretty, sounds good, and looks and sounds like Dragon Age: Origins – that’s Dragon Age: Awakening in a nut shell.

Conclusion aka “Hey, look at me – I’m an elf! ‘Trees are pretty! Tra-la-la!’”

Whilst worth playing, Dragon Age: Awakening’s lack of polish makes it disappointing in places. I highly recommend that anyone playing this game be prepared for a few frustrating sections, but at least it is worth the effort.

  • http://www.shadow1980.co.uk Evil Tactician

    /me looks sadly at the pile of games that ‘have’ to be played through – with Awakening being stuck in the middle. (Note to self: Finish Dragon Age: Origins you lazy bum!)

    I’d actually really like to play this, but so busy! Would like to borrow (read: acquire/steal) a good chunk of spare time from someone please! Or someone to magically finish my work queue!

    @Alratan: Have subsequent Awakening patches not eridicated some of the bugs you’ve mentioned yet?

  • trebs

    Another expansion for another RPG, don’t expect anything profound/exciting/challenging from this, not that vanilla dragonage is any of those.

  • http://www.shadow1980.co.uk Evil Tactician

    @trebs: What RPG do you like? I’ve read your replies on some of the best ones out there but you seem to dislike the genre as a whole?

    I’d be interested to know which RPG you did things ‘right’.

  • Teronfel

    DA awakening was a good expansion IMO because it added some depth to the RP elements,like the choices you had to made,it had a good story and the same gameplay as DAO.

    What i didn’t like was some characters and the fact that it had many bugs.It seemed like the game was not ready and devellopers needed more time.

  • http://www.manapool.co.uk Alratan

    @Evil Tactician: Nope. There are a bunch of player-made patches/mods that fix some of the bugs, but not nearly to the extent that is required to make it seem polished. It’s still worth playing despite the bugs, but it could have been much better.

  • http://www.shadow1980.co.uk Evil Tactician

    Pity – I’ve come to expect a little bit more from BioWare.

  • trebs

    Yeah, I dislike the genre as a whole because I said 3 of your favourites to be overrated(meaning not worthy of its high amount of praise) and thinking that 4 rpgs are overrated totally makes me a hater of the hundreds of rpgs out there.

    Lets see what i’ve said thats overrated..
    Dragonage – it tries to be mature(sells itself as that), original and grimdark. Yet ends up as immature, run of the mill high fantasy.
    Baldurs gate – Praised as Jesus in video game form(see hyperbole)
    Awakening – an expansion pack for a hyped up game.
    Torchlight(not even really an rpg) – another dungeon crawler brought to you by the failures behind Hellgate london

    Perhaps if you didn’t generalise someone who didn’t have a different opinion from you(heavens! different opinions, on my website?!), perhaps you could work out what RPG I would like but you won’t, its just easier to generalise.

  • http://www.shadow1980.co.uk Evil Tactician

    @trebs – I think you completely got that wrong. I wasn’t generalising at all, I was genuinely interested in what RPGs you do like, since you don’t seem to like the ones that most people tend to rate highly.

    We in fact welcome different opinions – we would even encourage them. Ideally though in a constructive form and the reason why I ask what RPGs you do like is to understand better where you are coming from with your opinions. Doesn’t mean I agree with them, but also doesn’t mean I am generalising or don’t like that you have a different opinion…

    So, let’s try again – what are YOUR favourite RPGs?

  • trebs

    You’re generalising because you typed ”I’ve read your replies on some of the best ones out there but you seem to dislike the genre as a whole?”

    Yes, I dislike the genre as a whole cuz’ I say 4 rpgs are overrated. I’m an rpg hater.

    But my favourite RPGs has to be fallout, I also liked Baldurs gate 2 quite abit as it improves on alot/everything – the best kind of sequel!

    Also, does every opinion have to be ”constructive”? Only if you’re autistic, I say.

  • http://www.shadow1980.co.uk Evil Tactician

    That comment resulted from you being somewhat negative on most RPG articles that have been posted so far. Perhaps the wrong conclusion to make, but it’s definitely the impression you were giving. I didn’t state you are an RPG hater, I said you give the impression that you aren’t that keen on RPGs, which is why I am clarifying and trying to understand which RPGs you DO like. (Or what you are looking for in an RPG)

    Fallout is a brilliant RPG, though the originals were a bit better than Fallout 3 was. (Fallout 3 was still very enjoyable nevertheless – don’t get me wrong there.) The original Fallout was just so different from most other RPGs out at the time that it really carved its own spot in the genre. It still had some flaws – but generally speaking it was great fun to play. And the perk system was fantastic.

    I haven’t played New Vegas yet as that is supposed to go back a little more to the original roots than Fallout 3 did, but I rather play it once it has less bugs.