It cannot be denied that Warden’s Keep is a very clever piece of marketing. The DLC starts before you even own it, by adding a merchant to your camp by the name of Levi Dryden. He invites you to reclaim the Warden’s Keep at Soldier’s Peak to clear his family name. Levi’s grandmother, Sophia Dryden, was a renowned Grey Warden Commander who lost the keep during a bloody conflict with a tyrant king many years prior to the events of the campaign.
If you accept Levi’s invitation when you don’t already own the DLC, you will be taken directly to the marketplace to purchase it. Very clever marketing by BioWare, but it will leave some players feeling a little empty – as the content ‘teases’ you in your game but you are unable to finish it unless you make the purchase. You will also not get access to Levi’s wares (he’s a merchant after all) until you have finished the quest of the DLC, which is a little harsh.
Either way, once you own the DLC and travel to Soldier’s Peak, you will find the Keep overrun by undead soldiers and wardens. I’d strongly recommend you look at the statue outside before venturing inside, as it triggers a quest line which involves collecting further history – a line which ultimately leads to some of the more useful rewards of this DLC. From time to time during your venture through the keep, the ghosts of the original wardens of the keep will reveal the events that took place so long ago through various cut scenes. This story telling is the major appeal of Warden’s Keep, adding more depth to the Warden’s and their history.
The story itself is very well written, and is of slightly higher quality than most quests of the original main game. The characters you meet have depth and are interesting – and you even have the opportunity to pick up some unique abilities. The usual moral choices are presented at various points, which lead to different outcomes based on your actions. Eventually you end up with a location that permanently adds value to your game through additional merchants and storage space.
Unfortunately there are also some downsides to Warden’s Keep, albeit fairly minor. First, it’s more expensive than Return to Ostagar, which would be fine due to the new unique (and very well made) location, but it also takes less time to complete. Even though you get a few fairly nice items, it’s nothing that is vital to your survival or for which there are not some alternatives available.
So is Warden’s Keep worth having? Personally, I do believe so. Despite it being fairly short – it does offer additional depth to the game, provides unique abilities for the main character and does offer loot that will be put to good use by most players. The only advice I would give is to get this early and visit it quite early during your campaign. That way you can enjoy the benefits this DLC offers for a much longer period of time, which makes up for the price BioWare ask for this very short quest.