Those Dragons Sure Are Ageing (Dragon Age Megathread)


#81

I’ve only played Origins so far, twice. This thread is making me realize I really should play the rest of the series. While I loved a lot of the world building (casting archetypes that are often heroic in other settings as baddies, and the loaded political points), and some of the characters (Alistair, the best worst best friend), I was super duper turned off by Morrigan’s turn at the end. I mean, it was pretty brilliantly manipulative, but it felt gross.

I’m also one of those players that finds romance plots in games pretty uncomfortable, and Dragon Age was particularly bad about turning a seemingly innocent inquiry into hitting on someone time. But, Inquisition looks so damn cool in all the other ways, I had a really good time in the Masses Effect, I may have to get over it.


#82

DA:O has good romance scenes and bad romance mechanics imo. I also take issue with the romantic aspects of DA2’s rivalry system, but again, real good scenes from what I watched. DA:I has some good romances, and most importantly, they make it really obvious when a line is supposed to be romantic because a big honking heart appears in the center verticle for dialogue. It’s really straightforward and I like it a lot.


#83

In my previous, abandoned Inquisition run i wrote Solas off as “boring egg idiot” and apparently missed a hell of a lot by ignoring him, so in my current run i decided to use all the other companions i’d ignored to see if there’s more i missed with them. Just recruited Sera and boy am i regretting that decision. Please tell me there’s a point at which she stops sucking so much


#84

Never. Though when Solas starts scaring her by trying to make her think she might be a mage is a pretty good laugh.


#85

a lot of people have given me very valid and respectable reasons why sera is a good and interesting character and i don’t disagree with any of them but the way she’s written grates on me a lot and that’s unfortunately how it is

edit: a big reason for this is that i played an elf character so basically all my interactions with her were colored by her, uh, internalized racism (?) towards dalish elves which was kiiind of uncomfortable to deal with


#86

I’m into what she is putting down about rich people and sticking up for the little guy, but her whole aversion to magic got kinda old and was not well developed. First off, people with magic can’t help it. And second of all, magic isn’t going away and we god damn need that shit to fix the hole in the sky. And deal with dragons, demi-gods and all the other non-sense in that world. Just give me one bad experience with mind control or some sort of spell that traumatized her in a totally reasonable fashion and it would have been far more grounded in something that I could sympathize with.


#87

Yeah but then they’re just writing a not hot Fenris. Also I feel like one of the comics explained why trying to deal with the dragons is a bad idea, if not there then they definitely have a whole “secretly keeping the world from falling apart” vibe.


#88

I wonder if Bioware could have made the tensions between mages and regular society work better if, instead of digging themselves into a hole with the interment camp metaphor, they simply made it so magic users were guaranteed an education and perhaps even decent employment.

I don’t know if Dragon Age has ever really played with the fact that it takes place in a “medieval” period, but it’s easy for me to assume that most people in Thedas don’t know how to read and work as unskilled laborers. So, when you introduce these people who, through no fault of their own, have dangerous abilities that need to be mastered for their own safety, as well as society’s and then the Chantry steps in and incentivizes their schooling, well, you can see how the bad blood starts to brew.


#89

Funny you bring that up. There’s an anime/game series called Hamatora actually about this, and since it’s a Japanese property, it’s VERY cynical about it due to how garbage and overbearing the Japanese education system is and the increasingly uncomfortable right wing bent in the national government. It’s similar to The Circle stuff in Dragon Age if the mages were allowed to go in public but hide their powers.

It’s kind of great because the ultimate conflicts come down to people manipulating the good will of others for their own ends (like a secessionist making a fake social revolution), forcing horrific authoritarian, dehumanizing limitations on others (the government), and the aftermath of that system through people with little to no moral compass having access to knowledge and resources few people do.

It’s not perfect, but it actually succeeds at the superpowers as metaphor for outsider thing far better than any western property I’ve seen. I’d say the same for Mob Psycho 100, which takes psychic power stuff and makes it an interpersonal drama about how people desire to be better than they are without really knowing what it’s like to be their ideal self.

Dragon Age definitely misses the mark overall with the mages, ESPECIALLY in how every conflict with them refuses to engage with the actual injustices in this system because Bioware is obsessed with both sides conflicts without actually setting their foot down on right or wrongs.


#90

You make a good point that the requirement that these games let you choose a side de-fangs whatever attempts BioWare make to scrutinise injustice in their games. The need to have a “both sides to every argument” invariably means a choice between fascism justified by need/expediency vs just being nice to people at all costs. Neither side of the mages/templar conflict is underpinned by a holistic ideology or viewpoint, because if they were to go down that route they’d almost have to write two different games


#91

This is why I prefer Obsidian’s output, since they’re better at showing the murkiness of a conflict, and they frame player choices in a way that doesn’t always make you the hero. KOTOR is the one weird exception in Bioware’s modern output, but Obsidian also did work in that series and far better handled.


#92

Leliana, because I have a type and that type is “morally questionable woman with knives”.


#93

To be fair, Obsidian - and particularly Avellone’s work with them - is rife with deliberate efforts to muddy the waters for the sake of it. I get the feeling that Avellone hates ideology of any kind, but channels that more productively than most centrists by actually interrogating difficult and complex topics rather than dismissing the positions that others have already taken on the matter.


#94

I don’t get hat read entirely, but I do get where you’re coming from. It’s why Obsidian’s work is stronger than Bethesda’s, because they’re actually trying to engage with these topics while Bethesda’s Fallout 76 looks at the modern political world and screams “NOBODY CAN HAVE IDEOLOGIES OR WE ALL ALL DIE” which is so obviously ridiculous that I don’t even know where to begin picking it apart.


#95

I think a perfect example is the giving money to the beggar choice in KOTOR 2. While I do think it gives the opportunity for the player to assert their values, Kreia does often act like a mouthpiece for the writers to dunk on the Star Wars mythos and binary morality in general. It’s an in your face, unskippable injection of nihilism into the game, and even though the player can reject it, there’s no escaping the fact that Kreia is ultimately right about the outcomes of your actions.

A few people in the FO76 thread also highlighted the choice in Prey about whether to kill the criminal whose record has “sexual solicitation of a minor” on it. Avellone’s writing has a lot of that deliberate edginess to it, which he earns more often than not, but I do think it’s consistently on display.


#96

I think his writing is handled best with Durance in Pillars of Eternity. He’s the single most unlikable person imaginable by design (what will all the talk of genocide of pretty much everyone ever), but you do learn why he’s like this, and it manages to be interesting without absolving him of his sins and general shittiness.

Honestly, I’ll take bad Avellone over Bioware accidentally stumbling into Starship Toopers but not satire while having the nerve to include a scene making fun of 9/11 paranoia while your character is a member of a space nazi terrorist group.


#97

nah dawg, the entire point of Kreia is that she is full of shit, lies constantly, and using every opportunity to push you in the direction of her nihilistic worldview. That’s not the same as the game pushing you in the direction of nihilism.

The Exile can even argue this direct point with her - if the Exile acts altruistically and things don’t turn out idyllic, that’s not justification for rejecting the entire concept of altruism like she wants. You even get in-game rewards for sticking up for your ideals and rejecting hers. She’s the villain.


#98

The problem is that this isn’t always how she’s presented. KOTOR 2 is great, but it does have a problem in balancing the criticism of Star Wars philosophy and morality while also making the characters that act as the mouthpieces of this also questionable in their own beliefs. It can be tricky to tell when they want to do one thing or the other.


#99

I’m not disagreeing with you that she’s the villain, but I do think at this point in the game she is pushing the player towards nihilism. Up until this point she’s been a contrarian ass hole but she hasn’t been wrong, and has had a pretty good read on other key characters like Atton. Eventually the game argues that Kreia doesn’t know shit, but that’s in the context of who the Exile is and what they represent. I don’t think it takes the time to really critique her worldview as much as it condemns her for taking her ideology too far.


#100

it’s… fine. It just could have been so much better.

I agree that the combat is way more fun than it has been before.
A great case for the “I’m not mad I’m just Disappointed” award.