Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening

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Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening is the first expansion for the fantasy role-playing video game Dragon Age: Origins. Awakening adds a brand new campaign which takes place during the aftermath of Dragon Age: Origins. The game also features new class specialization and skills for the player to develop.

Awakening was released for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 on March 16, 2010, in North America, March 18 in Europe, and March 19 in the United Kingdom.[1] An unofficial community workaround exists for running it directly on the Mac platform.[2]

Gameplay[edit | edit source]

The player has the option to either import his or her character from the main game or start over as a Warden from Orlais: a whole new origin. If a new character is created, the story from the main game is set to a default ending. If the character is imported, the story in Awakening will continue from that determined by the player in Origins and the character will retain his or her attributes, skills, spells etc. as well as certain equipment. The expansion continues the story, including five new recruitable party members and Oghren from Dragon Age: Origins, new spells and abilities, a raise in the level cap, new enemies such as the Inferno Golem and the Queen of the Blackmarsh, and new items.[3] There are no romances available.[4]

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Plot[edit | edit source]

Set six months after the events of Dragon Age: Origins in the land of Amaranthine, Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening places the player in the role of a Grey Warden trying to rebuild the order while also dealing with political matters as the Arl of Amaranthine.

Named the Warden Commander, the player travels to Vigil's Keep to assume command of the Grey Wardens there. However, the keep is discovered to have been assaulted by Darkspawn, and something amiss is noticed as such an organized attack would have taken an intelligent leader to direct. The player is able to clear the keep with the aid of Mhairi, an able female warrior, and two others: Anders, an apostate mage who seeks refuge away from the Tower of Magi, and Oghren. A new, talking Darkspawn, a Disciple, is discovered to have been the leader of the enemy forces and is defeated. With the keep secured, the player then sets forth on a journey to help garner support for the Grey Wardens and new recruits to join the order's ranks while also looking for clues as to solve the mystery of the intelligent Darkspawn.

Throughout the game, the player journeys to several locations and recruits party members of whom may undergo the Joining ritual to become Grey Wardens. Along his or her travels, the player meets the "Architect", a strange figure whose intentions remain unclear until the end of the game, and learns about the "Mother", who is a sentient broodmother.

After recruiting all available party members, the player learns of an oncoming war, as Darkspawn advance towards the city of Amaranthine. The player travels to the city with a small band of allies, but soon learns of another Darkspawn force that is headed for Vigil's Keep. Depending on his or her decisions, the player may either order Amaranthine to be burned down after deeming it too late to be saved and head back to the Keep, or stay and fight to rid Amaranthine of Darkspawn forces, thus forcing Vigil's Keep to be on its own against the Darkspawn attack there.

Regardless of his or her choice, the player aids in the destruction of the enemy forces and then travels to Drake's Fall, where the "Mother" is presumed to be residing. The player meets the "Architect" once again, and learns of his intention to free the Darkspawn from the impulse to commence a Blight and annihilate the corrupted "Mother." The player may either ally with the "Architect" or kill him. He or she then locates the "Mother", where he or she learns of the ongoing antagonism between the "Architect" and the "Mother" and finds out that the "Architect" had been the one who had awakened the archdemon from the main game after a failed experiment. Ultimately, the player kills the "Mother", and the ending may vary depending on the actions and decisions of the player during the course of the game, and some or none of the party members may perish.

Party Members[edit | edit source]

Oghren (voiced by Steve Blum) - the only character to carry over as a party member from Origins, Oghren is the same drunken, womanizing, warrior dwarf as before. He's a heavy hitter, and his skill set favors two-handed weapons. He joins your party after you arrive at Vigil's Keep only to find it overrun with darkspawn. He asks to become a Grey Warden and easily survives the Joining without fainting. Throughout the gameplay, you can return to Vigil's Keep and click on the cask of alcohol behind him in order to engage in some dialogue, and potentially gain (or lose) approval rating. His personal quest involves talking to him after his new wife makes a visit to reprimand him about leaving her and their child behind to become a Grey Warden.

Mhairi (voiced by Alix Wilton Regan) - a human female warrior who serves as the player's escort to Vigil's Keep. Mhairi, who starts with the champion specialization, is a recent recruit to the Wardens and has yet to undertake the joining when she enters your party. After defeating the Withered, she takes the joining alongside Oghren and Anders (if you choose to conscript the latter into the Grey Wardens). Of these three, Mhairi is the only one who does not survive the joining. Mhairi has no personal quest and though you can raise her approval via gifts, there are no gifts which will trigger a dialogue with her.

Anders (voiced by Greg Ellis) - a wise-cracking human apostate mage. He has escaped the Circle of Magi seven times, only to be brought back by the templars. He was in the midst of being brought back once again when darkspawn attacked at Vigil's Keep. When the Warden-Commander arrives, the templars all lie murdered around him, presumably by the darkspawn. When more soldiers and the monarch of Ferelden arrive, another templar accuses him of the murders instead. From here, the player has the option of conscripting him into the Grey Wardens in order to save him from an execution. His personality is reminiscent of Alistair's, but he comes with the "spirit healer" skill set and tactics, very similar to Wynne's. During his personal quest, he asks the player to help him find his phylactery and destroy it. If helped, Anders is somewhat surprised and very grateful for the Warden-Commander's help, and his approval rating increases significantly.

Nathaniel Howe (voiced by Simon Chadwick) - the son of the late Arl Rendon Howe, traitor to Teyrn Bryce Cousland of Highever and the Grey Wardens. He is a rogue with the archer specialty, and has talents to bypass traps and locks. Nathaniel is found in the dungeons of Vigil's Keep after the darkspawn attack, awaiting the Warden's judgment. He snuck into the Keep, which was part of his family's former arling, in order to kill the Warden-Commander. However, once inside, he had a change of heart and decided only to try steal back some of his family's belongings. He was caught, and it took four Grey Wardens to imprison him. The player can decide to kill him, do nothing with him, or force conscription into the Grey Wardens. He is fairly repulsed by the idea, and makes his hatred of you abundantly clear, but will go through with it and survive the Joining. In the beginning he blames the Grey Wardens for his father's death and his family's fall from grace, claiming that his father was merely on the wrong side of the war. During the events of Origins, he was away at the Free Marches, and has lost contact with most of his family that did not die. He learns that his sister still lives and is now living in the city of Amaranthine. If he finds his sister she will confront him about his blind love for their father. She explains that Arl Howe brought things down on himself and his family, and that he was all in all a lying, traitorous murderer. After the meeting he comes to terms with this, and tells the player he no longer blames the Grey Warden for the downfall of Howes and his father's death.

Sigrun (voiced by Natalia Cigliuti) - a somewhat naive dwarf rogue who also happens to be a member of the Legion of the Dead (she was once casteless). She specializes in dual weapon wielding and points must be added to get her the locking picking and trap detection talents. You find her in the thaig Kal'Hirol, which has been opened up by a giant chasm in the ground, caused by the Blight or some other darkspawn activity. Her entire company/squad was killed during their investigation of the darkspawn incursion in this thaig, but she ran away and survived, which she repeatedly expresses guilt over throughout the game. You offer to help her redeem herself by inspecting the thaig with her, and after you make it all the way through and kill the brood mothers, your dialogue with her eventually allows you to offer her a place in the Grey Wardens. She will accept after some minimal encouragement and survive the Joining, which must be initiated by talking to the seneschal at Vigil's Keep. After raising her approval to a high enough level, her personal quests triggers in Amaranthine where she bumps into someone from her past.

Velanna (voiced by Grey DeLisle) - a Dalish elf mage who was the Keeper of her clan before it was wiped out by darkspawn. She is reminiscent of Morrigan in looks, appearance, and abilities, although she opens up the new Keeper talent tree which gives her some new unique abilities. You meet her in the Wending Wood, while investigating the mysterious attacks on the caravans passing through there. It turns out that it is she who has been attacking the caravans, but it is because she was tricked by the darkspawn into believing that it was humans who attacked her tribe and kidnapped her sister, not the darkspawn themselves. Once you get thing settled with her, she joins your party and you go into the Silverite Mine to find her sister and kill some more darkspawn. You meet the Architect, and find out that Velanna's sister had joined him of her own free will. Once you get through the mine, Velanna demands that you let her become a Grey Warden so she is better able to fight the darkspawn and find her sister again.

Justice (voiced by Adam Leadbeater) - the Fade spirit of Justice which inhabits the dead body of the Grey Warden Kristoff after being forced from the fade with the rest of the party by a Pride demon. During the course of the game Justice undergoes arguably the most evolution as a character. He begins as a benevolent spirit that aspires to Justice as its only attribute, knowing and caring little for the world outside the fade beyond viewing everyone who does inhabit it with (rather condescending) pity. But as you journey with him he begins to experience the dead Kristoff's memories and after a particularly distressing visit from the late warden's wife he starts questioning his identity. If you choose to help Justice track down Kristoff's wife he will resolve that whatever time he has left will be spent fighting to protect the love and beauty he has discovered in the material world.

Reception[edit | edit source]

Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening received a score of 8.0 out of 10 from GameSpot, complimented for its combat and questing but criticized for its "disappointing story" and less memorable characters.[5] IGN gave the expansion a score of 8.5 out of 10 stating that the game has "an epic story that has loads of surprises and lots of momentum, but too bad it doesn't feel that connected to the original".[6]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening - Valenna Trailer - New character introduced.
  2. http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/99/index/3149886#3251344 BioWare Mac Technical Support Forum post
  3. Dragon Age Origins — Awakening.
  4. Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening FAQ. BioWare. Retrieved on 2010-03-18
  5. VanOrd, Kevin (2010-03-16). Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening Review. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2010-03-17
  6. Butts, Steve (2010-03-16). Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2010-03-17

External Links[edit | edit source]