Mark Plays ‘Dragon Age: Origins’: Hour 40 – Return to Ostagar / Warden’s Keep

In the fortieth hour of Dragon Age: Origins, I discover the true reason I returned to Ostagar, and then I accompany Levi Dryden to Soldier’s Peak. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to play Dragon Age: Origins.

Hour Forty

I love DLC that matters, that tells a good story, AND THAT GIVES ME RAD SHIT. Both DLC maps that I explore in this hour – Return to Ostagar and Warden’s Keep – make me feel like my purchase was totally warranted. I was a little worried that I had gotten too excited about the possibility of going back into the Tower of Ishal. What if I just had to kill darkspawn hanging around outside of it? Oh god, I didn’t want to purposely disappoint myself, so it was a lovely surprise when I did get to go back inside the Tower. AND IT WAS DIFFERENT! THEY CHANGED IT! YES. THIS IS LOVELY.

I was initially struck by how deceptively easy this was. A lot of the darkspawn who spawned in the Tower were felled with one buttstab from me. Huh. That never happens.  Well, that’s because this game had a few surprises for me.

YEAH, THIS ISN’T OMINOUS AT ALL. Right? Okay, why is there a tunnel for darkspawn in the Tower? I have to go down there, don’t I? GREAT. GREAT.

This isn’t ominous at all.

I need y’all to understand that at this specific angle, I thought Alistair was a mystery intruder because I didn’t recognize him. It looks like he’s wearing a dress or a skirt because of the spider corpse behind him. These are the things I notice during gameplay.

After this, I had to go through an exit labeled “Battlefield.” Everything about this seemed wrong. Why am I willingly going to a battlefield? Seriously, this game makes me do things I would never choose to do in the real world. Regardless, I was nervous about heading into an area that had nothing in it. No doors, no escape route, just an open, empty space. There was just a bouncing crow. No, seriously:


A darkspawn raised the same ogre that killed Cailan from the dead. ARE YOU SHITTING ME? Really??? And while he wasn’t the most difficult enemy in the game, how fucked up is that? But it’s the entire point of Return to Ostagar, one I’d not considered before: it was a way to send off King Cailan properly. Sure, he was an overly optimistic leader, but that doesn’t mean he deserved to die. After retrieving all the pieces of his armor, this DLC turned into a touching tribute to the man. I mean, look how sad Roslin got!

Well, she’s only partially sad. NOW I HAVE DUNCAN’S DAGGER AND SWORD. You better believe I’m using that beautiful sword. I CAN’T WAIT TO TRIPLE BUTTSTAB FOES WITH THAT THING. After all this, though, I lost three approval points from Morrigan for giving Cailan a funeral pyre. Are you seriously that heartless? Do you like anything aside from my face? UGH.

Warden’s Keep

Once I got Duncan’s sword enchanted at camp, I decided it was finally time to follow Levi Dryden to Soldier’s Peak for the Warden’s Keep DLC. He was rather excited that I agreed to go along with him, and that’s probably because once we get there, he admits that he knows his way to Soldier’s Peak because he saw it in a dream. Well, that’s convenient and not at all unsettling, right?

Except it kept getting worse. Doesn’t it always? My party was immediately stricken by a waking vision of what happened in the courtyard of Soldier’s Peak a century before, giving me a way to frame the story: King Arland sent troops to attack the Grey Wardens. What for? I don’t know. I love that as soon as this creepy scene is over, Levi goes, “After you!” Oh, fuck you, dude, you want me to go first, don’t you? AM I JUST A LIVING SHIELD?

Yes. Yes, I am. Because THEN ALL OF THE PEOPLE WHO DIED HERE A HUNDRED YEARS AGO COME BACK TO LIFE AND ATTACK ME. Arland Skeletons, mages, dead Wardens… where the fuck have you taken me, Levi Dryden??? Did you know what was going to happen?

More visions! They’re ghosts of the past, and it’s creepy as fuck. I did laugh, though, when I read the list of the Wardens who defended this place. One of them was “Jason sans les Argonauts.” Nice touch! But I still wanted to know what the fuck happened here. Thankfully, I managed to pick up that second mission to discover the history of the place, so I read as many books/codex updates as I could. So, Arland was paranoid about his claim to the throne? Or he worried that he would be killed? And someone used magic against the Wardens, but it’s not clear who. None of this made sense. Then, one of the visions speaks of a possible rebellion, about how Wardens aren’t supposed to rebel but they had to. What the fuck? For what? So I went up to the second floor to find out.

Well, that’s not terrifyingly ominous. What is this? Some of my questions were answered when another vision burst into view, and I learned that AVERNUS, THE WARDEN’S MAGE, RAISED DEMONS TO FIGHT THE KING’S MEN. Those very same demons turned on everyone, slaughtering those in the Keep. You are kidding me. I mean, I know the Grey Wardens aren’t obligated to refuse magic like this, but what the fuck were you thinking, Avernus?

At this point, I faced a brutal and time-consuming battle against a super tough Rage Abomination and his pack of Shrieks and dead Wardens. I did my best to stay alive, but Alistair ended up being the sole person to survive. He’s currently my super powerful brick, which means his health/armor is incredibly high. I essentially had to repeat the same thing over and over again: turn on Berserker mode, Shield Bash, and any other tactics, take two or three lesser health poultices at a time, and keep moving. I made a point to take out all the smaller enemies before focusing entirely on the Rage Abomination, but even then, it took me FIFTEEN MINUTES to kill him. I actually went over my hour by a few minutes just so I could defeat the thing and save the game.

Oh god, what’s up in Avernus’s tower? I’m scared, y’all.

My Character Stats

Strength: 27+6
Dexterity: 36+12
Willpower: 23+5
Magic: 14+1
Cunning: 24+5
Constitution: 27+2

Heroic Stats

Kills: 713
Damage dealt: 174433
Friendly-fire: 0
Greatest damage dealt: 90
Contribution to party damage: 29
Hit rate: 88
Most powerful foe slain: Arl Howe
Injuries: 35

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