Mark Plays ‘Dragon Age: Origins’: Hour 42 – The Battle of Denerim

In the forty-second hour of Dragon Age: Origins, the Battle of Denerim begins. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to play Dragon Age: Origins.

Hour Forty-Two

Wow. Wow. This game is not fucking around.

I guess I never really gave much thought to what the end of Dragon Age: Origins was going to be like. I suppose I’d have to fight a dragon and some other nasty dudes, and then victory was at hand? Something like that? I did not expect a massive, chaotic warzone, one that FEELS like a goddamn war. Oh, and of course the folks who crafted the story had two last twists to destroy any sense of moral certainty I might have had. RIGHT?

So I began the final preparations for the end of the game. I went inside the castle at Redcliffe to speak with Arl Eamon, and Riordan revealed what he knew: the darkspawn weren’t heading for the castle. THEY WERE GOING TO DENERIM. It’s fitting for my character, especially since Roslin started her journey there. That’s where it will end. It did make me laugh when Alistair was super upset that we might not make it there in time. Dude, it takes thirty seconds on a map. Kidding! But then Riordan kept making reference to the dragon and how we didn’t “know” something about it, and why are you so full of secrets, dude? God, he better not double-cross us. We have enough enemies to face!

I went up to Riordan’s room to talk with him and:

Oh. OH. OH MY GOD. SO ONE OF US HAS TO GIVE UP THEIR LIFE IN ORDER TO DEFEAT THE ARCHDEMON. Great. GREAT. Thanks, Dragon Age, for never allowing one good moment in my character’s life.

Wait, what’s that? Why is my quest log telling me to go talk to Morrigan? What does she have to say? Oh, wait. There’s a loophole??? Oh shit, well that’s good news. Now a Grey Warden won’t have to die!

Wait, what was that? It involves magic? Blood magic? Well, Roslin has compromised before, so it’s not entirely out of the question, especially if it’s the best way to make people happy or do the right thing for others. So what did you have in mi–

WHAT THE FUCK. NO. NO, YOU HAVE TO BE JOKING. WHAT THE FUCK MORRIGAN?!?!?!!? HOW IS THAT A CHOICE YOU WANT ME TO MAKE??? I’m sorry, you want Alistair to sleep with you so you can give birth to a blood magic baby who will be a living version of one of the Old Ones. Oh, and let me guess: if I refuse, you’ll leave my party. That’s how this game works!!! I can’t lose you right before the big battle. I’ve spent so much time building your tactics and skills. Oh god, no, this is awful, why do I have to make this choice???

I agonized over this decision for a few minutes, and when it came down to it, Morrigan’s powers were too important to me. I can’t have her disappear. So I went to talk to Alistair, who summed it all up rather succinctly:

“How does someone make that kind of choice?”

I mean, right??? He wasn’t going to do it, right?

WELL, THAT WAS SUFFICIENTLY AWKWARD. So that happened. I don’t know how I feel about this??? I mean, at the last minute, that means this weird-ass baby will take the place of Alistair or myself, but… what the fuck, y’all?!?!? Even stranger, the very next scene is Alistair’s rousing speech to the troops outside the gates of Denerim. Dude, what about the baby you just fathered? No? Nothing? You’re not going to say anything about it??? Okay! I won’t ask again.

Let’s talk about the awesome cut scene, though. How epic is this shit?

Oh god, I love the color scheme. Full of doom and gloom.


OH SHIT, HERE WE COME. I was disappointed at first, though, because the first skirmish takes place entirely within this cut scene. But – but – but I wanted to fight! Why is this happening? However, just seconds later, I’m dropped within the city gates and EVERYTHING IS PURE CHAOS. I could not believe how overwhelmed I was. For every grunt I killed, ten more arrived. But once I looked around, I saw that all my friends and companions were there with me. They were fighting alongside me, and their actions mattered. This wasn’t simply a case of them fighting in the background with no effect on the battle. They were killing darkspawn, too! And I love that this happens. I’m so used to useless companions in video games, and Dragon Age doesn’t do this.

You could say that this made me rather emotional. After wiping out what must have been over 50 darkspawn, it was time to pick the party I’d take into Denerim. I decided to go with whom I trusted: Morrigan, Alistair, and Shale. They’d given me so much joy, they were dependable, and I’d spent the most time with them. AND THIS TRIGGERED A PROCESSION OF ALL MY COMPANIONS SAYING GOODBYE TO ME.

No, Oghren, stop, I’m going to cry.

Morrigan, I swear, stop it. Oh god, Adama, MY HEART. But nothing hit me quite as hard as this:

They cheered me on. Oh my god, this fucking game, I swear.

AND NOW I UNDERSTAND WHY GATHERING ALL THOSE ALLIES IS WORTH IT. I can now call upon four different groups to help me fight my battles. I assume those tiny numbers are how many warriors and whatnot that I can have access to. What an incredible feature! IT’S SO AWESOME.

And then I learned why. I went to the Market District first, and it was an endless wave of Ogres. Granted, they weren’t that hard to defeat. God, I remember when they would terrify me in the game. Now, with a couple well placed buttstabs and stunning, they go down in fifteen seconds. Still, it was clear that I’d have to face nearly every enemy I’d seen in the game and in ridiculous numbers. So many darkspawn! Thankfully, though, I didn’t have to call upon back-up.

Well, that’s until I got to the Alienage. First of all, Shianni, why are you outside??? Like, go inside a house. Still, I found it pretty noble that she wanted to fight alongside me. I told her to defend our home, and then… well, I got destroyed. My god, I haven’t been defeated this thoroughly since I tried to storm that Abandoned Building in Denerim full of blood mages. Remember that? I died seven times. I even called on the dwarves the seventh time, and I was still annihilated. So, putting aside my pride, I changed the difficulty so that I wasn’t wasting the remaining part of my hour being… well, destroyed. Even then, this was still super difficult! It wasn’t that the enemies were particularly hard. There were just so many of them! It was easy to get swarmed. I kept switching between Roslin and Morrigan. I’d hit one of the grunts with a Walking Bomb, then get Roslin to take them out so they’d cause a chain reaction.

The absolute coolest part of this section of the game, though, happened when I tried to travel closer to Fort Drakon. I was shocked that I got stopped for a skirmish, and then I was confused because I’m suddenly Oghren??? And THEN I REALIZED THAT I GET TO PROTECT THE FRONT GATES FROM DARKSPAWN WITH THE CHARACTERS I LEFT BEHIND. Bless this game. BLESS IT. That is so fucking incredible, y’all. Again, shit matters in this game. I love that!

My hour ended seconds after Wynne, Oghren, Sten, Adama, and Zevran totally destroyed the invading force, but I couldn’t stop the next cutscene from playing before I could save. I watched Riordan eye the oncoming dragon, and then:

HOLY CRAP, YOU’RE AMAZING. You jumped on the back of a dragon!


And then he died. Like, seriously, just seconds after I was so stoked about his attack on the dragon, he plummeted to his death. GREAT. Well, this next section should be a party! Of pure misery, that is.

My Character Stats

Strength: 28+6
Dexterity: 37+12
Willpower: 23+5
Magic: 14+2
Cunning: 24+5
Constitution: 28+2

Heroic Stats

Kills: 785
Damage dealt: 185191
Friendly fire: 0
Greatest damage dealt: 90
Contribution to party damage: 29
Hit rate: 88
Most powerful foe slain: Arl Howe (Actually, this should be High Dragon, so I don’t know why this keeps saying this.)
Injuries: 37

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