Mark Plays ‘Dragon Age: Awakening’: Hour 1

In the first hour of Dragon Age: Awakening, I discover that things are not all that great after I defeated the Archdemon. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to play Dragon Age.

Hour One

Oh god, this is sort of like playing a brand new game, but it’s pleasantly familiar, and THAT’S AWESOME. The only thing I know about Awakening is that it’s more than a traditional DLC mission. It’s kind of lengthy? Which is good, since it should buy me some time so I can save up money and buy the Mass Effect trilogy for PS3, and then we can all play that game together. It is my destiny.

Anyway, I’m already intrigued by the set-up given to me by this game. The opening sequence, which has beautiful art:

explains that the darkspawn didn’t just up and disappear after I killed the Archdemon. On the contrary, they spread out all over Ferelden, formed warring factions, and are constantly terrifying citizens. Certainly, things aren’t as bad as they were during the Blight, but this isn’t a good thing. I learn that as Commander of the Grey Wardens, it’s up to me to organize and recruit for the Grey Wardens, to build up my numbers to fight off the darkspawn. While that alone sounds like something I’d be interested in doing in Awakening, I knew that this game wasn’t going to give me something simple or mundane. Come on, this is Dragon Age I’m playing! So what’s the twist going to be?

Well, it’s only a matter of minutes before my new companion, Mhairi, and I find out that Vigil’s Keep was overrun by darkspawn. Who, by the way, orchestrated a sneak attack. You know, until this first hour of Awakening, I didn’t really think about the fact that the darkspawn in this game really aren’t that clever. They never ambushed me. It was always humans or elves who did that. So how could they suddenly become smart enough to organize?

So, Mhairi and I set about clearing out the darkspawn from Vigil’s Keep. I already dig her as a party member, and thankfully, she compliments me super well. (Note: I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS A BAD SIGN. Oh god, I’ll get to that in a second.) I found this super rad helm, though, that was better than what she was equipped with at the start, and this provided endless humor to me because of this:

Okay, it turns her eyes into black sockets with white dots in them. She looks like a Jawa. Oh my god, I LOVE IT. Anyway, I noticed that for the first twenty minutes or so of this game, we’ve got two badass ladies, slicing their way to victory, helping out nothing but a bunch of dudes, who all run away as soon as we rescue them, and it’s just the most pleasing thing ever.

And then Anders shows up:

This game really has a way with introducing memorable characters, and Anders is no exception. He’s an apostate who is also a criminal on the run who is also an accused murderer who is also very feisty and HE TOTALLY JOINED MY PARTY. Well, isn’t this a merry band of followers so far?

Like with some of the past DLC, it’s fun to find new things that weren’t in the basic game itself. I found a blood lotus at one point, and I’m eager to see what I can make out of it. I swear that these Skills weren’t available before either:

YOU CAN BET YOUR BUTT I’LL BE USING THEM AS I LEVEL UP. Vigil’s Keep continued to be interesting, though I did feel like I was just going through the motions. Nothing was particularly challenging or surprising. Even when I saw that dwarf lead a bunch of darkspawn into a trap, I had assumed that the game would find a way to bring all the various races into the story. It’s not anything that I had –

OH MY GOD I TAKE IT BACK I MISSED YOU OGHREN HELLO LOOK AT YOUR BEAUTIFUL FACE I AM SO HAPPY TO SEE IT. Oh god, he lived up to his word, we’re going to go on adventures together, and he wants to become a Grey Warden!!! This is fantastic! Oh god, this can’t be ruined.

Okay, I know what this dude tells us is FUCKING UNREAL, but I fell over on my couch and couldn’t stop laughing for a full minute because he died WITH HIS HEAD IN THE WALL. Where did his head go??? BLESS THIS GAME.

Okay, so let’s just talk about it: a talking darkspawn. His name was The Withering. HAHAHA WHAT THE FUCK. That’s not intimidating at all because –

I TAKE IT BACK. He looks horrifying. My party was able to defeat him fairly easily, especially since he was just plain obsessed with Mhairi, focusing all of his attacks on her. Still, this blows my mind. A humanoid darkspawn who can speak English? How is this possible? The point of Awakening is becoming clearer: the darkspawn are up to something, and I don’t like it.

After cleaning up Vigil’s Keep, Alistair shows up (!!!!!!), and my purpose is spelled out for me: I need to recruit more Grey Wardens, determine why so many of the existing Grey Wardens have disappeared, figure out what the darkspawn are planning, and help eradicate them from Ferelden. In the process of finding this out, I also decided to use my Right of Conscription to make Anders a Grey Warden. He seemed genuinely upset to be called a murderer, and I want to know why he killed those templars.

First things first: there’s a lot to do around Vigil’s Keep with the seneschel. We have the Joining! I love that Oghren was first insulted that the cup appeared to be making fun of his height, then he drank darkspawn blood like it was water. God, he is great. Then I was worried that Anders would die, but he just passed out. However, I was FURIOUS that Mhairi did not survive the Joining. Ugh, BUT I LIKED HER A LOT. THAT’S NOT FAIR. Also, she was wearing that amazing helm as she died:

I WANTED TO SEE MORE OF IT. Does that mean I lost the helm forever because she died wearing it? THIS IS BIGOTRY. Rest in peace, Mhairi. Our time together was not enough.

My first hour of Awakening ended with a look towards the future. I received three huge missions from three separate people:

1) Shadows of the Blackmarsh, where I have to go find this dude named Kristoff to learn what he discovered about the darkspawn.

2) Last of the Legion, where I have to seek out the only surviving Grey Warden who I’m going to imagine is Stephen Colbert.

3) The Righteous Path, where I have to seek out Mervis in Amaranthine to determine how I can protect the merchant caravans coming into the city.

Oh, I’m quite excited to see how this turns out.

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