A Gaming Veteran's Guide to Dragon Age: Origins
Your journey through the first Dragon Age game will probably be difficult. There are darkspawn to fight, side quests to complete and one very long main quest to advance. Are you concerned about missing something on your playthrough, or building a bad character? Our full selection of guides can help.
Getting the Team Together
Dragon Age is a role playing game, which means that the meat of the game is dressing up your character in nice equipment, teaching them the best skills and doing the same for all of the new allies that you pick up along the way. Managing your party properly will make the upcoming battles a breeze. Stumbling around blindly will make each battle and quest a painful game of trial and error. Since there are a number of different paths and builds for the different classes and allies, you'll get off to a good start by knowing how to level everyone up.
The game is certainly true to its name. There are a number of different origin stories that are avaialbe to your character depending on the race and background that you choose. Dalish Elves will have to handle an important expedition in the woods, while commoners will need to face the prejudice of the city alienage. Dwarves will either face the cutthroat underbelly, or the backstabbing amongst the nobility. Humans will either have to face down their mage training or fight off an invasion of their family home.
Regardless of your choice, this story will account for the first few hours of gameplay, and you'll need to know what you're doing.
Ostagar and Lothering
Once Duncan has drafted or recruited you into the service of the Wardens, you'll find yourself at the battleground at Ostagar. Here, you will need to go through the paces of your training, do the ritual, survive the battle and then set out on your own. This means a bit of a stay in Lothering, where you'll have a chance to do a little mercenary work before setting off for the main quest. Since some of these side quests are vital for finishing overarching quests, like the Blackstone Irregulars series, it's worth taking a look and doing things right the first time.
Note that you can do any of the following main quests in any order, but I tend to find that Redcliffe makes the most sense. Arl Eamon is your best ally, and he's directly tied to two other main quests (Andraste's Ashes and the Mage Tower). It seems to work well if you get to him first.The battle can also scale up tremendously in difficulty, so it doesn't hurt to finish it fairly quickly and call it a day.
Redcliffe is an interesting area, in which you'll find a massive battle against undead monsters. This means a fight to enter the village, a lot of side quests that you can do to prepare the village for the coming onslaught of undead, a long battle to protect the village and seize the castle, a few side quests to aid the civilians in the area, and then one very complicated quest to exorcise the demon that currently has a hold on the Arl's son, Conner, through either significant violence, sacrifice, blood magic or magic strength.
The Circle Tower
The Circle Tower is an absolutely massive area that will probably take up a good portion of your time. Only the long halls of Orzammar will take as much effort to get through. The setup will be fairly clear, at first. You'll either find yourself on the side of the mages or the templars as you encounter the abominations that have now corrupted the tower. Regardless of your personal side, you'll wind up in a four level grind to reach the top of the Circle Tower.
Of course, this is also the home of the infamous Fade levels. After an unfortunate encounter with a demon, you'll wind up in the fabled Fade. For a few hours you'll have some peace and quiet as you use your new magical powers to go through the different worlds of the Fade by yourself, until your final showdown with the demon, and ultimately the corrupted form of Uldred at the top of the Circle Tower.
If you want to save Arl Eamon, you'll need to figure out what happened to his lost knights, and track down the truth behind the Sacred Ashes of Andraste. Your search will take you to a monk's house, where all is not as it seems. Once you have a solid lead, you'll be able to face a whole bunch of cultists and their pet dragons, pass a few sacred tests inside the proving grounds outside Andraste's Ashes and then make your decision as to their fate. Will you save them for others, or defile them for personal gain.
This long quest is fairly combat intensive, but it can open up the Reaver specialization and offers the rare chance to fight a true dragon in the game.
The Brecilian Forest
You'll have a choice of allies in this interesting case in the forest. The once lush land is currently suffering from terrible corruption, which means that our simple delivery mission will require a lot of killing and a long investigation into the current curse. To pull this off, you'll have to root out the corruption, kill some werewolves, handle the occasional side quest and seek out the leader of the werewolves to open up the three potential endings. At that point you'll either have to massacre the werewolves, massacre the elves or take the third path out to break the curse.
Orzammar is the magnificent city carved out of the hills by the Dwarfs. As you may have expected, our search for allies will require a lot of quests. In this particular case, we'll need to thrust ourselves into the middle of a civil war between two mobile families. There are separate quests for each branch's path, which include everything from backstabbing to gladitorial combat, which ultimately come together when you enter the Deep Roads.
The Deep Roads will take you through multiple maps just teeming with darkspawn, and a few particularly nice pieces of armor, while you look for the lost paragon, Branka, You'll eventually face a horde of darkspawn at the heart of the Deep Roads, and face a question of morality on the future of the golem program.
Also note that Orzammar is absolutely packed with side quests. You should easily leave the area with pockets full of gold, gifts and new unique items.
Denerim is the crown jewel and capital of the country. Our political battles will wage on this ground, and we'll get a good chance to take a bit of revenge against some old enemies.There are also chances to be a bit of a criminal mastermind, or join a band of assassins for extra wealth and a few noble favors.
Once you have completed Arl Eamon's chain and as many of the ally quests as you wish, you have the ability to call together the Landsmeet to decide the future of the kingdom. This pushes the game forward to the last stages, so be careful before you commit to this. During this time, you'll need to take care of a few important steps to gain the votes of key members and ensure a victory against' Loghain's forces.
Once you have the Landsmeet, things will start to advance at a brisk pace. The darkspawn army with its archdemon will attack at Redcliffe, and then seize the majority of Denerim in a two-pronged attacked. You and your intrepid party will have to lead the battles in both locations.
One group will have to push forward and face the archdemon. The other will have to hold the line outside. All of this will take a lot of concentration, and probably a fair bit of luck. Once it's all said and done, you'll get your chance to face down the archdemon and end things for once and for all.
This should get you off to a good start on Dragon Age: Origins. Following the guides above will take you through most of the side quests in the game and help you make it through the main quest with the best allies available. If you need any additional help or have questions about topics not listed above, then you should feel free to include them in the comments below.
For now, it's time to start enjoying Dragon Age. The darkspawn are waiting for you.