Cult of the Turtle

Joe Tortuga's musing on life,tech and gaming

Playstyle Frustration

January 20, 2010

I’m having some real difficulty with Dragon Age: Origins.

I feel like I want to play it.  There’s — not peer pressure, but a sense from my peers that they liked this game.  From people with whom I’ve had detailed discussions about games we both liked.  In other words, people whose tastes I felt were very similar to mine.  These people love Dragon Age: Origins.  I’m very near the end of my patience.

One character, my Rogue ( a Human Noble), is stalled out in the first fighting area which comes immediately after her origin — in other words, the first bit of common question. I’d done that with my Human Mage, who very nearly got stalled out fighting the Ogre, in what is essentially the first area after the one my Rogue is in.  She is slightly beyond that, but not much, the experience with that fight is making me hesitant to want to continue, and now that I’m faced with too many choices, my natural hesitancy kicks in, and I rolled a new character.

I like a damage-dealing character.  The slogan for my Mage Zhenette (a standard name for my Mage characters) from WoW is “DPS is healing you don’t have to do.” Its a play style that involves doing lots of damage to enemies before they get to you, and minimizes the importance of defense. My WoW mage is a very tactical character, and the play is characterized by bursts of action and then downtime. I have a rogue on WoW,too, and she was a damage dealer, and a bit harder for me — as her damage was more over time, and required different tactical skills to accomplish, but the idea was much the same: do enough damage to avoid getting hit.

My play style in Torchlight is similar: run in clicking on things until they are dead.  I ususally remember to renew my buffs between battles, but not always — and yes, I can tell when I forget.  Just give me the biggest damage weapons and spells, and I’ll be on my way.  Armor is okay, too, but it’s secondary, or tertiary. I’ve got a pet in that game that more or less takes care of itself, although I think it ran away a couple of times. I never remember to heal it, so I learned a spell that heals us both, and that seems to work okay.  If playing Torchlight required keeping my pet buffed and healed, then I’d just quit, as I’m just not going to remember to do all that.  Make it so I have to manager it’s targets, too, and I’d probably leave.

Torchlight doesn’t have a lot more going for it than the explore/kill/loot cycle.  It’s frenetic and clicky and has a very basic, ignorable story.  Thankfully, they got the combat right, and I’m cool with it.  But I’d be pulling my hair out with DA:O’s combat if I had any to pull. (Goatee not an option, per the wives.)

Here’s the thing: both of my origin stories were awesome. I played the Mage one 1.5 times, and the Human Noble one.  I”m told these aren’t even necessarily the best origins.  I left those areas feeling like a kick-butt character, off to help kick-butt in other areas.  I knew it would be hard, but I was there to take names and chew bubblegum. My mage didn’t die in her origin, although my Rogue did once, my dog saving the day that time. {And so my Rogue, unlike myself, has a fondness for the thing.}  But I still felt like I could focus on my character and do some damage, and the stuff around me — the pet and my Mom, they did their part.

Then I’m dumped in the wilderness and it’s a different game. Alistair is the only one who isn’t constantly dying.  The Mage does slightly better than the Rogue, since she’s got a healing spell, when she has mana to cast it. My rogue has a bridge she just can’t get across.  Every time she sets foot on the far side, death is there, taking her back to the Fade.  Not fun.

Now, I’m not always upset about dying.  My WoW mage spent an inordinate amount of time either running from fights (WoW Mage Survival Tactic #1) or running back to fights.  It’s okay, I was a mage, I was going to die. Of course, Death in WoW or Torchlight is only a temporary state.  In DA:O, it’s a reload-last-save.  That fact taught me that there was a Quick Save option in Dragon Age, something I haven’t used since the last FPS I played.  There I expect some death and re-trying.  (And some is okay), so I reload and try again. I played that bridge scene 6 times Saturday night, all with the same result.

I’ve been working on it for a week.  More on this tomorrow.