Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dragon Age Landsmeet - Bad Game Design or Brilliant?

[Spoilers Abound]

One of the cardinal rules of game design is that there should always be a rest, recuperate, save opportunity immediately before every boss fight and another one immediately after. I was somewhat pissed off when I finally reached the Landsmeet in Dragon Age to find this principle did not apply. It took me several tries to overcome Loghain and each time I had to endure a tedious re-run of the lead in. The biggest surprise happened when I finally did overcome him and was immediately propelled into a series of cut-scenes and dialog options.

I am still reeling from the fact that my hastily chosen choices resulted in my favourite companion deserting me forever! That ingrate. I had been cultivating his friendship all game and his approval rating was so high I thought I could surely talk him around but no chance - he was gone.

It was only after he had left that I realised he had walked off with a complete set of rare armour, and equipment. Irreplaceable stuff all of it. To think that I talked the Queen out of executing him.

I will admit that my first thought was to go back to a previous save game and tweak my choices (or at very least send him off in nothing but his underpants).  Then I remembered that there is no save game between the boss fight and this decision. If I want to avoid the consequences then I need to go back before the fight undoing perhaps perhaps 30 minutes of game play all told.

So: Is this simply bad game design by Bioware or is it a brilliant way of forcing players to live with the consequences of their decisions?


Mordiceius said...

The armor that companion walked away with should be in a chest in the room in the next scene... I think.

I still like the setup because it makes it a little hard to "game" the system. I would prefer a game where you make a choice once and have to live with it instead of being able to reload a save and go with something that in the end works out better for you, if you get what I am trying to say.

mbp said...

Hi Mordicieus, I didn't know that. I must look for it. I will feel slightly less betrayed by the scoundrel if he left it behind :)

I agree with you in principle Mordicieus about actions having irreversible consequences but there have been occasions in DA where the outcomes of my choices seemed somewhat random. The conversation chain leading to the fight with Loghain for example - you can sometimes bypass a big fight and sometimes not and its not always obvious why.

DM Osbon said...

While on the subject of Bioware and there games, I've been playing both DAO and Mass Effect. I've yet to be convinced about DAO but ME is very good indeed. Saying that I've still had a few wobbles with the auto save feature.

mbp said...

Hello DM -I have only played a little of mass effect so I am saving that pleasure for later. Mind you seeing as it is taking me well over 100 hours to finish Dragon age I thin I need a break once I am finished.

By the way DM where are you blogging these days?

DM Osbon said...

Over here, my friend:

Jayedub said...

Yeah, I was pretty ticked off too when I lost some sweet items when said party memeber left!

mbp said...

Ha .. I am just beginning to realise how evil this game is. I am near the end now and had to respond to Morrigan's "offer". She is easily my most powerful character and if she left I would be completely screwed. I felt I just had to say yes even though I know its going to come back and haunt me (in a sequel perhaps)?