Variable focus Morality

So I've been playing a second run through on dragon age rolling a dahlish elf dual wielding berserker. The most recent quest gave me the "evil" option to destroy some sacred ashes by pissing on them or something in exchange I unlock the reaver specialization class.

Unfortunately two of my companions were "unhappy" with this turn of events as a result I'm now down one lock picker and one healer mage. Which is unfortunate as I'll have to try and respec some of my remaining character to fill those roles. If I'd thought about it I would have taken more "evil" henchmen with me for that mission and everything would be fine at least till I got back to camp. I also lacked the room in my inventory to loot all their stuff so had to make do with stealing the best bits.

Anyway it's a bit of an odd reaction for this one act where for comparison on my previous run through I sold the soul of a young boy to a demon receive evil blood magic and no one batted an eyelid. Admittedly at the time I was in some sort of dream realm so none of my party noticed me signing away the soul of one boy in the blood of the innocent. Still you'd think they'd notice my sudden power to cause peoples bodies to erupt blood through their eyes.

The blood magic thing in Dragons age does seem a bit arbitrary I mean why is that power off limits when there are whole schools of other powers that allow a mage to incinerate their foes to ash, or one of my favourites turn enemies into a wandering explosive devices, summon skeletons zombies or what have you, or any number of other fairly dark and violent powers. In some ways the powers you gain for blood mage are fairly weak beyond one that allows you to dominate one character.

It does feel that the bad path for dragon age is less well thought out than the good path less like the Mass effect 2 renegade paragon where either option gives advantages in this is seems good give you the additional gifts of loyal followers where as bad just gives you the odd chuckle and the occasional specialist class. If there is going to be a morality thing I like it to have some practical effect.

It's funny coming back a few months on to notice other things that could have been done better one thing I miss in Dragon Age vs say Mass effect is the full voice acting, it does make the scenes much more engaging I know why they didn't put a voice in but still I think since all the other characters are voiced they should have voiced the main ones too.


I know what you mean - I always think that for a morality system to work it would need two things:

  • No obvious 'good' and 'evil' option at every decision point. Dragon age does this reasonably well, to be fair.
  • Evil should be easier. Or at the very least quicker and more seductive. I've never yet found a game that did that - if anything, as you say, they make the evil option harder. I guess game designers want people to play their games as heroes, but if that's the case, then why offer the choice in the first place?
AggroBoy's picture

Rather randomly I read this thread, then a couple of reviews of the game. Nabbed it off Steam and am now utterly in its thrall.

All I can say about the moral choice at the minute is that, for a bunch of zealots they did let me off light for letting a blood mage escape in an untraceable fashion...

Nibbles's picture

Only because you were inducted into the grey wardens if you werent then you'd be one of those tranquil guys all the magic burned out of you speaking in a monotone :D

One other thing I wish they'd done is full voice, it's something that adds quite a lot to the immersion in my opinion and part of what made mass effect 1&2 so great. I understand theya re going for the gordon freeman mute protagonist you insert your own voice but I think that is unnecessary I had no trouble thinking of shepard so I can't see why they didn't have a voice track for DAO. It feels like a step back after having had full voice elsewhere.

Evilmatt's picture

For all I'm picking at things in this game it's still a great game and good fun to play and indeed it's one of the few good enough that I've gone for a second run through.

With the morality system I think the key is having a story attached to it that makes sense, part of what I hated about say Bioshock and indeed the sequel is that for all it's talk about moral choice and the choice was pretty stark and shocking the first time (though the shock was gone after the first one) it had no real effect on the gameplay or story. One of the things I really enjoyed in mass effect 2 was the pargon/renegade appropriate interupts (so pushiong a guy off a cliff or shoving a gun aside to stop a person shooting someone) they really added to the flow of conversation and changed the experience second time around for a more friendly or more vicious protagonist and as the paragon and renegade choices ramp up you get even more different dialogue. I also liked that the loyalty of your followers in ME2 was getable with either path.

I still haven't seen a true evil path story in one of these games, a story that actually branches off in a proper manner. It'll come eventually I guess.

The forcing a player to be good aspect probably is the way dragon age works underneath it is about a heroic warrior saving the world and such it wouldn't play as well if that guy was an evil bastard.

Evilmatt's picture

I agree with you general point on morality systems. Even Fable 2 seemed rather digital in terms how the moral tale was told.

I quite like the lack of voice thus far, mainly as I imagine he says everything with Eddie Izzards voice. This alone has made the game hilarious.

My normal issue with this kinda game is the interface, which I can rarely be arsed to learn. This is guild wars enought for me. Will get racking up the hours about now. ;)

Nibbles's picture

I have to say, much as I love ME2, the interrupt thing is about the most annoying aspect of it for me. I hate quicktime events and it pushes all the same buttons. The number of times I failed to do the obviously right thing because I thought was watching a cutscene and had my hands off the controls... :/

I do like the fact that it builds a sane story around the character you choose to play though; it's much better having the game justifying your team-mates being on-side whatever you do, than the constant pandering (and occasional outright lying) you have to do to keep them friendly in Dragon Age. For me, it really breaks immersion having to say things I don't want to say just because I know a follower will lose loyalty if I don't. It eventually got to the point where I just didn't talk to most of the party, because I didn't enjoy the party-management mini-game.

That said, both ME2 and DA:O are fantastic games. I'm just grateful that we have 2 such rocking RPGs released in quick succession. :)

AggroBoy's picture

I think I am nearly through the intro bit now... Things I have learnt thus far:

1) Pressing pause in combat is essential.
2) The dialogue/moral choice bit is pretty well done. Unintented consequences there which is fairly funky.
3) Fireballs work best at range.
4) If you're still playing at 23:00 and thin "just another half hour" make sure there is some sort of device to keep track of time for you.

Nibbles's picture

I suppose the interrupt thing does have a whiff of QTE about it I was playing on the pc so it's all mouse driven which I tend to keep my hand over (even then I think I missed some of the shorter ones). Perhaps it's just the fun of being able to beat a person nearly to death in an interrogation room when they make snide comments that makes me love it so. It's a refreshingly adult choice in that he's a small time crook and you are a badarse space commando with your own ship and a small army of lethal nutters it's unlikely even good guy shepard would actually stand for that sort of nonsense. That was the hardest scene to resist hitting the button anyway when I was doing my paragon run through, well maybe that and pushing the guy out the window ... and the long rambling krogan monologue when there's that gas tank underneath ... and the ... :D.

At least it's not as bad as Heavy Rain in that you keep your hands on the controls at all time but since it also uses motion control some of the movements tend to have you throw the controller across the room, I spent one fight trying frantically to get the controller out from behind a chair due to an over enthusiastic response to the motion prompt.

Yeah the whole having to ignore your party to keep playing thing is a bit tedious, I've ended up down two members from taking the wrong people on a mission. And the gift giving mechanic is a little odd. In previous games you could have just selected evil henchmen instead but in this the only one that really fits that label is morigan (although she is fairly annoying as a party member), most of the others are more indifferent than evil. I did on the whole much prefer how the loyalty thing pans out in ME2 than DAO some of those loyalty missions were really good fun. Plus in ME2 it was less of a down side to loose loyalty if it happened you aren't forced to blow their brains out.

I guess the party loyalty thing was always a bit dodgy having to take people along and pick the right conversation options for them and or bribe them it just seems a little rough perhaps an area they need to work on for DAO2.

Evilmatt's picture