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Dragon Age: Origins

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PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to The best Steam Summer Sale deals: Day 3">Steam Sale day 3







It's day 3 of the Steam Summer Sale, and though your wallet might be pleading with you to stop throwing money at your monitor, the bargains keep on coming - and some prime deals await you today. There's a couple of very good deals in the dailies right now, so if you've been waiting for a steep reduction on a certain dragony shouting game, this is your moment to swoop. In case you'd forgotten, GOG.com is having its own sizzling summer sale as well, so be sure to check that out too.



Reminder: if a game isn't a daily deal or a flash sale, it could pop up later in the sale for an even lower price. If you want to be safe, wait until June 30 to pick up a sale-long deal.



5 - Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines

75% off: $4.99 / 3.74 - Steam store page | Note: May be reduced further in a Flash or Daily sale

This isn't a pick from the Dailies or the Flash sales, so there's a chance Bloodlines will receive a steeper discount on top of its already whopping 75% one, but even at its current price this is a steal. Bloodlines is the best vampire game you'll find, and the best Vampire game too - White Wolf's seamy supernatural world has been done justice here, and then some, by the sadly departed Troika, who brought the world the similarly terrific Arcanum. The writing is fantastic, and often darkly hilarious, and there's a fully fledged haunted house for good measure. Be sure to play it with the unofficial patch, however, as it's a buggy, unfinished mess otherwise.



4 - Dragon Age: Origins - Ultimate Edition

75% off: $7.49 / 4.99 - Steam store page

The original Dragon Age has likely been available for cheaper than this at some point during its storied history, but this is an exceptionally good price for the base game and all of its DLC. Bioware's classic RPG managed to recreate most of the best parts of their Baldur's Gate series, shifting the action to a 3D engine and an entirely new universe, and inserting cringeworthy sex scenes so you could have a good laugh amid all the grimdark moral choices and monster-slaying. With Dragon Age: Inquisition out soon, and looking very good indeed, now's the perfect time for a series replay to get yourself reacquainted - or for a first play if you've not had the pleasure yet.



3 - Papers, Please

70% off: $2.99 / 2.09 - Steam store page | Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST

Lucas Pope's grim checkpoint simulator is not a game you can win, exactly, but it might be one that you - and your family - can survive if you're lucky, and if you're willing to bend your morality just a bit (or, well, a lot). Stay on the straight and narrow as an immigration officer in the game's fictional, pseudo-Soviet state and you likely won't make enough to survive. It's surely only a matter of time, then, until you begin to bend the rules, to accept bribes from shady characters in order to cover for your costly mistakes. After all, you're not going to let your kids starve, are you? If you've not played this award-winning game yet, this is almost certainly the cheapest it's ever been. Read our review for more.



2 - The Stanley Parable

60% off: $5.99 / 3.99 - Steam store page

We'll refrain from writing this in our omniscient narrator voice and get straight to it: The Stanley Parable is one of the most inventive, funniest, and smartest games we've played. "Effortlessly inventive, frequently surprising and consistently hilarious" are some words that feature in our review. If you've not had the pleasure of Galactic Cafe's endlessly surprising adventure - or the original mod - yet, it's a game about player choice, a game with a fantastic narrator, and a game about being a game, and those are all good reasons to give it a go at such a low price.



1 - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

75% off: $4.99 / 2.49 - Steam store page

2.49 is silly money for Bethesda's grand, chilly open world RPG (you can also grab it with all the DLC for not much more). As well as being a great game in its own right - see our glowing review for further proof of this - it's a magnificent springboard for all sorts of crazy and not-so-crazy mods, including this heroic attempt to remake Morrowind in Skyrim. There's a staggering amount of value here, from the expansive, open roleplaying of the main game to all manner of free improvements, additions, and madness offered up by the community.



Other great deals today

Remember that games not categorized as Daily Deals or Flash Sales may be reduced further.



La-Mulana (75% off) $3.74 / 2.74

Shadowrun: Dragonfall (40% off) $8.99 / 6.59

Payday: The Heist (90% off) $1.49 / 1.09

Gone Home (75% off) $4.99 / 3.74

One Way Heroics (75% off) $0.87 / 0.57

One Finger Death Punch (50% off) $2.49 / 1.99

Awesomenauts (75% off) $2.49 / 1.74
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

You probably should have called it Faux Dragon Skin, Bioware special edition packaging designers. If you’re going to use it a fake reptile to decorate the supermegaultrodeluxe version of Dragon Age: Inquisition’s box, you might as well go for the ultimate fake reptile.

Other than this misstep, EA/Bioware are going all out with the clumsily yet wonderfully-named Dragon Age: Inquisition Inquisitor’s Edition. A lockpick set! A tarot deck! A quill and inkpot! Pretend money! A bloody enormous cloth map! … [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to Bioware on Dragon Age’s return to epic scope: “Dragon Age 2 forced our hand”">Dragon Age Inquisition







"Because of Dragon Age 2, Dragon Age: Inquisition is having to be a lot more ambitious," says executive producer Mark Darrah in our huge Dragon Age: Inquisition interview. Dragon Age 2's narrower scale and 10-year narrative arc proved controversial. Darrah says Bioware are keen "to address those concerns" with "tactical combat and a higher level of deliberate difficulty" as well as a more focused central narrative that's "much more in the vein of Dragon Age: Origins style storytelling."



It's interesting to compare Mass Effect and Dragon Age's varying trajectories. Mass Effect gradually grew in scale and technological flair, slavishly adhering to a single, rich narrative path. Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2 move around the world, picking up different characters. They operate like an anthology that tell the ongoing story of the world from different angles, which makes each entry in the series markedly different.



"The goal wasn t to revolutionize the series every single time, but Dragon Age 2 forced our hand to a certain degree," says Darrah. As he tells it, the second entry was an experiment that had unintended drawbacks.



"Dragon Age 2, we decided we want to try something, to try to do very different storytelling, something much more personal, something much more tightly constrained. No chosen one, no clear overarching threat. I don t think it was a perfect success, but that was intentional.



"A lot of the other changes that are perceived, the overall scope of the game or the perception of the combat getting a lot simpler or waves and things like that not intended, exactly. That was supposed to be more evolutionary. I think we just overreached. We pushed too hard."



Inquisition will push in a different direction, with an open world setting, a new world-ending threat and a cast of companions that'll include new faces and familiar allies. According to Darrah, "in a lot of ways Inquisition has been the game that we ve really wanted to make from the beginning". Find out more in our full interview with Mark Darrah. Dragon Age: Inquisition is out on October 7.
PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to Bioware on Dragon Age: Inquisition’s return to epic scope – “Dragon Age 2 forced our hand”">Dragon Age Inquisition







"Because of Dragon Age 2, Dragon Age: Inquisition is having to be a lot more ambitious," says executive producer Mark Darrah in our huge Dragon Age: Inquisition interview. Dragon Age 2's narrower scale and 10-year narrative arc proved controversial. Darrah says Bioware are keen "to address those concerns" with "tactical combat and a higher level of deliberate difficulty" as well as a more focused central narrative that's "much more in the vein of Dragon Age: Origins style storytelling."



It's interesting to compare Mass Effect and Dragon Age's varying trajectories. Mass Effect gradually grew in scale and technological flair, slavishly adhering to a single, rich narrative path. Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2 move around the world, picking up different characters. They operate like an anthology that tell the ongoing story of the world from different angles, which makes each entry in the series markedly different.



"The goal wasn t to revolutionize the series every single time, but Dragon Age 2 forced our hand to a certain degree," says Darrah. As he tells it, the second entry was an experiment that had unintended drawbacks.



"Dragon Age 2, we decided we want to try something, to try to do very different storytelling, something much more personal, something much more tightly constrained. No chosen one, no clear overarching threat. I don t think it was a perfect success, but that was intentional.



"A lot of the other changes that are perceived, the overall scope of the game or the perception of the combat getting a lot simpler or waves and things like that not intended, exactly. That was supposed to be more evolutionary. I think we just overreached. We pushed too hard."



Inquisition will push in a different direction, with an open world setting, a new world-ending threat and a cast of companions that'll include new faces and familiar allies. According to Darrah, "in a lot of ways Inquisition has been the game that we ve really wanted to make from the beginning". Find out more in our full interview with Mark Darrah. Dragon Age: Inquisition is out on October 7.
PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to Dragon Age: Inquisition interview – on fan feedback, romance, returning characters and the open world">Dragon Age Inquisition 1







The Dragon Age series has evolved in a tumultuous fashion since Origins. The switch from the world-threatening crisis of the first game to the personal stories of Dragon Age 2 proved too great a shift for some fans. Inquisition will again take the series to a grander stage. An open world with dynamic keep battles will bolster the central story, which sees inquisition led by you recruiting aid aid to postpone an imminent apocalypse.



How else will Inquisition differ from its predecessors? What have Bioware learned from fans of the series? How will they correct the awkward savegame bugs that could bring characters back to life, and how have they chosen your companions for the new adventure? Chris spoke to executive producer, Mark Darrah, to find out.



PC Gamer: What has creating this new protagonist, the inquisitor, given you the opportunity to do or change that you couldn t have with the warden, or with Hawke, or with a previous Dragon Age lead?



Mark Darrah: One of the reasons that we ve decided to do that in the Dragon Age series is that it lets us explore a lot more themes. Hawke s story, it s not done, but the most important event of his life is essentially what s happening in Dragon Age 2. With the warden from Dragon Age: Origins he carries a lot of very divergent baggage. Anything from he could be dead to maybe there s a kid in the picture, maybe he s actually ruling Ferelden with Anora.



He s a very difficult character to proceed with because the universe is in very different places based on the events of the Dragon Age: Origins. Just reflecting those changes in the future games is a big challenge. To actually have him as a playable character is just it would tie our hands too much. It would require us to make a story that was too constrained.



When we started this franchise, what we really wanted to always be doing was telling the story of the world, as opposed to the story of a single character. When we have a character, these events are big and world-shaking. We basically are trying to tell the story in the best way possible, rather than trying to have an arc for a single character.



PC Gamer: What is different about the inquisitor? In each case, the player puts a tremendous stamp on who they are. Hawke is not necessarily the warden. They have specific ways in which they have their own identity.



Mark Darrah: Because we re going back to full races there s going to be a significant difference in background between the different potential inquisitors. In Dragon Age: Origins you are a member of the wardens, but in a lot of ways you are the last surviving warden or at least the last surviving warden on the ground when he s needed. I mean Alistair is there.



PC Gamer: Yes, apart from Alistair.



Mark Darrah: Apart from Alistair, who doesn t want to pick up the mantle for his own reasons.



PC Gamer: Sure, of course.







Mark Darrah: In Dragon Age 2 Hawke is really a leaf in the wind. The story is very much about him reacting to the world pushing on him. In this case it s much more about putting the inquisitor at the head of an organization that you re reestablishing. This isn t about being a Jedi, this is about founding the Jedi order.



You re definitely much more of an actor. You re the tip of the spear. You aren t waiting for the world to act upon you. You are acting upon it, both because you have an organization at your back. This gives you greater reach. You re not walking into a camp and begging for help. You re pounding down the gates of a castle and demanding that they come onto your side.



Also, surviving this calamity has actually given you powers that other people don t have. You have a remnant of this explosion in your hand that actually allows you to close these fade rifts that are around the world. This gives you additional influence on the world and additional ability to demand respect, demand that people listen to you, because you can do something no one else can. You can actually put a stop to this.



PC Gamer: It s a new direction for the narrative, but it sounds like there are a lot of echoes of who the warden is. You re still a part of an organization that s almost neutral, a third party to a lot of the conflicts in the world. Also, having something about yourself that allows you to interact with evil in a particular way.



Mark Darrah: Yes, that s a very good observation. In a lot of ways the inquisition is similar to the wardens in that way. Something stands apart or above the politics. It does what needs to be done to fix the world essentially. One of the overarching things of Dragon Age has always been that people do bad things, but for good reasons and that it takes someone outside of the situation to do good things in that situation.



Loghain in Dragon Age: Origins is someone who is doing something bad, but he s doing it because from his perspective it s the right thing to do. To him, Orlais is ultimately a bigger threat than the blight. He can t allow the Orlesians to come in to help. As the warden in Dragon Age: Origins, you re standing apart.



This is that taken to the next level. This is you. Everything is just too chaotic. There s a civil war mixing up Orlais. Someone needs to come in to do what needs to be done. In this case, more than in Dragon Age: Origins, there s the hints and the scent that there s a public master behind this. There s someone that s tugging on the string and maybe pushing the chaos a bit farther.







PC Gamer: Was the reasoning behind coming up with a new faction then so the players could maybe put their own spin on it and determine more about it? For example if you tried to tell this story starring a warden commander then you would be bound to that previous amount of the fiction that s already been established.



Mark Darrah: Yes, very much so. The wardens are as we ll go into Inquisition to some degree they have one purpose: to fight blights, To fight darkspawn, to fight blights to a fanatical degree. To this is their purpose, they will do nearly anything in order to do that.



We ve established a lot of this and there s a certain amount of expectation set up from Dragon Age: Origins. We re not done with the wardens, but yes, they have limitations from how they can be used.



PC Gamer: Sure. I was going to ask, just to broaden the range a little bit, you guys have had a big presence at PAX. I wasn t there, but it was interesting to observe. Obviously, really substantial and a big substantial fan response to it as well. I guess two sides to that. One, why is that important to you and two, has it been useful now that you re going into the rest of development?



Mark Darrah: Yes, we did have a really big presence at PAX. We have a continuous presence. We have a base where we have a very much, a very personal connection to the fans. Then PAX Prime, last year we did a huge stage presence. It s been very helpful. It s very important from my perspective to keep in touch with our fans, to listen to their concerns, to stay in contact with them, to give them an opportunity to provide us with feedback.



The other thing that I think that this venue does is it gives them an opportunity to see us as people as well. We only have an opportunity to communicate electronically. It s very easy to see Bioware or any company as a single monolithic entity, that there are no people in there.



Trade shows, especially things like PAX which are very fan-focused, are very good for making that connection, directly, one on one with our fans. It s very important. We do take it back. It s very energizing for the developers with a huge presence at PAX PRIME, I think there was 30 people there from Bioware. It s just very good to see the response. I think to some degree it s very important for the devs to see the gamers as people as well and not the faceless masses on the forums.







PC Gamer: I was going to ask, how much you guys feel like you have to react to your fans, to what they want, and how much freedom you have to lead them in almost any regard, from the small decisions you re making to scoping out the future of the series and everything else?



Mark Darrah: It s a little bit of both. From a small feature perspective things like control schemes and the way that the narrative or the way that the conversation works and stuff like that, that s where we take a lot of feedback. That s where we re very much, I think people have a clear understanding of what they want and what they don t like.



The danger is most people, myself included, aren t perfectly objective when they re playing a game at the higher level. Henry Ford has a famous quote. If we asked people what they wanted they d ask for a faster horse. There s a certain amount of truth to that.



Part of our job is to go out into the wilderness to go farther beyond what the players have seen, what they ve played and essentially light a torch so they can see what could be and then hopefully they ll want what we re presenting. That can be uncomfortable. That can result in concern because obviously what they re comfortable with, what they ve played before isn t completely what we re delivering.



In the case of Dragon Age: Inquisition I think there is a core there. I think there is a core Dragon Age game at its center. I think that comfort still remains, but we will be pushing you, we re challenging you with some new things.



PC Gamer: It s interesting, from an outsider s perspective, it always seems like Dragon Age undergoes quite a radical transformation game to game. That wasn t the case in Mass Effect, even though obviously things were improved and changed. The scope of the game maybe didn t change so dramatically. Why has that been the case do you think?



Mark Darrah: In a lot of ways Inquisition has been the game that we ve really wanted to make from the beginning. From a systemic perspective Dragon Age 2 is actually very similar to Dragon Age: Origins. Its bones are the same, but we ve put a very different outfit on top of it, for a lack of a better term.



Dragon Age 2, we decided we want to try something, to try to do very different storytelling, something much more personal, something much more tightly constrained. No chosen one, no clear overarching threat. I don t think it was a perfect success, but that was intentional.



A lot of the other changes that are perceived, the overall scope of the game or the perception of the combat getting a lot simpler or waves and things like that not intended, exactly. That was supposed to be more evolutionary. I think we just overreached. We pushed too hard.



Because of Dragon Age 2, Dragon Age: Inquisition is having to be a lot more ambitious, to address those concerns and really try to get back much more to the roots of the franchise. Much more about tactical combat and a higher level of deliberate difficulty. More clear overall story, with the moral choices still in there, but much more in vein of Dragon Age: Origins style storytelling. You re right to ask. The goal wasn t to revolutionize the series every single time, but Dragon Age 2 forced our hand to a certain degree.











PC Gamer: I was going to ask about the structure of the campaign. I ve read as much as I could about how you have some choice about where you go and the order you complete tasks and how you go about doing things. How does that specifically differ to the traditional Bioware RPG of a couple of years ago where you have four things to do in the world, and you do four of them in whatever order you like. How is that different in this game?



Mark Darrah: In Dragon Age: Inquisition there s essentially two axes of what s happening. There s the steps you need to take to deal with the breach in the sky, to uncover who s behind it and ultimately to stop them. The steps to do that are relatively clear. You can do them in different orders, but they re relatively clear.



The second axis is that in order to do some of those things you need your inquisition to be strong enough to demand attention. If you re going to go and try to get the Templars on your side, for example, they re not listening. You need the inquisition to be strong enough to force that meeting.



That s where that broader sense, that broader exploration sense comes in because the way you empower your inquisition is through doing the things that only you can do. Through spreading your presence throughout the world, through closing fade rifts around the world, through going and dealing with the problems in the larger exploration areas and really just digging in and doing what needs to be done.



Then, when you ve done that you can go and engage with the parts of the story that are going to directly attack the problems, the overarching problems. You ve got two things to do. You ve got your critical path and then you ve got a secondary need to strengthen up your inquisition in order to proceed on the critical path.



PC Gamer: It s primarily the influence of the inquisition that divides the story up into acts or whatever.



Mark Darrah: That s right, that s a good way of looking at it.



PC Gamer: In terms of adding these, correct me if this is a wrong interpretation, but it seems like Inquisition is moving towards something more like an open-world game, or even strategy in some ways.



Mark Darrah: I think, definitely, we re trying for something that has a very open-world feel. The one thing that I ve experienced in a lot of beautiful role games that I ve played has been that when you start to disengage from those open-world systems there s nothing to come back to. Often, your last experience, just as you got bored with the game and wandered away.



In our case we want to make sure that that core, that critical path, is compelling, is strong, it s got a strong magnetism. As you disengage from the open-world you have something to reengage with. You have something drawing you through to see how it ends.







PC Gamer: There are choices in the past. You mentioned one earlier, the state of the warden, who can be dead, and obviously something that has come up with fans quite a bit, in Awakening the zombie warden scenario. Is that something you've addressed in Inquisition?



Mark Darrah: Yes. There s a couple, the zombie warden was just a stupid decision on our part I d say. We should have just not let you. We decided, if you want to play awakening we should let you use your warden. Well what if they re dead? We ll let you bring them back to life. We should just not have that.



PC Gamer: I made a new warden.



Mark Darrah: There s a couple of other things though. One of the big reasons for creating the is the save games of the previous two games. In Origins in particular are messy and full of bugs. Zevran is a good example where you can kill him in Dragon Age: Origins and then in Dragon Age 2, those flags aren t set properly in the Origins saves, so the game doesn t realize that Zevran s dead and just basically brings him back to life.



That wasn t an intentional retcon on our part. That was actually a bug. This lets us go in and finally get those states in just something that s actually correct.



PC Gamer: In addition to fixing that stuff, do you have freedom to clarify? I suppose in some cases what fans are looking for is not necessarily for this singing or dancing cut-scene resolution to something that s been hanging, but just something to explain how this happened or how that came together?



Mark Darrah: Yes, there will be a little bit of that. Leliana is brought back to life even if she dies at the Temple of Sacred Ashes. I m not sure that we ve provided enough information as to why and what s happening, what went on there, why that s possible. Yes, this is an opportunity for us to give a little bit more context and explain what s actually going on.







PC Gamer: Fair enough. What is your criteria for determining which characters do come back? Actually, not simply from the dead, but I mean from game to game. Why would Varric make the cut and not somebody else?



Mark Darrah: That s a good question. Some of it s based on just what the writers are excited about writing. But also, we look for a certain amount of balance between the character. There s a bunch of things that we re trying to do for balance. You want a certain degree of balance between the classes. You want a certain amount of balance between the genders and then a certain amount of balance between the romance options.



If you ve had a character in a previous game that was a romance option typically we won t bring them back because they carry a lot of extra baggage with them. You re not going to have a romance option come back and certainly not have them be a romance option again because there s a lot of baggage that comes with that.



The player might get angry as well. But they re in love with my previous character forever and ever and ever. How dare you? I think there s validity to that. You can start to cross off a few characters because of that. We often don t bring back characters, at least not as followers, if they were previously romance options. You might see them. Alistair comes back because we can do cameos and have them have an influence on the story.



But additionally, some characters, Varric s a very good character because one of Varric s primary motivations is he s the guy that s got your back. He s your friend. He s a very good character to have because it s good to have someone in your camp no matter what. That makes him a very attractive character. It makes him an interesting character to have because he offers a nice counterpoint to a lot of other kinds of characters.



The other thing that causes us to bring someone back is someone that we re just simply not done with. That the arc is incomplete. Isabella between Origins and Dragon Age 2 is a good example of that. We introduced her, but there s just a lot more to be done with that. That s actually usually how we choose. Often characters move. We don t reuse followers very often. Obviously, we are reusing Varric. We typically promote secondary characters between games.



PC Gamer: Right, so someone graduates from being a quest-giving NPC to being a companion.



Mark Darrah: Yes.



PC Gamer: I read, recently, I think it was something that came out of PAX about diversifying the types of romantic relationship in the game. I was going to ask if some of that thinking also applies to friendship as well because obviously it s a type of relationship that people have with the companions that s not necessarily binary.



Mark Darrah: Friendship I think is I think we ve become trapped by that, the word romance. I think friendship is I actually regret that in Dragon Age 2 we didn t have essentially that kind of bromance with Varric. He s not a romance, but he s, you can hang out with him and be your bud and have that same kind of depth. Some of our, what we would traditionally call romances in Dragon Age: Inquisition are falling more into that camp where they re not they re more in that friendship area.



PC Gamer: Thank you very much for your time.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

This year? THIS YEAR? Why was I not told of this? (I was. It’s just that I have the memory of a Leveson Inquiry witness these days). Yes, fantasy RPG sequel Dragon Age Inquistion is due this Autumn/Fall, and much as Bioware have some faith-rebuilding to do after the double-whammy of Dragon Age II and Mass Effect Ending-Gate, I really would like a big, fat, indulgent, glossy RPG on my hard drive right now. Will it be Dragon Age Not-III? The trailer below, which focuses on Frostbite 3 engine-powered environments, suggests I will at least be cooing at its surface. … [visit site to read more]

Announcement - Valve
The Steam Holiday Sale continues today with huge savings throughout the store! Check back often to take advantage of our eight-hour Flash Sales. You can even help select what goes on sale with our Community's Choice Voting Sales.

In addition to Flash and Vote sales, more than a hundred games and apps will be featured as Daily Deals throughout the sale, with new deals popping up every 24 hours.

Today's Daily Deals include:

Participating in the 2013 Steam Holiday Sale will also earn customers exclusive Holiday Sale Trading Cards. Collect, trade, and craft 10 Holiday Snow Globe Cards that can only be earned during the sale. Every craft of a Holiday Sale badge will also generate a random item drop from 10 participating Free-To-Play games, featuring exclusive in-game items from Warframe, Path of Exile, Team Fortress 2, DOTA 2 and more. These items are both tradable and marketable.

Learn more about this year's Steam Holiday Sale features HERE.

The Steam Holiday Sale will run until 10AM PST, January 2nd. Complete information on Daily Deals, Flash Sales, Community Choice Voting and more can be found HERE.

PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to Battlefield 4, Mass Effect 3 and SimCity among Origin’s Black Friday deals">Origins







I'm starting to realise it would be easier to list the distributors not currently holding a Black Friday sale. Even so, we'll give Origin the spotlight for a second. After all, their sale does have some good discounts on a selection of EA games, and, let's be honest, people are hardly going to check Origin's store page unprompted. Now you've had that prompt, head over for up to 66% off certain games, including 40% off Battlefield 4.



Not all of the games are cheap cheap, largely thanks to Origin's launch prices being... well, "premium" would be the diplomatic way of putting it. Batshit insane would be another. Still, there are a few nice prices to enjoy:









Battlefield 4 - £27

SimCity - £22.50

FIFA 14 - £28

Battlefield 3 - £6

Battlefield 3 (+ Premium) - £14

The Sims 3 - £15

The Sims 3: Expansion #1-23,462 - £Various

Crysis 3 - £6

Dead Space 3 - £6

Mass Effect 3 - £4

Mass Effect Trilogy - £16

C&C: Ultimate Collection - £10

Dragon Age: Origins, Ultimate Edition - £10

Dragon Age 2 - £6





Origin is being a touch temperamental right now, but you can try your luck by visiting the sale page.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Quick, quick, before it’s pulled!

Unless> of course this is a clever marketing ruse, wherein giving the impression that this half-hour of in-game Dragon Age 3-ing is somehow illicitly-obtained makes everyone frantically watch every second of it. WE ARE BEING TRICKED DON’T WATCH THIS VIDEO WHATEVER YOU DO (more…)

PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to Dragon Age Inquisition preview: fortresses, friendship and the Fade in BioWare’s open world">DAI Inquisitor at Outpost Scaled







After a long period of relative silence, information is finally creeping out about the shape and state of BioWare's next major RPG. I saw Dragon Age Inquistion at an EA event in London earlier in the week, the same information that will have - as of the time this goes live - just been revealed at PAX. Here's a rundown of my first impressions of the game - which, although it's more than a year from release, is looking far more fleshed out than I expected.



Plot and companions



Inquisition is set a few years after the events of the two previous games. The world is in the middle of several wars - civil war in Orlais, and the ongoing conflict between the mages and Templars - that are snowballing into one another: kind of like a fantasy World War I. At the start of the game, a massive dimensional tear opens between reality and the Fade - the dream dimension that is the source of magic and that you'll have visited once or twice if you played the previous games. In order to find out who is responsible for the fade tear, a new faction is formed with your character as its leader. This is the Inquisition, and the way it is founded reminds me of the description of the founding of the Grey Wardens - a trans-national pact to solve a problem that each individual faction can't solve by itself.







In the first game you were the Warden, in the second you were the Champion, and in the third you'll be the Inquisitor. You'll be able to choose your race from human, elf, dwarf, and - for the first time - qunari. BioWare weren't willing to spill any details on how your characters' origin will be fleshed out beyond that.



There'll be a range of companions, and BioWare stressed that this involves a "significant returning cast". The in-game demonstration confirmed the return of Dragon Age 2's Varric - the dwarven rogue who narrates the game - and Cassandra Pentaghast, the Chantry Seeker who interrogates that narration out of him. The fourth companion shown was Vivienne, an Orlesian mage who, based on a snippet of in-game dialogue, was once First Enchanter of one of the Circles there.



Combat



Combat is still based on a four-person party, and you can still control any individual member as well as pause time and zoom out into a full top-down view. The impact of spells and melee strikes inherits a lot from Dragon Age 2, but what I saw had a greater sense of weight and impact - there were no arbitrarily exploding torsos, for one thing. The new game has been built in the Frostbite engine, and environments are partially destructible. We were shown a wooden bridge being destroyed to send some archers tumbling to their deaths, and smaller scenery items - barrels, barriers etc - can be blown up or cast aside by magic.



Tactics - the system by which friendly AI behaviours can be programmed - will return, and full friendly fire for magic will be an option for players that want it. Interestingly, health regeneration will be very limited: adventuring for any length of time will mean bringing healing supplies with you or having a mage with the right abilities on hand. It's nice to see these kinds of hardcore mechanics making their way back into mainstream RPGs, and it seems like a natural fit with the size of the world BioWare are creating.



Finally, content in the game won't scale with the player's level. This means that certain encounters or areas will be off-limits until the Inquisition's power grows. As someone who feels that scaling difficulty creates as many problems as it solves, I'm pretty excited about this change.







Conversations and consequences



Conversations are still dialogue-wheel based and the player character is fully voiced. Honestly, it looks a lot like Dragon Age II - but one cool new feature is the way that each option on the wheel has a corresponding tooltip offering more information on the potential consequences of that decision. The choice we were shown involved a party of injured guards wandering a road during an attack by a splinter faction of Templars. The player could order them to stay where they were, help a local village, or defend a nearby Inquisition keep.



Once you've made one of these decisions, it's up to you whether you try to mitigate their negative effects in the open world. You could, for example, tell your allies to abandon the village and then go and save it yourself - or tell the guards to stay with their wounded and attempt to relieve the siege single-handed. I like the degree of flexibility it suggests, as well as the way it'll hopefully force player decisions to result from the game's mechanics ("I don't have enough healing items to do this alone, I need these guards to help me") rather than a simple desire to play one type of hero or another.



The world...



...is looking big. Specifically, bigger than Dragon Age: Origins. Three years of development time and a decent budget look to have prevented DAII's geographical limitations from resurfacing. The game will be split into multiple large areas with each area containing a number of towns, fortresses, caves and dungeons. There were no loading screens within these zones during the demo I was shown, but there will be some kind of load when the party moves from one zone to another. I was shown an area in Ferelden that included a large lake as well as a desert area west of Orlais.



The broad area that the game will cover includes Ferelden, Orlais, Nevarra and the Free Marches. The map I was shown didn't extend as far north as Tevinter and Antiva or further south than Ferelden's Kocari Wilds. If you're a fan familiar with Thedas' layout then that should give you some idea of the scope, though I don't know exactly how many of these open-world zones there will be - nor how the game will handle cities. Nontheless, it feels fair to say that it's looking pretty big.



Each area has a number of fade tears - smaller portals to the Fade that the player will be expected to close. Think Oblivion Gates, basically, though what exactly is involved in closing a tear wasn't revealed. In Ferelden, one of these tears is in the middle of a lake - one solution, the devs suggested, involved using a nearby dam to permanently lower the water line.



Fortresses!



It seems like every province will include a fortress or two, and one of your main objectives when you arrive in new territory will be to claim an Inquisition stronghold. The presentation suggested that this will involve a range of side objectives - poisoning water supplies, etc - followed by a brief siege. Once you've captured a fortress, it'll change to reflect Inquisition ownership and the kind of outpost you want it to be. We were shown designs for a military fortress, an espionage centre, and a merchantile trading hub. Each will have its advantages and drawbacks and they'll additionally affect the kind of organisation the Inquisition will come to be - unlike the Wardens, whose identity is set in stone, you'll have some say over whether the Inquisition comes to be a merciless fighting force or something more subtle.







Taking a fortress then gives you access to a strategic metagame where you spend Inquisition agents to affect change in the world. The ones we were shown involved rebuilding monuments, opening paths to new areas, and establishing resource-gathering buildings to help with your crafting and alchemy. It made me think a little of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood - a great open world game in its own right, and an influence I'm happy to see cropping up in a different genre.



Also, dragons.



BioWare seem to be really proud of their dragons. There'll be a fixed number of these in the game, and it sounds like they'll act as massive boss fights at the culmination of certain areas. They seem a little bit clumsy - they have a tendency to fly leg-first through pieces of tactically scattered ancient ruin, sending bricks and debris in their wake - but it's nonetheless very impressive. The brief segment we were shown reminded me of the original CGI trailer for Origins, where a dragon battle was a long, mobile, multi-stage affair. Here's hoping that some of that energy makes it into the actual game this time. In any case, expect to be shown BioWare's impressive dragon over and over again in the long year before release.
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