Introduction of DA:O

As any college student knows, it’s very hard to come up with a good introduction, and oftentimes they tend to fall flat.  Video games are no different.  Some games, however, manage to set up the introduction in an engaging and interesting manner.  One game that manages to effectively create an introduction for the rest of the events in the game, is Dragon Age: Origins.

Image Courtesy of Steam

Dragon Age’s introduction is unique in that it occurs in two parts.  Part one is dependent on the customization of the player character.  Three of the four major points that really alter the first part of the introduction are Gender, Race, and Class, and the final point is Origin, which is dependent on Race and Class.

The Origin you pick will determine how people treat you and will introduce a handful of different, unique events exclusive to that Origin.  There are a handful of common threads between all the origins.  You start off in your normal life doing normal things, and at some point, you learn that there is something off.  You are introduced to Duncan, a grey warden on a recruiting mission; after meeting him, you eventually must deal with whatever’s gone off.  Whatever it was forces you to join Duncan’s wardens, regardless of what choices you make.

Thus, begins the second part of the introduction, at a war camp in a crumbling forest fortress.  You’re introduced immediately to the King of Ferelden, who through dialogue with you and Duncan reveals the conflict with the ‘Archdemon.’  After the conversation, you’re allowed to explore the camp on your own.  Most of this part of the game is set-up for the Joining ritual, which inducts you into the Grey Wardens officially.

A majority of this section of the game is spent in the ‘Korcari Wilds’, which is a forest that’s teeming with the horrific darkspawn that the war party is expecting to fight.  Within this part, you’re tasked with rescuing a number of treaties from an abandoned outpost.  You find these treaties in the care of a witch, who gives them up willingly.   After returning from the forest, you join the Grey Wardens.  The only one who survived the process.  Nearly immediately after, you are sent to secure a tower that’s critical to the battle plan.

After a series of unfortunate events, you wake up in the care of the witch in the woods.  After dialogue with her, her mother, and your only surviving companion, you set out towards the town of Lothering, with a new companion in the form of the witch.  Here ends the introduction, although the argument can be made the introduction ends after Lothering.

The reason this sets up for the rest of the game so well, is how it introduces you to a good number of goals. By the time you leave the witch’s hut in the Korcari Wilds, you know you must amass an army, where to find candidates for your army, seek out and deal with a traitor, and kill the Archdemon.


4 thoughts on “Introduction of DA:O

  1. One of the things that I think really works about an approach like Dragon Age: Origins is that it mixes more straightforward modes of storytelling with emergent narrative. There’s a lot of structure as well as significant character input. Other Bioware RPGs don’t do this nearly as much, although one could make a case for crafting Shepherd’s backstory in Mass Effect.


    • I whole-heartedly agree. When looking at the Dragon Age world, the player’s choices shape their entire gameplay experience from things as small as conversation and love interest to the fate of the world. While it’s guaranteed that you’re going to kill the Archdemon, how you go about doing it changes the world. Mass Effect, however, even the later games, don’t seem to affect the world quite as much. Sure, the choices you make in 1 and 2 can give you a few bonuses in 3, but other than game difficulty there’s not much that changes based on what you decide to do.
      And I can’t remember KoTOR 1 or 2 well enough to comment on them.


  2. After playing the game, I’m impressed with how well you summarized the entire beginning. I do disagree about the intro ending after the encounter with Morrigan and Flemeth. I’d argue that the hero meeting Duncan ends the intro. We’ve seen the hero in their ordinary world, and they had their inciting incident (ex. encounter the mirror and being infected in the Dalish Elf origin). Meeting Duncan ends their intro because we’ve now met the hero and seen their life before the incident that sends them on their great quest. Even though they meet others who introduce them to new goals, it’s Duncan’s intervention that marks the end of the introduction to the character and world for the player. I can see your points on a part one of introduction and part two of introduction, but I believe Duncan’s arrival is the first plot point that transitions the game into act II.


    • I would have to disagree. To me, the origin story simply sets the stage for your involvement in the events at ostagar. If you removed the origin entirely, then you would still have a full game. I feel the Origin is meant to give the player an attachment to their character rather than actually introduce the plot. Take into consideration the fact that you have no idea why Duncan is recruiting until you arrive at Ostagar, or what the Archdemon is. I believe the transition to the other world is post-Joining.


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