It’s been all but confirmed that Bioware’s next big project is going to be a new addition to the Dragon Age universe. Their most popular franchise next to Mass Effect, expectations are high to what Bioware will deliver, albeit with some trepidation – considering the initial reaction to Mass Effect: Andromeda.
With a wealth of memorable characters and stories, fans hold the franchise very dear to their hearts – and all of the titles bring something to entice gamers to play.
But as with any franchise, there is always one burning question: which entry is the best?
So, with a new game probably (definitely) on the horizon, let’s look back at all three of the games and see which one is top dragon.
Dragon Age: Origins
We’ll start off with the game that started it all. Although it arguably hasn’t aged well – with its slower combat pace and less than stellar graphics – Dragon Age: Origins remains one of the most detailed, expansive, and immersive RPGs out there.
Boasting wide and varied character customisation, including unique origin stories for your chosen background and consistent relevant dialogue to what you choose, Origins’ story pits you at the centre of a country-wide conflict which, unsurprisingly, only you can stop.
Though if you were to play it today for the first time, it might feel like the combat is too stop and start – as it uses more of a turn based combat system, which can occasionally get grindy and repetitive.
But the main reason to play Origins is the story. I’ve managed to rack up over 20 hours on Dragon Age, including the various DLCs, so you are never short on content when you play.
This is also the only Dragon Age game to use a non-voiced protagonist, as both the sequel and Inquisition are both heavily influenced from the success of Mass Effect and take inspiration from there, including clunky, vague dialogue which doesn’t really reflect what you mean, and a greater focus on quick, fluid combat.
The game is also important in that it represents a time in Bioware’s history before they were bought out by EA, which you can see as a good or bad thing.
Dragon Age 2
Dragon Age 2 is the most controversial out of the three, mostly due to the massive change in its gameplay and overall mechanics from its predecessor.
As previously mentioned, it changed its main character style, opting to go for full voice-over, as you were put in the role of “Hawke”, as everyone never seemed to call you by your first name.
The whole story was also a lot more personal – no longer were you saving an entire nation from a demonic threat and civil strife, but rather you were taking jobs to get your family rich and trying not rile up tensions between factions.
Although initially criticised for deviating heavily from the original Dragon Age, in retrospect, Dragon Age 2 does have some good qualities.
The choices you make in this one are a lot harder, being far more morally ambiguous than before. There is also more of an dynamic between you and your companions, as each can either be a friend or a rival, having specific benefits or drawbacks to either.
There are, though, little things like repetitive areas and some really unremarkable character designs that do bring it down, sadly.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
The most recent addition, Inquisition, is the big budget game that solidified Dragon Age as a mainstream franchise.
With shinier graphics and more open, expansive areas – you could see that a lot of time, development, and money had been put into this game.
Inquisition had a surplus of content, racking hours over Dragon Age: Origins, yet was more tonally consistent with the original than Dragon Age 2.
Still, the game itself somewhat suffered from living in Mass Effect’s shadow, perhaps overcompensating in its massive overhaul of character creation – which you could legitimately spend hours on.
The scope of Inquisition is grander too, with many large and expansive areas, as well as quests galore.
Inquisition also boasted a fantastic keep management and mission system, in order for you to create armour and upgrades for your character and companions, all of whom were very well developed and each in their own right.
Not only did it also expand the lore previously set out, but it also tied up loose ends and referenced Origins and Dragon Age 2, giving a lot of fan service to their dedicated fanbase.
Which was better?
So which of the three Dragon Age games released so far, which was the best?
Looking at each game overall, its a toss-up between Origins and Inquisition – however it is important to not totally disregard Dragon Age 2.
Dragon Age 2 had to live up to one of the most acclaimed role-playing games in recent memory and it sadly fell below the bar. But on its own, it is a good game. It was just too far removed from the original source and format.
Origins and Inquisition equally represent the evolution of the RPG. One is a callback to the more methodical, slower-paced, story-focused game, whilst the other is a newer, action-paced RPG still trying to balance combat and story.
In my book, Origins beats out Inquisition ever so slightly. Despite Inquisition’s advanced details and mechanics, it essentially lacks the charm on the first game. Origins is where the story started, and is the best way to delve into the series.
Can this new Dragon Age game supersede the original? We’ll have to wait and see for any upcoming news, perhaps with an official announcement as early as the upcoming E3 conference.
In any case, its exciting times for the Dragon Age series.