Recently, with Dragon Age: Origins, I found myself doing something I can’t recall ever doing with another videogame. I changed the difficulty…from Normal to Casual.
This decision stemmed from playing the same scenario over and over again to no success; it was not the first Ogre fight as depicted above, but rather a small fight while on the quest for the urn of Andraste’s ashes, where two mages and a group of soldiers slaughtered my team each and every time. I even tried switching up combat tactics, but to no avail. I found myself unable to move forward in the game, and I couldn’t pinpoint why. Did I lack the skills? Is Dragon Age: Origins grossly unbalanced? Is it a mix of both questions?
It was not something I wanted to do, trust me. I want to play games as they are intended to be played. In my mind, this is how it works: Casual is a setting for those that can’t cut it, Normal is how the developers expect you to experience their creation, and Hard is for masochists. Rarely do I go up or down, always comfortable in the middle. I even maintained the same difficulty setting through Mass Effect and BioShock, eventually learning to save often and get better.
But the combat tactics are hard to manage and mostly unreliable, with Alistair constantly charging straight to his death no matter what I try, and the difficulty spikes in Dragon Age: Origins are about as predictable as picking the next set of winning lottery numbers (4 8 15 16 23 42). I’d end up using every last healing potion on one fight, and then have to desperately crawl my way on a wing and a prayer through the remainder. It made for tough, frustrating times, and was all around just not a lot of fun.
And I wanted to have fun, see more Ferelden. Thanks to Casual, I have. But I wish it didn’t to have to come to such drastic measures.