Having now played through all six opening origin stories in Dragon Age: Origins, I can confidently tell you that some are better than others. In fact, there’s really only two that stand out as great, and the others are more or less perfunctory, a means to an end to learn the ropes and then get your character traipsing along next to Duncan and the path to Grey Wardendom. But first, let me tell you a bit about each…
Being a City Elf is no fun at all. Your race has been rendered second class citizens, basically amounting to generations of slavery. However, things aren’t all bad. You’re about to wed some unknown Elf. Hooray! Marriage and bliss! Oh wait. An encounter with a human lord totally rains on your parade.
Dalish Elves are the complete opposite of City Elves, in that they are totally free. And they live in the woods. Stereotypically awesome. After you ambush a group of humans trespassing, your character learns of some ruins containing Elven treasure. Ooh shiny.
You are a Dwarven commoner and also part of the mafia. That is, if Dwarves can have mafias. But yeah, you’ll be going after a guy that tried to swindle your boss. You also don’t want your sister being taken advantage of. Just another typical day under the mountains…
You are second in line to the throne. Not too shabby. However, there’s some darkspawn in the Deep Roads, and you’re put to the task of clearing them out thanks to having just received a military commission. However, Dwarven politics are the very definition of dangerous, and things do not go as planned.
Your big brother is about to head off to join King Cailan at Ostagar to help fight the darkspawn. After saying goodbye, you tuck yourself in for a good night’s sleep in Castle Cousland, hoping to dream about apple pies and playing in a field with your violent doggy. Then, without warning, you’re awoken in the middle of the night. The castle is under attack. Eep!
You’ve studied long and hard (hey now!) at the Circle Tower to become a kick-ass mage, learning all the strict laws about governing magic. And you’re now ready to perform the ritual called the Harrowing that will determine whether you are ready to become a full mage. Not all is as it seems in the Fade though.
Right. So those are the six origins you can pick from. Of them, the two I’d most recommend to beginning players are the Mage origin and the Dwarf Noble origin. The other four are extremely bland and linear; in fact, I was downright surprised at just how bare bones the Human Noble story was. In that one, you basically talk to your family, go to sleep, kill some assassins, and escape with Duncan. Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom. Nothing to it.
However, the Mage origin really offers up a unique setting with the Fade and some tough choices that will directly impact a quest later on in Redcliffe. And the Dwarven noble origin was just full of betrayal and sick politics a la George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. It really pulled the chair out from under me, and gave me a lot of motivation to see how things turned out. Plus, the layout of the Dwarven setting is pretty fascinating, and their culture is rich with lore about Paragons and such. Fortuitously, these two origins also seemed to take a little longer to complete than others, give or take half an hour.
But really, all the origins kind of follow the same idea–live your life as normal until shit hits the fan–and it’s sort of fun to see how Duncan factors into each story. He mostly just acts like the boss of Ferelden and gives crazy orders in a very calm manner, even if they go against everyone else’s wishes. Oh well. That’s how the Grey Wardens roll, I guess.
So that’s the origins for…Dragon Age: Origins. I have no idea if there are new additional ones in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening though. Not even sure if I’m going to be interested in more darkspawn-slaying after getting through all of the above. We’ll just have to wait and see.