Baldur’s Gate was released in 1998 and set the standard for single-player team-based role-playing games. Four years later (give or take a couple of months), BioWare released Neverwinter Nights – a game that picked up the flag that Baldur’s Gate had set as the benchmark and moved it forward. In 2007 The Witcher entered the RPG scene and gave the genre a more-adult feel, but that was very much a solo-character effort. When it comes to the concept of the team format, of tactical combat, nothing has really moved the genre forward … until now.
Dragon Age: Origins does not merely move that flag forward a few feet, it scales the mountain of RPGs, raises a new banner, a new high bar, and then challenges the genre to play catch-up. It is a lofty achievement, full of twists in the plot, building on a dynamic rarely seen in gaming at all, and telling a story that is amazing in its scope.
The story begins 400 years prior to the events depicted. A group of mages, intent on expanding their base of power tried to breach the gates to heaven, where the Maker resided, to tap that power base. They were repulsed and cast back down to the lands of Ferelden, becoming twisted and malformed in the process, and finally became known as the arch-demons. In their wrath and rage, they cast a Blight upon the land, dredging up creatures created and twisted by dark magic, known as the darkspawn. The army of foulness swarmed across the lands of elves, dwarves and men. As the victory of the darkspawn seemed at hand, a new force made its presence known – the Grey Wardens. These warriors, selected and trained from the ranks of all of the peoples of Ferelden, turned the tide of the war and defeated the darkspawn.