As you read more of my random thoughts, you’ll see that I’m an avid roleplayer. Anything from Dungeons & Dragons to cosplay to improvised roleplay with video games. Lately, there has been more of my last example. I haven’t gotten to get out that much, so a D&D group or cosplaying isn’t really going to happen. I do have a D&D group, but we only meet every other week. I guess that I could cosplay at home, but be honest with me on this. That is just a little pathetic. I could work on cosplay outfits if I had the money for materials, but I don’t. So I’ve had to utilize video games as much as possible. It’s much easier than you think if you can simply forget the world for a time and put yourself into your character. Of course, this can be difficult in and of itself. A good game for this is Dragon Age: Origins. Dragon Age: Origins is a better option for this than Dragon Age II simply for the matter that in Dragon Age II gives you very limited speech options. Where as in the first, they gave you a variety of options and allowed you to take them how you liked, in the sequel you were given three options that were listed as Good, Evil, or Joking. Occasionally, you would be given extra options to acquire extra knowledge or ask the opinion of party members. Even if you could get past the “Good, Evil, Neutral” stereotype that labeled the options, the reactions of those you are speaking to only match that stereotype, no matter how you try to look at it. It’s just a much more simplified version that makes roleplay much less of an option. Add onto that the fact that they gave way from their attempt at animation to a much more “anime” inspired approach, and I see Dragon Age II as a very poor choice, anyway.
On to my main point, though, sometimes you just feel like making yourself as a character and seeing what you would do in the predicaments that the game puts you in. For some people, this is all that they ever do. If you are used to roleplaying defined characters, exploring what you would realistically doing can sometimes open up options and avenues that you may never have had in the past. For me, however, it is difficult to do this with many fantasy games, and I’ll be using Dragon Age: Origins as my example. In this game, you can be a warrior, a mage, or a rogue. This basic class system is very accessible and easy to expand upon. However, this in itself is difficult for me. I could be the warrior, seeing my love of melee combat and enjoyment of the sport of it. I also like to defend others, and find a thrill in letting all that energy out. However, I also have the creativity and intellect to be a mage. I love to acquire new knowledge and figure out how things work. And come on. Who doesn’t want to hurl a fireball or two? I could also be the rogue because I like to show some fancy footwork, and I tend to evade until I can find an opening. I prefer to stay light so that I can move freely and not need to shrug off hits. I have some gift with two weapons, and I also love to practice archery. Plus, the ability to kick someone in the crotch as a Rogue in this game is more than worth it. However, there are just as many counter arguments for each one. For a warrior, I am a bit of a pacifist, and I can panic when overwhelmed. For a mage, I am a bit more sturdy than these squishy, support characters, and I love charging in far too much to stand back and cast spells. For a Rogue, I am a bit more brutish than this finesse class, and I like to get the attention of my opponent far to much to repeatedly backstab. These are only a few of the counterpoints.
As if this didn’t make it difficult enough, there are specializations that you can receive as you level up. As a Warrior, you can be a Champion, a Templar, a Reaver, or a Berserker. The Champion is as much support as anything, shouting in combat and overpowering enemies to inspire allies. Templars are pure, anti-magic. They were obviously an attempt to make a Paladin that wasn’t a Paladin. The fact that they use some amount of magic as a Warrior is also somewhat enticing. A Reaver is really a sort of masochist. As they become more heavily injured, they dish out more punishment. This would be enticing if they weren’t obsessed with the sight of their own blood. Finally, a Berserker is a warrior that uses their anger to fight. The concept would be my first choice, but this is the most ramshackled specialization in the whole game, next to Arcane Warrior for the mages. Their abilities are combinations of things that the Warrior has anyway and Reaver abilities, with the best ability being nothing more than a big hit that castrates you for using up all of your stamina. That might be useful if the ratio for damage was better, but it isn’t worth it.
For Mages, you can be a Spirit Healer, a Shapeshifter, an Arcane Warrior, or a Blood Mage. A Spirit Healer is nothing more than its name. The ability to heal party members without this specializations is next to impossible, but once you take this specialization, you’ll find yourself putting every bit of effort and advancement that you get toward healing until eventually you aren’t even a combatant anymore. Also, they came up with a weak attempt for backstory based on a shift knowledge of the Dragon Age mythos. Shapeshifters are also just what their name suggests. They take on the shapes of particularly dangerous animals for combat. Without the meat and bones behind it, this might be a much less popular specialization, since it is based on the abilities of the game’s single most popular NPC party member, Morrigan. Other than that, the Shapeshifter is a way to successfully make a Mage a front-line combatant that can adapt to different situations. However, it seems that every magical opponent that you find has a strange, innate ability to change you back to your standard shape, which wipes you out, especially if you are in melee already. Also, you almost have to abandon your standard Mage stats for it so that you can be that combatant. Ultimately, it’s only useful half the time because of the Mage NPC auto-change to revert your form. Arcane Warriors are a jurry rigged attempt at combining Mages and Warriors. Sure, you gain the ability to use your Magic in place of Strength to use weapons and armor, but there is an inherent glitch in the PS3 version (which I have). It never switches the damage ratio to your Magic stat like it’s supposed to. It also doesn’t transfer over the hit chance to the Magic stat. So unless you are willing to balance everything between Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Magic, and Willpower, it’s useless. I don’t know if this is different on other platforms, as I have never used this specialization on PC. Also, if you want to cast spells while using weapons, forget it. Your character puts away their weapon(s), casts the spell, and then draws them again. By that time, the opening you saw for the spell has already passed, and you have been hit about 8 times by whatever you’re fighting. Since the Magic stat replacement doesn’t count for Dexterity, it doesn’t work for ranged weapons like bows and crossbows, so I don’t see why you would castrate yourself in melee like that. It’s a cool concept, and the meat behind it is awesome, but the execution is atrocious. I tried playing it through with this monstrosity, but at higher levels you become nothing more than an escort target, hard to kill but dishing out no damage whatsoever and being more of a hindrance than a help. Finally, there is the Blood Mage. Possibly the coolest specialization in the game due to the mythos behind it, but sorely lacking in execution (seemingly a theme among the Mage specializations). The first two abilities that you get damage you and your allies, making them useless in this game where health is at a premium in combat, and you are often starving for health potions if you are playing on anything but Easy or Casual. Because of this, it’s not even useful until higher levels and will waste two of your skill points to get the better skills later on. The last ones are Blood Wound and Blood Control. Blood Wound does massive damage to anything that isn’t undead or demonic. Blood Control makes an enemy your ally for a disappointingly short time and does massive damage. Sadly, you will find yourself fighting things without blood just as often as you do things with blood, so this is once again only useful about half the time. Anything from undead of any kind to demons to possessed items to freaking trees are immune. Sometimes the game confuses spiders and deepstalkers for not having blood, too, so it’s hit and miss with them. Mage is good if you want to really interact with the mythos, but the specializations need a full overhaul. I get the feeling that they said, “Ok, we need some useful specializations for the Mages fast. What can we work up?”
For Rogues, you can be an Assassin, a Bard, a Duelist, or a Ranger. Assassins aren’t what you would think. They simply apply debuffs and bonuses to backstab without any true backstory or meat to it. The Bard applies buffs to allies and themselves but can’t do much while using these abilities. Thankfully the common backstory of Bards being entertainers makes up for any inconveniences. The Duelist class was a way to make Rogues a viable, front-line combatant, and this is evident in the descriptions of their abilities and stat changes. However, the backstory of them is more than worth it, and their abilities are very worth of, ranging from buffing yourself to debuffing opponents to big hits. However, they hold to their name. If they are outnumbered, they are at a disadvantage. The Ranger is possibly the only option in the game to get pets. You can summon animals for aid, mainly, and that in itself is pretty swanky. However, this class comes without any backstory whatsoever, no explanation of how you got your abilities, or any work to achieve this knowledge. It’s just there for those that want it.
With all the specializations, it gets harder. I could be a Berserker, a Reaver, a Champion, a Shapeshifter, an Arcane Warrior, a Blood Mage, a Duelist, a Ranger, or a Bard. If I really take the time to rule things out, I could still be the Berserker, the Champion, the Shapshifter, the Arcane Warrior, the Bard, or the Duelist. This completely mucks up my early gameplay as I wonder if I made the right choice. Later on, I see things that I would answer differently as different classes, and it makes my current character feel obsolete. The roleplaying isn’t quite the issue most of the time. I guess that I’m just indecisive at times.