Monday, 27 October 2014

Dragon Age: Origins - Best Mods

Marquee selection, full party control, pausable real-time, overhead view and the conditional tactics framework means Origins has a degree of appeal, but - similar to Sword Coast Stratagems for Baldur's Gate - combat can be greatly improved with a tactics overhaul.

A good starting point is Origins Faster Combat which basically increases attack speed animations to make combat more fun, natural and challenging. I recommend going with v3 for increased movement speed (+20%) and stronger ranged weapons (brings them inline with two-handed melee weapons). This tweak shows how even small mods can profoundly impact how combat plays out, which is why I say start with it first and see if you like what it does.

slinks s3 RAVAge is a larger, fully-customizable mod for advanced players that seems to work fine with Faster Combat's changes. It adds many random encounters, hand-crafted enemies who equip random items (making even the same enemy type fight differently), random loot drops, and beefed up AI scripts. This mod takes some tweaking to get the settings tailored to personal skill and taste, but can be really challenging and rewarding. I recommend the following settings, most importantly the 5-5 difficulty settings and Nightmare difficulty:



At 5-5/Nightmare difficulty you'll start to really feel the effect of RAVAge in the Korcari Wilds, specifically against Blood Magic-using Darkspawn necros (Blood Wound is OP at that stage). And by the time you reach the Tower of Ishal, the design pits you up against Wild Drakes and the like. This is when your party consists only of Alistair and unnamed, generic support crews... So yeah, hard. Anyway, more on RAVAge another time.

Advanced Tactics extends the actions/conditions available in the tactics screen, automating many processes which would otherwise have to be (tediously) micro-managed.

The sort of tailoring pictured above is something of which Infinity Engine gamers can only dream, limited as they are by clunky IF THEN END scripts and Ease-of-Use Party AI, which, while a noble attempt, really only automates basic pre-buffing, use of once-per-day items, and healbotting.

Note that the Dragon Age Rules Fixpack is compatible with these, and should probably be installed first.

This mod combo played on Nightmare difficulty makes Origins still one of the best pause n play tactical RPGs out there.

My mod list (covered above):

Dragon Age Rules Fixpack (aka GT Core Rules Fixpack)
(Core fixes and the two haste bug fixes; auto-loot functionality)
Slink's Slightly Skewed (s3) RAVAge
Advanced Tactics
Origins Faster Combat
Origins Faster Runspeed

Other stuff you may like:

Extra Dog Slot: Another unit to control in combat? Sign me up!
Qanari and Mabari update: Just visual mods to improve their look to the DA2 style.
Skip The Fade: I'm a fan of skipping a tedious segment that plays exactly the same each time you play, regardless of your character. A truly idiotic design decision, an embarrassing example of devs masturbating over their own "creativity". The Fade is so tedious that the mere thought of it kills people's desire to replay what would otherwise be a highly replayable campaign. This mod is just a 26 Kb *.ncs file that you throw into your override. You will receive all stat bonuses and Codex entries without having to slog through The Stupid Fade.
DLC in Awakening & Awakening Fixes: Gives you all your DLC gear in Awakening (import or new character).

There are lots of other large-scale mods (both graphical and for game-play), but I don't particularly like the changes they make.


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