Dragon Age: Origins Has Made Me Rethink My Stance On Remakes

If you haven’t noticed that I’ve been playing Dragon Age for the first time, then you probably don’t read TheGamer dot com. It’s my first Dragon Age game, my first BioWare game, and I loved every minute of it, at least when I wasn’t complaining about Barkspawn being underpowered or Leske’s wordless betrayal.

My favourite section was exploring the Sloth Demon’s domain (I didn’t realise the Fade was so divisive – I enjoyed it), and I even went so far as to explore Niall’s subtle embodiment of a forgotten deadly sin. The game is an RPG masterpiece, allowing me complete roleplaying freedom despite the limitations of being released way back in 2009.

My plan when finishing Origins was to move straight onto Dragon Age 2, but the moment the epilogue started playing, I immediately had an urge to start over. I wanted to experience a Mage playthrough, to witness all the other introductions, and to generally have the same experience all over again, but different.

I didn’t end up doing that, mostly because I was excited to see what the sequel had in store and how it could improve on one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played. I’m only in the early stages of Dragon Age 2, but the updated character models and combat animations make it feel modern and fresh, and it’s aged a lot better than its predecessor, despite releasing just two years later. I’m enjoying the sequel so far, I like the characters and the skill trees feel more intuitive. The map is constantly filled with quest notifications, which is a little annoying, and the constant side quests that I feel compelled to complete are already getting a little tedious – but that might be a me problem. So why can't I stop thinking about Origins?

As I’ve repeatedly mentioned, I haven’t played a load of Dragon Age 2 yet, especially not the main quest. This means that few of my decisions feel like they’ve carried any weight. I let a poor kid have a shipment of Lyrium to feed his family, which was nice, but I constantly find myself thinking back to major decisions in Origins, and wondering what would have happened if I’d made different choices. What if I hadn’t let Morrigan disappear with Alistair’s child? What if I’d killed Connor, the kid possessed by a demon? Seeing as both of these decisions were mentioned when I transferred my save file to the sequel, I feel like they have to be important. And that’s when I realised what I really wanted: a Dragon Age: Origins remake or remaster.

I’m not usually a fan of remakes. I don’t see the point of making The Last of Us a little more crisp and selling it for 70 quid. I think that remakes are generally part of a revisionist trend that renders older games unplayable on modern technology as the new versions take their place. I also wish that great developers, like those at Naughty Dog, weren’t wasted on adding more wrinkles to Joel’s face and could flex their creative muscles on new games and more interesting, inventive IPs.

However, as I interrogate my own opinions in real time, I realise that I like plenty of remakes. Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl were terrible, but Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire are excellent remakes, and HeartGold & SoulSilver are the best Pokemon games ever made, despite also being remakes. I love the Link’s Awakening remake for the Switch, and my colleagues don’t stop going on about Final Fantasy 7 Remake, despite the fact that I fell off it pretty hard halfway through.

It seems that my problem is less with remakes themselves, but with a game being remade so soon after its initial release. You’ve got to strain your eyes to tell the difference between The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part 1, as the (second) remake of the game is called. Compare that with Final Fantasy 7, which not only moved from 2D to spectacular 3D, but redesigned the levels and altered the plot to become a whole new entity. Link’s Awakening is a more faithful remake, but it still brings the wacky Zelda game to the present day in a way that a port would not. Whether that’s a good thing or not is up for debate, but at least it’s different.

Alright, back to Dragon Age. I’d love to see Origins updated with the graphics from its sequel, but then I’d play it all over again as it is, so that’s not saying much. But imagine if it also included the quality of life improvements from Dragon Age 2 as well – I prefer the combat of the sequel by far, and the speedy load times make the winding cities a joy to explore. I’d love to wander through a modern interpretation of Denerim and Orzammar, and BioWare has the experience to do a remake right.

I’ve never played Mass Effect (did I mention that Origins was my first ever BioWare game?), but many of my colleagues are big fans. They tell me that while some of the changes were a little controversial, they enjoyed playing the Legendary Edition. Part of that is because it’s Mass Effect and they love Mass Effect, but I love Dragon Age now, so I’m in a similar boat. Our reviewer George Foster gave it four and a half stars after a glowing review. I’ll get around to playing the sci-fi classics at some point too, but I’d love for BioWare to give Dragon Age the same treatment. With Dreadwolf in development, it seems unlikely, but a man can hope.

I never thought I’d take this position on remakes, but I’d kill for a modernised Origins. Hell, I’d kill for a version of Origins that measures my gameplay timer correctly and supports cross-save with PC so I can continue my playthrough on my Steam Deck. It seems weird that BioWare would remake one of its two main series and not the other, so surely it’s just a matter of time until my wishes are fulfilled? Maybe I’ll have to wait until Origins’ 25th anniversary in 2024, but I’d happily wait until 2034 if I knew it was on the cards.

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