400 years have past since the last Blight has been successfully prevented by the Grey Wardens. Now once again the fearsome Dark Spawn under the rule of the Arch Demon gather and are about to invade Ferelden. The first battleground: the destroyed city at Ostgar where humans and Grey Wardens meet the Dark Spawn to prevent death and destruction before it has even begun. Of course something went wrong and it is up to the player to unite the races of Ferelden and finish off the Arch Demon.
Dragon Age: Origins is a classic RPG played from the third-perspective in real-time with the ability to pause the game at any time - at least on the PC. While the console releases are overall the same in story, multiple-choice-dialogues, items and overall gameplay, they differ from the PC-version in terms of controls and interface and are much more action-oriented. The PC-version on the other hand features extensive tactical options in combat. This includes an editor which allows the players to give the AI detailed instructions on how to behave in every possible situation. None-the-less the player can also control his party with up to four members one by one. Switching between every character, using his special talents and abilities to overcome the many different enemies.
During the course of the game, the player will have the opportunity to invite up to nine players to his party. While only four can leave the party camp at any given time, the experience points earned by killing enemies, fulfilling quests or simply opening a chest are granted to each member of the group - no matter where he is, making the player more flexible as every character stays in the same level-range.
At each level-up a character earns three attribute-points and one talent-point. The talent-point is used to unlock new spells and abilities in the extensive talent-tree differing greatly between the three available classes warrior, rogue and mage. Every three levels the character also earns a skill point allowing him to learn or get better at herbalism or increasing his survival skills. In addition, at level 7 and 14 he earns a specialisation-point which allows him to learn two of four class-specialisations e.g. shapeshifter and spirit healer for the mage-class. These specialisations give instant bonuses to certain attributes and unlock five exclusive talents. But in order to learn such a specialisation, it needs to be unlocked first. This is either done by buying the corresponding book for a good amount of gold from traders or by learning it from another character may it be an NPC or a party-member.
Of course not everyone is willing from the start to teach the player. Especially the player's party-members have to have a certain level of trust and satisfaction. Satisfaction can range from -100 to +100 and is influenced heavily by the decisions the player makes during the game. Talking and giving gifts to the party-members also increases their satisfaction. A high level of satisfaction then grants the party-member a bonus to specific attributes and unlocks additional quests as they open up and tell their past. In addition it is possible to have a romance with up to two of the party-members if the player is the right gender and makes the right dialogue choices.
Although the main part of the game is the same for every character created and will only differ in what the player decides to do first or what choices he makes, the game features six unique origin-stories - two for each race (except the humans who share the magi-originstory with the elves). They all tell the story how the player's character met Duncan and ended up at the battle at Ostagar and also introduce at least one character that will become very important to the player during the course of the game.