Dragon Age Keep
Dragon Age is the epic story of a Dwarven princess named Plippo Aeducan who travelled to the surface world to fight Darkspawn and personally kill their Archdemon leader. The sequel is the story of a snarky rogue named Tess Hawke who defended the city of Kirkwall with a sharp wit and cunning tactics whilst championing the rights of mages. If you are one of the odd folk who played Dragon Age wrong enough to get a different story, you can now use the freely available Dragon Age Keep to build your game history up in preparation for Dragon Age Inquisition, arriving November 21st.
You’ll need an Origin account to build up your Dragon Age story with the Keep, but once you do you’ll find a pretty neat tool for making sure Inquisition will follow the history you fought so hard to get in previous games. One of the problems the developers, Bioware, faced was that the new game is built on a completely different engine to the originals and catering to the new generation of consoles. Compatibility with older systems is a headache at the best of times. Some players also found that their saved game files (if they’d even kept them) wouldn’t record choices accurately. When replaying Dragon Age II earlier this year (a misunderstood game undeserving of its bad reputation), I found that some choices from Dragon Age: Awakenings hadn’t saved properly and even some choices from the main campaign were misremembered.
Cutting their loses, Bioware decided to throw their hands up and say “Screw it! Let’s just rebuild our choices system in a cloud based browser tool”. I’m hoping that’s how it happened at least. Don’t ruin this for me. So we have been presented with the Keep as way to fully control all the choices we want Inquisition to play with. And boy, are there a lot of choices. The sheer amount of different combinations of choices and events that the previous DA games have generated is impressive. There’s a basic default world state that you can use if you can’t be bothered to delve too deep into the guts of Dragon Age choices. If you do want to micromanage every decision possible, you could spend a good hour going through everything.
The Keep doesn’t import save game files fully but will scan your Origin account for any Dragon Age game and ask you to select any character profiles found. There doesn’t appear to be a choice to rebuild your Warden or Hawke from scratch, but there are plenty of off-the-shelf Wardens and Hawkes to choose from if you don’t have your own to re-use. You then get a lovely animated recap of your general Dragon Age story, narrated by lovable Dwarf rogue Varric. It takes into account the broader plot points of your save file as it goes, but pop-ups appear through the story to prompt you to change a choice if you like. Once the animation is finished (skippable, thankfully, as it’s pretty lengthy), you are presented with a tapestry of images representing all the choices you can tinker with further.
And tinker you can. Even minor plot points like how you dealt with the prisoner in a cage at Ostagar in the first game’s prologue are catered to. There are six separate options to choose from in regards to the prisoner. To say there is a lot going on is an understatement. Did you discover the cause of the miners’ troubles in Dragon Age II? What became of the waitress in the tavern in Redcliff in Dragon Are: Origins? How did you deal with Sophia in the Warden’s Keep DLC? Even having played the series through earlier in the year, I’d forgotten some of these choices. It is worth going through everything as the default world state may take certain decisions for granted. I worked damned hard to kill the high dragon in Dragon Age II, the Keep isn’t taking that away from me. Once satisfied, you can export the tapestry to Dragon Age Inquisition, ready for its release.
Although it’s still in beta, and with the odd bug to iron out, Dragon Age Keep is an elegant solution to the problem of how to incorporate a persistent story for every fan. It’s served well to wet my appetite for the newest Dragon Age game and remain safe in the knowledge that it won’t carry some ridiculous notion the Hawke was a mage or the Warden was a human or some nonsense like that.