I know I’m a little late to the game, but I’ve been playing a lot of Dragon Age: Origins lately. One of the first things I tried to do (and I was disappointed when I couldn’t) was return to Ostagar, the site of the large battle with Darkspawn early on in the game. My motivation consisted of equal parts desire to survey the destruction and wanting to shamelessly loot what must be thousands of leftover corpses.
The announcement of the downloadable content pack Return to Ostagar got me truly excited. I could not resist the chance to revisit this area, and while I downloaded it, my mind started to imagine all of the impressive things I might encounter. Unfortunately, my vision of the return trip seemed to exceed that of the developers’.
What followed was about an hour and a half of mediocrity. The entirety of the DLC consisted of a mostly linear exploration of a ruined and snow-covered Ostagar, punctuated by a few mini cutscenes. A few moments tried to be poignant but ultimately fell flat. I suppose I should have been wary when the only objectives offered by the quest were to retrieve the King’s documents and equipment.
Instead of the horde of Darkspawn I was expecting, I was rather underwhelmed by the small groups of enemies that my mid-level party just plowed through. I didn’t even notice that a few of the mini-bosses were special until I found special loot on their corpses. The final encounter required absolutely no tactics or party management of any kind, and I completed the entire adventure with no losses on my side.
My total haul was about 30 items, and about eight of those were actually useful upgrades to my level 13-ish party. While some of these were very good for me, I have to wonder at their usefulness to someone who has already completed the original content.
If you take party members with you that were present for the original conflict, you will encounter some additional lines of dialog. While some of these added flavor and characterization, others were startlingly inappropriate. Wynne talking about going to bed with Alistair in the middle of the battlefield was mildly amusing, but it honestly detracted from the already shallow experience.
Since Dragon Age: Origins is such a story-driven game, it makes the failings of Return to Ostagar stand out even more. I can’t help but feel that this DLC was a missed opportunity at something that had the potential to be great. Especially for those people who have already completed the game, I’d recommend passing on this one.