Jun
05
2015
2

Losing Hours to The Witcher, Dragon Age, and The Western RPG Genre

Western Fantasy RPGs tend to feel familiar especially when they are released so close together. The dreaded video game backlog is a terrible burden, and most of the time you never get to go back and play those great games you missed. So I can understand how people will be choosing between Dragon Age: Inquisition and The Witcher: Wild Hunt. Many people don’t have time for both. Quickly they could take up weeks of your life, but part of that is why they are so special as games. If you were to “beat” both games you would have over 400 hours of content to plow through.

 

 

As similar as they are in terms of a fantasy setting and story based decisions they certainly stand on their own feet in terms of world building and characters. That’s the best thing about both of these games, the world and the characters; both of them are incredibly different. There is no one like Sera in The Witcher; She would stick out like a sore thumb. Dragon Age surrounds you with friends and styles of fighting that Geralt doesn’t have. He’s out there on his own. This works in both cases, Dragon Age wouldn’t be Dragon Age without Party Banter as you stroll through the Western Approach, and The Witcher wouldn’t be The Witcher if he weren’t sulkily wondering alone from village to village to kill the next monster he found. This is just one example of how Dragon Age and The Witcher differ from one another, and yet I can’t help but compare them every time I pick up the controller.

 

I have spent a healthy amount of time in both worlds, way to much. And it certainly seems that The Witcher is more thorough and precise. Merchants have their own economy and at certain points you need to start crafting with very specific items that you earn throughout the world. The map is enormous, but it only has a few different styles, Snowy Forrest Green on the Isles of Skellige, the swamps of Velen, and the monster that is the city of Novigrad. Dragon Age is much more lax when it comes to minutia and baggage. Some of it is there if you want it but it’s not nearly as in-depth and complex. And Dragon Age has a wider variety of maps, they aren’t as big or populated, but it must be mentioned that the environments in Dragon Age are so diverse it’s neck breaking. From the Hinterlands to The Hissing wastes no map looks the same. And that is helped by the fact that each plan is separate from one another and requires its own load screen to travel to the other side of Thedas. But The Witcher doesn’t seem to be going for diversity, it wants to make all these maps and locations feel at the same moment and world.

 

You must stop the Venatori before the Moon Crashes into the earth

 

There are a lot of choices you can make during conversations in The Witcher, but that’s what Dragon Age is built on, conversation and choice, it’s a much more deep-rooted thing in that game. As Geralt, you have the choices of your armor and weapons along with your hair and a bunch of important conversations along the way. In Dragon Age you get to choose what race you are what voice you take, along with who you bring on adventures. By the end of it you have a giant castle in the middle of a snowy mountain top that nobody would try to mess with. The Inquisitor, that’s what you’re building up your own mythos. By the end of the game (Spoilers) you are the most powerful man or woman in Thedas. But when it comes to Geralt he will always be just the Witcher. Now by no means is he a slouch because everybody seems to know him, and people write ballads about him but the main characters of each game are drastically different from one another in terms of trajectory.

 

So with all these Differences why do I still feel as though these two games are joined at the hip. Originally they were supposed to be released at the same time, but due to delays on both ends they moved apart. I’m sure that would’ve been hard on everybody’s wallets. It’s easy to say “Oh they are both fantasy third person action games; that’s why you compare them.” That’s part of it but I would never compare either of these games to Shadow of Mordor, they are completely different just by playing them. So it must be the role playing that binds them closest. Building armor and weapons, shaping relationships and romances, friendships with lovable characters like Zoltan or Dorian.

 

There’s a Fiend under my bed, can I have a glass of water.

 

It’s the small things that stick out in both games that reminds us what we love so much about them. Sure helping your friend collect some Gwent cards from around Novigrad won’t save the world but you do it because Zoltan needs your help, and you’ll get experience points. By helping Dorian resolve problems with his Magister dad isn’t going to stop Corypheus dead in his tracks, but you feel sorry for the guy while getting experience points.  And everything you do for those friends in either game can pay off when the time comes. This article isn’t suppose to say which game is better; I don’t have an answer to that. They are both fantastic games that have been in the works for over three years, and the hard work shows. These games are an enormous time suck in the best way. I spent a lot of timedying to jump back into either game whenever I was doing something else, and that’s a hard thing to ignore.