Not long after Dragon Age Inquisition released, I decided to play Dragon Age Origins Awakening. It took years before finishing that game. Now that I have EA Play Pro and Steam Deck, it’s a perfect fit to work on Dragon Age 2. I want to play Inquisition eventually, but don’t want to miss out on a big part of the story.
Why it Took Years for me to Finish Dragon Age Origins
Dragon Age Inquisition was the game to play back when I started Dragon Age Origins. I wanted to play the story of the franchise from beginning. It was cheap and old enough to play on my laptop. The latter provided plenty of chance to play.
The graphics were very dated, but the story hooked me. Tactics during battle and choices that guided the story were great. Unfortunately, there was a ton of doubling back and the Deep Roads were like a boring maze. Those Deep Roads really turned me off for awhile, but years later I finally finished the story.
I took a long break from even attempting to play Dragon Age 2, but the Steam Deck revitalized my desire to play.
Setting up Origin on my Steam Deck
Sure I can easily buy Dragon Age 2 on Steam and play without much problem. The game is not Steam Deck Verified, but people on ProtonDB found it’s playable. What I really wanted was to use the game as a test bed for setting up Origin on my Steam Deck. I already did that with Ubisoft Connect Plus.
This way my $100 per year EA Play Pro subscription is part of my Steam Deck library going forward. That EA Play Pro sub provides access to all EA games and all DLCs. That’s a ton of content that pays for itself after playing either two newer games or some older games with all their DLC. It’s a no brainer for anyone wanting to try all that Sims content, for example (last I checked that’s like $700 for all those).
Just a Few Extra Steps to Start
Opening desktop mode is essential. Holding the power button provides the option to open desktop mode. From there, the right touch pad is the mouse. A click acts as left mouse button. Clicking the other touchpad is the right click. Keyboard is just combo press of Steam Button + X.
With those tools, the next step involved opening a web browser and downloading the Origin installer. Unfortunately, Electronic Arts committed to replacing their Origin App with their EA App. I’ve only managed to setup Origin on my Steam Deck successfully.
To get the installer now, I’ve only seen it on sites like Digital Trends. Not sure how long Origin will work, but surely long enough to finish Dragon Age 2. Once downloaded, I suggest the Steam option to Add a Non-Steam game to point to the downloaded file.
Next step is to set the Properties of that new “Non-Steam game” to “Force Compatibility Mode” checked. I typically keep the version set to “Proton Experimental”. After that, I pressed play on the new “Game” shortcut and installation begins.
The important part of installation is choosing a proper Steam Deck game mode directory: z:home\home\deck\Games\Origin
Everything else like logging in is pretty standard, but it’s important to go back to the Non-Steam game shortcut and change the path for that shortcut from the installer file to the Origin.exe file. At that point in the process, I went back to the Steam Deck game mode.
I opened the shortcut from there, Origin opened, I signed in and started the download for Dragon Age. After that download I could just open Dragon Age 2 from Origin, but it failed to load to the menu.
Setup Steps for Dragon Age 2 on Steam Deck
In order to even get Dragon Age 2 to load, I had to use Proton GE. That was only partially successful. It opened, but was very much a glitchy appearance. Lucky for me, ProtonDB included some instructions to fix this issue.
The trick is to go into Options for the game and set the Direct X version to 9 instead of 11. It’s an old enough game that it won’t matter much.
With that fix in, even Proton Experimental worked for opening Dragon Age 2.
Another important detail is to go into the Steam options for the game to set the Controller mapping. There’s several Dragon Age related mappings under the Community section, but I settled on Dragon Age Origins mapping by olstyle. The movement forward and turning movement is twitchy, but it grew on me.
I tried to find a way to create a Dragon Age 2 direct shortcut in Steam, but it doesn’t work for me due to mine running through my EA Play Pro subscription. In the end, spending hours trying to figure that part out wasn’t worth saving the few clicks to just open it direct from Origin.
There’s also no easy way I see to import the Dragon Age Origin save into part 2 from the Steam Deck. After all that time spent on the first game, I wanted those story choices to matter. I installed Dragon Age 2 on my PC, then I could fetch from my Dragon Age Origins folder that was still around.
Dragon Age 2 in the Palm of my Hands
Right in the beginning, it’s obvious the game is more simplified than the original. The character selection was specific to just the human race this time. The major choices between them were Male vs Female and which class to choose between Warrior, Mage or Rogue. Dragon Age games always start with a new player character.
Dragon Age Origin I played as a warrior, so this time around I wanted to wield the magic of the Mage. Turns out the choice of class alone influences an important death early on. That’s the magic of Dragon Age and games like it, choices that matter.
My warrior in the first game was a noble warrior who almost always showed compassion. My Dragon Age 2 character is a bit of a prick. I chose to play Hawke as sarcastic almost always. It’s so much fun to see reactions of people to my character’s quips. Knowing I won’t play the same character in Inquisition is freeing.
The Dev Crunch Decisions Helped Improve More Than it Hurt
Graphics wise the sequel is close to the original. Sure the sequel is crisper with some more detail, but in my memory it’s really very similar. Makes sense because a big complaint for the game is how they reused so many assets from the original game. It’s hard not to recognize the same map with different paths open or closed as I get deeper into the game.
That development crunch that forced them to reuse so many assets does have an upside. The smaller maps are easier to navigate and less chance of getting lost like the first game. It seems that and the friendlier objective markers help me zip along missions. The Deep Roads returned, but were much more manageable this time.
The majority of the game takes place in the former slave city of Kirkwall with a few outskirt locations. What’s gone is the constant interruptions on the road to a new location from the first game. Nothing worse than having to travel back and forth between 2 locations and another “ambush” in the middle.
Dragon Age 2 Characters are Great
I’m enjoying the various new characters in Dragon Age 2. I love pestering the gambling loser uncle Gamlen. Varric and his trusty bow “Bianca” are mainstays as part of my team. He’s great at negotiating in some touch conversations. Sometimes he lets Bianca do the talking.
The blood mage, Merril, acts so innocent like a kid playing with fire. In this case though, the fire is a bunch of demons. Isabella the former pirate captain is like a female Jack Sparrow who loves her booty jokes. Fenris is an elf warrior infused with Lyrium (think magic potion). There are so many more and some I’ve not met yet.
Story wise, I like the approach in this game. So far I’m not destined to a be a savior of all races. This time I’m just a guy who escaped the blight only to end up working for thieves in a former slave city. I definitely like how my story telling is Varric’s recollection of our exploits during interrogation by the Chantry.
It’s fun when he embellished certain parts of the story, only to remember how it really happened. It was a great way to handle the initial tutorial and some later story moments. Knowing the next game in the series is Inquisition, I’m curious to see how my current exploits feed into that story.
At this point, I’m 61 hours in (50+ on Deck alone), so yeah I like it. It took so long to finish the first game, but I’m flying through thanks to Steam Deck.