DA:O – The Stone Prisoner and Warden’s Keep Review

on November 23, 2009 7:00 AM

There is quite a bit of DLC available for Dragon Age: Origins – pre-order bonuses, special edition bonuses, paid day-one DLC, DLC won by playing the flash game Dragon Age: Journeys. It’s all over the place and the game has only been out for about three weeks.

The two major pieces of DLC, however, are what I feel have gotten the most criticism and, perhaps, even praise, and I feel they’re worthy of a review of their own.

wardenskeep002Warden’s Keep

While I hesitate to discuss the story aspects of this DLC mission, I will definitely say that it fits nicely with the rest of the game and the story packs a punch and is fun to play through. There is also, as with the game’s main story itself, quite a bit of choice involved. The story – at it’s most basic – involves taking back a castle that once belonged to the Grey Wardens. The NPC to start the events will be in your party’s camp available anytime you want (I suggest doing this short quest as soon as the entire map opens up to you after Lothering, I’ll tell you why in a moment).

Regardless of the path you take at the end of the Warden’s Keep story, you’re rewarded with some static vendors that you’ll have available to you for the rest of the game. This is a nice place to sell things, because if you need to buy something back, you’ll always have them available to you. You also get a near-bottomless party chest, where you can store any extras in that you don’t want to carry around in your inventory. If you read my full DA:O review, you’ll remember that one of the issues I had was with the inventory, and this pretty much solves most of those problems. It’s just a shame that you’ll likely have to pay for this DLC to get something which should have been in the game proper.

That being said, I do think this DLC is worth it. The quest itself took me about an hour – and that includes exploring and discovering every codex entry and treasure box I could find. It isn’t long, for sure. The value of it, to me, comes in the form of that party chest and the two vendors.

What I find a shame is that you can’t actually go back inside the keep itself after you finish. The chest, vendors and all other NPCs are in the snowy hill right outside the front door. I would have loved to see the inside all fixed up, the vendors in there and perhaps a room of my own with the party chest. I was rather disappointed that all that wasn’t available. Even with that, it’s worth $7 just to get that party chest, even though it should be in the main game by default.

Another nice thing about this DLC content is that it adds a random encounter where you can acquire a piece of Star Metal. If you take this to the weapon/armor vendor at Warden’s Keep after the quest is complete, he’ll forge you one of two rather powerful pieces of tier eight gear – a longsword or a greatsword. I chose the longsword to give to my main tank. The other gear specific to the Warden’s Keep content, though, is lackluster, but may be worth it depending on when in the main story you play through this content.

(Individual Score: 4/5)

dragonageorigins_shaleThe Stone Prisoner

The other significant piece of DLC available at launch is The Stone Prisoner quest, which introduces you to a town that has been destroyed by the darkspawn. The town actually holds a secret that may be of use to you on your journey against that very foe.

By completing the quest, you can choose to invite the golem Shale to your party permanently. By this point in the game – even if you do it right after the world map opens up to you – you probably already have your tank set, however Shale does make a good one. He can take a lot of damage, that’s for sure. He is also pretty darn good on the DPS front.

Aside from the new character (which comes with its own dialog and personal quest), I found The Stone Prisoner quest itself to be underwhelming and actually shorter than the Warden’s Keep quest. Still, there’s a lot of content here for those who wish to make use of Shale and do his personal quest.

The other issue with this DLC is that it is twice as expensive as Warden’s Keep, without much more content. I don’t think this is worth it and I do hope the price is kept down in the $5 to $7 range in the future. The only real reason I ended up with this is because it came free in my copy of DA:O.

(Individual Score: 3/5)

While I would like to see longer, deeper and more robust DLC for Dragon Age: Origins in the future, these first two launch-day pieces of DLC are pretty solid, depending what you’re looking for. A problem that keeps cropping up in the main quest is the lack of inventory space to store things that you won’t use often or want to save for later, and Warden’s Keep solves that with the chest. That, and the fact that it’s quite a bit less expensive, is what bumps it up above The Stone Prisoner content.

But, take that as you will – perhaps you would enjoy a smack-talking hunk of rock that won’t stop calling you “it” following around as you battle the darkspawn. Rather distracting, no?

  • Game: Dragon Age: Origins DLC – Warden’s Keep and The Stone Prisoner (Xbox 360)
  • Developer: Bioware
  • Publisher: EA
  • MSRP: Warden’s Keep ~ $7, The Stone Prisoner ~ $15
  • Release Date: 11/3/2009
  • Review Copy Info: This DLC was purchased by DualShockers Inc. for reviewing purposes.
 /  Reviews Editor / PR
Chad joined the DualShockers staff in mid 2009 and since then has put much of his time into covering RPGs, with a focus on the Japanese side of the genre, from the obscure to the mainstream. He's a huge fan of iconic games like Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy VI and Persona 4 yet enjoys the smaller niche titles, as well. In his spare time he enjoys experiencing new beer, new foods and keeping up with just about every sci-fi show on television. He's married to an intelligent, beautiful Southern Belle who keeps his life interesting with witty banter and spicy Cajun cooking.
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