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Preview: Dragon Age 'Golems of Amgarrak' DLC


"We just brought it down," the marketing guy from BioWare told me while waiting in line. The company was already bringing a bunch of computers to Comic-Con to let visiting fans preview Dragon Age 2, so they figured why not bring some PCs down all loaded up with unreleased DLC to play, too? Other companies hold secret sneak previews and require pages of NDA agreements to see their unreleased games for the first time, but BioWare just brings them to Comic-Con.

So yes, alongside the public, I got a chance to see the upcoming DLC. And the first thing I heard about it is that it's hard. Really hard. Dragon Age: Origins is already a game that requires some thinking, but BioWare has apparently turned up the difficulty on this one -- there's lots of big enemies, I was told, that will provide a challenge even on the easiest setting.

Unfortunately, I didn't see any of those -- the part I played had you following Jerrik the Dwarf through a dungeon in search of his bro, Brogan. Moving from room to room (and dispatching a few zombies as you go), you soon find that some items in the dungeon are coated in some sort of blue magic spell. Doors glow blue, and you can't touch or open them, and some treasure chests are also enveloped in the same spell.

Combat is basically the same as the rest of Dragon Age -- from what I could tell, the expansion was just new content rather than a major refinement of the game.

A few more rooms in, Jerrik's brother appears, but he too is untouchable and covered in blue magic. Further down the hallway, you catch a glimpse of a creature -- it's hard to describe, because the whole point is that your characters only get a fleeting look, but I'd describe it as a big, gray, very quick Geico gecko with spindly legs and a tail. One of my companions pointed out in text that it had a face, but I didn't actually see it.

Possibly against my better judgement, I followed the creature, and was occasionally accosted by phantasmal soldiers. Combat is basically the same as the rest of Dragon Age -- from what I could tell, the expansion was just new content rather than a major refinement of the game. But that's fine, of course -- the story moves along well, and with Dragon Age 2 coming out, there's no reason to try and refine the first title much more.

We came upon a room with a gigantic glowing orb in the middle of it, and that's where things got interesting. There was a switch in the floor, and once that was hit, energy flowed from the orb, turning the world around us completely blue. Once the transition took place, we could then touch the treasure chests and doors that couldn't be touched before -- the whole world had inverted according to the spell. We made our way back to Brogan, and he was distraught and delusional, mentioning something about a darker evil taking control.

Figures -- it's always a dark evil, isn't it? That's how our short trial ended. If combat wasn't your favorite part of Origins – and judging by the entirely new combat mechanic in Dragon Age 2, we're guessing it wasn't BioWare's favorite part either – you may think twice about taking on the "Golems of Amgarrak." However, for experienced Dragon Age players looking for a new story to experience and a few new dungeon mechanics, this is a dungeon that may be worth exploring.

Dragon Age: Origins "Golems of Amgarrak" will be available on Tuesday, August 10.

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