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Dragon Age: Origins’ Deep Roads and mage tower quests are among the game’s most infamous missions, but the Circle Tower is far more confusing.

By Charlie Stewart

Published 4 hours ago

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Dragon Age: Origins may be among BioWare’s most beloved games, but there are two parts of the main quest that can make even the most seasoned Grey Warden quit in pure frustration. The quests “Anvil of the Void” and “Broken Circle” are infamous enough among the game’s fans that some have even modded them out of the title entirely.

If there’s one word that sums up both of Dragon Age: Origins’ most infamous quests, it’s confusing. “Anvil of the Void” sees the player and their party journey into the Darkspawn-infested Deep Roads underneath the Dwarven city of Orzammar, a?labyrinth of caverns and ruins. “Broken Circle” doesn’t just see the Warden fight their way up through the Circle Tower, but throws them into the magical realm of the Fade where they have to solve a long series of puzzles, separated from their party. Though both the Deep Roads and the mage’s tower have a reputation, there are reasons?”Broken Circle” ends up the far more confusing quest.

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One of the reasons fans find both the Deep Roads and the mage’s tower quests frustrating is that both take far longer than the player might initially predict. “Anvil of the Void” sees the player enter the Deep Roads in search of Oghren’s wife Paragon Branka, who went missing looking for a magical anvil used to create golems.

The Deep Roads beneath Orzammar are vast and interconnected, leaving players with plenty of options and plenty of opportunities for confusion. Taking a wrong time can lead to some seriously tough fights that drain the party’s resources before later necessary encounters. Accidentally wandering into the Dead Trenches unprepared, for example, can see the party meet a grizzly end at the hands of the Genlock forge master, a powerful but avoidable mini-boss.

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As the player progresses,?the Darkspawn?remain relentless. At one point, a fight with an ogre on a bridge is followed almost immediately by a Darkspawn ambush on the other side. They are then faced with another tough boss fight, the Broodmother, all before reaching the Anvil of the Void itself. Other frustrating features include trap rooms filled with Darkspawn. When it comes to confusion, however, “Anvil of the Void” has nothing on “Broken Circle.”

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In the Circle Tower alone, players will find themselves opening door after door, only to be immediately swarmed by the demons and blood mages waiting within. There player has to fight their way up through four tough floors.?As they do so they have to fight several different demons. Fighting the Sloth demon activates an entirely new quest in and of itself, “The Fade: Lost in Dreams.”

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“The Fade: Lost in Dreams” is particularly confusing for a few reasons. First, the Warden wakes up in the Fade totally alone, without their companions to guide them in any way, or at least provide party banter to make the mission more than a series of puzzles and combat encounters.

In order to get out the Fade the player has to gain several different forms throughout four different areas of the Fade: the Raw Fade, the Darkspawn Invasion, the Burning Tower, and the Mage Asunder. These forms are the mouse form, spirit form, burning man form, and golem form, each with their own special abilities. These forms then allow the player to?access the five mini-bosses who are guarding the Sloth demon.

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On an initial playthrough, many players find themselves utterly confused when they wake up in the Fade. There are no other?quests in?Dragon Age: Origins that ask the player to gain so many new powers, travel to so many different separate realms, or defeat so many mini-bosses without their companions. Each of the areas the Grey Warden has to visit can be confusing in their own right, with new powers changing how players are expected to explore the different areas. In the case of mouse form, for example, this involves travelling through holes which lead to otherwise inaccessible areas of the map.

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To make matters worse, players who were already finding the fight up through the Circle Tower a bit of a slog have to spend what can be hours in the Fade, only to emerge in the same section of the mage’s tower they were in when the Sloth demon put them to sleep.?The Deep Roads may be confusing, but at the very least they follow the dungeon-diving logic of most RPGs. The Deep Roads can be frustrating because of the number of surprise encounters and how easy it is to get lost, but there’s nothing that’s more?out of left field thanthe Fade segment of the “Broken Circle” quest.

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“The Fade: Lost in Dreams” is one of Dragon Age: Origins most confusing quests, embedded within what is already one of the Dragon Age series’ most frustratingly long and relentless dungeons. That extra level makes “Anvil of the Void” seem like a walk in the park. At the very least the Deep Roads quest makes it clear what the player is trying to do, even if it’s a struggle to do so. In the Fade, players risk finding themselves utterly baffled, travelling through a series of nine different realms which have to be traversed in a specific order for the player to escape.

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Dragon Age has taken players back to the Deep Roads in DLCs like Inquisition’s The Descent, but although players have returned to the Fade in later games, this version?of the Fade is nothing like its appearance in Origins. Inquisition’s fight in the Fade during the quest “Here Lies the Abyss” is far more combat-oriented. Perhaps Origins’ Fade quest is the only one to truly capture the baffling and dreamlike nature of the magical realm described in the lore, but most fans will be glad to see that kind of quest design left behind as the franchise moves forward.

Dragon Age: Origins?is available now on the PC, PS3, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

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