Demons, dragons, darkspawn, even the Dreadwolf — there are many challenges to face in the world of Dragon Age. Each game features a host of enemies threatening to destroy Thedas if one hero doesn’t step up and save it. There was the Grey Warden in Ferelden, The Champion in Kirkwall, and the Inquisitor — but which is the best of the Dragon Age games ranked?
Dragon Age is one of BioWare’s most popular titles, and they recently announced that they’re officially in production of a new Dragon Age. BioWare’s last two major releases (Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem) both came out to somewhat lackluster receptions, but fans are still eager to see what the studio has to offer. It’s not hard to see why — I challenge anyone not to get excited when they get a look at BioWare’s new promotional footage for the game.
The announcement has also sparked interest in players who have yet to take up the sword against the Blight, but with each game telling a different story, where’s the best place to begin? We thought now would be the perfect time to look back at the series with a list of all Dragon Age games ranked!
Dragon Age Games Ranked From Worst to Best
Strap on your armor, ready your spells, and stock up your potions because it’s time to list all the best Dragon Age games ranked from worst to best!
4. Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening
Starting off our list is Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening. This is an odd one because, while it is technically an expansion of the first Dragon Age game, it plays very much like a standalone title. It follows a separate storyline set six months after the events of Origins and was even released as a physical disc.
With the Blight defeated, the time has come for the Ferelden Grey Wardens to rebuild. Your protagonist can either be your imported character from Origins or a new Grey Warden who’s come from Orlais. You take command of Vigil’s Keep, a former Grey Warden stronghold that’s fallen into disrepair over the years, in an attempt to rebuild Ferelden’s defenses against the next Blight. Only something is wrong. Darkspawn have always returned to their underground tunnels after a Blight, but now they’re following new leadership — a race of intelligent darkspawn.
Not much is changed mechanically from Origins. Awakening uses the same engine with the same graphical capabilities. There are some new enemies to fight and new class specializations to expand your abilities, but combat and interactions are pretty much the same.
Though the companions in Awakening are pretty decent, they’re easily the weakest in the series. There are a few gems — Oghren (everyone’s favorite drunken dwarf) returns, and new characters Anders and Justice appear in Dragon Age 2, but everyone else is pretty lackluster. Characters like Nathaniel and Sigrun are fairly forgettable compared to other, more iconic characters from the other games.
The story is also less compelling than those of other games. It leans more into the grotesque nature of the darkspawn and less into the discovery and exploration of the various lands and cultures of Thedas.
Awakening is a good game for completionists who want to make sure they get every last piece of the story, as well as players who loved Origins so much that they didn’t want to see it end. I personally enjoyed playing through Awakening — even watered-down Dragon Age makes for a quality RPG, and it does a great job setting up Anders as a character for DA2. If you’re looking for one to skip, though, Awakening is the weakest and least necessary game in the series.
3. Dragon Age 2
Next up on our list of Dragon Age games ranked is Dragon Age 2. The second major installation in the series was somewhat polarizing to fans. Origins had a classic RPG feel to it, as it was based heavily on the Dungeons & Dragons mechanics that the studio was known for with games like Neverwinter Nights and Baldur’s Gate. It offered players the ability to choose their race, gender, class, and backstory during character customization, and even the order in which they’d play significant story beats. DA2 was more restrictive. You could still choose class and gender, but you were always human, and you always had the same origin story.
In Dragon Age 2, you play as Hawke, a Ferelden refugee forced to flee the Blight with their mother and brother/sister (your surviving sibling depends on which class you chose at the beginning of the game.) The three of you escape to Kirkwall, a large city-state in the Free Marches, only to find that it’s already flooded with refugees. With nowhere else to turn, you must resort to either crime or mercenary work to survive.
At least, that’s how it starts. There are a lot of ways to move up the social ladder in Kirkwall, but tensions are growing in the city. Shipwrecked Qunari are clashing with the Chantry, and relations between the mages and their increasingly brutal Templar jailors are straining. Each of your successes has made you more and more of a public figure, drawing you into the mess and forcing you to take sides.
The combat in Dragon Age 2 is fairly similar to that of the first game, though it shifts more toward real-time attacks than strategy, and the attack animations are much more exciting. Rogues now vanish, fling daggers, and do crazy flips while mages call down fireballs, shoot bolts of lightning, and cover themselves in rocky armor. There’s also a massive improvement in graphics between the first and second games. The settings are beautifully designed, and the character models feel bespoke, rather than like faces pasted onto the same three to four different bodies.
Another interesting thing that DA2 introduced was personality types. BioWare has always been well known for the quality of their branching dialogue trees. Hawke can respond to dialogue ques in several ways based on their experiences, expertise, and relationships. Their main responses are coded as sincere, sarcastic, and aggressive — the one you choose most frequently ends up being Hawke’s default personality in other interactions, similarly to Mass Effect‘s Paragon/Renegade system. (Snarky Hawke is the best Hawke!)
The companions are easily the best part of the game. Varric is just objectively amazing, but I’m personally a huge fan of Merril and Fenris too. DA2 provides an added challenge in how you create your party, however. While you obviously want one character of each class for balanced combat, you have to take the warring politics of each party member into account. For example, Fenris has a deep hatred for blood magic, while Merril believes it’s not inherently evil. If you encounter a blood mage while both of them are in your party, one will inevitably disapprove of how you handle the situation no matter what you do.
This makes things difficult since you need your party members’ approval to unlock special abilities as they level up. Some of them may even turn on you at certain points in the game if they dislike you enough.
The story is good, though fairly linear. You’re given free rein to explore Kirkwall and do as many side quests as you like between major story beats, but the primary campaign is pretty straightforward. It’s not bad; it just lacks the freedom of exploration in Origins. Kirkwall is also a much smaller and less diverse sandbox than Ferelden.
All-in-all, DA2 is a great game. We recommend it to anyone interested in the series. It has its limitations, but its strengths more than make up the difference.
2. Dragon Age: Inquisition
The most recent installation in the Dragon Age series takes our number two spot. Inquisition is a powerful addition to the series. It’s honestly the last truly successful game to come out of BioWare. We liked it so much we gave it “best medieval RPG” on our list of the best medieval games! They took everything great from DA2 and combined it with the elements fans missed from Origins. Character customization is back, and they even added Qunari as a playable race!
The story follows the Inquisitor. You wake up in the aftermath of a massive, magical explosion that took place in the middle of a Conclave between mages and Templars. Rifts have opened all over Thedas, bleeding demons and Fade spirits into the mortal world. You have somehow received a magical mark on your palm, which is the only known force capable of closing the Rifts. You’ll need help to do it, though. You must take on the mantle of Inquisitor and reinstate the Inquisition, gathering individual allies and brokering alliances with other countries along the way.
Inquisition has the most open world of any game in the series. It still doesn’t have a single, solid map like Skyrim, but it has several large, sprawling maps littered across multiple countries, giving the player a larger look at Thedas than ever before. Quests are given by your military, espionage, and diplomatic advisors and can be chosen from a map. This gives you a global view of the in-game world, as well as the agency to decide which quests you’ll do and when.
The characters are great too. Iron Bull, Sera, and Solas all make excellent additions. Varric and Cassandra Pentaghast return as well. Veteran players will recognize Cassandra as the woman who interrogated Varric into telling the story of DA2. She was also the protagonist of the anime prequel, Dawn of the Seeker (but you really don’t need to watch that).
Inquisition is a solid game. The only reason it fails to take our number one spot is that the next game on our list is the one that made all the rest possible.
1. Dragon Age: Origins
Dragon Age: Origins was originally conceived as a way for BioWare to build a fantasy game similar to their work in the world of Dungeons & Dragons without the restrictions associated with licensed properties. The story and world were inspired by popular fantasy works, and the game’s popularity soon grew beyond the studio’s wildest expectations.
It received Game of the Year awards in numerous categories from IGN, Giant Bomb, PC Gamer, and dozens of other publications. Dragon Age became the name of one of the biggest western RPGs in the world.
The game begins with you choosing your character’s origin story. You can be a mage who’s never seen the world beyond their tower, a dwarven criminal scrounging to survive, or a hunter from an elven tribe. There are six different backstories that make up the first hour or so of the game. Each of them changes the way people of the world see you, but all of them lead to you becoming a Grey Warden.
A Blight is beginning in Ferelden. Legions of darkspawn have awoken an Archdemon. Now it will lead them against the entire world. You have been indoctrinated into the Grey Wardens, the only warriors with the power to defeat an Archdemon. You join an army under the banner of the King of Ferelden, who marches to defeat the Blight before it begins, but a trusted ally’s betrayal soon leaves you and Alistair as the last two Grey Wardens in the country. Together, you must rally allies to your cause so that you may face the darkspawn once again and save the world.
The use of six different origin stories is unique to the first game and gives players a personalized experience that adds to the game’s replayability. You also make several decisions across the story that have a genuinely massive impact on how things play out. Of course, you always end up leading an army against the darkspawn, but who makes up that army and which companions stand by your side vary greatly depending on your playstyle and the decisions you make along the way.
The combat system doesn’t look as flashy as the later games, but it’s actually more complex, allowing the player a higher degree of customization than what you see in DA2 and Inquisition. This, again, makes multiple playthroughs much more viable.
The characters in Origins are phenomenal. Alistair and Morrigan are two of my favorites in the entire series, but all of your companions are unique and interesting. You can spend hours in the camp just talking to them and listening to their stories about how they came to join you on your journey. Your companions are the heart and soul of what makes a good BioWare game, and Origins has some of the best.
The story follows most of the beats you’d expect from high fantasy, but that’s okay! This game is a playground for nerds like me who love to dive deep into the fictional lore. Everywhere you go is rich in history and a pleasure to explore, from the underground dwarven city of Orzammar to the Dalish elf camp in the Brecilian Forest.
Dragon Age: Origins wasn’t the most visually ambitious game in the series, but it set the standard for those that came after it. It’s versatile and charming in a way that few RPGs have been before or since. That’s why it’s our pick for the best Dragon Age game.
In War, Victory. In Peace, Vigilance. In Death, Sacrifice.
Thank you for reading our list of Dragon Age games ranked from worst to best. We hope you enjoyed it and that you’re as eager as we are for all the new games BioWare has planned. Be sure to follow High Ground Gaming for more news and information.