As with any RPG, understanding gear is an important part of success in Dragon Age Origins. Having the right gear can make life much easier. There are numerous types of weapons and armor available, and there are subtle differences between each. This guide breaks down the differences and explains what to look for when trying to decide what gear is best for your characters.
Melee weapons in Dragon Age Origins are largely based off the strength stat and are therefore largely targeted towards Warriors and certain Rogue builds. The exception is daggers, which are half dexterity, half strength. The first and most straight-forward stat is damage. This is simply the unmodified amount of damage the weapon will do on a successful hit. The higher, the better. Different kinds of weapons have different base damage values, but the value is variable based on the type of material the weapon is made out of. In rank of quality from worst the best the materials are Iron, Grey Iron, Steel, Veridium, Red Steel, Silverite, and Dragonbone.
The attribute modifier determines how much of the governing stat is factored into damage. It can range from 85% for a dagger to 125% for a maul. In effect it means that all things being equal, a maul with a 125% modifier will do more damage than a sword with a 100% modifier, even if the weapons have the same stats otherwise. The gap between the maul and sword would increase as the wielder’s strength increased.
Armor penetration governs how well a weapon works against armor. It seems to work as simple addition and subtraction. The armor penetration, the more points of armor which are ignored. A weapon with ten armor penetration rating of ten would ignore the effect of armor against an enemy with an armor rating of ten.
The speed modifier determines how quickly a weapon is swung relative to the base speed of the character’s attack animation. Lower is better.
Finally, critical chance is a stat added on top of the character’s melee critical chance. Higher is better.
All of the above information applies to both melee and ranged weapons. However, ranged weapons also have the range stat and aim time stat. The range stat determines how far a character can be from an opponent before penalties are applied to attack rolls. The aim stat determines how long it takes a weapon to be aimed before firing.
Also, note that both Longbows and Shortbows rely 50/50 on the strength and dexterity stats when determining damage. Crossbows, on the other hand, rely entirely on dexterity.
Weapons – My Picks
The game’s weapons have their stats distributed so one type of weapon is clearly better in all situations. That said, I do have some favorites. For two-handed weapons I like Mauls for their high armor penetration and high attribute modifier. Among one-handed weapons I prefer swords for their fast speed and medium-high critical chance.
For bows the choice depends on the user’s best stat, since longbows are 50/50 strength and dexterity while crossbows are 100% dexterity.
These are not hard an fast rules, however, so your mileage may vary. Also, for much of the game you’ll be using the best weapon you can get your hands on, so don’t become so discriminatory towards a particular weapon type that you throw out a good one because it isn’t the type of weapon you typically use.
Like weapons, armor has its own stats which determine how effective it is. There are less stats to worry about, but they are still important.
The first state to worry about is the armor rating. This armor rating adds to your character’s overall armor rating which in turn determines how much damage is ignored when a blow lands. As you might expect, higher is better, with no exceptions.
The second stat of concern is the fatigue rating. The fatigue rating applies a modifier to the stamina cost of using skills. This modifier can either increase or decrease the stamina cost of using skills. A lower modifier is always better since it allows your character to use skills more often.
Armor – My Picks
Of course, while both the armor and fatigue stats are clear cut in regard to what is best, they tend to oppose each other on any given set of armor. Armor with a high armor rating also tends to have a high fatigue modifier.
This is a balancing act and there is no clear-cut correct answer. That said, I usually give characters who are meant to do a lot of damage a set of armor with the lowest possible fatigue modifier. This allows them to continue to use their devastating offensive skills. Characters who exist to absorb damage, on the other hand, are given heavy armor to ensure they can soak up as much damage as possible before I have to heal them.
Use this guide as a toolset. There are so many weapons in Dragon Age Origins and so many ways to play the game that no particular weapon is guaranteed to be the best. You’ll often receive new equipment, as well, so you’ll constantly have to re-evaluate how you judge weapons and armor. If you have come across two nice pieces of equipment and you don’t know which to pick, don’t. Try both out for the next hour or so and then pick the one which seems to work the best.
In fact, it is often not a bad idea to bring multiple sets of equipment. For example, you might want your DPS melee characters to bring both one fast weapon with good base damage and one slower weapon with a high armor penetration rating. This kind of min/maxing isn’t required to win the game on normal difficulity, but as you ramp up the difficulty you’ll find that even these kind of minor adjustments in your equipment can make a difference.
This post is part of the series: A Guide to Dragon Age: Origins
- Dragon Age Weapons and Armor Guide: Equipment Tactics and Data
- Dragon Age Origins Tactics: A Guide to NPC’s
- Dragon Age Origins Tactics: Runes and Enchantment Guide
- Dragon Age Origins Tactics: A Guide to Mage Spells
- Is it the Thought that Counts? Giving Gifts in DAO
- A Gaming Veteran's Guide to Dragon Age: Origins