A song of fire, ice and lightning. Plus a lightsaber too
The mages have always been a little bit overpowered in the Dragon Age series. It’s a good thing they’re mostly single player, story rich games. Right from the get-go in Origins, the mages have been the easy button, especially if you picked the Arcane Warrior specialisation.
In Dragon Age 2, the elemental mage was just immensely fun, laying waste to entire swarms to mobs with Firestorm and Cone of Ice. Unfortunately, if you played on Impossible, which turned on friendly fire, you’d also kill your own squad mates. Thankfully you can turn that pesky “nuke yourself” setting off in Inquisition.
The mage specialisations on offer are actually quite interesting in their own right. Sure, they don’t offer the mage a massive instantaneous damage spike like the rogues get, but they do offer crowd control, reasonably high DPS and lots of cross class combo opportunities.
I love Dorian as a character and also for Ramon Tikaram’s voice acting, not so much his specialisation. Every time he says “mage from Tevinter”, it’s just such a perfect moment. I mean, it’s not that the Necromancy is bad per se, just that doesn’t quite have that oomph that the others have.
The main problem with playing as a Necromancer is the lack of damage. You say, well Walking Bomb is good, but it only works if all your targets are clustered. Which isn’t likely, unless you have some skill like Static Cage to force them together.
But then, Fire Mine or Ice Mine would be much better at damage, and it doesn’t rely on the target dying within a certain amount of time. There’s probably too much micromanagement. On the other hand, you do gain survivability and heaps of mana regeneration, through your passives.
Necromancer is probably the kind of support mage that is used to disable enemies and take them out of the fight, to let you deal with smaller numbers of targets at any one time, and then uses them . It probably draws out a fight with mobs, but I just don’t see how it would be useful against bigger opponents that are immune to status effects.
Rift Mage (Solas)
Now this is what we’re talking about. A support mage that can weaken foes with reasonably high damage attacks, lowering their damage output by up to sixt per cent and able to control the battlefield? Yes, please!
I’m only part way into a character with this specialisation, and it’s definitely fun. You can stand back and watch the chaos unfold as you Static Cage everyone (or use Pull of the Abyss later on), then send a Stone Fist into the middle of the pack and watch as a combo comes up and does heaps of damage to boot.
The beauty of the Rift Mage is that you can self detonate so many combos with your spells while helping your tanks stay up with Barriers and lower damage from enemies. Half the time, they’re paralysed/asleep/something else anyway. This is a great mage build that guarantees the fun and frivolity.
Knight Enchanter (Vivienne)
This is the controversial one. Essentially the Arcane Warrior spec in Origins, this is also another mage that is nigh on invincible. Some say it’s totally overpowered, and another school says that you’re doing it wrong. Or something. You know what? Both sides are right, depending on how you choose to approach any battle.
The Knight Enchanter is essentially a secondary tank that relies on generating barriers rather than generating guard like Blackwall or Cassandra. It is also an immensely mobile damage dealer that can be used both defensively or offensively. Thus, the versatility is what gives the Knight Enchanter its reputation for overpoweredness.
It also helps that you generate barrier by simply using your Spirit Blade attack, or any attack. Like a Fire Mine. Your mobility comes from Frost Step, which can shoot you from one end of an engagement to another, should your long range DPS characters require support. Simply put, you can use a Knight Enchanter as the second tank, and have two archers or a second (or third!) mage along.
Knight Enchanters are incredibly powerful, and serve a different role to the traditional mage. It’s actually fun, getting in there and lightsabering everything, while also firebombing stuff that’s out of melee range. However, it does not mean that the class is invincible, because you must still be careful about what fights you pick.