Dragon Age Origins Mods: The 21 Best Mods in 2015 and Why You Need Them

OMG, Becky. That game is so 2009. But, wait! There's more!

Give Ferelden a Facelift

Remember to always mod responsibly, kids. (For those interested: this is from the Dance Party mod)

Nearly 6 years and multiple DLCs and sequels later, Dragon Age has come a long way from Lothering. Anyone comparing Origins to Inquisition will no doubt see how it's aged, but it has in no way lost its fun, mystery, or them feels. Attach a few mods to it, however, and fresh life is breathed into an old game. They can amp up the graphics, provide countless newer, sweeter character and armor customizations, and smooth and update the gameplay and combat system.

For the interested or morbidly curious, we'll be going through 21 Dragon Age: Origins mods worth looking into to get you going.

A few things of note before we begin:

1. There are literally a couple thousand Dragon Age: Origins mods on nexusmods alone (2,220+ at current count). Narrowing it down wasn't easy, so accept my apologies in advance for not covering someone's favorite. The selected mods were taken from player recommendation lists and site stats. Though, feel free to list your own must-haves in the comments section!

2. None of the listed mods will be adult-only or romance themed. Sorry, kids! This list focuses on gameplay, environment, and aesthetics to make things shiny and new, not shiny and nude.

3. Mod at your own risk! Though still being actively used, some of these are older and may not play well with others. Read all directions carefully and don't be afraid to make use of the post section of each mod if you run into a hiccup.

4. Lastly, if you've never played Dragon Age: Origins before, consider playing it through once and enjoying it for what it is, and then shoot it in the face with the make-up gun and go at it again.

Now then, onto the mods...

 

Utilities

1 & 2. DAO-Modmanager and DAModder

Get off on the right foot. Above is a friendly guide on how to install mods, a few of which will be making an appearance in this list, using DAO-Modmanager. Skip to around 2:14 to get down to the nitty-gritty.

Why: While these are utilities and not actual mods, per se, they can be considered necessities for veterans and novice modders alike who find themselves suddenly swimming in an ocean of files with no idea where to put them, or where they've just put them, and why isn't this working omg call an old priest and a young priest. In short, they help remove some of the probability of headaches, providing a pen for all of your mod cattle and taking over daupdater's role of managing your .dazips, .overrides, and screenshots. Each does basically the same thing, but some mods that we'll be covering may recommend one over the other.

Where:

DAO-Modmanager - http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/277/

DAModder - http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/286/

 

3. CharGenMorph Compiler

Dragon Age: Origins, mods, chargenmorph compiler

Before

 

Dragon Age: Origins, mods, chargenmorph compiler

After! Tada. Numerous character customization mods untangled and condensed. Far less frightening.

Why: Debatably a must-have for anyone going heavy into character customization modding, CharGenMorph Compiler is a utility that takes all of the various chargenmorphcfg.xml files across the mods you're downloading and attempts to force them to play nice with each other while packing them all into one neat .xml, cutting down on redundancies and fixing bad references or broken files that can occur.

Where: http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/971/

 

Gameplay and Combat

1 & 2. Extra Dog Slot and Extended Dog Talents

Extra Dog Slot and Extended Dog Talents in action.

Why: Extra Dog Slot allows you to take your Mabari with you wherever you go, even if you fill your actual party slots with bipedal companions, by assigning it to a summoned creature slot instead. Highly recommended for the player who loves their Mabari as much as their Mabari loves them… and having a 5th companion to help rip darkspawn apart is always a plus.

Meanwhile, Extended Dog Talents is useful even if you don't choose to use Extra Dog Slot but enjoying bringing Dog with you on adventures, providing four new talents for Dog – two passive, two activated – making him an overall more viable companion.

Where:

Extra Dog Slot - http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/664/

Extended Dog Talents - http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/1361/

 

3. Skip the Fade

I know. The only thing worse than fighting through The Fade is watching someone else fight through it, but let us take a moment or 15 to appreciate how effortless this mod makes things.

Why: While you won't get to skip the fade entirely, you will get to mostly skip it. You'll have to chat and fight with Fade!Duncan as usual, but when you click on the altar that drops you into the first part of the maze, you're immediately ported to one of your companions instead of stuck talking to Niall and then finding your way around. Port – Port – Port – Boss Demon – Peace-Out, Y'all.

Where: http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/816/

 

4. Lock Bash

Dragon Age: Origins, mods, lock bash

WARDEN SMAAAASH!

Why: This mod takes away the pressure to spec into lock picking, or carry a lock picking companion in your party, allowing you to do exactly what you think: bash a lock in order to open a locked chest or door. In an attempt to maintain a sense of fairness in the gameplay, however, there is a chance to destroy the items in the chest or “lose them in the rubble,” your success being determined by the points put into Magic, Strength, or Dexterity, depending on your class.

Where: http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/301/

 

5. Forced Deathblows

Coverage of the Dalish Origin mod as well as Forced Deathblows and how to install both. Skip to about 3:43 to see some gameplay and eventual blood-spurty goodness

Why: To make combat just a little more exciting, this mod allows you to control when and how often deathblow animations occur, spicing up your gameplay with each flippy jump hack-n-stab and/or overly juicy beheading. Interestingly enough, it comes in different flavors, going in both directions, in case you'd rather look ridiculously awesome only on legit bosses rather than on everything ever or some amount in between.

Where: http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/220/

Interested in the Dalish Origin mod from the video? Check it out here - http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/764/

 

6. Combat Tweaks v323

A quick rundown of what Combat Tweaks does, how to install it, and some gameplay footage. Improved Environment (which we'll get to later) and Lock Bash mods both also make cameos here.

Why: Combat Tweaks v323 updates the gameplay style without turning it into some darkspawn bastardization of the original, offering fixes and tweaks to bring the combat into this decade, as well as a few optional tweaks to download in addition to the main mod that remove effect annoyances and provide other useful tidbits. It's also the base from which the monster that is JX - Dragon Age Extended transforms your game entirely.

Where: http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/354/

 

7. JX – Dragon Age Extended

Dragon Age: Origins, mods, JX - Dragon Age Extended

Yep. Those are Magic: The Gathering based spells and icons – one of the many MANY ways in which this mod adds to the original game.

Why: Also known as Dragon Age Class and Specialization Pack, JX – Dragon Age Extended is its updated version with roughly a half billion mods mashed into one base of operations, adding classes, specializations, spells and abilities inspired by different games, improving on and adding viability to ones that already exist in DAO, adds shapeshifting forms and more. It also creates a “switchboard” for toggling these things on or off to fit your desired gameplay. It requires Combat Tweaks v323, and recommends using DAModder for installation.

Where: http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/3316/

 

8. Advanced Tactics

Gameplay without the herding cats aspect? Count me in. Broodmother encounter with Advanced Tactics helping to keep the party from going full derp.

Why: In the grand scheme of things, Dragon Age: Origin's tactics building and assignment system was new and different at the time, cutting down on some of the intense companion micromanaging involved in these sorts of games (I still have nightmares of queuing up actions and setting destinations and targets for my companions in Knights of the Old Republic) but it was also very, very flawed and could even be downright frustrating in a fine, I'll just do it myself kind of way. Advanced Tactics fixes some of the game's inherent combat tactics bugs and helps further streamline and customize the process, improving your overall gameplay experience.

Where: http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/181/

 

9. Character Respecialization

Another overview by Xuul showing off how this mod works and what it can be used for, as well as how to install it.

Why: Through the magic of the ravens that this mod spawns in your party camp and scattered throughout Ferelden, you're able to refund your talent points and redistribute them for both yourself and your party members, allowing you to try out new things without consequences or without having to start a whole new game.

Where: http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/14/

Curious about the Beyond Ferelden Camp Chest mod from the video? Check it out here - http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/61/

 

10. Auto Loot

Watch the auto and area looting functions in action, as well as how to install it.

Why: There are few things more heartbreaking than missing potential loot, and few things more obnoxious than having to wade through inventory screen after inventory screen, rifling through bits and bobs. This mod is a yummy, yummy convenience worth considering.

Where: http://social.bioware.com/project/690/#files

Need room for all this loot? Try the Expanded Inventory mod here - http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/23/

 

Environmental Improvements

1. Dragon Age Redesigned

A look at the changes Dragon Age Redesigned makes to the game, complete with its installation and tinkering.

Why: Due to the variety it offers, and how thorough it is, Dragon Age Redesigned is another monster of a mod, but it's arguably the end-all, be-all of necessary DA:O mods for improving how the game itself looks. Innumerable character models and skins have been refined or changed, from companions to characters out in the world, in order to “fix skin issues, face proportions, personality mismatches, gender identification, and race identification.” It smooths out, cleans up (or, bloodies up), and naturalizes countless NPC faces and skins. Some companions even have multiple versions for you to choose from to further enhance your experience.

Where: http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/686/

 

2. Improved Atmosphere

Comprehensive guide to the installation and customization of Improved Atmosphere.

Why: Updated within the last year, Improved Atmosphere adds aesthetics, depth, and a new level of life to the game with a slew of new item and armor looks and tints, revised looks for original items, increased party banter and NPC chatter, NPC busy and leisure animations in the background, extra character dialogue, and extended as well as restored scenes. This mod is yet another beast, and can be a bit touchy and is freakishly in depth, all of which can be intimidating for first time users, but if you want NEW new Origins, then you'll definitely want this.

Where: http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/577/

 

3. JB3Textures

Gameplay with JB3Textures and MasterEffect Shaders, with before and after comparison.

Why: Meant to improve the overall visuals of the game, JB3Textures sharpens the resolution of the world around you, bringing details out in much crisper focus. Be mindful, however! This covers everything from floorboards and cave walls to armor and NPC faces.

Dragon Age: Origins, mods, JB3Textures

#nofilter #wokeuplikethis

Though Aliscare up there is a tame example, in order to avoid unpleasant surprises, and because Dragon Age Redesigned will likely need you to do this anyway in order for its character model tweaks to shine through, you may need to go in and manually delete the face and eye files (a list is provided in this thread at nexusmods).

Where: http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/15/

 

Character Customization

1. More Hairstyles

Dragon Age: Origins, mods, More Hairstyles

Who's a pretty Warden? You are. And yes, YES, it prettifies menfolk of all races and sizes as well.

Why: Because who wants to be stuck with the Ferelden equivalent of the frosted tips trend from the 90s? Exactly as the name implies, More Hairstyles offers you… wait for it… more hairstyles, so you can update your look. The author has included their own styles, as well as incorporated the styles from a number of other hairstyle mods out there, to cut down on the need to collect every single hair mod under the digital sun.

Where: http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/392/

 

2. Pineappletree's Vibrant Colors

Dragon Age: Origins, mods, Pineappletree's Vibrant Colors

A sampling of some of the eye colors available through Pineappletree's Vibrant Colors mod.

Why: Pineappletree offers a whole new, wider selection of hair and eye colors, as well as skin tones for your hero, including bluish tones that will let you turn your elf into a drow... if that's your thang. And, possibly one of the best, most reassuring things one can encounter when digging up mods for an older game: it was updated within the last year!

Where: http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/153/

 

3. White Teeth

Dragon Age: Origins, mods, White Teeth

Know what this guy's not suffering from? Gingivitis.

Why: Because no detail is too small, apparently, with this mod showing up everywhere I looked. If you have an aversion to dull, yellowed teeth, or NPCs who remind you of Austin Powers, then this mod is a must, blessing the peoples of Ferelden and beyond with the power of dental hygiene.

Where: http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/44/

 

4. Grey Wardens of Ferelden

Dragon Age: Origins, mods, Grey Wardens of Ferelden

Though looking like a badass warrior hobo has a certain charm, Duncan is undeniably on fleek here.

Why: Because upgrading the armor of Origins, regardless of which armor mod you choose, gives the game a much fresher, more polished look. Same goes for weapons. I won't lie here - deciding which armor or weapon mod to showcase wasn't easy, as there are a gabillion options for both, and it ultimately comes down to taste in regard to either.

Grey Wardens of Ferelden, in particular, imports armor from Dragon Age 2, as well as introduces a number of other armor texture mods for you to choose from. But there are also armor mods out there for robes, for upping the sexiness factor, even for improving the quality of your cringe-worthy undergarments. Go forth and play dress up. It'll be worth it.

Where: www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/3258/

 

5. Change Your Hero Hair and Face Anywhere in the Game

Dragon Age: Origins, mods, Change Your Hero Hair and Face Anywhere

Yes, that is the mod's full name.

Why: Because you can RESPEC YOUR FACE. That's why. Should you decide that blondes truly do have more fun, or your nose just isn't cute enough or your jaw just isn't chiseled enough to face an arch demon, you can stop in the middle of the street and, with some technical jargon and a little ENCHANTMENT!, you can make things right. Just because you fight darkspawn doesn't mean you have to look like one, amirite?

Where: www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/1734/

 

And that's it! The amount of mods available for this game, many of them recently developed, goes to show just how majestic of a beast Dragon Age: Origins was and remains. It also means there was no possible way to come up with a perfect 21, so share the love and share your own lists below, and then go slap an ogre in a tower for old time's sake.

Just another girl on the internet.
Gamer Since: 2000
Currently Playing: PlanetSide 2, Killing Floor 2, Payday 2, Guild Wars 2, and Warframe?
Top 3 Favorite Games:Dragon Age: Origins, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect 2
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