EA has announced the details surrounding the first official Dragon Age expansion, dubbed Dragon Age: Awakening.

Appropriately enough, the game includes dragons
  • EA/BioWare
  • Appropriately enough, the game includes dragons

Awakening "offers a brand new area of the world to explore known as Amaranthine, featuring an epic story that will allow players to unravel the secrets of the darkspawn - and their true motivations." Standard expansion accouterments are included, with the press release specifically boasting impressive-sounding new monsters (see: the fluorescent Spectral Dragon in the above picture), as well as "an increased level cap, new spells, abilities, specializations and items, plus five all-new party members."

Awakening is scheduled for a simultaneous Xbox 360, PC and PlayStation 3 release on March 16.

Happy days, right? Maybe. That depends on how you feel about the information beyond the jump.

In this new era of broadband Internet and downloadable content you'd expect Awakening to appear on the Xbox Live Marketplace and PlayStation Network, perhaps with a larger-than-average $20 price tag, right?

Looks like BioWare and EA want to kick things old school.

... lots and lots of dragons.
  • EA/BioWare
  • ... lots and lots of dragons.

According to the press release Awakening will be released to actual retail shelves and sport a $40 price tag. Like most expansions, you'll need to own the original Dragon Age to play Awakening, though it's unclear how the copy protection scheme on this one will work. My guess is that having the original game installed to your hard drive will be enough proof, but that could prove problematic for all those gamers whose family and friends frugally gifted them a hard drive-less Xbox 360 Arcade Edition console this holiday season.

Those of us with the proper hardware however, need only keep our fingers crossed that EA isn't rushing this out the door to capitalize on the persistent embers of hype still surrounding the original Dragon Age.

Oh, and if you've finished Dragon Age: Origins already, have a look at the official Awakening trailer found below. It vaguely spoils the plot of the original game, but if that's not a concern for you, enjoy the bloody spectacle.