The City elf origin is way better than the Dalish Elf origin. The city elf origin story feels more personal and It shows you why the elf hate the humans. In my opinion the best origin stories are in this order:
- Dwarf Noble
- City Elf
- Human Noble
- Dwarf Commoner
- Dalish Elf
Sorry about quoting you from a few months back. Just wanted to give my impressions.
1) Human Noble: I feel most connected to the setting with this background. All kinds of conversations take place throughout the game about a place called Highever and it's utterly meaningless without the context of this background. It also makes Arl Renden Howe suddenly significant in the context of the greater plot, where as otherwise he feels like an afterthought. In my opinion, it also gives the character more motivation to do something about the Blight, and more reason to care about what happens to Ferelden in general.
2) City Elf: This is the origin that makes the most sense for someone who wants to be a Grey Warden and doesn't simply find themselves recruited with little choice, particularly if you're playing a female elf. Anger, righteous fury, and the desperate desire to escape a life that is desolate in nearly every conceivable way can be found here, especially once the horrible things that happen in the middle of it make it impossible for you to say at home. By the end of the City Elf origin, I not only had no choice to be a Grey Warden, I wanted to be one.
3) Mage Origin: A very involved and entertaining start to the game. It gives significance to Irving and more importantly to Jowan, and is a great place to start if you like having Wynne in your party. I also felt this origin, though it might be my own impressions coloring it, gives you more in common with Morrigan and makes her easier to relate to. My major complaint about it is how Irving handles your involvement if you agreed to assist him, for someone who is supposedly the First Enchanter of the Circle, his handling of the situation would have landed you in nearly as much trouble as you would have been if you had assisted Jowan upfront.
4) Dwarf Commoner: Like the City Elf, this is a good place to start for a character who would find escape in the life of a Grey Warden compared to their home life. I don't like how it plays out: guards exist at all entrances of the Proving Grounds to prevent someone from interfering with the Provings themselves, so it seems utterly ludicrous that some drunk, stumbling moron can somehow make it past them. Otherwise, its somewhat unremarkable.
5) Dalish Elf: I hate to upset any fans of the Dalish, but I find the Dalish very boring. The idea that elves are impoverished and destitute as opposed to being these majestic, otherworldly beings is interesting, but the Dalish themselves seem to be a substitute for any noble, primitive culture that was eradicated by a technologically superior invader. They've elevated the stories and lore of their long buried past into, in their opinion, immutable fact which cannot be conclusively proven or disproven and yet they are quite quick to point out just how right their forebearers were and just how wrong everyone else is. The fact that when you finally get to play out the Brecilian Forest chapter it is almost indistinguishable from if you were any other origin-Warden just makes it that much more boring to start as one. It's just not interesting.
6) Dwarf Noble: It might be surprising that I'm putting this here given my reasons for the Human Noble having the top spot. Fact is, this is an excellent place to understand Dwarven politics and it makes the Orzammar section of the game more interesting than it would have been as a different origin. I don't mind that you are manipulated in it, and I don't mind what happens as a result of it. What I mind is that you have no way of doing anything about it, even if your efforts would be proven futile in the end. Once Bhelen has given you his warning, you just...go to bed...even though this a celebration in your honor and you've just been warned of a possible threat on your life. You can't speak with Endrin, or Trian, or do any investigating on your own. For better or for worse, the fact you aren't even allowed that little bit of conceit before the net is drawn tight around you is infuriating from an RPG standpoint: I want the option of doing something about it even if the end I'm unable to make a difference. I don't want to simply have it told to me, go to bed, and then ooops, look what happened while you were sleeping. I also find that if you decide that Bhelen betrayed you, once you return to Orzammar there really isn't any conflict in choosing between Harrowmont and Bhelen for the crown; the avenue of approaching that conflict that another origin might have had is somewhat closed off if you play the character's rage out accurately. It's railroading of the story in the worst possible way. As I said, I don't mind the outcome, but I would have liked the sense that I had done more about it than just having gone to bed and waited for the inevitable without trying to do anything about it.