- Leveling up any party members who haven't been used very often, making sure abilities and stats are increased accordingly.
- Ensuring that all party members have a full set of tactics assigned.
- Checking that all party members have the best armor and weaponry equipped for their abilities.
When the Warden arrives in Redcliffe, the village is already overrun, and the castle is under siege. The Warden must help the garrison fight off the darkspawn, including an Ogre. When the village is emptied of enemies, go to the castle. A large number of Hurlocks have gathered, and at the end of the assault, which consists of the initial wave, a second wave and ends with an Ogre Alpha attack.
Once the darkspawn have been defeated both in the village and on the castle grounds, the Redcliffe officer will engage the Warden in conversation when approached. The Warden may choose to enter the castle immediately, or ask the officer to wait until the battlefield has been looted. Inside the castle, Arl Eamon will tell the Warden that the horde is marching towards Denerim. The Warden and the Arl must organize the troops and march to meet the horde.
The Warden may speak to Eamon and several other people after the speech. This is the time to restock with Bodahn Feddic and enchant your equipment with Sandal, who will have been offered sanctuary in the Arl's castle. However, the player cannot assign equipment or tactics to party members (one rationale for visiting camp before arriving at Redcliffe).
The Warden must then head upstairs to speak to Riordan. After speaking with him, Morrigan will be waiting in the Warden's room for an important decision (see Morrigan's Ritual for more information). Depending on the choice made, Morrigan will either leave your party now, or after the final battle. The first time this offer is accepted, the achievement "A Dark Promise" is unlocked after completion of the final battle.
Denerim City Gates
Upon reaching Denerim, there will be a skirmish at the city gates. In this early stage, the enemy will consist mostly of darkspawn grunts and a few Alphas. They should pose little threat here, since all the party members you have retained at this point will be fighting, as well as Riordan and a number of human soldiers. This, however, is why it is important to make sure all party members are properly equipped, leveled up and assigned tactics, as most will be working independently in this and other battles.
After clearing the gates, Riordan will confer with the Warden. He will suggest taking a small group, including Alistair (or the Secret Companion) and up to two others, to deal with the darkspawn. He will mention there are two darkspawn generals leading large forces within the city, leaving it up to the Warden to decide whether or not to engage them. Riordan will also tell the Warden to head to Fort Drakon, where he intends to lure the Archdemon. (You do not need (and perhaps may not want) a second Warden in your party; Riordan just advises it.)
After choosing a party, the Warden can then decide who will lead the forces defending the gates. Once that is settled, you will have a chance to watch a very touching moment with the party members as they say their goodbyes to the Warden. Now, make your run down the street with the cheering of soldiers along the way.
Denerim Market District
Once leaving the gates, you will have access to the armies you have gathered. There are many Ogres, so keep an eye on your potions and allies.
The enemies here are Ogres, Genlock Emissaries, and the melee-specializing of the two Hurlock Generals. There is also a set limit of enemies, spawning at regular intervals, that will spawn from the other map exit until the General is defeated.
Killing the General here is not terribly difficult. However, it is best to deal with waves of enemies before taking him on, so you can throw your full strength at him. The General has Superiority, so his War Cry can knock down fighters engaging him. Try to keep him hindered with stun and melee debuffs, and be prepared to heal quickly. His attacks can easily do 100+ damage, so, of course, protect your lightly armored companions.
After defeating the General, he will drop some loot, including the helmet Corruption. If you haven't yet been to the Elven Alienage, head there next--you won't have the opportunity to backtrack if you head directly to the Palace District.
The other hurlock general is in the alienage, attacking a barricade that the elves have erected. Once inside the alienage, the Warden can speak to Shianni. She will join the attack automatically if the Warden is of City Elf Origin; otherwise, she must be persuaded with a high persuasion check.
Dwarves work well as support here. Although the battle spans the entire alienage, the fight will be in relatively close quarters. The elves can also prove useful here, if your party is able to hold the darkspawn at the gate within range of their arrows.
The ogre can be kept frozen by a mage, who can also use large AoE spells to get rid of the grunts quickly. Taking out the ogre and grunts early is recommended so damage can be concentrated on the general. However, if the ogre is killed too early, such as before the gate comes down, another one will come.
The hurlock general has a powerful arsenal of magic, including a fire-based spell that can kill a reckless party. He will occasionally cast Glyphs of Repulsion around himself to knock back melee characters; in this case, using your melee party members against other darkspawn while attacking the general with range works well. Once the barrier goes down, send them back after him, but watch for his spells. Mana Clash also works very well - with a level 23 mage, one Mana Clash spell took down 80% of its health.
Once the area is clear, speaking to Shianni again will complete the quest. She will reward you with the Dawn Ring. As the party exits the area, the Archdemon appears and destroys the bridge behind them.
Note that even though the exit says "Market District", you can move to either area after using it.
Denerim City Gates Revisited
After you attempt to travel to the Denerim Palace District, a story will cut away from the main party to the gates.
The Companions left at the gates will brace for another wave of darkspawn. If you completed the Dark Ritual but did not include Morrigan in your party to defeat the Archdemon, she will still be present with the group at the gates. (The epilogue will reveal that she vanishes immediately afterwards.)
Speaking to the quest-marked soldier will initiate the darkspawn waves. This quest should be relatively simple, as the attacking darkspawn are mostly low ranking. The party left at the gates will have access to the Warden's party inventory, so making sure there are adequate healing supplies is wise.
Once the gates have been cleared again, speak to the messenger to cut back to the main party.
If more than half of the Denerim soldiers are still alive at the end of this side-quest, you will earn the Defender achievement, although it might not be awarded until you fight the Archdemon.
If all of the companions you retained are in the Archdemon party (not including Dog), you will not get this quest, nor will you be able to get the Defender achievement.
Denerim Palace District
Upon arriving, begin making your way towards the palace. Mages are a good support at this stage in the Final Onslaught as they can keep their distance from the horde while still providing excellent support.
While trying to enter Fort Drakon, you have a choice of two paths up stairs both of which have a number of Genlock archers, an Emissary, and an Ogre. When you encounter the Ogre, rush up to attack quickly because it throws rocks that can drop your health dangerously. A rock plus a fireball from an Emissary can take your character out. If you use cover by sneaking close to the wall, you can blast the darkspawn with area spells undetected.
After moving up either of the first set of stairs, you will come to another set of stairs with an Ogre, Emissary, Alpha, and many grunts. Once again, area spells thin out the grunts, allowing you to focus on the stronger creatures. Before you move up this set of stairs, you may wish to head over to the other path that you did not take, and kill those enemies for more experience.
After moving up the second set of stairs, you will have yet another choice of two paths up a final set of stairs. Be careful, at the top of each staircase is a trap; a stealthed rogue can disarm them without alerting the rest of the darkspawn. At the top of this final platform are many darkspawn. This can be a fairly difficult battle simply due to the sheer number of enemies present. Many of them are only grunts, which should be one-shot kills at this point. However there are also many archers, Shrieks, and several darkspawn emissaries.
Fort Drakon - Entrance
The entrance to the fort is heavily guarded. There are several Hurlock archers behind barricades, along with two Hurlock Emissaries, two Genlock Alphas, and a few Shrieks near the front door. To make matters worse, one or two Dragon thralls swoop in to attack you as you approach.
This can be a very difficult fight due to the tight quarters and numerous ranged attackers you face. It is recommended to use a strong offensive force such as the Werewolves. The werewolves are so strong offensively, they can tear through this fight without a problem. However, depending on your choices in the quest Nature of the Beast you might not have the werewolves at your disposal; in that case, using a ranged army such as the Dalish or Mages can be helpful in pressing the line. Beware the Emissaries; they have spells such as Stinging Swarm, which can kill you quickly.
Fort Drakon - Main Floor
At this point in the fight, you can no longer call armies to assist you. However you will be able to call upon them during the battle with the Archdemon. You will encounter more Darkspawn in the halls.
In the large room with four Ballistae, you will encounter the Genlock Conjurer and his summoned shades. He will regularly teleport around the room, so a good option is to dedicate a range attacker to fighting him and let everyone else deal with the shades he conjures, as the ranged attacker will automatically follow his movements without having to chase him around.
Next, you will encounter the Genlock Shapechanger and a Hurlock emissary in the hallway at the end. They will be assisted by many corpses, but like the Darkspawn Grunts the undead have very little health. Be wary of the tripwire before the hallway splits. If you trip it, be prepared for grease.
Once you have dealt with the darkspawn on this level and are ready to advance upstairs, you will eventually come across Sandal...inexplicably surrounded by several dead darkspawn. If you ask what's happened he'll say "Enchantment" and take you to the Enchantment screen. He is available to enchant weapons, as well as sell supplies to you one last time before you ascend further up the fort. Once you have finished shopping, head to the second floor.
Fort Drakon - Second Floor
The Second Floor is smaller than the first floor, but the enemies provide greater opposition. As you fight through the halls, be sure to be ready for the large room to the far east, it contains 16 Genlock archers and an Alpha, and is a dead end. Note: If you end up in this room and there is a character with poison making in the party, items such as Fire Bomb, Soulrot Bomb, Freeze Bomb, Acid Flask, etc., work great against the Genlocks. Two bombs can kill a group of four. Alternately, you can get all of the archers and the Alpha within the range of a single blizzard spell. If you have two mages in your party capable of casting large AOE spells, the fight is nearly over before it begins. The easiest way is if you have a mage cast an AOE spell through the closed door before you ever open it - one Inferno and one Blizzard will take out all the archers but the Alpha, because they won't move to come through the door.
Work your way south until you are ambushed by the Genlock Master Assassin and his acolytes. Watch out for about six Leghold traps all right next to each other at the entrance. After you dispatch them, head south until you are confronted in a room by a Hurlock Emissary and two Ogres. Once the Emissary and Ogres are defeated, search the chests in the adjoining rooms for useful potions and supplies. When you are ready, ascend to the rooftop for the final battle.
Fort Drakon - Rooftop
The Archdemon Urthemiel waits for the Wardens on the roof of Fort Drakon, making quick work of the soldiers stationed there. You can once again call on your armies to assist you. Additionally, Arl Eamon and, depending on choices made during the game, First Enchanter Irving or Knight-Commander Greagoir, Swiftrunner or Zathrian, and/or Kardol will join you in the battle (PC only). Check the Archdemon strategy page for battle tactics.
After defeating the Archdemon, there are several ways the ending could play out.
If Morrigan's offer was accepted, the Warden will automatically make the killing blow.
If you did not accept Morrigan's offer and if you brought another Grey Warden with you (Alistair or Secret Companion), they will engage in dialogue with you before someone kills the Archdemon. Either you may insist on killing it yourself, or let him do it.
You can still import your character to Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening regardless of if you are the one who took the final stroke to slay the Archdemon.