so I finally completed all the possible beginnings of dragon age: origins. They're... weird.
As a human, you're given a reason to flee because everyone hates you and they want to kill you, not to fight against what bares its fangs against life on earth.
As a noble dwarf, same.
As a poor dwarf, same.
As an enslaved elf, same.
As a free elf, you're given a reason to join the side that fights in order to save your life from impending death due to 'evil', rather than because of someone you pissed off.
As a mage... nobody really cares. Some people kinda want to kill you, but you're not as desperate as in other routes.
This is the real problem of the game, in my opinion. You play for one hour, and then all of a sudden boom, you're the only one who can save the world. Last to join the cause and certainly not because you wanted to do so, you're left with all the burdens of command.
This is in my opinion the most disappointing thing in DA. Even some of the characters you recruit couldn't care less and stick around just because there's not much choice, not because they really believe in saving the world or what not.
Uhh, no? You flee as a human noble because Arl Howe betrayed your family, and you want to get revenge on him. And since he's the right hand of Loghain, no doubt you'll be running into him later.
All of the backstories affect the game in some way. For instance, when you're playing as a Dwarf Noble and return to Orzammar to recruit the dwarves, you're going to have quite a bias about the political turmoil going on.
And your character can choose to want to be a grey warden, but you don't really have a choice. The right of conscription is a powerful thing and in every origin story you would be dead anyways if not for Duncan. Plus you're an asshole if you have the ability to save the world but would rather sit around and watch it get consumed by darkness just because you were being a whiny brat.
As for your companions, why should they want to be there with you if you don't give them a reason to? Why should they like you and want to follow you for no reason? And besides, Alistair, Leliana, and Wynne all believe in what you're doing right off the bat. The rest you have to convince, and I find that a refreshing change from stupid party members that follow you blindly no matter what you say or do.