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Review: Dragon Age Inquisition

Erik didn’t know what to think about all that happened. All he wanted was to know where the toilet was, but before he knew it there was a big explosion and a tear in the sky. After he woke up, people started following in his search for a bathroom. He tried everything to get rid of those followers. He ran towards wolves, travelled through dark dangerous dungeons. Even went to see a dragon (who was in a bad mood by the way). But nothing helped, they won’t leave his side and grew in numbers. To make things worse, his hand started glowing and everyone started calling him “Inquisitor”. And they gave him a castle in the mountains. Worst of all, he still hasn’t found his toilet in his Skyhold!

Dragon Age Dragon
Dragon Age Dragon

Welcome to Dragon Age Inquisition, the third in the Dragon Age saga. Because of spoilers, we don’t want to go to deep into the storyline. We can say that Dragon Age Inquisition takes place a year after the events of Dragon Age II. Thedas is once again in danger (I turned my back for 5 seconds…).The Elder One is making portals (called a rift) to the Fade, allowing demons to pass into our world (and not to play dice, I tried). You are the Inquisitor, the Herald of Andraste, and only you can close the rifts. As is good custom for a Bioware game, you won’t have to do this alone. Not only do you have party members, but a huge inquisition army to help you achieve your goal.

Bioware had a disappointing Dragon Age II and they didn’t want to make the same mistake. This time, they went full options with Dragon Age Inquisition. You feel that from the beginning, after choosing a race (Human, Elf, Dwarf or Quanri) you get an extensive character customisation (Suggestion: Turn down the lip glossiness, trust me!) where you even can choose his/her voice. The customisation is so good, you can shape your character as Daenerys Targaryen from Games of Thrones. Once you are satisfied, you enter Thedas with his 2 main area’s Orlais en Ferelden, each one has his own playable lands and non-playable quests (see further). You travel to a playable land of your choice where you take control of your party. Now you can fight, complete quests (there are over 300 quests in Dragon Age Inquisition), do dungeons (or caves, strongholds…) and collect loot, a lot of loot. The lands are bruising with life, one time I saw a dragon fighting a giant (popcorn!). Or your inquisition fighting the bad guys, or bandits getting torn to pieces by hungry wolves.

Giant VS Dragon
Giant VS Dragon

You travel back and forth between theses lands and Skyhold. Skyhold is your castle where you control the Inquisition, unlock new lands and quests and decide the fade of Thedas at the War Table. I think the employees of Bioware must have made a lot of overtime, because Skyhold is very customizable, down to the draperies and windows. Skyhold also evolves over time. You start with a ruined castle but over time, walls get fixed, rooms get populated and so on. It’s the inquisition aspect that brings a fresh new breeze in the Dragon Age saga. Completing quests gives you influence and power which, together with time, are the resources you need for the non-playable quests. Non-playable quests are like the quests from Assassin’s Creed, you send out one of your 3 agents (each has a different approach) and hope they are successful. Influence also allows you to pick Inquisition perks (higher weight limit, more potions, more xp, …). But it doesn’t stop there because every decision you take has his reaction in the playable lands. If you liberate an area, you’ll see the inquisition, keeping the place safer, you’ll hear people thanking for the blankets and food that you have collected a few quests before. From time to time you’ll have to take place on your throne, enforcing judgement on those who have done wrong.

Skyhold
Skyhold

Another aspect that went through some changes is the combat. After the disappointing combat from Dragon Age II, Bioware has opted for a mix of real-time combat and tactical view. You can do all fighting real time and choose to go the tactical view once things get out of hand. In the tactical view you can easily give order to your other party members, plan ahead and keep a nice overview of the combat (and the special effects). The lack of a healing makes the combat also tougher. No more spamming of healing spells, now you need to plan ahead, try different tactics and be resourceful with your healing potions because they are limited (max 12 if you have the right perks). This makes fighting a dragon or a boss much more challenging.

Combat

The crafting is also improved. You can make your own weapons and armour. While crafting, you can chose between different materials, each with his own influence on the item (more defence, better defence against ranged, etc). You can even make masterpieces, a special weapon with specials stats (convert damage into health). Besides crafting, you can also upgrade items if you have the right parts. You can add new leggings for your armour or change the arms of a crossbow to make it stronger. Or add a rune to gain access to even more stats. Endless options!

Crafting cave
Crafting cave

Bioware is know for the social aspect in their games and they haven’t changed that for Dragon Age Inquisition. The romances, party members talking with each other, funny dialogues and different approaches in conversations, it is all still there. But there is more, just as in Mass Effect, you can import your Dragon Age: Origin and Dragon Age II playthroughs. Don’t have the save games anymore or skipped a game? Not a problem because Bioware has developed the Dragon Age Keep. This is an interactive website where you can change the choices you made in previous games, if you wish to do so. There is even a recap movie where you make choices which, once imported in Dragon Age Inquisition, has his influence in the game. What I specially love about this, is that I have played Dragon Age: Origins on an old Xbox, but I still had access to the choices I made, even thou I play Dragon Age Inquisition on PC. I haven’t played Dragon Age II, but thanks to the recap I had some idea about what happened. I also liked that some characters (without spoiling too much) also come back to Dragon Age Inquisition.

Dragon Age Keep
Dragon Age Keep

Bioware has delivered a very good RPG, but there are some problems with Dragon Age Inquisition. The textures feel a bit outdated (specially the clothes and the hair) and they have the habit to pop up. This also happens with the NPC’s and items, they pop up and even go through other models. I’m sorry, but if I see a hand going through a sword in a cut scene, I find that disturbing. It is a cut scene after all. The fact that you have an extensive character customisation also has a down side. Not only do you have problems with collision (cheeks going through helmets and so), the animations can feel weird, specially if you have a close-up of the face.

I also have some problems with the quests. If you know that there are about 300 of them, you must realise that they are a lot of the “kill Q, collect X, kill Y to collect Z” types. These are the typical MMO quests and they are uninspired and dull. It’s not all bad, the main story quests and some side quests are of an excellent level and I enjoyed those. The game really comes alive after you leave the Hinterlands. And I mean this: do your main quests in the Hinterlands and get out! It can take up to 8 hours to finish a playable land, but that’s because of those uninspired quests.Once you advance a bit in the main story line, everything changes and the game becomes much more interesting.

But I have a bigger problem with the game. And I’m not talking about the dialogues that feel like spoken sentences put together nor that you can’t zoom out enough. No. My biggest frustration is the lack of tool tips/information. You get a lot of resources, a lot of items and quests, choices and so on, but there isn’t any information about what they do, where you need them for or why you have them. I have collected hundreds of resources, but it took the game way to long to explain me what it was. If you take control of a party member, you have to go in the menus to find out what his abilities are, because there isn’t a tool tip explaining his spells. I don’t like a games that’s holding my hand, but I also don’t like a game that withholds information and leaves my clueless about what to do with the stuff I have collected.

 

Don’t get me wrong. All the downside mention above don’t feel that bad once you start playing the game. The textures are a bit outdated? Who cares, because the combat is amazing with all the effects and the world feels alive! Even the sound helps with that, because it’s one of the best audio I’ve heard for a RPG. As I mentioned above, the dull quests are skippable, allowing you to play the much more interesting ones, like the Great Game in the Winter Castle (no further spoilers!). Dragon Age Inquisition even has a multi-player, comparable with Mass Effect. You fight with a different character in dungeons, collect loot and weapons to upgrade yourself. It isn’t that easy, you’ll need some knowledge and tactics, but it is a nice feature.

 

Pro:

  • Open, living world with an intriguing story in a rich universe
  • Combat which can be tactical or real time
  • Audio
  • Customisation (you can even chose a demon as a mount!)

 Contra:

  • Dull but fully optional side quests
  • No tool tips (but we have a wiki for that)
  • Load times
  • Feels a bit like a MMO

8.5/10

Have been gaming for several decades. I love to play RPG and strategy games. My favorites are the Witcher series, Fallout series and The Elder Scrolls