With Bioware recently putting Mass Effect on hold and releasing a new IP, fans are looking forward to the future Bioware will take and this means we are expecting a new Dragon Age game sometime soon and with new speculations about Dragon Age 4, I decided to go back and replay the entirety of Dragon Age Inquisition and realised something odd, the game isn’t as bad as people say it is. The Dragon Age series is by far my favourite video game series of all time, everything from the classic RPG gameplay to the tone and setting of the games are just so well put together to create a true example of what an action/tactic RPG should be. However, Dragon Age Inquisition shifted its focus, which was already lacking in DA2, from the tactics aspect to the action gameplay. But I am here to defend the game and tell you why it’s worth playing if you haven’t yet and why it’s worth going back to. Beware of minor spoilers for Dragon Age: Inquisition and possible spoilers for Dragon Age 2 and Origins
The game is set about 2 years after the events of Dragon Age 2, after the ending (spoilers: where Anders exploded the circle and initiated a mage rebellion). DA: I starts with you walking out of a fade rift (demon world) only to find that the conclave intended to negotiate peace between the two warring factions, the mages and the Templars. By throwing you straight into the middle of the conflict the game manages to get you invested in the intensity of the conflict, and if you have played the other games the effect is even greater as it takes into account the world state of the events of the previous games and takes in all the main choices you made. This whole premise has been done time and time again but although it’s not particularly original, DA: I managed to do it well, where although it’s an open world game everything in the game is in some way involved with the war and the Inquisition.
This dialogue in this game is simply incredible, while the DA 2 first came with the idea of a dialogue wheel with three main choices of personality, Inquisition improves and builds on that having about five choices of personality related responses at crucial parts of the game. Throughout the greater chunk of the game however you remain with three choices of dialogue, though this is also improved as none of the options are coded so you know which personality will match the dialogue, this allows for the player to think about each and every response they’re going to give and which one matches the moment as opposed to which one matches the certain character type you want to play, making the player live with the consequences of their choice. With such a rich dialogue wheel, surely there’s nothing else they could possibly add. Wrong. With Inquisition perks you can gain knowledge of economy, crime, history and the arcane these will influence the ways in which you will recruit agents to work for you throughout the game, as well as class/race specific dialogue which, influences how you play whether you’re a Mage, an Elf, a Qunari or a Dwarf. This definitely makes for a lot of replay-value and makes every playthrough unique.
The Core Characters
This game is rich with so many unique personalities for you to go into battle with, you have the rogue Elven Mage, Solas, the rogue surface Dwarf, Varric and The seeker of truth, Cassandra, these are the first three companions you will encounter at the very start of the game, some of these characters you may recognise from DA 2, Varric, Hawk’s best friend (in my playthrough) and companion, and Cassandra the woman who interrogated Varric in certain cutscenes of DA 2. You also meet your advisors that will aid you in advancing your Inquisition, Cullen, an ex-templar, your commander and military strategist as well as a potential love interest, Josephine, an Antivan ambassador in Orlais and your chief diplomat and also a potential love interest and last but not least, another returning character, Leliana a former Orlesian bard (assassin), agent of the Chantry, former left hand of the divine and spymaster of the Inquisition, she was also companion of the Hero of Ferelden from DA: O and possibly his/her lover, and as an additional advisor at the later parts of the game is (SPOILERS) Morrigan, she used to be a companion to the Hero of Ferelden and also a love interest, depending on the choices during your DA: O playthrough she may or may not have a son named Kieran, she becomes an arcane advisor of sorts to the Inquisitor.
What is a Bioware game without some companions? Sporting a total of nine companions to choose from, including the ones I have already talked about previously, each has their own benefits to having around and if you choose right, then you may just have the ultimate team for your adventures. Of course, these companions aren’t only for strategic combat use, they also provide party banter, depending on your own character’s personality and the combination of companions you choose to follow you, each of them will interact with you and themselves throughout your time exploring the open world. Sera is a rebel elf who abandoned elven tradition to live as she wants, she’s witty, playful and generally fun to have around as she provides great interactions with every one of the many companions. The Iron Bull is a Qunari who is the leader of a mercenary company called “The Bulls Chargers”, he’s laid back but also very intelligent and loves playing mental chess with Solas. Dorian is a flirtatious, witty and charming Mage from Tevinter, however, he disavows blood magic and opposes the current state of Tevinter and has a strong sense of Justice, though he despises the way Tevinter is currently running, he still loves his country and wants to do what he can to help it. Vivienne is another mage, one who upholds all the rules of the circles of Magi, she is very strict and also quite dull (at least to me she is). Blackwall is a warrior and a Gray Warden, righteous and with a strong sense of justice but also fun to have around with good knowledge of the wardens and stories to tell. And finally, Cole, a spirit trapped in a human body, Cole is can either embrace himself as a spirit or become more human with your guidance.
A Dragon Age game is nothing without the classic romance options. DA: I provide us with 8 options to choose from. Some characters can only be romanced by specific genders and/or race, however. First off we have the male specific romance options, Cassandra, a seeker of truth that can be romanced by the player if he is the lawful good type throughout most of his playthrough, Dorian, the Tevinter Mage can be romanced by the Inquisitor by helping him out with various different tasks such as eliminating the Venetori and aiding him in reconciling with his father. For the female Inquisitor, we have Blackwall, the strong and dependable Gray Warden with many stories to tell and can only be romanced by the lawful good Inquisitor, and Sera, the playful elf, though she can be romanced by any race, she’s really into Qunari ladies and this will give a bit of advantage with her when you meet her, can be romanced by taking the non-serious path, she also feels uneasy with magic which would make it difficult for all the Mage Inquisitors out there. For male and female inquisitors we have Iron Bull, leader of the Bulls Chargers, he can be romanced by any Inquisitor but if left alone there is also a chance he will get with Dorian, Josephine, your head diplomat can be romanced by any Inquisitor and doesn’t really rely on your choices to romance. For Race and gender specific options we have Cullen (female Human or Elf) you can choose to romance him and help him overcome his lyrium addiction or allow him to continue taking lyrium, he’s an awkward character to those closest to him and quite shy when it comes to his feelings, Lastly we have Solas (female Elves only) an Apostate mage dedicated to helping the Inquisition in finding out the cause of the Fade Rifts and put an end to them, he’s very mysterious and also very straightforward. But seriously now, this game has some of the best romance dialogue and all of these characters can develop immensely as you learn their back stories and get to know them better through your their romance story arcs simply adding to an already great experience.
DA: I combine a tactics RPG with an action RPG and gives it a massive open world for the player to discover. Although keeping elements of a tactics RPG this game shifts its focus from the tactics to the action, providing real-time fighting and a hack and slash experience if you play the game on the normal difficulty and shifting back to a more tactical approach when you play on the hardest modes, adding trials options can also enhance your experience when playing hard or casual, providing a greater challenge for the player and rewarding you with special items every once in a while. Some mechanics of the game, however, only serve to hold back the pacing of the game, the Power Pints are a prime example of holding back its pacing, simply put, if you spent all your Power Points on unlocking areas of the map, you’ll have none left to advance the main story, thus you’ll have to go out and do random quests and closing rifts setting up camps in order to gain more points to unlock the Story missions ruining the pacing of the game, however, if you’re smart about it, every area of the game has a story arc that ties into the main story, these story arcs can grant you the points you need not only with their main quests but also with the camping spots and the rifts you close along the way to the quest, it’s a way to keep the player engaged with the story without losing their pace, so always look out for those, as well as the Ten Dragons and a DLC one that can be slain by the Inquisitor, rewarding you with lots of experience points along with crafting material, gold and good armor. The specialisation aspect of the game further improves on the DA 2 model by also giving you a quest that involves you reading a book containing Codex entries that tell you exactly what that specialisation is about in a lore friendly fashion, each class has three specialisations suitable for any kind of play style, however a real disappointment is the removal of the Blood Magic specialisation from the game and the healing specialisation. And this brings me to my final point on the gameplay, healing, this game has no healer class meaning you will never be healed by a companion, instead, all the healing is done with masterwork pieces with certain perks, passive abilities and potions, this greatly increases the games difficulty and also allows for your party to be more active when combating enemies as they won’t be occupied healing you and your companions.
So here it is, this game has so many good things about it that can be overlooked when played for the first time and while the ending kind of ignores all of the choices, it made sense and with the full-length DLC expansion Trestpasser gives you an ending that does take into account all of your actions and choices throughout the game, unlike a certain other Bioware game (Mass Effect 3 I’m looking at you). In my humble opinion, this game is definitely worth playing and even replaying, even if it’s just to see the different romances of the game. As this game is simply too big, I’ve not been able to delve into every single aspect of it but what I did talk about were what I considered to be the most important parts of the game without giving away too many spoilers to the story.
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