I had no intentions of playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. I tried and failed to get into Dragon Age: Origins multiple times and completely skipped Dragon Age 2. But, at the urges of a few friends, I took the plunge.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is a very good game. Similar to Destiny, I don’t think it quite lived up to the hype, but it’s a fun game that’s worth your time.
- TL;DR: A large, incredibly detailed fantasy epic with some annoying issues and
- Platform: PS4
- Score: 8.4
- Hours Played: 36
- What I Played: Story mode through the ending, a few multiplayer games
- Recommended?: To action RPG fans and journal/codex lovers
Dragon Age: Inquisition, the third game in the Dragon Age series, takes place after the events of Dragon Age 2. Rifts, green tears in the Veil that allow the demons from the Fade to come into the world, appear all over with a giant one in the sky. You are the lone survivor of the large explosion that resulted in the rifts and, somehow, have the ability to close them. As the Inquisition’s leader, you must close the Rifts in the world and save Thedas.
Now, you might be put off by jumping into the third game of a sprawling RPG series like Dragon Age, but Bioware makes it easy for you with the Dragon Age Keep. When starting up DA:I, you can choose to either import a world state, use a default one, or make all of the important choices from the previous games so the world is in the state it would have been in had you played those games. Bioware did something similar with Mass Effect 3, so I’m not surprised they did it here. I used the default world state since I knew almost nothing about the Dragon Age world. I played as a two-handed Qunari warrior because that’s how I roll in fantasy games.
Another similarity to Mass Effect is the impact of dialogue in Dragon Age. Most conversations give you kind, neutral, and aggressive things to say (sound familiar?). Sometimes you’ll be presented with options that will result in teammates approving or disapproving, like showing sadness, ruthlessness, or even romance. People can and will die based on your dialogue choices, making your story unique to you. Side note – my Commander Shepard romanced Tali throughout Mass Effect, but I didn’t follow through enough to get my Qunari any tail.
The dialogue isn’t perfect, though. There are plenty of times where one character is interrupting another, but the game clearly finishes what the first character was saying, pauses for a half second, then let’s the other character “barge” in. I’ll avoid spoilers with this, but there is a mission where one party member tells your character to say goodbye to another, even if that other character is already in your party at the time. Later on, said character will ask what happened to that party member. I’m not sure how something like that fell through the cracks.
Actually, it could be because of the sheer size of Dragon Age: Inquisition. The world of Thedas broken up into a dozen or so zones that each have their own set of fast travel camps, rifts to close, and missions to complete. These zones are all pretty big and have a dense fog of war, encouraging you to explore. If I’m being honest, a lot of the side missions feel like filler for the sake of filler. I mean, if you really want to dig into every single nook and cranny in a universe, then Dragon Age: Inquisition has you covered because there is a ton to do between closing rifts, fetch quests, requisitions, finding landmarks, clearing dungeons, timed “operations” missions similar to dispatch missions in Final Fantasy Tactics, etc. Kotaku even did a PSA on leaving the first area, the Hinterlands, because it’s easy to get lost in there. Take that advice — once you get the power required to leave the Hinterlands, do so.
Completing missions will earn you power, which is apparently a tangible resource in Thedas as you need to go to the Inquisition’s war table and spend it to unlock new areas. This might be a minor gripe, but how does one spend power? If I do and my power level goes down, do I become less powerful? I think it would have made more sense to have an always-increasing power level, and there is a separate one called influence that increases throughout the game, but that only gives you kind of meh bonuses like extra experience for journal entries.
Combat in Dragon Age: Inquisition is a mash up of a few different genres. I mentioned before that I played as a two handed warrior, so most of my time was spent up front, hammering away at things with my giant sword/axe/maul in real time. You can lock on to a target, but I found it clunky to do with a melee character as the camera kept whirling around to find a good angle between myself and the target. Most of the time I was swinging towards an enemy, similar to one of my favorite games of all time, Phantasy Star Online. When things get hairy or you want more control, you can pause the action, zoom out, and direct your team to move and attack however you see fit. I usually only used this when facing particularly difficult enemies or bosses, but I imagine ranged characters would use it quite often to direct the tanks.
Your party consists of you and three other members. I typically ran with a rogue, Cole, and two mages, Solas and Dorian. You are free to swap between your main character and any party member whenever you want and I highly recommend you do so. If your main character dies in battle, you automatically take control of a party member, so it’s nice to have at least a basic handle of how to play other classes for when that time inevitably comes.
It’s important to pay attention to battle and use your skills when your party members present the best opportunities for you. For example, my warrior had a giant overhead slam attack that did extra damage to frozen/knocked down targets, so I tried to only use it when Solas froze someone for me. It’s also important to pay attention to the level of the enemies you’re approaching. It’s easy to find enemies way over your level and get crushed.
I was surprised to see the small number of stats and gear slots available. Stats level up automatically when characters level or for unlocking certain skills and there are item slots for a weapon, helmet, body armor, and a few accessories. I would have expected an epic RPG to have a full gamut of equipment slots, but maybe Bioware wanted to keep the game a little more accessible. There are multiple skill trees for each of the three classes and you should have enough skill points to level up two of them pretty deep, along with your chosen specialization. I went with a reaver because my giant Qunari likes to bathe in the blood of his enemies. Muahaha.
The crafting system is very deep in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Weapons and armor can be crafted and further modified with a variety of materials found via mining, herb gathering, and killing rare monsters. You should make sure to check the crafting bench every few hours and see if you can bump your party’s gear up a notch. Gear can change appearance drastically as well, which is a nice touch.
Speaking of appearance, it’s hard to argue with Dragon Age’s beauty. It’s certainly a pleasure to look at, as long as objects aren’t warping in out of nowhere and your face isn’t clipping with your armor every single time your head angles downward. Things like this keep Dragon Age out of the top tier for me.
One thing that is undoubtedly top tier is the voice acting. Dragon Age: Inquisition might have the best voice acting I’ve ever heard. Characters are vibrant and emotional, which comes out often as the game is littered with cut scenes. And, while the lip syncing is just stupidly good, cut scenes tend to lag/jump a bit every so often to keep everything in sync.
I was also surprised with how much I enjoyed the multiplayer. In a similar vein to Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer, teams of four are tasked with rolling through a map, taking out waves of enemies and healing between each zone. The final zone has the largest wave with a tough boss. To start, you can choose between three characters but there are 12 in total to unlock, equip, and level up. Gold earned while playing can buy chests of items for any of your characters to use. At first, I thought to myself, “Dragon Age is a decidedly single player game. Why the hell is there a multiplayer aspect?” But, after playing a few rounds, I’m glad they included it.
Dragon Age: Inquisition does a lot of things right. It’s a proper RPG with plenty of classes and skills, a stat/gear system that is simple enough for non-hardcore RPG players to understand, and enough codex entries and lore to keep the players that want that playing for hundreds of hours. It isn’t without it’s flaws, though, like clipping, stiff cut scene animations, and an absurd amount of side quests, bordering on filler/padding. I enjoyed my time in Thedas and I recommend you take the trip, but I don’t think I’ll play through a second time.