Dragon Age is back and better than ever.
Let me just say, I absolutely love Dragon Age. I fell in love with its world and characters a long time ago, and when first seeing Dragon Age: Inquisition in trailers, I was so excited to get my hands on the game. The series has always had a robust combat system mixed with a rich story set in high fantasy. Things in Origins were epic in scale while events that took place in Dragon Age II may have been more drawn out, but ultimately started and set up an even bigger threat to the world of Thedas. Finally, in Inquisition, we get to see what has and will transpire. The wait is finally over, and I for one am highly impressed.
Players take on the role of “The Inquisitor”, known in some circles as “The Herald of Andraste.” The player was the lone survivor of a massive magical explosion that killed numerous people, including a major leader of the Chantry. Because of this, the Fade is now leaking into the living world in certain areas of the continent. The Inquisitor is the only one that has the power to close the rifts and banish the demons that come out them for good. They join up with a group of people set out to do just that, and, in turn, form the Inquisition.
Platforms: PS4, PS3, 360, Xbox One, PC
Price I’d pay: $59.99
Multiplayer: Online co-op
The game focuses on building up the Inquisition with both agents and influence, all of which is done through the actions and decisions the player makes. There are two scales to Inquisition: taking on quests and fighting enemies, and planning out what the army of the Inquisition will do next. Both are massive in scope and will keep players busy for hours on end.
Not such a small world after all.
Unlike the first two games, Inquisition is a more open world form. Players will choose where they want to go and then traverse a large map full of open terrain. While here, they can explore and take on quests they find throughout their expedition. All of these quests will offer up experience points for their characters, along with power. Power is a sort of currency used to do things in the Inquisition management I will explain a bit later.
Combat is fast, much like Dragon Age II. Depending on the class and weapons the character uses, the play style is completely different. A dual dagger rogue will utilize stealth and fast striking techniques while keeping out of the enemy’s attack range, while a warrior with a sword and shield will want to attract the enemies to them to keep the damage from going to their weaker party members. Strategy plays a large part in Inquisition. Delegating what party members should do and where to go is very important. At anytime during combat, I could hit the touchpad to pause time, select a party member, and tell them where to go and what ability to use. After planning out my attack, instead of un-pausing time, I could hold down R2 to play it out in slow motion to see how things would work out. It is a smart system, and having a free-roam camera puts things into perspective.
Know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em.
The healing is a bit different in Inquisition. Mages no longer have a healing ability. They now rely on protective auras to shield their party from attacks, and health is no longer restored after each battle. Players must utilize healing potions, and must go back to their camps for more when they run out. It makes planning for battle more of a challenge and knowing when to continue on and when to go back to a camp is something the player must think carefully on. Luckily, players can fast travel at any time out of battle, and exploring more of an area will unlock fast travel points and new areas to set up camps.
The quests are varied, and the multiple areas to explore and navigate are massive. The scale to the entire game is huge, rivaling even the largest of open world games. In the first area alone, I spent almost 8 hours exploring and completing quests, and still didn’t do everything I wanted. The other great thing is, unlike Dragon Age II, areas are varied and feel much more alive. I was no longer just running though the exact same marketplace in Kirkwall. Now, I’m running through the entire countryside of The Hinterlands, exploring caves and bandit camps while still walking to Redcliffe Village if I needed a change of scenery. Like I said, that is just one area to travel to.
The massive size of the game doesn’t just pertain to the areas and quests; it is also apparent in the crafting system. There is a full on crafting system, much like Skyrim, where players can find schematics for new weapons and armor, as well as modify their equipment to gain extra stats. It all depended on what modifications I used and what type of materials I used to craft a new piece of armor. So, using bear hide to make my coat may give it cold resistance, while using wolf hide may give it fire resistance. Oh, and every piece of armor and each weapon looks different from one modification to the next. Like I said, this game is massive.
Commanding the troops.
The other part of Inquisition is the management of the army itself. Players will delegate on a war map where they wish to travel, and what kind of assistance they wish to use utilizing their three main advisors: Cullen, Leliana, and Josephine. How they approach a certain objective will determine the rewards they get. These are side missions that require time to pass for them to be complete. Basically, they are sending out agents to resolve a situation that doesn’t require the player to go there. There are much larger missions that can open up new areas to explore that can be unlocked using the War Room. These are still optional side quests, but are much larger in scale, and doing them will offer up more rewards and new landscapes to see.
Doing main missions and the larger side missions, as well as gaining new agents to join their cause, can rank up the army and give a point to spend unlocking even more perks through the Inquisition menu. These perks can include more experience points when finding new codex entries, or even different dialog options to explore when discussing something with other characters.
The voice talent is very well done, and the musical score is superb. If there is one thing BioWare can do, it is tell a story and create a world. Inquisition has an engaging story, with tons of characters to like and hate. Seeing some familiar faces from the previous games had me really grinning, and the fan service is top notch.
Visually, the game is stunning. The large open world has some pretty amazing draw distance, and the character models look fantastic. Creating my character was a 30 minute process, and by the end I had it just the way I wanted, and he looked incredible. While in combat, the flashes of fire and ice flying through the air while blood spilled everywhere from a nice slash from my warrior’s sword looked brutal and beautiful all at the same time. It really is a next gen looking game.
There are a few open world issues I had with the game. I would get stuck on a piece of the environment and have to jump over it twice, or the camera outside of the combat pause would sometimes position itself behind a nice big tree, to where I couldn’t see anything. They are minor in the grand scale of things, but they did happen on more than a few occasions, and hindered my combat maneuvers a few times. Still, nothing game breaking.
Multiplayer Dragon Age? Actually, yes.
Finally, Inquisition has a multiplayer component to it. Yes, I know many RPG players out there will scoff at this and I was one of them…until I played it. In the same vein as Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer, players choose a certain class to take into battle with them, and take on waves of enemies on different maps with friends and other players. It feels much like the single player, but with human controlled party members. Coordination is still important, and it was a fun time. Players are awarded gold they can spend on chests that contain new weapons and armor to equip, as well as crafting materials to create and modify equipment. Practically everything I could do in the single player could be done in the multiplayer. That’s impressive on its own.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is an amazing game. There really is something special about it. I know a lot of people were down on Dragon Age II, but this game redeems every issue you may have had with the last game. The open areas of Thedas never looked better, the story is one of epic scale and done with some fantastic characters, the combat is easy to pick up and challenging to master and the sheer amount of things to do and see is beyond massive. You think it’s large to begin with, but then a point in the game opens it up even more. My mind was blow when I saw this. BioWare has said this is the game they always wanted to make, and for me, it’s the best game they have ever made. RPG fans shouldn’t think twice about picking this up, and people looking for a fantasy setting full of things to explore and do should look no further. Dragon Age: Inquisition hits every RPG itch I had, and on top of that, creates yet another world I want to get lost in for hours. Do yourself a favor and pick up the best RPG of the year.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.