Dragon Age: Inquisition Review 2017
Dragon Age: Inquisition - Even more amazing two years after release!
Magic is cast through the air. An arrow is let loose as your archer leaps back. The warrior gives a mighty roar as he charges forward. This is Dragon Age: Inquisition, the newest continuation of the Dragon Age series, a beautiful package filled to the brim with hundreds of hours of exploration, crafting, role-playing, and adventure.
Welcome to Thedas, Inquisitor.
Features - Breakdown and Review:
Just one of the MANY locations available for exploration.
The story of DA:I is the first thing to discuss. This story is INCREDIBLE. Your decisions change the course of the game, and you truly find yourself caring for the people of Thedas. Even more so than that, you begin asking how you found yourself as the Inquisitor, and how to wield the power you now possess. With the role of Inquisitor thrust upon you early in the game, you must start making decisions almost immediately. Decisions which seem like a grind in other games, such as deciding where to send advisors, or which faction to support actually hold meaning in DA:I. Sending your spy rather than your ambassador could destroy a relation with a neighbor, or it could strengthen it through a deceitful murder.
An example of a short, resource gathering side quest.
Each side quest actually changes the availability of other quests, rewards, and even locations. Each main quest only answers a question if it can raise two new ones, always leaving you eager to continue. What would be considered an extra “bonus” in another game has become an essential element of DA:I, working beautifully, to tie the lore of the world into the main story, and only encouraging the player to dive deeper into the world they find themselves in.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is a true role-playing game. The decisions you make hold weight throughout the entire land. You will find yourself playing as your character, rather than simply playing the person who controls them. As the game progresses you find yourself feeling for the various peoples. You truly care about what happens to them, and whether your actions will affect them in a positive or negative way. Dragon Age allows players to become invested in the political, social, and cultural issues which envelop Thedas, but also makes it clear that these are not decisions to be taken lightly. You truly feel that your decisions not only matter, but have lasting effects, not only because it feels like it, but because they do.
Decisions will occur all the time in the game, but do not take any of them lightly...
Each judgement you pass, life you save, life you take, prisoner you spare, or prisoner you sacrifice can alter the available quests, areas, agents, unlockables, and more. Playing through the game in support of the mages is a completely different experience compared to backing the templars, and decisions like these carry throughout the game, truly making each replay unique and original.
Choices & Consequences:
The power of choices and their consequences.
Immersive Roleplaying: (9/10)
Customization and Crafting
The customization within DA:I is some of the most in depth in modern gaming, on par with ‘The Sims’ or ‘Fallout 4’ in terms of options. With two genders, four races, and 5 total classes there are 38 inquisitors to play through the game as, immediately adding replay value. Add onto these 38 inquisitors the three specializations you can choose between each playthrough, and you’ve got approximately 114 Inquisitor options. If you’re a PC player, there are also several useful tweaks that can improve your game via modding. Additionally you can alter the face, hair, voice, and much more, meaning that you can truly play as the exact character you want.
Just three examples of character customization. There are endless options to customize.
This level of customization also crosses over to the crafting of DA:I. The crafting systems of the past Dragon Age games were complicated and difficult to use. In DA:I this is fixed, with the crafting system letting you see what you can build, and also what you should be saving up to build later. Contrary to other Bioware games, DA:I encourages the player to become a master crafter of weapons and armor, and by the time you reach the end of the main campaign, most items in your party will be crafted. Add on the immersion of being able to name your weapons and armor, dye your every piece of cloth, metal, and leather, and the deep character and skill customization, and any roleplaying aficionado will be excited.
My Elven Rogue (Archer) with a secret helmet (Ardent Blossom Flower Crown).
Customization & Crafting: (9.5/10)
One of the best features of DA:I is the rich party interactivity. Each time you travel forth from your camp, you are allowed to take up to three other party members along with you (I say allowed as you can truly make this game a challenge for yourself by venturing forth alone and risking certain death.) Depending on who is along on the journey with you, and where you are, you will hear different conversations, quips, insults, and jabs. Unlike other games, in DA:I you truly feel a need to rid the party of negative attitudes, and bring in new members. Luckily, with nine party members to choose from it is always possible to swap someone out and try someone new.
Concept art for the available party members. (So as to not spoil anything.)
Some characters have special abilities, or can unlock areas for the Inquisitor. One of the most fun parts of DA:I is getting to know your favorite party members, and what works best for you. Different areas will require different combinations of party members in order to more easily achieve success. Getting to know all your party members takes time, and eventually every Inquisitor settles into their “#1 Party”, the group they’re always playing and traveling with.
Blackwall prepares for battle against demons and Undead in the Fallow Mire.
More info on the official Webpage HERE.
Another classic element of Bioware games is the romance. As with other games from Bioware, sexuality is an intriguing spectrum, with some characters falling for men, others women, some both, and others still abstaining from any physical “love”. Each character who can be romanced has a special quest line (http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/The_Inner_Circle_quests) to follow and complete, unlocking special options for your relationship with them, and teaching you more about the character and where they came from.
Choices to make...
The romance is one of the slowest aspects of the game, yet also one of the most rewarding. As your Inquisitor “falls” for certain NPC’s you’ll travel to new and intriguing locations, and unlock secrets and treasonous plots along the road to their heart. For some characters your actions could change who they are and how they see your relationship with them permanently. Always think twice before you kiss and tell.
The combat of Dragon Age: Inquisition is perfect for beginners as well as veterans. There are two modes available; Real-time or tactical. In real time, time moves normally, and each button press triggers an attack or action. All of the battle occurs in real time, with your other party members being controlled by AI. As you move up the difficulty track however, this will no longer cut it, and your party may need some extra direction. This is where tactical mode shines. As soon as tactical mode is initiated time freezes. The camera pulls upwards, and away from the fray, allowing you to manipulate it as needed for the best view. From here you can assign the next action for each character, including possibilities such as movement, healing, casting spells, attacking, or supporting one another.
Dragons are some of the toughest enemies in the game.
The sense of satisfaction that comes from carefully coordinating your team in tactical mode, and then rapidly decimating a group of enemies with precision warfare cannot be matched by much else in the game. Although completely optional on easy or normal difficulty, on hard, very hard, or nightmare mode you will find yourself relying on tactical mode more and more, using it to slow the pace of battle and plan your next moves carefully. Further still, the combat is different for each character, depending on their skills. What works well for one mage will not work well for all of them. Having two two-handed warriors may only work for some fights, whereas others may require a two-handed and a one-handed warrior. Playing through DA:I more than once as a different class of character will completely alter the approach you take to combat, and you’ll be surprised at how noticeable it is.
Combat Example and Explanation Video:
A quick look at the combat system of DA:I.
Although an interesting idea, the DA:I multiplayer is one of the few game features that falls flat. In a roleplaying game, the average player plays so that they can ROLE-PLAY, or pretend to be another person. In the online multiplayer however, you may only select from a limited number of characters, all who are pre-designed, and you may only customize their skills, armor, and weapons (and still far less than is available in single-player). Being able to play through “dungeons” online with others can be satisfying, but requires actual coordination, and a group of smart players communicating to each other in order to stay alive.
Multiplayer mode looks and plays a little differently than single player.
Unlike other games where the online is about how well you do, DA:I’s online focuses on how well all players can work as a team. Coming from single-player mode where you are the sole commander of your team, this can be jarring and frustrating, as you lose control over the other three party members. Although an intriguing add to the Dragon Age series, multiplayer can definitely be skipped, and nothing important or overly exciting will be missed.
Engine & Landscape
Dragon Age: Inquisition utilizes the popular Frostbite Game Engine, first released by DICE in 2008 as their engine. For comparison, some other games which have used the Frostbite engine include Battlefield 4, Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, and Star Wars: Battlefront. Despite the availability of weather or day/night systems, DA:I focuses on crafting each explorable location into a specific landscape, which will be the same each time you travel there. For example, each time you visit the Fallow Mire (http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Fallow_Mire) it will be raining. Each time you visit the Hissing Wastes it will be night. There is no changing this, and although it makes it easier to recognize locations, it is rather disappointing when you consider the possibility of rain starting and stopping, or the day fading into night and bringing a new wave of spawning enemies.
Sometimes it’s good to take pause and look around. You never know what you might find...
Despite these shortcomings, the landscapes of DA:I are still expansive and beautiful. From the massive dunes of the Hissing Wastes, each hiding a fresh secret over its crest, to the waves breaking upon the shores of the Storm Coast, each location has stunning elements that allow the player to pause and take in the sheer beauty of the world that has been fashioned for them.
Engine & Landscape: (9/10)
My Dwarf Warrior (One-Handed), in Emprise Du Lion.
Here you can see some examples of the beautiful world available for exploration.
Are you a player who explores from corner to corner of the map? Do you try and jump on that rock that looks too tall, just to see if you can? How about that wall? It is a wall right…. you can’t walk through it...or can you….? Dragon Age: Inquisition is packed to the BRIM with secrets. There are secret objects, secret bodies, secret passages, secret lore, there are even secrets that you can walk by and not realize that they relate in any way to the game until you play it through a second time. This is another part of Dragon Age: Inquisition that makes it a truly amazing gaming experience.
Just one example of a secret. In this case, the questline location of ‘The Tiniest Cave’.
Although completely optional, most players I know go back and play through the entire game at least twice, due to the fact that there are literally hundreds of available chests to discover. It is unlikely that most players will reach even close to 100% completion. As for myself, I’m at 480 hours of total playtime (Yes, that is 29 DAYS and 18 hours of playing), and I am still missing at least two dozen schematics (and possibly more). If you play the game all the way through, and then restart and play along with a walkthrough open, you will be astounded at how well hidden some of the secrets in this game are. Good luck on your quest to discover them all.
Cassandra kitted out in a secret armor set.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is not a new game. Released in November of 2014, it received positive reviews, and quickly became known as one of the best modern RPG’s. As time passed, allowing players to beat the game in full, many began to ask for new areas to explore, schematics to build, and secrets to find. Bioware’s answer to these requests was to release three massive DLC packages for the game. Now, as 2017 begins, all three DLC packs are available; The Jaws of Hakkon, The Descent, and Trespasser.
Explore the Frostback Basin as you search for a lost Inquisitor in the ‘Jaws of Hakkon’ DLC.
If you already own Dragon Age: Inquisition, but don’t have the DLC packages ($15 each, $45 total), it is actually now cheaper to simply re-purchase the game, purchasing the ‘Game of the Year Edition’, which comes with all three DLC’s (DA:I GOTY Edition - $40). For this cost you get the base game, which already takes an astounding 60-100 hours to complete, and additionally, you also receive all DLC, which adds approximately 60-80 hours more of gameplay. At a price point of $40, 180 hours of playtime (7.5 DAYS) is an amazing deal. It is possible for me to fill pages with information on the DLC’s, but truly I recommend that each and every person purchases and experiences these immersive stories for themselves.
Jaws of Hakkon: Defeat the Hakkonites and help the natives reclaim their land before an ancient evil can be summoned to power.
The Descent: Embark on a journey into the Deep Roads to discover the source of new and powerful earthquakes.
Trespasser: Set after the events of the Inquisition, travel years into the future to discuss the need for the Inquisition and unfold the mystery behind a great evil which could destroy all of Thedas.
Jaws of Hakkon Cinematic Trailer:
This video gives me chills every time.
Summary & Final Score:
Overall, Dragon Age: Inquisition is one of the finest available RPG games currently on the market (despite being already 2 years old!). In terms of story, customization, actual role-playing, and character interaction DA:I is in a league of its own, add the secrets, exploration, and landscapes and you’ve truly found a complete package. If you don’t already own a copy of Dragon Age: Inquisition, now’s the time to go try it!
Final Score: (9.5/10)
You may also be interested in:
1. 51 Best Role-Playing Games Ever Made
Previous StoryThis is the oldest story.