DRAGON AGE: INQUISITION
Dragon Age: Inquisition is my favourite game of 2014 so far, considering there isn’t much left to the year and no more big titles to launch, I think it’s safe to say it is my game of the year.
I absolutely loved Dragon Age: Origins and despite what a lot of people say, Dragon Age II was still very enjoyable, it was just far more limited than Origins and therefore felt a bit underwhelming. Inquisition has managed to improve upon the franchise, whilst steering clear of mistakes made in Dragon Age II.
The Inquisitor’s Path
I couldn’t wait to get back into Thedas, however, after making the mistake of not spending enough time on my Inquisitor during my EA Access trial (her face annoyed the hell out of me throughout those six hours) I chose to start anew on release and give my character the attention she deserved.
I was a bit disappointed with some of the character creation options, on a whole there is far more customisation options available but certain things still disappointed me. Such as the amount of longer length hair styles, these were were slim to none because apparently mainly shaved heads are in vogue in Thedas at the moment, also the vocal choices were sparse.
Aside from that, it’s pretty damn hard to think of gameplay aspects that haven’t been improved in this new addition to the Dragon Age franchise. The battle system retains its more traditional button mash style as well as the impressive tactical camera mode that allows you to control your battle movements more effectively.
Although I’m more of a button mash kind of girl, the tactical mode was invaluable for dragon fights, keeping my companions out of the way of harm, as well as boss fights in Nightmare mode.
Inquisition is absolutely massive, that doesn’t mean much when you think back to how linear Dragon Age II was, however, even in terms of the size of Origins, Inquisition is huge. After the intitial tutorial where y
ou don’t really have much choice of where to go, you eventually end up in your first real explorable area, The Hinterlands. I immediately assumed the worst, figuring that the path before me was my only real option, however, after deciding to slip through a hedge to my right I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could keep going.
The more you unlock of the map, the more impressive its size really becomes. Then you have to remember that The Hinterlands is just one of many areas and that’s when the size of the game becomes pretty incredible. Of course, with the new expansiveness of Thedas, hiking around gets a bit unbearable. Luckily, Inquisition introduces mounts to the franchise and you even have your fair share of mounts to choose from too.
It was nice to see new features added to the franchise, as well as the standard questing and branching path plot lines we’ve grown accustomed to, Inquisition gives players more control over their Inquisition as it expands. By using the war table you can send forces out on their own scouting operations and missions, granting you resources, influence, items, or new areas.
Once you reach Skyhold, you’re also able to upgrade your new residence and customise it with different furnishings and other items. The only feature I missed that was no longer included was the option to gift items to companions, but that’s only a slight bugbear on my part.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is the first in the franchise to feature multiplayer. Although the multiplayer is fun and interesting, I’m glad that it’s separate from the main game so that you don’t lose anything by not really playing around with it.
The multiplayer features a variety of classes as well as offering some some fresh multiplayer content that doesn’t involve toting around guns. It’s always nice to see game franchises test the water with multiplayer content outside of the norm. It doesn’t feel as though anything was lost from Inquisition by broadening its content to feature online play, which I’m especially glad of after hearing there was a time when Inquisition may have been multiplayer only.
For me, Dragon Age has always been about delivering a great game with a great story, Inquisition has more than nailed that on the head.
I put well over 100 hours into my first play through of Inquisition, granted I was aiming to complete many of the side quests for achievements purposes, however, it still left much to discover post-game. Playing again to complete the game on a higher difficulty and aiming to complete as few unnecessary options as possible still resulted in a hefty score of hours. Dragon Age: Inquisition is one of the best games ever for longevity, think of it as a contender for Skyrim and you’ll be hitting the right mark.
To fully explore all of the story that Inquisition has to offer you really have to play it more than once, making different choices not only now, but changing your past choices from the first two games. The replay value of the game is pretty high in my opinion, in addition to discovering all of the lore through multiple play throughs, Inquisition is one of those games that belongs to such a detailed universe that it makes you want to re-play all of the games in the series to remind yourself of everything that happened. Of course, if you didn’t want to actually replay it to change your choices, the Dragon Age Keep app was a nice feature from Bioware that enabled players to change their world states at the click of a button. This leaves you free to embark into Thedas once more as the Inquisitior, discovering new story options and racking up even more hours.
The History Behind the Heroes
I absolutely love the lore of Dragon Age, but to be honest, I wasn’t holding out much hope for the story line of Inquisition. Not that it bothered me, I was still looking forward to the game, it’s just three games in and after the shambles of the Mass Effect 3 ending, you just lose hope. I was wrong. Inquisition starts off as expected, not gripping, yet not boring. However, the more the plot developed the more I found myself applauding the game for tying in both major and minor plot lines of the first two games. I’m not just talking about cameos and nods to certain elements either, it really felt as though Inquisition was tying the whole of the Dragon Age series together in one. In fact, it did such a great job of this it had me worried that Bioware was tying this all up a little too neatly and I feared that Inquisition could be the end of the Dragon Age series. Rest assured though, the game ends with quite a few unanswered questions so I hope that more Dragon Age content or games will be heading our way in the future.
Inquisition actually makes Dragon Age II a better game, I realise that sounds a little bit crazy but I discovered this when recommending the series to a colleague. (I know, I also can’t believe they hadn’t played it either). I told him that if he missed out Dragon Age II, he’d be losing so much in the plot, especially now with how Inquisition uses the story arcs of the first two titles.
I also particularly enjoyed that choices that players made in the first two games, no matter how big or small, still echoed throughout Thedas. Conversations with companions could reveal much about your past digital lives, as well as including larger plot points that could potentially happen, depending on whether you had put the right things in motion previously.
Dragon Age: Inquisition uses the Frostbite 3 Engine and SpeedTree to their fullest; you can see how in depth the detail of the characters are from the customisation options in the character creation alone. The landscapes within the game are simply breath-taking in detail; without a doubt, Inquisition is one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played.
Each area is unique to itself, the game features a variety of environments such as bogs, coastal, towns, forests, and more, which is extremely refreshing after the recyled area maps of Dragon Age II. The detail of each area is incredible, not only does it have its own individual environment but it has its own wildlife, minerals, and vegetation native to each specific zone. Buildings are equally detailed, I marvelled at the furnishings of many places, especially the artwork and statues that adorned many areas.
The game features different forms of artwork in addition to those displayed as furnishings, the companions have their own tarot cards that change as you progress their individual story lines. The codex also contains artwork of everything in the game, you can’t help but admire these as you wait on loading screens. The artwork is so beautiful I’m tempted to but the art book for Inquisition.
A great game can be ruined by awful voice actors, fortunately, Inquisition isn’t one of them. The characters within Dragon Age have always felt well-developed to me and I think that’s because Bioware chooses to not spare expense in bringing in voice actors who really make the role more personal. The general discussion and banter of the characters seems natural and effortless, not to mention as well as being completely hilarious at times. It was actually disappointing that the characters don’t converse while you are riding a mount, as the conversations kept me well entertained whilst exploring.
Well known actors feature in the game; as well as enjoying the return of Claudia Black as Morrigan, I was really surprised to find that Freddie Prinze Jr. voices one of the companions. I won’t ruin it for you, it would be far more interesting (and hilarious) for you to figure out which of the companions he voices.
The sound track for Inquisition is perfectly suited to the game, I loved hearing the different tracks throughout my playthrough. I even lingered in taverns longer than necessary to listen to the different bard songs that you could collect. The ambient sounds of Inquisition were also given great care, adding in details such as the sounds of birds or insects is always an appreciated touch.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is most definitely one of the best games of the year for me and has become one of my firm favourites of all time. Not only is it an improvement on the Dragon Age series, but it manages to unite all the previous plots of the series into one masterpiece.
I really can’t wait for some DLC to land so I can carry on exploring Thedas to its fullest. I cant get enough of Inquisition, I’ve played through more than once now and it’s still not getting old. I need more Dragon Age fix, now.
If RPGs and fantasy games are right up your street, you’re really missing out by not playing Inquisition. I’ve lost count of the amount of people I’ve coerced into getting the game and not one of them has yet to tell me they were disappointed.