Dragon Age: Inquisition!

I want to start jotting down my thoughts about Dragon Age: Inquisition, but let me first put up a warning.  I can’t really talk about this game without spoilers so if you haven’t finished, or haven’t started the game — maybe don’t read my musings about the game.

 

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Okay, now that the disclaimer is out of the way….  I really loved this game.  I don’t think it’s quite as epic as Dragon Age: Origins, but the focus is different.  In Origins you’re really a kid, very young maybe 17 or 18 years old and your left isolated, outlawed and alone without guidance from the elders of your order — The Grey Wardens.  Despite that your country is faced with a terrible threat and it’s up to you to forge alliances to fight it.  Added to your problems is a vicious civil war.

The second game, Dragon Age 2 was… well, actually I have no idea what was the point of that game.  It felt cramped and small and unimportant aside from the growing tensions between mages and templars.

Inquisition is more like Mass Effect 3, (but be reassured — unlike ME3 Inquisition has a good ending) in that your task is to craft a massive fighting force to combat a threat that endangers the entire world of Thedas.  There are decisions to be made and how you pick between spies, diplomacy or military action has real consequences.  You have to recruit agents and allies and you can blow it with them.  One of the best sequences in the game is all about court intrigue at a royal ball, and it is friggin’ brilliant.

Dragon Age: Origins did an amazing job of building a culture, societies complete with an intricate history, and Inquisition builds on that history in fascinating ways.  Wisely, BioWare abandoned the ill thought out plan that forced you to only play a human in Dragon Age 2 and once again allowed you a choice of races as well as your gender and class.  I am partial to elves.  My warden in Origins was a Dalish elf so I played Dalish again in this game, and I think it might be the best choice given the focus of the game and what is ultimately discovered.

The designers also broadened the world significantly.  Ferelden felt big to me, but it’s nothing compared with Inquisition.  Kirkwall was very cramped a consequence of a rushed game, but they have more then made up for it in Inquisition.  Thedas is now a very big world, and there is one particular visual out in the Hissing Waste that is spectacular and really brings home that — no, you are not on Earth.  The maps indicated this wasn’t our world, but the image of that gigantic moon hanging at the horizon really makes the point in a very visceral way.

For the record I really disliked Skyrim.  I need some kind of narrative spine.  Just wandering about getting surly rulers elderberry wine and fighting endless walking dead in dungeons very quickly lost any appeal for me.  A big world meant nothing without a story.  BioWare and Inquisition have managed to give me the best of both.  A big world to explore, but a strong sense of what was at stake and what I needed to do.

So, there’s the big overview.  I’ll get into more specifics in future posts.

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