Dragon Age: Inquisition & Attention to Detail

As always the caveat that there will be spoilers as I continue my replay of DA: Inquisition and continue my musings.

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So last night I tied up most of the Hinterlands adventures.  Just one more fade rift to close.  I had been holding off on shutting down the rogue templars until I had the damn Inquisition banners requisition handled.  Last time I didn’t get to finish it and it bugged me no end.  (Yes, I am a completist).  So as those who play already know while you are pacifying the Hinterlands there is the sound of combat and the roar of angry men.  Buildings and wagons on fire along the West Road.  Then last night after the templar encampment and the mage hide out had both been dealt with the shouting stopped and when I rode down the West Road the flames were extinguished.  There are farmers back in the fields, and people conducting business in Redcliff and at the Crossroads.  (An aside, and something I found interesting.  When you run into gangs of templars and mages fighting and have to end the fights you are only pitted against men.  I have yet to come up against a female templar or a female mage in those instances which is an odd “soft” form of sexism.)  But back to the topic.

This is beautiful attention to detail, and as every writer knows it’s tremendously important if you want to give a reader or a viewer or a player a truly immersive experience.  For a gamer it adds to that sense of satisfaction that you have accomplished something meaningful.  One of my first gaming experiences that I really enjoyed was Halo, but I eventually lost interest because it was always the same.  Go to the next checkpoint, fight aliens, rinse and repeat.  I never had a sense it was making any difference until the final moment when you kept a Halo ring from doing something evil, and for those of us less adept players the fact you always had to drive really fast to succeed and escape made this ending fraught and frustrating.

You also see that the designers of Dragon Age actually thought about the consequences of your decisions on your companions.  I’m not in love with the “Solas approves, Sera disapproves,” etc. thing, but I have liked the fact that Vivienne gives you an immense amount of crap if you have sided with the mages and think they ought to be able to govern themselves, Cassandra is very suspicious of the spirit creature Cole, and in the case of one particular character the choices you make deeply affect her personality and her behavior near the end of the game.

And then there’s the war table.  If you just pick an advisor to solve a problem based on who can do it the fastest and who is available you may end up with an unfortunate outcome.  If you are playing an elf and you just rely on military force to try and help your clan you end up with a dead clan.  You actually have to stop and consider the problem, the advice being given and the outcome you want.

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