THE MOST EPIC ADVENTURE… EVER!
Let’s get this out of the way first so that there is no confusion — Dragon Age: Inquisition is absolutely amazing. There are few games that can make me forget about reality and force me to neglect my real life responsibilities; this happens to be one of them. After logging 125 hours as the Inquisitor, I was finally satisfied enough with my journey to finish the last story mission and move on with my life. However, that being said, 125 hours was not enough to complete every side quest and it would likely take me another 20-40 hours to accomplish that.
Dragon Age: Inquisition starts off with an incredibly deep character customization mechanic, allowing you to make the perfect Inquisitor for your game. While I could have made a dwarf, elf, or Qunari, I decided to stick with a human and make him look as similar to me as possible.
Though I imagine there are several people out there who got really creative with the customization, which is awesome. My favorite example I found online was that someone created Troy Baker.
After creating your masterpiece of a character, you soon find out that you were just in the Fade (the world of the afterlife in the Dragon Age series) and somehow managed to escape with the help of a mysterious woman. You also find out that you now have a glowing mark on your left hand that can be used to close up rifts in the sky that are popping up all over the world of Thedas. These rifts are causing demons to spawn and wreak havoc on their surroundings. You will then form an Inquisition with a unique band of fighters in order to try and close all of the rifts, but mainly the giant one in the sky that threatens to destroy the world.
Depending on how slow and meticulous you play, you can spend anywhere from 10 to 25 hours during the first portion of the game. To my surprise, this was only like a prologue when compared to the rest of the game! After an extremely long but awesome cutscene, you unlock a new base called Skyhold, which marks when the game truly begins in my opinion. This is also when the Inquisition’s overall goal changes drastically to a more epic quest.
During your playthrough, you will be able to explore 10 different “open world” regions that become accessible once discovered. On paper this may not seem like a lot; it takes actually seeing just one of them to understand just how big the world really is. Each region has its own unique landmarks and history. Exploring each and every one of them, completing all of the side quests, and discovering every landmark felt as though it mattered.
While I always enjoy discovering the history behind a game’s world, Dragon Age: Inquisition made it feel like I had to do it in order to succeed in my quest. Although that is not entirely true as you don’t actually have to, it was more just that the world around me was not boring for once, and it felt like I was making a difference by helping random strangers and listening to their stories. Of course, this was accomplished by the excellent writing and voice acting for every single character and side quest. BioWare did an absolute fantastic job writing each story to make them feel important.
What is also great about these humongous areas you’ll venture through is the fact that there are distractions everywhere. While heading to a waypoint all the way across a map for one quest, I would run into 5-10 new side quests, a ton of herbs to pick, ores to mine, shards to pick up, caves to explore, and rifts to close. Dragon Age: Inquisition will truly show you just how distracted you can be. And like I said before, you aren’t doing these things just because, they each have meaning and importance to them if you pay attention. Different quests can add agents to your inquisition, helping you get a power up earlier than you could have without them; picking all of the herbs you find will help you level up potions faster; mining all of the ore will let you construct bigger and badder swords/armor; and lastly, you’ll come across the ingredients you need to upgrade Skyhold into a badass stronghold.
Joining you on your adventures across Thedas are nine different companions made up of the different battle classes (warrior, rogue, mage). A few of them are returning characters from previous games like Varric and Cassandra, and a few of them are newcomers like Sera and Dorian. Each have their own quirky personalities with an entire history of how they got where they are. You can learn more about them and become friends (or even lovers) if you decide to help them complete a few personal quests.
Every time you enter a region to explore or just go on a specific quest you have to choose three of the nine to take with you. What is extremely cool about this is that they will all have different conversations with each other and react differently to quests you complete with them in your party. Example: Sera, an elf who hates magic, will constantly pester Dorian, a mage, about his magic and why he isn’t afraid of it.
The banter can be extremely funny and make some of the long journeys you will encounter much more enjoyable. I highly encourage you to swap out party members often to find out how they all interact with each other. While this playful banter is an awesome feature, it has apparently been ruined for some players because of a glitch that makes your party not say anything for long periods of time. An unfortunate bug, but one that will hopefully be fixed soon. Along with that bug, there is another dialogue issue that pops up during specific quests that will stop conversations from moving forward for three or four minutes sometimes. This happens in the middle of cutscenes during a few quests and can be extremely annoying because you will be left staring at a character’s face until it advances. A way around this is to keep hitting the skip button, but even that sometimes doesn’t work and you will just have to wait.
The battle system felt a bit jarring at first, but I quickly realized how efficient it was and I now consider it my favorite western RPG battle system. On PlayStation 4, you hold the right trigger to continually attack with your primary weapon, but can use special action abilities by pressing any of the face buttons. Those action abilities are typically much stronger than your normal attacks, or they have special effects applied to them, like poisoning your weapons or boosting your parties’ attack strength.
If at any point you need to slow things down and give specific directions to different characters, you can press the touchpad to enter the tactical camera mode. This pauses the battle and allows you to switch characters and give the special instructions to each one before returning to real time. I didn’t utilize the tactical camera early in the game as I never felt overwhelmed in battles, but as the game progressed and I fought stronger enemies, I found that I used it during just about every battle. It is an extremely useful and awesome feature to have.
When you create your character, you’ll have the option to make a warrior, rogue, or mage, which will completely change how you approach the game. Within each class, there are different weapon types you can use, which also changes how you battle. Both of these customizable options make the game feel much different when creating a new character, increasing the replay value. Since your companions are made up of all of the different classes, you will have the option to see how each of them play because you can switch to them at any time.
I created a warrior that used two-handed weapons and was an absolute tank. I absorbed the majority of the damage dealt by our enemies, while also dealing out a massive amount of damage with my huge weapons. However, I found that my rogue and mage died quickly during many of the boss battles because they didn’t have much armor and would continually move in too close to the boss. The solution I found was to start utilizing the tactical camera more, while playing as my mage or rogue instead of my created character. This allowed my warrior to keep the boss distracted while I ran around and unloaded a bunch of powerful spells or arrow attacks. In the beginning, I thought this was annoying, but I began to really enjoy these fights once I started to understand how the other classes worked. Now, after playing as each of the classes many times, I can safely say that they all play extremely different and add to the already deep battle system. You gain a new appreciation for other classes when you are forced to play as them.
One thing you will immediately notice when booting up Dragon Age: Inquisition is that it is absolutely beautiful. Graphically, Inquisition is one of the best games I have ever played. From the incredibly detailed dragon designs to the minute details of each environment, you’ll be hard pressed to find an overall better looking game on current generation platforms. Though that is not to say that it doesn’t have its hiccups. The first 75 hours of my playthrough were nearly flawless in the graphics department, but as I continued my quest, I started to run into more and more graphical problems.
Every time I walked through the main part of my castle in Skyhold, all of the decorations and people hanging out would disappear and reappear a few times before finally settling into the environment. While strange, it doesn’t break the game by any means. Another issue was that while running a random side quest, my sword model ended up breaking and the pommel just floated in the air beside it. At first, I thought it was funny and would go on to fix itself, but it never did and I ended up playing about 15 hours of the game with a sword that had a magic floating pommel. I also started to experience more framerate problems and overall slowdown of the game during some of the more epic battles late in the game. Again, none of these broke the game, but were definitely annoying to endure.
A final note about the game is that the online mode is extremely fun. It takes the battle system and crafting system of the main campaign and lets you and a few friends create brand new characters to tackle dungeons together. The multiplayer is by no means the best part of Dragon Age: Inquisition, but it gives you another reason to keep playing, or pick the game up again later after completing it (as if there wasn’t enough reason already).
The Verdict: 9.8 out of 10
Dragon Age: Inquisition is by far the best game I have played this year. From the awesome theme song, to the incredible writing, to the superb voice acting, to the immensely fun battle system, to the HUGE regions of the world to explore, Dragon Age: Inquisition is nearly a masterpiece. The few bugs and glitches can easily be forgotten because they play such a small part in the overall adventure. BioWare has achieved something truly great with the latest iteration in the Dragon Age franchise. If we use the epicness of Inquisition as an indication of where the Mass Effect franchise is heading and where Dragon Age will hopefully continue to be, then we are surely in for a treat.
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.