After my last review, I should probably do a review of Dragon Age: Inquisition based on the game itself. Last time I was mostly ranting about Dragon Age Keep…[tweet https://twitter.com/compgeeksdavid/status/539271485609631745]
Having gotten past that, I’m enjoying the game far more. I’ve only really hit on one moment where my past games have even mattered – which is both good and bad. I can leave that alone for now.
So I have created two characters, so I’ll tell you some of my experiences of creating both a melee and a ranged character. I’ll also look at the party and classes, the things to do, and close out with some technical considerations. I’m only a handful of hours into the game, so if you’re looking for a fuller review of the game, I liked this one from IGN. They do a good job talking about the game without spoilers. I doubt I have many spoilers either, I’m too early on!
Playthrough 1 – Dwarfen Defender
You click on new game, and BOOM BAM the Breach opens, right there on the main menu screen. So knowing that the Breach was going to form, and the Veil break open, was definitely not a spoiler… makes for a good trailer I guess…
I had checked out the different class specializations (there are nine, three per class – which match your nine companions, one for each specialization) and I liked the look of the Champion. Clogging up areas, defending… sounded like a good dwarf to me. I made the character, pausing for a moment at the page where you choose Sword and Shield or Two Handed Weapon Warriors (you have access to all the skills, it really is just about which weapon you get for free at the start), and I loaded in my World State from the Keep.
I quickly figured out, though, that my tanklike dwarf was going to be a terrible idea. This is particularly because a large part of the game is going to be dealing with the Fade Rifts, opening because of the Breach. Kind of a big deal, and you’re the main character because only you can deal with them. I found it very hard to juggle drawing enemy attention, defending and fighting, and dealing with the Rifts.
I felt like doing a melee character at all is asking for a harder gameplay experience, as you juggle these elements. However, the melee damage weapons are way more powerful than the ranged ones – the daggers and two-handed weapons are great! I look at them longingly in my inventory, then sell them. It was time for a ranged character.
Playthrough 2 – Dalish Sorcerer
So I went through character creation again… and found out that my World State was locked in with that first playthrough! I almost flipped out, thinking I would have to rebuild the whole thing again. But then I found that I could copy that existing World State, and export it as a new one. It was annoying, but only took a couple of minutes.
So far, I am having a lot more fun as a mage. Ranged combat is much better for dealing with the Rifts, though I like to be in the thick of things – I’ll probably end up as a Knight-Enchanter, even though that’s a lot like the Arcane Warrior I played in Origins.
Also, I am surviving through use of the Barrier spell (like you’re probably supposed to). This creates a blue shield health bar; the warrior generates a grey Guard health bar, which made more sense once I was working with the Barrier. These function a whole lot like the defensive systems in Mass Effect 2 and 3. Gotta burn through them to get to the health bar itself, and some attacks do extra damage to these defenses. I now just need to get better about noticing how the game lets us know that enemies have these defenses!
So I’m a few hours in with this playthrough, and more than anything I’m surprised that I still have the same initial party, with no one else as an option. They give you one person of each class, and it’s a pretty balanced little group, so they could have done worse. Still, it kind of makes it feel like I’m still very much in the tutorial period. Maybe I am?
No one has a specialization yet, either, so maybe I don’t need more characters yet. The specializations are where they start standing apart from each other!
I am also enjoying being a Dalish Elf, and there’s a ton of specific conversation stuff built in about this, and about how my character is an outsider who is really only experiencing this world of humans for the first time. And you can dig into some of the harsher realities of Dalish experience, the racism and the history of it. This leads me to imagine there will be a lot of great stuff for all of the different character combinations, like in Origins; good stuff if you’re a mage, or a dwarf, or a woman, for instance.
The Wide Open Spaces
A major focus of this game is the world, now opened up and full of things to do like an Elder Scrolls game. Every thing I do and every place I explore seems to be opening up more for me to do, not less. I don’t feel like I am accomplishing things yet, just slipping backwards. Like I found that there are little shards to collect, and there are quests for collecting bits off of the creatures in the area – but to do things like feed and clothe the refugees. Good stuff.
Indeed, I’m surprised how much “small” stuff there is to do in the game. Things like the individual item upgrades and the crafting, the crafting materials collecting… I thought those were going to be “beneath you” in this game, with your character worried about the more high-level Inquisition type stuff, and sending out agents to do the dirty work (like picking flowers) for you.
Your advisors, meanwhile, go on little quests for you that you select from a war table. I was surprised to see these mostly just being time-bound quests, where after a certain amount of real-world time are completed. The initial ones were so short I had hardly made it away from the Chantry before they were done and I was headed back to send them off on more missions.
What I’ve liked with these missions, though, are the different strategies your advisors say they will employ to complete the task. You have to stop and read the descriptions; you can send any of your advisors to handle anything, at least so far, but they would handle things very differently. For instance, there is an unpopular noble who is upset at having refugees on his land. You can not take him seriously, or do what he asks, or you can help the refugees – all based on who you decide to let handle the task. I’m looking forward to more missions, and more advisors hopefully!
I was so excited for this game to be out on the current generation consoles, because then we could import our old games… except you can’t do that. So instead, what I’m finding is the load times are really long and I’m wondering if the newer consoles would be a little better or a lot better…
However, the load times should be long. In the zones, it loads once, and you have everything. You can walk into buildings or wherever, and it’s all already loaded up: no extra load time. I imagine if I wanted to use a lot of fast travel or was bouncing around, the load times would get bad. Staying in one place? You’re good to go.
I also wish I hadn’t played Dragon Age 2 so recently (not only because I couldn’t import my playthrough and thus it didn’t matter). The controls are very different, with almost everything in a different place, even though most of the things you’re trying to do are the same. It’s like dealing with a new Windows operating system…
The tactical controls, meanwhile, make me wonder if the PC isn’t the ideal place to be playing the game. Given the load times stuff and all, I feel like it’d need to be a really powerful PC. It’s not out on Mac, so this isn’t an option for us. And someone who has a really powerful PC likely doesn’t need me to tell them they might want to use it for gaming; they already know.
I’m enjoying it now that I’m in it. The IGN review said they completed the main campaign in about 90 hours, so I have a lot of game ahead of me. Holly is still annoyed with the Dragon Age Keep and hasn’t started yet. How about you? Have you dared the game yet? Like what you see? Fighting through problems? Let me know in the comments below!