Dragon Age: Inquisition (Xbox One Review)
BioWare have definitely pulled out all the stops for their latest entry in the Dragon Age series. Pushing the next generation graphical hardware to its limit, and creating an expansive world full of interesting characters, story and lore. Dragon Age: Inquisition brings together what made its predecessors great while adding new gameplay features, such as the war council andstronghold customisation, forging an experience better than both. With countless hours already invested in this game I have yet to expereince a dull moment, Dragon Age: Inquisition is certainly a contender for RPG of the year.
The story this time around takes place directly after the epilogue of Dragon age 2 and once again focusing on a new hero which has been tasked with saving the world, as expected. The plot is centered around a catastrophic event of magic gone wrong where a large dimensional breach has tore open the sky over Thedas, spewing forth all manner of demons or “Fade” that destroy any living thing on sight. Your hero is caught in the middle of this and is accidentally bestowed with a mark that allows them to control and even destroy these tears in reality. Initially your hero is seen as the villain that caused the rift in the sky due to a slight case of amnesia, unable to explain why he/she bares a mark from the breach, but a quick turnaround in events quickly sees the hero gathering allies in aid to seal the breach for good.
If you’re new to Dragon Age and worried that you won’t understand the story this far in then fret not, BioWare has created a website called Dragon Age Keep that allows players to create/recreate the events of past games. The website gives you a rundown of the main plot points and characters that will carry over to Inquisition. Didn’t like a decision you made in Dragon Age 1 or 2? Then yuo can simply change that choice in the click of a button. This is an incredibly beneficial tool as it allows players more replayability for DA:Inquisition since they can re-create the events they wish and experience an altered storyline and events each time the game is played.
As standard with any form of RPG, you will be greeted with a screen that allows you to create your own unique character and class as soon as the game starts up. Each class bearing their own defined set of skills and role in the world and each skill tree offering up a different style of play. The warrior is the basic attack and aggro class set with skills that revolve around taunting enemies to focus them and defensive capabilities to help them withstand a beating. Within these classes there is also a great diversity in how you utilise your stats, a warrior can focus on either two handed weapons or a sword and shield and compliment these choices by upgrading their stats that relate to these specific loadouts. The rogue class offers a more versatile role, allowing the player to either fight in close quarters while dual wielding daggers, or fight from afar with a crossbow or bow. The rogues secondary abilities include laying traps to stun or paralyze enemies or to vanish from sight and evade enemy attacks. Last but not least there is the mage class. The mage’s skill set isn’t all that varied when compared to the other two classes. The only variety comes from the different elements they have at their disposal such as, lightning, fire and ice. However, this is not to say that this is the least effective class in any sense since enemies have a considerable weakness when it comes to elemental attacks, making the mage pretty overpowered.
Thedas, the world in which you play, is unfathomable in size. Environments can span from countryside landscapes and dank mines to prestigious cities, each one as expansive as the next. The land is divided into two separate parts; Fereldan and Orlais. Fereldan is the more rural land of the two with countrysides supporting farmland and stormy coastlines. Orlais on the other hand is home to the more wealthy citizens of Thedas, living in posh and expensive cities; Orlais also borders a vast desert. Each country has a wealth of activities to undertake including; quests, harvesting minerals, item collection, strongholds to loot, caves and local villages to pillage (should you wish). The harvesting of minerals and herbs is fundamental to the increase in strength of you and your party, each form of resource will allow you to upgrade and make potions as well as craft new weapons and armor for better defense and damage. Crafted items always tend to be better than anything that can be found or purchased so it’s usually best to stock upon these resources.
Newer additions to Dragon Age: Inquisition are what make the game stand out amongst it’s peers, the most interesting of which being the War Council. The War Council consists of the hero and their three advisors. During each council gathering the player makes their decisions regarding their next move in the fight against evil and where they will go next to do so. The table is split into two separate parts, one for each land as mentioned before. The map consists of various locations for the player to explore and side missions which are then assigned to an advisor; after a pre-determined amount of time the task will finish and result in a reward of gold or items. New areas can only be accessed by means of “Power”, the more power the player has accumulated the more areas that will be accessible. Power is essentially career points. The more missions you undertake and complete the more Power you will gain. Along side Power points you also have an Influence meter. Influence is gained much in the same way Power points are gained, the more missions directly involving characters in the game world that are completed the more the influence meter builds, once the meter is full the player gains one influence point. These points are spent on special unlocks like bonus exp from reading codex (lore) entries or the ability to pick locks (usually reserved for the rogue class).
These meetings with the War Council take place within your stronghold, a place where you hang your hat and make lovely with the ladies (or gents) and upgrade, craft and buy equipment. The player also gains the ability to customise their stronghold later in the game once enough progress has been made. Your party will also be hanging around the grounds of your base of operations, happily waiting around for you to chat to them. The characters you recruit are more diverse in their views and opinions in DA: Inquisition, most of the time I found myself leaning more towards making the morally correct decisions and finding out my entire party hated me for making those choices and only one respected it. It can become problematic working out what each character’s loyalty to you is since the morality meter present in past games is no longer there.
Some of the more minor additions come in the form of mounts and gameplay enhancements not seen in a Dragon Age title before. Mounts are your faster means of travel but tend to become a tad redundant once you unlock fast travel locations in each area, and having to stop every five second to get off your mount to harvest some ore can get annoying. Another new addition player being the inclusion of a jump button, which has been absent in past iterations of Dragon Age. The jumping in general can sometimes be quite fidgety when climbing up terrain as well as interactions with objects and loot. Both the interact command and jump command are mapped to the same button with no option to change this and can become irritating to say the least. Lastly there is the improved strategic battle camera -activated by pressing the Options button- which you can now move about at will to get a better look over the battlefield, allowing you to plan your offensive much better and prioritise attacks.
DA:Inquisition is the first game in the series to receive the multiplayer treatment where players can take on dungeons as a party to earn loot and other rewards to help bolster their arsenal and level them up. My time invested in the multiplayer aspect of the game is not significant. As far as I could see the game only has three maps at your disposal, each with their own distinct feel in relation to the game world. As for character creation, there is none. However you are given a range of pre-set characters to use and level up, only having three characters to start and totaling twelve altogether limits the distinct online personality you can have for your character. The online acts much in the same way as Mass Effect 3 does, you go into a map, fend off waves of enemies until you reach the exit and are rewarded for your troubles with gold, which in turn is used to buy chest with a random loot items inside.
The formula hasn’t changed that much between games, not that it is bad or anything but it is quite hard to see anyone investing a lot of time into the online multiplayer since the campaign has so much to offer, giving you hours upon hours of activities to do seemingly leaving players little time to jump online.
In the end, Dragon Age: Inquisition does not disappoint. With a vast wealth of tasks to undertake, collectables to find, story to unravel and characters to interact with, you’ll have plenty of hours of gameplay ahead of you that you will be grossly invested in, whether you’re a Dragon Age fan or not. The only thing holding Dragon Age: Inquisition back is some of its awkward control schemes and the double edged sword that is sheer amount of content, resulting in a lot of repetition.