– Very pretty. Modern engine, graphics, environments, and art. Win.
– Great art. You see it in the illustrations, levels, clothes, weapons, everything!
– OPEN SPACES! The game is not Skyrim wide obviously, but corridor level design is gone, thank goodness.
– GOOD dialogs! This is an indirect consequence of having interesting characters, but I haven’t felt bored when talking to an NPC in over 100 hours of play, which is quite a feat for this genre that usually has quite a bit of cookie cutter / cliché conversations.
– Addition of crafting is awesome.
– The game is meaty. It doesn’t feel like it has been stripped for DLCs like previous ones.
– Useless items, so many of them. Loot and finding cool gear is one of the main attractions of the RPG genre, yet exciting gear is few and far between. The game is full of “2% resist to ranged”, “2% magic damage”, “2% bleed” items. Why even bother creating these items? Just drop gold instead.
– The tactical layer is an atrocity. It messes up your camera angles every-time and gives no useful zoom levels.
– The combat system is robust, but gets repetitive about half way through the game.
– Great Soundtrack however it is hardly used during the game
First and foremost, good news everyone! After the significant disappointment that was Dragon Age 2, with Inquisition Bioware finally brings Dragon Age series back on track.
After the bland graphics and environment in DA2, you will immediately notice the much improved graphics engine, the environments, and even the art. Right off the bat you are met with craftly designed cards, which you will use to choose your race, skills, and orientation at game start. The character maker is also very detailed and very realistic (in comparison it makes Skyrim’s character maker look like a freakshow simulator). So detailed in fact that some people are using it to generate celebrities look-alike, the most known being Daenerys Targaryen, the “Mother of dragons”. Google it.
The environmental design by itself is a major success. You can now roam in massive open areas, and they are really filling in terms of exploration and details. I was very surprised at how much detailed the plains, rivers, mountains, caves, and even the sea are. Making those areas took either an army of level designers, or some very innovative terrain generator software. The areas are varied too, from desert to snow to lush forests to the interior of castles temples and caves, it is a pleasure to discover new open spaces and travel to new regions. Those areas also feel “alive”, with factions, brigands, monsters, and even animals roaming them and doing their own thing. It is not rare to find a bear chasing a goat or fighting bandits, or a pack of wolves chasing rabbits and dears around. There are also more exotic animals like Fenecs, think of them as tiny foxes you will hunt for the crafting material needed to add critical chance to your gear.
Which brings us to crafting. At first crafting seems quite bland, for in the early adventure you can barely make gear that is equivalent to whites you find everywhere. But as the adventure goes on, and as you find more exotic materials, and rarer recipes, crafting becomes essential in customizing your gear according to your character abilities, synergies, and the tactics you like to use. More than that it can become critical in beating some badass enemies *cough* Dragons *cough*. Some materials can even add unique modifiers, that will add things like chance to trigger a skill on hit, chance for a massive damage boost that also renders you very fragile, and so on. Exploration pays off in terms of finding rarer materials to make interesting weapons and armor.
The combat is as solid as ever. With some additions like the ability to move and shoot with rogues (unfortunately not the mages, which makes them slightly more boring…) this adds tactical value since you can do more damage if you flank your enemies. This makes it essential that you move and position yourself optimally as the combat goes on, to get the best angles at your enemies. This is especially true when you start crafting gear with flanking modifiers, which are one of the best sources of extra damage in the game.
That being said, the game is so long (a good thing!) that after 50-60 hours combat becomes repetitive. It gets even more repetitive after you get near max level and don’t unlock any new abilities anymore. At some point you will find what works or not, and you will be using the same strategy every time. Keep in mind, you can only store 8 active abilities on your action bar, which limits your choices and forces you to choose a specific combination at about mid game… which is not a real problem since resetting ability skills is quite cheap. The repetitiveness in combat could have been fixed if the enemies AI and abilities were more rich and diverse, requiring you to change tactics. But most enemies will just stright up walk to you and attack (keep in mind I played on maximum difficulty from the start) so the tactical layer becomes dull after a while and this reduces the motivation to finish the game I found. At least I had to take a few days break between play sessions once I reached 60-80 hours to avoid the repetitiveness and keep my enjoyment of the game at a high level.
That being said, there are dragons. And they are extremely fun and challenging to fight. Forget the push over Skyrim Dragons, those in dragon age inquisition are the real deal. And even if few and far between (there are about 10 dragons in the game), the experience they provide is very satisfying. Finally, Dragons done right! Good work Bioware.
Another issue with the combat system is the tactical layer, in other words what happens when you are trying to pause.What a disaster! The biggest issue is that when you pause, the game messes… did I says messes? let me rephrase, the game utterly fraks up your camera angle. It usually makes you look at the ground, and you can’t even zoom out far enough to make that angle even remotely useful. Not only that, but when you unpause you don’t even return to your previous camera position. As a result, each time you pause you have to wrestle with the camera, which is such a pain. The tactical layer feels like some troll is just randomly slapping the camera each time you use the feature. Bioware has to understand that 90% of the time we use the tactical, it is simply to pause and have time to give quick orders to companions… don’t touch the camera angle. Or at least give us a setting to turn this console-inherited atrocity off. Please, goddamit.
Finally, when it comes to the story, the game is also very accomplished. Without too many spoilers, a critical event causes an explosition that literally tears up the skies. Those tears lead to the Fade and they let Demons into the real world, and it seems you were present at the cataclismic event but lost your memory and at first you do not know which role you played in those events. As you work to fight the demons and close the rifts, you will slowly discover how you fit into all this and work out who is the real enemy you must fight. Even if the opening rift concept is not very original (think Oblivion), the way the story is told, the colorful characters you meet, and the setting of the story is well crafted and provides a unique, memorable adventure.
With Inquisition, Bioware brings back the Dragon Age series in a big way. Every single aspect is better in this installment, from the story telling, to the level of interaction you can have with your entourage and the world, to the new mechanics such as crafting. Even the core of the game itself feels a lot meatier and quite substantial in terms of amount and variety of content.
But most of all Inquisition shows that the series is evolving in the right direction and in a major way. The introduction of open spaces adds tremendously to the game in terms of exploration, discovery, and general immersion. The expansion of your entourage from a simple fire camp in the widlerness to being a whole faction, with lieutenants, officers, allies, agents, bases of operations and even a spy network is very satisfying.
I can honestly say that Dragon Age Inquisition is the best RGP I have played to date. Objectively and minus any nostalgia factor going for other games, it truly is. It gives tremendous value on every aspect. Expect it to take you around 150h playtime on average, depending on the difficulty and how obcessed you are about exploring and finishing every quest. Dragon age Inquisition is worth every penny and is a must play for any and all gamers.