I know many of you were disappointed with Dragon Age II and worried about the future of the franchise. In Dragon Age: Inquisition, you take on the role of leader of leaders, and it may just be the Dragon Age game that you’ve been waiting to play.
I got to rub my eyeballs on some Dragon Age demo gameplay at E3, and I was thoroughly impressed.
First things first, the world is huge and varied. The first area we saw was just one small portion of the map, and was already larger than all of the Dragon Age Origins game. Before anyone comments, the different locations featured seriously unique maps and layouts.
It’s not just the size that matters, it’s how you use it. The world features a World Master system. So, if you hunt bears and skin them for their pelts, eventually their numbers will begin to dwindle. Also, as you grow your inquisition’s power, you will find that your banners appear and your troops patrol the areas, bringing peace and order to the war-torn landscape.
This time around, the devastation is not just something you may encounter from time to time, or hear about from NPCs. Instead, as you traverse the countryside you will find side quests and dialogues about the ways (both big and small) that locals are affected by the ravages of the war between the Mages and the Templars. You can even encounter environmental obstacles that can be overcome to gain access to new areas.
Moving around the world is also a more varied experience. There is fast travel between major locations, but with a much larger map, it can take way longer to get around. Thankfully, Bioware has added mounts to the game to get you from point A to point B. There will be normal and exotic mounts to collect, speeding up your movement and adding variety to exploration.
Speaking of variety, Dragon Age: Inquisition has an all new crafting system. For the first time in Dragon Age, you’ll be able to craft your own equipment and customise the look and stats.
True to Bioware form, party members converse with each other as you wander the world. Additionally, NPCs in towns and meeting points are unique and engaged in their own conversations.
Combat in Dragon Age: Inquisition will test the limits of players’ abilities. The game caters for two approaches, which certainly made me happy. For those who like to just run in, chopping and changing between characters and fighting on the fly, you can do that. That combat style has become way more fluid from previous Dragon Age games, and changing between characters is quick and easy. Thanks to a cleaned up HUD and UI, it’s also much clearer which character you’re controlling, their health and abilities.
There is also a tactical view, which pauses the game and allows players to take an almost turn-based approach to combat. Pause the game, plan the moves of your different party members, and then turn time back on to see how the battle progresses. This helps if you want your archers to take advantage of high ground while sending your tank to hold a choke point.
Enemies are much smarter in the new Dragon Age – they take advantage of environmental conditions as well as their unique abilities. Dragons in particular are impressive, using the high ground and displaying a wide range of animations and attacks. You won’t want to take these on unless you’re fully prepared.
Story and Characters
Part of preparing is growing the power of your Inquisition. It’s not just about gaining new party members – your party members are leaders of their various clans or groups, helping to improve your overall influence on the world. As you travel, you can also find Phylactories. These help you know the locations of mages, improving your tactical advantage. You can make use of this on the War Table, where you send out agents and determine the course of the story.
Speaking of story, depending on which character you have with you, you will see different content. Additionally, character relationships aren’t just influenced by what you say, but also by what you do and how you relate to the world.
Close more fade rifts around the world, and you may just alter the state of things for the NPCs, and your very own party members.
I only got to see a small portion of the game, but it is beautiful, vast and seriously upgraded. It feels as though Bioware has learned from their mistakes, as well as brought some of their biggest innovations from Mass Effect into the Dragon Age franchise. I am even more excited for this game than I was before, and I have a feeling that this might just be the Dragon Age game that we’ve been hoping for all along.
Last Updated: June 11, 2014