The following post is this author’s opinion and does not reflect the thoughts and feelings of Fextralife as a whole nor the individual content creators associated with the site. Any link that goes outside of Fextralife, are owned by their respective authors.
Editor’s Note: For a different perspective, check out our Dragon Age: Inquisition Fextralife Review.
I have been playing Bioware games since 2003. I grew to love their company and how much thought they put into games. In 2010 I was given a copy of a friends Dragon Age: Origins to play. I loved the game. I ended up buying my own copy of GOTY when it was released. The one thing that floored me the most about Dragon Age: Origins was the story. I tried out all of the Origin stories and found I really liked the Couslands. The Dwarves were too political, the Elves were too racist and the Mages were depressing. At least with the Couslands I felt like my becoming a Warden was as much of a choice as a necessity. And that is what made the game great and why I loved the story: My personal opinion would not affect anyone else’s choice or how they played the game.
Premise of the Game and Promises that Failed to Deliver
Let us skip forward to the release of Dragon Age: Inquisition. This game was highly anticipated from the Dragon Age community and other gamers as well. We were told it would be a more “open” world with “real choices” and previous choices would be “mentioned” and have “impact.” Let’s look at each element of the game where these promises fell short, and how they could be rectified for future installments.
- Each “zone” is 100% static. Other than one zone the weather or time of day does not change.
- 90% of each zone is not necessary for quest progression, the rest is fluff.
- If you ride a mount your companions disappear which means no banter
- Banter is so few and far in between it is a wonder they are even there- people have to download a cheat module just to hear it
- There is so much quiet and almost no music that it becomes grating and boring- in fact, most sound files are less than 20 seconds long
- There are no unique monsters or enemies– you get bandits, darkspawn and bears…oh my? What about scorpions in the desert? Lobsters at the coast? Birds that attack, because you know… swooping is bad. What about other animals in forest lands, wolverines, skunks (rather than attack they could give a funny debuff until you wash off), you know -something- or -anything- that adds to the feel of an actual living, breathing world.
So again I ask: How is this world “open?” It is not even dynamic. There are no changes; not one person, or area, seems to get better or worse or anything of the sort, everything is the same. It is a bunch of trees and open fields with very little meaning or substance. You find a hut in the middle of nothing except a widow who is bemoaning the loss of a wedding ring. Really? The loss of a wedding ring? In the middle of a war zone? Jeez lady. You do not even have a garden or herd of animals; how the hell do you survive here? What are you doing? Her response should be “I am here to fill up time for you. I actually mean nothing in the grand scheme of things.” A lot of empty, large and wasted spaces. Almost every enemy in the Hinterlands is a bandit or a bear. All of the rift monsters are the same. In fact, closing a rift is probably one of the most boring aspects and yet the whole game is centered around it. Why boring? It is tedious and just there to show off your shiny hand. The monsters do not even DO anything but sift around their tiny area waiting for someone to come near. They aren’t rampaging the country side, they aren’t inhabiting bodies. They just hop around waiting for.. you know, whatever it is rift monsters wait for. Hint: You can not close 90% of the rifts and still beat the game and no one cares.
Real choices? Do not make me laugh. What choices are there really? You are either mean to a person or you are nice. There are no “hard” choices besides Mages vs Templars. And who picks the Templars anyway? That whole quest is so obnoxious and filled with drivel and “blah blah mages are so evil” I would be bald had I pulled out my hair in frustration. And Cole was some weird typical emo kid that everyone loved and was really just a spirit who got stuck in the real world. Ho hum. His “foreshadowing” was obnoxious at best and meta-gaming at worst. There was no mystery to him, no depth, no anything. Glad I made him human, though, after my second play-through as his spirit side was ingratiating.
If I learned anything from DA:I in regards to choices it is this: It only matters who you slept with and who you did not kill. Nothing more, nothing less. In a game that should have something more dynamic it is static and cliche. It was a sad disappointment for this DA veteran. What is more, is that the game has set zones based on level, so you cannot even make the choices to go where you want, you are stuck going to the zone that is your level. Tell me how that is open? The game is even designed around an arbitrary “War Table” that makes you spend time waiting for someone to fetch you some minerals. Please. I modded that right after the first play through. I want to play the game, not wait around for 3 silver ore. I do not want to get started on anymore fetch quests than I have for fear of causing myself a brain aneurysm. Putting flowers on a grave of someone who died is a giant slap in the face from the game devs. I can only imagine them laughing as all the people scramble to help some elf. Tell me in what elven lore do they put flowers on graves? Is that not a human tradition? It was the most ridiculous fetch quest to include. Hint: Zero fetch quests do anything worthwhile or dynamic in your game. It is filler for you to scramble about doing the bidding of arbitrary characters that won’t remember you later.
How about choices from DA:O? Redcliffe made me quit the game for a week because of how poorly it was handled. If Connor lives you see him at Redcliffe and that is it. He is very sad and boohoo, poor me blah blah blah. No chance to recruit him, no chance to interact with him more. No talk about his father or mother or anything else. That was another disappointment to add to my list. And Redcliffe itself was a poorly designed town. Even with the Blight the town was changed in such a way that Bella was not at her tavern if you had chosen to give it to her as a choice in DA:O. So thanks for recognizing that choice, real awesome. Keeping Lloyd alive in DA:O was near impossible and yet…no Bella, no story about what happened to Lloyd, nothing. At least keep the tavern name the way it should have been!
Furthermore, why is the physical landscape so different than before? I really miss the coastal-hilled town from DA:O. What about Kaitly and Bevin? In my playthrough Bevin becomes a great adventurer. I would have loved to see him again, all grown up. Think about being able to romance a grown up Bevin, wielding his grandfather’s sword, tales of adventures that would shame Varric, interesting insights to the Hero of Fereldan… Some really missed chances and opportunity in that story arc. How sad.
But do not worry, at the VERY end of the game when you talk to Morrigan you can find out what happened to Alistair’s or the HoF’s son. Get some closure there. So everyone can find out what happened to Morrigan but who cares? The child-thing didn’t even matter in the end because its power is taken away by Flemeth. So for all you people who romanced Alistair in DA:O do not worry, his one night stand turned out to have created a bastard son that did not cause the end of days or the rise of an arch-demon. What a great story that could have turned into rather than, “OMFG ELVES!!!”
So now that brings us to the races of DA:I. Since DA: 2 the entire series has been focused on elves. Nothing but elves. All of the forum posts I read were about elves and how superior they were and poor elven racism. I kind of understood it in the first game and hoped that by granting them some peace in the alienage it would help. Nope. Can’t have that choice. We need to make sure Solas stands sure and pristine in his hatred of all things not-elven. The elves hate humans, they hate each other, they use blood (in the form of tattoos) to mark themselves, they are distrustful, and constantly complain about how their life is crap. There is little to no change in all of Thedas’ history regarding the elves. By the time I got to DA:I I had begun to wonder if they didn’t actually enjoy their pity party. Both Solas and Sera act like their poo does not stink. One hates everything conventional, the others swears to have all the answers. And both hate each other and both hate anyone who disagrees with them. Sera would leave you, but Solas needs you; so he stays to the bitter end… out of pure spite and misery. How very “metal” of him.
Dear Solas: You made the mess, got mad that no one else fixed it, came back to fix it, messed it up more and now you act like your own gift of salvation. Kindly piss off.
Flemeth’s end was sad and probably the only thing that made sense in the game if you want to believe that a bunch of Elven dieties had been running and ruining everything from the beginning. The story had potential but it fell flat and it fell cliche, again. So…great. Both Solas and Flemeth were once living beings and now they are possessed by lunatic spirits and technically abominations. Thanks. Glad that Thedas makes sense now. While Flemeth’s story made sense because of her Black Grimoire in DA:O, and the Asha’belanar bit in DA:2, I feel like she deserved more in the end. But whatever, this has to be about the elves right? Funny side note: at the start of creating DA:I the original hero was supposed to be human but fans were discontent over that so at the very last minute they changed it. You can tell by the choices and how people react in game that their push-back of 1 year was to accommodate fans while giving them no real substance. “Oh you play elf? We hate you. You play dwarf? We hate you. You play Qunari? We really hate you.” Insert facepalm here.
Combat in DA:I would be made more pleasurable if someone was pulling out my fingernails at the same time. At least then I would not have to facedesk for how clunky the controls are. I have always loved being melee in every game I pick up but this one. The sheer amount of clumsy targeting and movement is so frustrating that I have only played a ranged rogue. I refuse to play mages because I find that mages are made of silly. Throw a fireball, throw some ice or heal someone. It is boring. But I digress. The whole combat system is flawed in several ways. In order to melee hit someone you have to move around like a jack rabbit and constantly press shift, or was it control? To keep ON the damn target, not to mention how horrible the tactical camera is. Sticking with a bow I can at least stick to my target without worrying that I am not spam pressing a button just to hit something. To top it off: there is no challenge in any fight whatsoever. There is no rolling around to dodge something. Just move to the side. There is no charging or stuns or anything difficult. Even on the highest level of difficulty taking down a high dragon was as challenging as sneezing into a tissue.
Maybe I could have forgiven the limitations of combat, if not for the horrible and ungodly visuals and armor meshes and deplorable hats in the game. Why is every single Chantry member wearing a phallic symbol on their head? Will someone explain who the hell thought that was a good idea?
And why is every piece of my gear stuck with an eyeball metal chestpiece? I do not want an eyeball on my armour.
Cassandra is in stitches. Are you kidding me?! Cullen is wearing raven feathers…what?! Shouldn’t that be on Leliana with her crow obsession? Varic always looks like Varric. Thanks for the chest hair peeping out. And Josephine is wearing a cotton candy shiny puffy dress. Just gross. Sera, well, who cares. Sera is Sera, Sera wears what she wants. How about Vivienne’s hat? That woman is damn awful, I hate even mentioning her. I talk to her once in the entire game if I have to. Iron Bull is wearing Clown Pants and Blackwall has the only outfit worth mentioning that looks decent…but mostly looks like a pillow is strapped to his chunky frame. Cole has a giant flappy hat and looks like a zombie. Good job. Dorian has some great fashion sense. Tevinter is all about putting on the Ritz. Too bad I cannot get his outfit to be used on everyone. Sigh.
Hair? Hair in this game looks like painted leather over a head. Nice to know that the fans have made better hair. And they did it for free.
Faces…okay they got some nice skin textures and you can have fun with lip sizes. Too bad they hit Iron Bull with an iron bat of ugly and then took it to Vivienne’s cheekbones and then dropped a dead squirrel onto Blackwall’s face.
And what about the Nutcracker outfits the Inquisition members are forced to wear at the ball? And why is Morrigan still in the same outfit as DA:O? I just can’t go on anymore with the visuals in this game. The ONE shining factor of Inquisition graphics: You get pretty trees. Hint: You get better looking trees in games that are 5 years older.
Well, perhaps the main antagonist is interesting. Nope. The main antagonist is a character from a DLC in DA: 2. Wow. Way to drop the ball. Thanks for bringing in Corypheus as the most uninteresting bad guy since Dr. Evil. At least Dr. Evil had a dwarf sidekick. But no, Corypheus includes every villain cliche since the dawn of humanity’s writing. Maniacal laughter: Check. “Lets” the good guy escape: Check. Talks about misery and woe and how he will bring about the End of Days?: Check. The bad guy is dead but not really? Check and check. There is nothing new or exciting here. Big giant yawn.
No, I do not want to spend the game adding arbitary designs and a garden. Nothing is functional, it is all aesthetic. I am also so very glad my arbitrary mount collection is able to house one mount at a time in the stables. Why even have mounts again? Bonus: If you are on a mount and want to drop off a cliff you will not die. WHEE FLYING NUGMOUNT!… sigh.
Other than Dagna’s room there is nothing to Skyhold that tells me “Personal housing.” Adding bits of banners does not a home make. Skyhold was boring at best and annoying at worst. I did fall through the floor once and I found a pumpkin there. That was funny but also annoying.
What about the DLC? Surely some of it is..interesting? The best of the additional content is Jaws of Hakkon. Jaws of Hakkon brings back the RPG wonder of discovering new foes, an intriguing storyline and puzzle pieces to figure out the story. No weird foreshadowing from half-spirit people, no maniacal laughing, no one bemoaning the use of magic. Just a straight up mystery with a lot of in-depth character content. I have a particular save intended for me to jump into playing that when I feel like staring at pretty trees and talking to the Hair-on-Fire lady.
Descent is okay. It is just a bunch of Dwarven lore which is not so bad, it has some interesting elements but you are stuck with another war table and a really stupid cog finding quest. The ending barely made sense. So Dwarves are magical, too. But only some and only in certain ways and the whole entire Thedas planet is probably twice the size of earth. Yay physics!
And of course, Trespasser, by which we can see what Solas really is: Not an elf at all, just some higher being who planted himself in an elf to take away your hand mark and do bad things to the world because he messed it up, didn’t like how it turned out and now wants the world to burn so he can start again. Yawn.
What Could Have Been
Jeez, is there anything that would make this player happy? For starters, the combat controls need to be reworked. The fun part about DA:O was the various options and choices and yes the combat camera to position your party. In DA:2, the quick combat made fights more interesting. If DA:I could revert something to a previous game, DA:O with the outlandish amount of choices with the quicker movement of DA:2 it would have felt a lot better. In addition to a refined combat system, here are some targeted points that could be focused on for future installments of the series:
- More Customizing!: Weapons and armour need to be updated and given choices in what to wear. The tinting system, while interesting, only recoloured the same 6 outfits in game, there is room for improvement. And seriously, create some better freakin’ hair.
- Mounts: Either we can all mount or no one mounts.
- Characters: Stop dressing them like clowns, allow them to be who they are not who we think they should be. Dorian is a fantastic example of a character with more shades of colour than any other character since DA:O. He has a genuine want to help the people, all the people, and his sexuality is a side note. Make more characters rich and believable.
- Choices and Story: No matter what kind of graphics are in a game, RPG gamers want a story. They want something that leaves them hanging, makes them think, even shed a tear or bust out a laugh. Modders are great at shelling out graphics, but what we need is a good story. Shooter games and adventure games are a dime a dozen, but RPG’ers come back for the story. In DA:O we saw several different beginnings with tonnes of outcomes. If EA brings anything back I hope it is that.
What are your thoughts on Dragon Age: Inquisition? For all the content it has, so much of it is polarizing for players. Have I been too harsh? Too forgiving even? Let me know your opinions in the comments!
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