DAI Inquisitor’s Log: First Impressions & Prologues

The release of Dragon Age: Inquisition has come and gone and most of us has already dove in, head first, into the game. If you’ve been following my video game challenges on this blog, you’ll know I’ve given myself the ultimate challenge of completing as much of Inquisition for the rest of the year. Because the size and scale of this game is more massive than the previous installments of the Dragon Age series, I’ve decided to write a series of blog posts known as the DAI Inquisitor’s Log. I’ll chart my progress with the game and provide my overall thoughts on it as I progress. Let’s see how I did on my first week with the game.

I recently became the owner of an Xbox One just before Inquisition came out. I saw a good deal at my local Costco and it solidified my decision to finally jump on the next-gen bandwagon. I originally pre-ordered the game for my Xbox 360, but with a much more powerful console with more features and upgraded specs, I clearly had to change my pre-order of Inquisition to the Xbox One version. Honestly, I’m glad I got my Xbox One when I did. The game absolutely looks gorgeous on it.

It's fittingly my very first game to play on the Xbox One.
It’s fittingly my very first game to play on the Xbox One.

The first time I started up the game, I was already dazzled by the menu screen. It wasn’t really showing anything exciting except snow covered ground, trees, and a row of mages and templars on either side of the screen marching off for battle as snow lightly fell around them. The menu screen already showed the player just how sharp the graphics looked and it all seemed to pop out at me in all its technicolor glory. If I wasn’t already in love with the world of Dragon Age, this game might make me fall even deeper. That sneak peak into what was waiting for me just beyond the title screen was enough for me to not waste anymore time on staring at the menu screen.

Once you select a new game, the next few screens immediately prompts you to choose your character’s gender, race, and class which is neatly organized in the style of tarot cards. Once you’ve made your selections, you’re asked if you have a World State from Dragon Age Keep to upload. If you have perfected your World State from Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2 ahead of Inquisition’s release, it should seamlessly upload into your new game.

You’re eventually greeted with a small cutscene of your playable character groggily getting up from the ground. We’re next launched into the all too familiar character creation screen where you get to go wild and make the Inquisitor of your dreams. I personally try not to mess around with the size and shape of my character’s face. I stick to the basics of changing hair, eye color, makeup, scars, tattoos, and the like. One thing that still hasn’t changed is Bioware’s knack for giving players limited and sometimes downright awful hair choices. There wasn’t too many hairstyles I liked for the women, but I chose what I thought looked decent enough on my Inquisitor.

Meet Eve, my human mage Inquisitor.
Meet Eve, my human mage Inquisitor.

After you’ve done enough adjusting and tweaking to your character, it’s time to start the story! You get more cutscenes of your Inquisitor in action, the glowing green breach in the sky, and inevitably being “marked” by the breach after your Inquisitor reaches out and touches the hand of a green spirit that is in the shape of a woman before your character passes out. Upon awakening, you’re greeted with familiar characters from the previous games––Chantry Seeker Cassandra Pentaghast and Orlesian rogue and spy Leiliana. Cassandra wastes no time interrogating your Inquisitor about everything you know, including how your character got the glowing green mark on their hand. The details are fuzzy for your Inquisitor and all they can remember is reaching out and touching the hand of a woman before you blacked out.

With circumstances being dire and having no time to push for more details, Cassandra briefs you on the situation and the need to somehow close the breach in the sky in an area of the Frostback Mountains, which is where your journey starts. Your character is thrust into action and you follow Cassandra to get closer to the breach. This time also serves as your tutorial and introduction into the controls and mechanics of the game.

Most of it should be familiar to most seasoned Dragon Age players with some new additions here and there. For example, when you push the left joystick down every few steps you take, a wave of gold light pulses out of your Inquisitor to help detect if there’s anything worth looting in the area. If it beeps, you’re near an object to be looted. If it doesn’t beep, then there’s nothing to look for and you can carry on. I find this new feature quite handy for those who love looting items and don’t want to miss anything before leaving an area for good. It isn’t completely flawless either because the gold waves will still beep when it’s near such things as road signs or ladders to indicate that there’s something useful to use nearby. Those beeps may not always be a cause for celebration if you think there’s treasure chests to loot or herbs and minerals to farm.

As you get deeper into the cold and wintery landscape of the Frostback Mountains, you eventually encounter new companions who aid you in closing the first breach––an elf mage named Solas and Dragon Age 2’s storytelling dwarf Varric. Without going into too much detail about the prologue, you discover your Inquisitor holds the key to not only sealing any and all breaches you find but putting an end to the mage and templar war.

When you play the first few hours of Inquisition, the game doesn’t waste time with a retelling of the events that have happened in the first two games. There’s no reminiscing about the journeys you went on with your Warden and Hawke. You’re immediately launched into the story and the characters with a clear focus on writing the story of your Inquisitor. The world around you and anyone you meet clues you in on what has led to the mage and templar war and the tear in the Veil. For most Dragon Age fans, you should be pretty familiar with the story and what has led up to the chaos ripping the world of Thedas apart. For anyone new to Dragon Age, a lot of it might be confusing and unfamiliar to you. I wouldn’t say it’s really necessary to have played the previous two games, but if you want a better understanding of the world and certain characters who aren’t all that new in the ongoing story, it’s highly recommended. A world as rich and knee-deep in extensive history and lore is worth taking the time to know forwards and backwards.

I personally took my time finishing the prologue because this is one RPG I want to fully explore every area I’m able to walk into, loot every single item I can get my hands on, collect all codex entries I find, and stopping the game every so often to read each new codex entry I unlock. I’ve already clocked in about 10 hours of game time at the time of this post. That’s a lot of hours for just going through the prologue. Compared to Kingdoms of Amalur, I’m much more invested in the world of Dragon Age. Somehow, Dragon Age makes playing this game more personal and easier to connect with, while Kingdoms of Amalur feels a little more impersonal and detached. I’m not saying I didn’t have any fun playing Amalur, as a past post will tell you, but the characters and your own playable character mean so much more and it makes the journey you’re on matter. It has a purpose and there’s a feeling of we’re in this together. Amalur doesn’t invite that same connection with other characters you encounter. You meet, you talk, you move on, and you most likely forget about them as soon as you move onto the next town or cave. Not quite the memorable RPG experience in my book.

Dragon Age also has the advantage of building a world whose history is quite impressive. The amount of information you find about the templars, mages, the city, or anything of great importance to the story makes you almost believe this world could have actually existed. You can tell the writers at Bioware really took the time to build and create a plausible world. This has been the only RPG, aside from Mass Effect, that has made me slow down and stop to really soak in every ounce of the game’s history, myths, and legends. Amalur, unfortunately, made me want to breeze through the game and ignore any backstory entries I find along the way. It’s a testament to the good writing you’ll mostly find in a Bioware title. This is certainly not a game you rush through. It’s the type of game you savor like a fine wine. Believe me, you’ll want to spend as much time on this game as you possibly can.

Finishing the prologue has me eager to uncover the rest of what waits for me in this game. Will I encounter more familiar faces? Do I have what it takes to recruit and lead an Inquisition? The prologue alone gives you a taste of the kind of hard choices you’ll have to make in the game. At one point, Cassandra has you decide what’s the best plan of attack to seal the breach. Do we lead a straight-forward attack which will end the fighting much more quickly in one section of the mountains or do we go for a more stealthy approach, sneaking around back but it’ll be a much slower victory? You get to see the pros and cons of either choice before you select it, but there is an air of uncertainty of which is really the best choice in the long-run. These types of decisions become more intuitive if anything.

When you have a conversation with any of the key characters in the game, the dialogue wheel of choices doesn’t make it easy on you to figure out what will cause your character to approve or disapprove of what you say. Some options are obvious when you want to flirt with a potential romance or show anger in certain situations. Other times, the dialogue wheel has responses that are left neutral. This means you have no idea if you are unintentionally offending someone or ruffling their feathers a little. Certain things my Inquisitor said, which I thought isn’t such a big deal, turned out to have a character react with slight disapproval. A slight disapproval isn’t as disastrous as a big disapproval from a character, but you do want to make sure you get to keep the characters you meet from leaving you. Unless you really hate any of your companions that are with you in this game, then maybe doing everything in your power to get them to hate you and leave is exactly what you want.

My first few hours with Inquisition is proving to be a promising start. The journey and road ahead will be long and difficult, but I’m all in to ensure my Inquisitor does everything she can to save the world. She is the only hope the Inquisition has after all.

Have you played Dragon Age: Inquisition? What are your thoughts about the prologue and the first few hours of the game? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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8 thoughts on “DAI Inquisitor’s Log: First Impressions & Prologues

  1. Okay, so I only read the first half of your article because I’ve only *just* created my character and not played much beyond that…but I absolutely agree with you about the hair! Seriously, why is Bioware so prejudiced against giving women decent hairstyles! I get that maybe they’re trying to be gender-neutral with the characters, in a sense, but they were all quite unflattering. (It was the same in Mass Effect too. I usually end up going with a pulled-back style – I might have picked the same one as you for my dwarf warrior!) I opted to not import my Keep data, and I’m curious if you’ve yet seen anything in the game that refers to your choices in previous games?

    1. Haha, I’m glad you decided to read at least half my post before stopping to avoid spoilers, but I think I managed to dodge spoiling much of the prologue. I’ll let you decide when you’re ready to read the rest of my post after you’ve played more of the game! 🙂

      I really spent a good amount of time on the hair. Nothing really spoke to me when I was creating my character. I typically go for the pulled back looks too, but the loose look isn’t all that bad (though to me, it doesn’t seem right to have an Inquisitor’s hair flying about when she’s on the battlefield). I really do hope in time Bioware will fix the hair problem. Other games do hair very well, why can’t they?! It’s also strange to watch the hair look so stiff every time a character moves. It’s like they went a little too gel crazy when they were fixing their hair in the morning!

      To answer your question, the game does address decisions made from the previous two games, or at least certain big ones. You find that more when you talk to your party members or advisors who were previously linked to Origins or Dragon Age 2 (Leiliana, Varric, Cullen, etc.). If you’re big on reading every codex entry you find in the game, you’ll notice that certain codex entries also address decisions made from previous games. One codex entry either about the Blight or Ferelden, I forget which one, integrated info on how Alistair became King and he married my Warden, which is how I wanted it to be from Origins! It’s tiny little touches like that which surprised me, but makes it really a part of the history of your gameplay in Dragon Age. You, as the player, literally are writing history here! 🙂

    1. Yup, I’m playing a mage. I really like being a mage. I played as a mage in DA2 and the combat system in that is really fun, so it’s nice to see it again in DAI. I’m just having a hard time deciding on which skill tree to build first. Originally, I was going to play as a human warrior, but thought playing as a mage would have more impact on the overall story. I’m not disappointed.

  2. 10 hours on the prologue alone? It makes me think I missed some things in there…will have to check in the next playthrough. Hair aside (it’s all kinda bad), this has to be their best character creator yet! It allows for so much nuance that it can almost become overwhelming. I wanted to make an elf, so I was going for a more angled face and younger features. I thought the first attempt turned out okay until he started talking in the game proper: it wound up looking like a teenage character with the voice of a 45 year old man! Went right back to the drawing board after that.

    My actual Dalish Elven Rogue turned out much better, well to the point that looking at them doesn’t make me cringe at least. As for how massive this game is, did you get to the next area yet? I’ve already sunk so many hours in there and still haven’t uncovered the majority of the map! The scale is incredible!

    1. Yeah, I had to recreate my character a second time. Luckily on the first day, I wasn’t too far into the game yet when I realized I didn’t like the character I created or the class I chose. I was originally going to play as a warrior. Like you, I scrapped that character, recreated her, chose mage, and the end result is what you see in the image I posted.

      I think I spent more hours in the prologue because I was really combing through the area to make sure I wasn’t missing any hidden loot. Otherwise, I’m sure I would have been done with the prologue a whole lot faster!

      I’m currently stuck on the Hinterlands. It’s crazy big and there’s so many side quests. I’m trying to finish all of them, but every time I finish one, I somehow stumble into a new one. Crazy! I have progressed the main story a little further each time, but I’m trying not to rush it in case there’s a chance I may not be able to go back to certain areas. I want a full 100% completion of this game if it’s even possible!

  3. I got my copy last Friday and I have been playing the whole weekend, yesterday my last save was in the 20 or 22 hours of play and I’m loving everything.

    For the first time I’m playing as a Mage because I thought that as one I might be more invested in the war. I’ve chosen a Dalish mainly because I like to annoy Chantry nuts when I tell them that I follow the Elven Gods 🙂

    As far as I know there is no problem if you leave The Hinterlands, you can move from place to place and return to continue your unfinished quests. I think I was level 7 when I decided to explore new places. I was wondering where were the rest of my companions and it turns out that you have to leave The Hinterlands to recruit a few of them.

    The hair… well it’s not great but I usually find something I like. I tend to go for short hair or ponytail, there’s no way I’m going to a battlefield with hair all over my face!

    1. I initially wanted to do a warrior class, but felt unhappy with the choice after playing the first few minutes of the game when I got it on release day. I went back and changed that and it’s the best move to make. It makes things increasingly interesting from a story perspective to play as a mage as opposed to a non-mage. I also plan on romancing Cullen in the game and I kind of like the “opposite attracts, kind of forbidden romance” between a former Templar and mage. 😉

      I did start exploring other areas and did at least one main story mission to push things forward a little bit. I’m glad that with certain missions, you’re told what’s the best level to start playing them. By having so many areas and side missions to do, it helps you level up your characters appropriately, but I do sometimes get tired of running the countryside when I want to see more of the story and have new dialogue options to choose from when I go back and talk to my companions and advisors.

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