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.
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.
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.