One of the first things I do whenever I continue my current game of Dragon Age: Inquisition is to take a mental note of where my progress is at. I go over everything in my mission log with a fine tooth comb type of precision and I also bring out the game guide to aid me in my endeavors to get the most out of my game. I’ve already made peace with the fact that my first run with the game won’t be perfect, as some side quests have slipped through the cracks either by my own error or unavoidable glitches, but nearly perfect is still good enough for me.
At the time of this posting, I can say I’m on schedule to finish this game. Maybe ahead of schedule. I predicted I may possibly finish Inquisition by March, but with the way I’ve been playing even without doing a speed run of the game, I may be done sooner. World exploration is just about complete. I’ve finished pouring over the remaining regions I had left––Emprise du Lion, Crestwood, and the Hissing Wastes. Whatever side mission I didn’t miss, I’ve done them all. There are areas that still have smaller things to do, like slaying more dragons or collecting the last remaining shards to open the last of the doors in the Solasan Temple at the Forbidden Oasis. While I’m not entirely sure if I’ll go out of my way to kill all the dragons (although one may have to be slayed in order for me to get the last of the shards I need), I’m going to play it by ear and tackle that task on a mood type of basis. Killing some of those dragons are hard and I need to be motivated to spend a good chunk of time on them when I could be doing other things, like progressing the main story.
Speaking of main story, I did have a chance to play and finish Wicked Eyes And Wicked Hearts. I won’t be going into full detail about what my thoughts are on this particular mission, as I wish to save that for my progress report of the game, but I thoroughly enjoyed diving into the world of intrigue and cutthroat politics done the Orlesian way. In this story mission, the Inquisitor has to uncover a potential assassination plot on Empress Celene’s life and put a stop to it before it happens. This requires the Inquisitor, her advisors, and your chosen companions to attend a ball thrown by the empress herself at the Winter Palace. During the ball, the Inquisitor has to hunt for clues and leads as to who is trying to kill the empress and what Corypheus’ motivations are for Orlais.
The best part about playing through this quest line is the dialogue conversations you have with everyone at the ball or the conversations you overhear. It’s a little alarming and disconcerting how Orlesian politics is considered “playing the game.” You discover early on that appearances are everything at the Orlesian court and everyone isn’t opposed to getting down and dirty if it serves their own personal agenda. Everything from digging up scandalous secrets to use as leverage to having someone murdered is just another normal day for Orlesian’s ultra rich, powerful, and glamorous. Some may already be aware of the hidden machinations their rivals or enemies have on them, but simply act indifferent to it all. Experiencing it all through my Inquisitor has been both fascinating as it is appalling. American politics has got nothing on the Orlesians it seems.
On a much lighter note, it is fun to see the personal reactions of your advisors and companions about the ball and how Orlesians conduct themselves in their natural habitat. For instance, I took Cassandra with me on this mission and she’s naturally bored with the ball and wishes to get this whole ordeal done and over with. I also got the distinct impression she’s itching to crack some skulls instead of playing the part of the civilized, on her best behavior representative of the Inquisition.
As for Cullen, who is my current Inquisitor’s love interest, he’s clearly just as impatient and uncomfortable as Cassandra to be at the ball. Despite Cullen’s discomfort, it doesn’t stop a handful of admirers from talking or fawning over him. The dialogue options you get with a romanced Cullen is positively adorable and cute. There’s one option where you get to ask him to save a dance for you later, to which he replies with an automatic no, only to realize his blunder and immediately fluster out an embarrassed explanation of how he has been rejecting that question all day and didn’t mean he wouldn’t accept a request from her. He even admits that being a former templar meant he didn’t exactly go to balls very often, much less dance. Despite his awkwardness at being at the Winter Palace, it certainly doesn’t stop one bold noblewoman from grabbing Cullen’s ass because you hear him remark to someone as you walk past him, “Did you just grab my bottom?” The woes of being too damn hot for your own good, but sorry ladies, Cullen only has eyes for my Inquisitor.
Immediately after finishing Wicked Eyes And Wicked Hearts, I spent a good chunk of gameplay time back at Skyhold. One of my favorite things to do in any Bioware game and after each main story mission is to walk around the base of operations and talk to everyone. And I mean EVERYONE. Not only do you get new dialogue options or cutscenes with advisors and companions, but you may have a much minor character give you a small mission to complete. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve decided to talk to a merchant or volunteer at Skyhold and I discover I’ve triggered a new War Table mission to complete. It pays to be thorough even if you think you might just get the same old responses or dialogue options.
I’m always excited to come back from doing a main story mission or side mission to see what new thing a character has to say to my Inquisitor. It’s also the best time to see if any of your companions or advisors have any special personal quests they wish to give you. Finishing the quest at the Winter Palace gave me access to a whole slew of additional Inner Circle quests late in the game. I also decided to try my luck at seeing if the glitched Cole amulet quest would somehow work smoothly this time without crashing my game. As luck would have it, Cole’s personal quest played out without a hitch. It’s a little strange how it took finishing Wicked Eyes And Wicked Hearts to get Cole’s quest to play just fine.
Going through and finishing every single Inner Circle quest I got in Inquisition has left an indelible impression on me. Personal quests are a staple of Bioware games, but I find these batch in Inquisition to be far more surprising and richer from a story perspective. You do get to know your advisors and companions better, but some quests don’t play out as predictably as you think. Without spoiling anything, I find Blackwall’s personal quest to be one of the most shocking and unexpected piece of character development I’ve seen in a Bioware game. By not expecting certain things to play out like I thought they would, it draws me deeper into the story and the lives of these characters. It’s also a reminder that these characters aren’t all who they appear to be on the surface. Just when you think you have someone all figured out, they turn around and completely shift your perspective about them. The mark of a good storyteller, in my opinion, is someone who is able to keep people guessing.
The finish line with Inquisition is almost in sight and I’m certain I’ll have plenty to talk about post-game. For now, me and my Inquisitor are going to enjoy the ride and kick Corypheus back to Hell where he belongs.
Have any personal favorite moments up until the story mission Wicked Eyes And Wicked Hearts? Whose Inner Circle quest did you most enjoy playing?