Dragon Age: Inquisition – Review
Dragon Age is one of those games that you either love it or hate it. With a fantasy story that involves Mages, Templars, Seekers and yes even dragons. Dragon Age has a lot going for it. There was a tremendous amount of hype, as well as some concern, on how this game will turn out. Especially after how Dragon Age II was received. Let’s see how well Bioware did in this installment of the Dragon Age series.
If you have played Dragon Age: Origins, or Dragon Age II, then you will recognize some of the characters in this installment. Back are Morrigan, Cassandra, Varric and yes, even Alistair. If you have not played the previous two games, then you might be a little lost in this game. It derives most of the story from Dragon Age II. The good part is that the mechanics feel more towards Dragon Age: Origins.
I am currently on my second play through. My first time I was a Warrior and clocked in 172+ hours of game play. My current play through I am a Mage and have clocked in 110+ hours. This is quite a lengthy game. There are a ton of side missions that you can do, from the normal collect items, save people and so forth. Some of these side missions you can pick up at the War Table in your home base. Other side missions you can pick up from different NPC characters in the lands you will travel. In Inquisition you actually have two home base camps. First one is called Haven, while the second one, Skyhold, doesn’t get unlocked until later after a series of events.
I will tell you right now that Inquisition is not a fully finished product. This game has a ton of little bugs in it. For example some of these are, materials not being able to pick up, Mobs walking through walls, you character can get hit through doors, plants that are underground that you can harvest, miscellaneous collectibles that don’t appear on your scanner but can be picked up by accident and so forth. None of these bugs are game crashing, thankfully. They are just annoying at times. It seems that Bioware made a game so large that they couldn’t test everything out correctly. I don’t blame them for this. I put more of the blame towards EA (publisher) which likes to put deadlines on developers to get games out the door and into the public hands. I believe that if Bioware had it’s say they would have tested the game for a few more months to make sure everything is polished as possible.
Despite the bugs, Inquisition plays very well. The animations are very well polished and the fighting is spot on. With all that goes on during the fighting, you can lose sight of your character at times from the magic, fire, shock and whatever else that happens. The hit detection can be a little confusing at times. Not necessarily while fighting, more towards just running out in open land. There has been a few times where I would get stuck on a small hump in the ground or a crack in a rock while climbing a mountain side. Really no rhyme or reason to it. Even on the slightest little ledge I would have to jump up on it or take a few more steps to go around it. Nothing major but can be annoying if you travel on foot quite a bit.
There have been many instances where the camera does some funky things that takes your eyes off the field in front of you. I noticed this more while playing as a Mage then I was when I was a Warrior. If you are on top of rocks to get an aerial view and try to cast a spell, the camera will shift really quickly off to the side. If you are under a ledge then it will look straight up at the ledge above you. Normally you can just move the analog stick to fix the problem but in most instances this would not work. You can either cast the spell and miss the mark entirely, or just back out and not cast it at all. This lead to many deaths of my team as I could not cast a shield on them, or myself. One of the other problems was horseback riding across the plains. If you come up to a steep slope, or riding up a path of a mountain, the camera would not allow you to look forward enough to see where you are going while the horse was running. If it was just walking like normal then the camera was fine. It would look more directly right in front of the horse. This caused me on several occasions, while I was following a path, to get so far up a mountain and then having to stop because I couldn’t go any further. Having to track back down the mountain and finding another path to go back up wasted a lot of time. For this the camera should have panned out and done a wider angel from behind look. Not only would it have made traversing the area easier but also allow you to see what is coming up in the distance.
Riding the horses is a faster way to get across some of the areas you will visit, especially the open empty lands of the deserts. There are number of different horses you can get. Each one looks different but they all act the same. The major difference between them is the amount of damage they can take before you get knocked off. The cool thing is you can call your horse about anywhere in the game. You can do it in the densely forest but it will actually slow you down as your horse doesn’t like to walk over things very well. You can also have the horse run while you are riding it. Of course this allows for much quicker travels. Whether you are exploring the map or just getting from point a to point b. While the horse is running the sense of speed is really not there. The streaks of air that is added around you is a nice touch to impersonate the sense of speed, but the feeling is just not there. It me it feels more like a fast trot. One of the biggest problems with riding the horse is you cannot attack while on it. I can see if you are a Warrior and are currently using a two handed weapon. That makes sense to me. Wielding a single hand weapon, a staff, or even being an Archer, you should be allowed to perform even the basic commands. Unfortunately you have to get off the horse to fight the mob, or group of mobs, recall your horse and get back on. Again not a huge deal but something that just jumped at me that didn’t make much sense.
Now that we touched on some of the quirks about this game, let’s look at the good things that Dragon Age Inquisition does have.
One of the first things you get to do while starting a game is to customize your character. There is such a deep amount of customization that you can literally spend hours designing your character. From skin color, eye location, ear location, type of scar all the way to even the color of makeup you can apply to your character. This is one of the deepest customization options you will see in any game.
At the heart of this game is of course the combat. I touched a little bit on how you can lose your character during the fights. While that can be disoriented, it also shows how much goes on during combat. The fighting can be a 1v1, 4v1, or even as large as 8v1. It can get hectic and very busy at times. There are certain abilities that you can use to help sway the odds in your favor. For example the Warrior has an ability to smash the ground with his weapon which will either stun everything around him or knock them down for a few seconds. This will allow you to either start your escape or kill off a few mobs that are low on health. The Mage can develop a shield around them that will slow any mobs action down up to 99% of movement. This is very useful to stop attacks and take a few seconds to replenish your health, or revive other characters. This has saved me a lot during battles when I was the only one alive. The controls are fluid and responsive. Not once did I feel a hiccup or rough edge during combat. Bioware did an excellent job at this part. You can feel the amount of time they put into the combat experience.
Playing through the game you will notice one thing right off the bat, this game is huge. Not just in time wise but in the maps and the layout of the land around you. There is some very nice scenery to just sit back and enjoy. I literally just sat back and watched the ocean come rolling in off the coast of Storm Coast for a few minutes as the water splashed up and around the rocky edge I was standing on before continuing on my path. The same can be said for the mountain top views in The Emerald Graves. Overlooking some of the trees and watching the wildlife below you move around and sometimes even fight each other, is very surreal. The way the wind will come blowing off the edge of sand dunes and swirls around in the air for a second or two is outstanding. The graphics and environments are really well done. There was a lot of time and effort that was placed on this portion of the game. It really shows by the scenery. There is some graphical pop in the background as you approach different parts of the game. Hillsides will just pop on screen and the wildlife will just appear out of nowhere. Other than that the graphics are amazing looking. Maybe a few touch ups here and there on textures but that is very nit-picking on my behalf.
Of course the most alluring factor in the game is actually the first name in the title, dragons. All together there are ten different dragons you can face. Each dragon is beautifully detailed and animated. Their movements are fluid and the textures are outstanding. Unfortunately, their movements and attacks are copy and paste. While they can have different elemental attacks (fire, frost and shock) you can start to spot what they are about to do after fighting the first couple dragons. That is not saying that they will do attack A, then do attack B and so forth. Their attacks are not sequential. They can happen at any moment. Just by keeping any eye on their movement you can expect what is coming. They are an imposable force that can take a good strategy to defeat. You can’t just go in all gung-ho and expect to defeat these. If you try that the force of the dragons will take you down in no time.
In the end, is Dragon Age Inquisition a game that should be picked up and played, absolutely it is. You will find a very deep and satisfying RPG that will keep you consumed for hours and hours of play time. There is a great deal of replayability as you can choose between different classes that changes the dialog up some. There are also a hand full of people you can romance as well. With multiple amounts of collectables that open up different dungeons, a deep crafting option, ability to change the way your home base looks and a ton of other options. Dragon Age Inquisition is a game that needs to be played by everyone. This game comes highly recommended.