Dragon Age: Inquisition
When I think of why my favorite RPGs are my favorite RPGs, a number of things come to mind.
At the forefront of quality RPGs is a central plot that is compelling and engaging. Next are the characters that support that plot. In good RPGs,most if not all of the characters have depth and dimensions. They are dynamic. They grow and evolve as the plot progresses. This might even apply to the antagonists.
Beyond those things which are important to the narrative, you have ancillary mechanics like enjoyable side quests, well-functioning combat and levelling, a healthy variety of player archetypes, immersive environments, well-established lores, and so on.
There aren’t many RPGs out there that are able to capture all of these qualities well. Indeed, it can be difficult to strike these balances when you’re trying to create a fun game.
Thankfully, however, Bioware has become a reliable brand in the RPG business. Perhaps they’ve been a little less reliable in recent history, but you can’t deny their success with games like Jade Empire, Knights of the Old Republic (the one from 2003, not the new MMO), Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect, and all the way back to Baldur’s Gate.
So it stands to reason that Dragon Age: Inquisition probably has a lot going for it, right?
The answer to that question is yes. Inquisition has a LOT going on for it. But maybe not always in the best way.
The first thing I noticed when I began the game was that I was able to play a Qunari for the first time in a Dragon Age game. For those of you who aren’t aware, the Qunari are a race of super muscular people with gigantic horns and they look awesome. So right off the bat I was feeling good.
Then I started playing the game and I was completely overwhelmed.
Okay, let me back it up a second. First I’ll say that the combat in DA:I is the same as it has been in the past two games, so if you liked the combat system in Origins or DA2, then you’ll be fine here. In fact, most of the mechanics from the past games have returned. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I appreciate that Bioware is taking what works and is running with it. That being said, they do introduce a few new features. There’s a new tactical mode in combat that allows you to pause the action, take an aerial view, and give orders to all your party members before resuming combat. A crafting system has been introduced to allow the creation and upgrading of weapons and armor. Fast travelling is now a thing, which is good because some of the map areas are enormous. But if you don’t feel like fast traveling, but would still like to enjoy the scenery at a faster-than-normal pace…(drumroll)...TADA! Horses!
That’s right, you can ride horses now in Dragon Age. Mounted combat isn’t a function, though, which sort of makes me want to ask: why? Why bother with mounts of you’re not introducing mounted combat? Especially if you’ll have fast travel points?
So to reconcile this conundrum, Bioware implemented only a few fast travel points in vast areas, and objectives that were slightly too far away to reach on foot without getting bored.
I keep mentioning the game environments. They are one of the reasons I feel overwhelmed. They are seriously really big. Maybe not by Skyrim standards or GTA standards or Red Dead Redemption standards, but those games implement things within the environments to engage you while you travel.
Inquisition, on the other hand fills the areas with excessive amounts of side quests. Even though every single side quest is scripted and written out (unlike the “radiant” quests of Skyrim or the random events of Rockstar games), a lot of them seem insignificant. Despite Bioware’s best attempts at world-building, it feels more like you’re the universe’schoremaster, and that if you’re not doing everything, then nothing gets done.
I’m not joking. I spent at least 10 hours in the first map area alone before I finally just decided to leave and move on to other things. There are so. Many. Sidequests. The completionist in me wants me to do them all, but the adult part of me that has responsibilities other than playing games has to force me to stop doing all of the little tasks just so I can progress the damn story.
Despite these complaints, however, the environments are beautiful. They’re incredible. There’s a great amount of detail to enjoy while you’re on your long walks/rides, and each location has a great deal of character and uniqueness.
Overall, the game is very fun despite my gripes. I’m still playing my way through it, but it’s chewed up a great deal of time. And if an RPG can make me forget to eat a meal, then it’s okay in my book. I liked Dragon Age: Origins, I like Dragon Age 2, and I like Dragon Age: Inquisition.
I’ll give it an A-.