Move over Skyrim, Dragon Age has arrived.
I know I’m a little late to this party but that is because I’ve been playing Dragon Age compulsively for the last few months and I have only just resurfaced.
Dragon Age Inquisition is the game I have been waiting for, literally due its delayed release. No complaints though, everyone will agree that would rather have this game working properly and in a ‘finished’ state rather than a bug-filled disaster zone. I’m not saying there weren’t bugs, oh boy were there bugs. Dragon Age Keep for starters. This is the online service for you to input all the decisions you made in the previous games rather than the Mass Effect detect previous saves method. I don’t know if many other players experienced this but my first upload of the Keep for Xbox 360 did not work at all. There was no way of salvaging this error because I only found out it hadn’t worked after a good 20 hours of gameplay, and the result of this problem? I was devastated, destroyed when the ‘Hawke’ character from the previous game shows up and my only option is to make Hawke a male mage. Hawke is a kick-ass snarky female rogue you bastards!! Luckily I was so in love with this game that after much screaming at the TV I decided to get over it and continue with my play through. Also my current character was also a… female rogue (yeh my initial character choices tend to be rogues okay?) so maybe it was for the best. Sigh.
Throughout this series I have played for one main reason, the story. In earlier installments this meant setting the difficulty to casual so it wouldn’t interfere with the plot. However, for Inquisition increasing the difficulty can encourage the player to become further involved in the story. With the freedom of the open world environment you can use exploration to improve your inquisition and their companions, which on hard is highly recommended as you won’t get far without that xp. But it is during your travels where you will find little gems of storyline that you would not have otherwise discovered. Early on you will have been made aware of the conflict going on across Thedas. Unlike many games you can see this reflected in the places you explore and the people you speak to. Sometimes you will find groups of people who have been directly affected by your actions as the inquisitor. Your companions will often display different reactions to the places you visit, and Bioware have not disappointed with the opportunities for banter between your companions. I recommend taking Dorian and the Iron Bull out for a spin, I promise they won’t disappoint. You character often won’t resist getting drawn into these conversations as well so it doesn’t just feel like you are eavesdropping on your friends. Also don’t forget to speak to all your companions between missions. The entire voice cast do a spectacular job to the point were you forget your are playing a game instead thinking you are involved in a sort of interactive tv show in which you are the star.
Here’s the part where I talk about the characters in this series as though they were my friends like the crazy person I am. If you haven’t played either of the previous 2 games in the series then it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying this game, but also go play those games. Now. There is obviously a lot of backstory you’d be missing but you play as an entirely new character to the series so it won’t be completely baffling. There are, however, a lot of references to events from previous games. You can choose to question NPCs about their experiences and they will be happy to tell you all about it. It’s interesting but you won’t get the same feels when you hear Varric talking about ‘Blondie’ (not you Mike) and you won’t scream like an over-exciting gibbon when you receive a letter from King Alistair of Ferelden and you won’t hurt just that little bit at how dark Leliana has become if you haven’t played Origins and Dragon Age 2.
I was pleasantly surprised when the only character to consistently appear throughout all 3 games is the templar Cullen. You first meet Cullen in the Circle of Magi in Ferelden in Origins. He is one of the templars stationed there, responsible for cutting down any mages that succumb to demons and become abominations. You see him trapped in a magical cage having been tortured for hours, an event which he talks about in Inquisition and has a huge impact on him as a character. After his harrowing experiences in Ferelden he leaves for the Free Marches and takes up a position at the Circle in Kirkwall where he meets the protagonist from Dragon Age 2, Hawke. Again you don’t come across Cullen very often but he is right at the centre of the action yet again when the world goes to hell. So when Cullen showed up as a major although non companion character in Inquisition I was thrilled. Here was a guy who has seen all those things that I have experienced as a player over the years and he has his own memories and wounds from those events. This gave him such a depth of character that could only be created in a series like this.
Varric is a massively important character to me. While not highly rated by the critics, Dragon Age 2 was a whirlwind story that swept me off me feet at least 3 times (and since playing Inquisition I have now also replayed 2 again, couldn’t even help myself). Dragon Age 2 is Varric’s story. Seeker Cassandra interrogates Varric about the events in Kirkwall which lead to the mage rebellion that is still occuring in Inquisition. The story features the playable character the Champion of Kirkwall, Hawke, but it is told from Varric’s perspective. He carries guilt over what happened in Kirkwall with him into Inquisition and Cassandra in her hunt for Hawke won’t allow Varric to move on. Like many others, he has grown darker and more troubled as the story progresses.
For Inquisition, I would say the most intriguing character is Solas. Voiced by Gareth Lloyd-Davis (Torchwood), every thing he says holds significance. But I can’t talk about Solas, not yet.
Okay, now go play Inquisiton. Get right to the end so we can talk about it. Because… yeh.