Dragon Age: Inquisition (Bioware, 2014)

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Dragon age: Inquisition, developed by Bioware and published by EA, for PS4 (2014).

Score: Impressive tour de force.

Dragon age: Inquisition is longer, vaster and unabridged. It is also proof that not only Bioware knows what its fanbase wants, but also how to deliver it, which makes it even more unlikely that I will ever forgive them for Mass Effect 3.

Dragon age: Inquisition takes place after the events of Dragon Age II. A meeting between mages and templars goes horribly wrong, you’re the only survivor and don’t remember a thing. You popped out of the Fade after the deed helped by a feminine figure, which makes people start calling you the Herald of Andraste. So Cassandra and Leliana decide to rebuild what was called the Inquisition, to try to restore some order and sanity to Thedas. Oh, and you come in really handy because you’re the only one who can close a series if breaches in the Fade that have been appearing lately. So off you go, to undo wrongs, stop catfights and become insanely powerful in the way.

Dragon age: Inquisition takes the best of the previous installments (namely, Dragon age: Origins’ gameplay and Dragon Age II’s storyline) and then adds open-world exploring and an insane amount of side quests and collectibles. It is fanservice on so many levels, not only the kinky one (boobs on the sex scenes, fuck yeah!), but also the most memorable characters make comebacks and cameos, and so many other areas, races and cultures that were previously mentioned and discussed finally make an appearance, expanding the fascinating world of Dragon Age even further. And this, coming from someone who doesn’t particularly care for medieval fantasy, is a big compliment.

It is much longer than any of the previous two, especially if you aim for a high ratio of completion (for me, about 70 hours for over 90%). You have exploring à la Elder Scrolls, equipment customization à la Diablo, quests and mini quests like on the previous installments and the fucking collectibles. Of course, you’ve got the trademark dialogue from Bioware, and at a whooping nine companions, three advisors and some other special characters there’s no way you’ll feel there’s little dialogue or character development.

By the way, dialogue has become significantly more difficult. Especially in Mass Effect, you could just bore your way through the game by choosing always the paragon or renegade options and those would always be correct. In fact, choosing the middle option was detrimental because you ended up being too bland and dull and the NPCs didn’t respect you. Here it’s not like that at all. A lot of times the middle option will be the best option to please NPCs, and sometimes the bottom option is optimal for a paragon character. Different characters like different branches of the menu, and a rebellious character will hate you for choosing the paragon options, while a solemn one will scorn you for being sarcastic. And I just love that. I did stop using the paragon option always because it sounded too stiff and uptight, like: “oh, sir, I can see there’s a demon sprouting from your ass and you’re going to die, I’ll do my best to solve the issue”. It felt like the bullshit I have to say at work.

I quite liked the gameplay and combat system. No more button mashing! The ability trees are interesting and lend themselves to fun combinations in combat, though I missed more varied builds, such as healers or bards. The automatic mode works fine at lower difficulties, but though I haven’t used it much it looks weird if you need to use it extensively (e. g. while using a double-wielding rogue and trying to focus to kill off archers the other characters will insist in abandoning the current target and attacking the boss, despite the orders you gave them).

Also, kudos to the Spanish translator for a superb work, like in the previous games. I could play the game the way I like it (English voices with Spanish menus and text) but I guess for people who like dubbed games they could have at least dubbed it and given the option, though I’m not gonna miss a Spanish dub because you all know by know how much I hate them.

So now to the bad parts. Graphically, it’s much worse than anything coming out these days. It looks modeled in shiny plastic and the textures and objects will often collide with each other or not fit together correctly. I can understand this is very difficult code to write but it’s clearly under what other developers are offering now regarding quality. Also the bugs. It can be so enervating at times, but I hope that will be dealt with soon.

And to speak of the plot and ending I need the ***SPOILER TAG***

I finished it today and I’m kind of disappointed. After playing the previous two installments and reading everyone here pulling their hearts to shreds, I was expecting one of my controversial decisions (and I’ve made A LOT) to come back and bite me in the ass. But nothing happened. I killed Corypheus and everyone was happy, no downsides. I freed the mages and Vivienne kept resenting me for that in sassy and hilarious ways, but nothing at all happened. Not one possession in the camp, no unexpected blood magic, Cole didn’t turn into a demon, the Red Templars are there just being monstrous under Corypheus’ yoke, never posing any real moral dilemma. It’s sort of the easy solution Bioware tends to restore to (you killed the Rachni Queen? Oh, but the Reapers have found another one and cloned it. No, we never said she was the last one). Here it is, Corypheus is the baddie, because he’s darkspawn and magister, so he’s double evil, hurr durr. We spent 70 hours explaining to you why there is no easy solution out of the magic problem because it’s so dangerous but at the same time mages are people and have rights too, but never mind, you just kill the ugly guy and everything will be solved out of the Power of Love. The Red Templars are not bad, they’re just controlled by Corypheus, if you had sided with the Templars you would have Red Mages instead. Also the Venatori make great strawmen, exotic, unknown, wearing silly clothes. I hated Dragon Age II for a lot of reasons but I really like downer endings, I must confess. I find them harder to execute well. But anyway, I didn’t really ask for another ending since I have done some research and there are plenty of different endings, but some events in the middle that actually reflect the impact of your decisions would have made it even better.

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