Dragon Age: Inquisition

Some pretentious reviewers are making comments like “I still can’t review Dragon Age: Inquisition as I’ve only played it for 80 hours and although I’ve finished the main story I’ve not experienced everything”.  Seriously?  You’ve played this game for 80 hours and you don’t have an opinion?!  Don’t you see the fact you are still going after 80 hours tells you everything you need to know? Well I’m going to be honest; I have not played this game for 80 hours.  I haven’t even finished the main storyline but as a father of 4 with a full time job “finishing” this game will take me months so despite being only 20 hours into the game I have managed to form an opinion.

This game is excellent!
Buy it.

Job done? Can I get back to playing now?
It is possible that my “first impressions” will turn out to be wrong but here are a few reasons why I’m confident to write a review now.

1 – 3 out of my 4 hard-core gaming buddies are playing this constantly, talking about it constantly and are all unanimous in their praise (interestingly each of us is playing on a different platform)  The fourth doesn’t have a copy and is waiting to borrow mine.  BWAAHAHAAHAA, poor deluded fool he’ll be waiting until next year!

2 – I put aside GTAV to play this and have not once even been tempted to play GTA (despite missing an epic online community night).

3 – DA:I is seriously addictive. I go to sleep thinking about it, I wake up thinking about it (and try to decide if I’m sick enough to stay home from work), and I go to work and keep drifting back to thinking about it.  I go home and put my Kids to bed early so I can start playing.  

“But Dad it’s still daylight”
“Its summer Kate it’s daylight when I go to bed too. Now off you go”

So how is it that this game has gotten so far under my skin?  

Well simply it is a classic Dungeons and Dragons style RPG game and these days they are very rare. Baldurs Gate 2 was probably the best of the faithful translations of Pen & Paper D&D to electronic gaming but I more fondly remember Neverwinter Nights, I had to wait months to buy that but when I did I was in heaven.  Well DA:I still clearly has its roots deep in those classic RPG games. It’s slow paced and I can easily spend a 2 hour gaming session exploring a town talking to people.  Three if I read all the books and codex entries.  The amazing thing is that this very rarely gets boring.  The writing/scripting/voice acting is all so good that I was drawn into the world and eagerly sought out more conversation (I was very disappointed when I found a random band of elves camped in the wilds and couldn’t talk to them?!).    This relaxed pace is the only thing that may put some people off.   Players who skip cut scenes or never read the fluff will find much to frustrate them here.  The game can definitely be played without embracing the world of Ferelden but it would miss the essential experience. Better to look up Shadow of Mordor which is more of a combat game with a fantasy overlay.

Now we can’t talk RPGs and not mention the Elder Scrolls.  

As a “Role Playing Game” this is better than Skyrim.  Its better scripted, less combat oriented and benefits hugely from having a party of adventurers rather than a single hero/follower.  Being several years newer and running on the latest hardware it’s a bit of an unfair comparison but if you set aside the stunning visuals DA:I is still better.  Their different approach has avoided some of the annoying features of Skyrim (the RPG combat dance and skill grinding) and, most remarkably, the traditional RPG quests “walk here, kill everything”, “walk there, bring something back” are no longer a chore.  The side quests are still exactly like this but they are small and there are so many of them you don’t actually need to hunt them down.  Just explore and you pick them up and finish them off with little obvious work.  They can give a vague purpose to your exploration (given no other options you may as well head towards that quest) and so exploration and quests blend seamlessly together.

Having a bit of direction to your exploration is handy because in a genre full of games on an epic scale this one is raising the bar again.  I’ve got to be honest It’s not quite as epic as some would have you believe and I’m not sure it feels bigger than Skyrim (although I’m assured it is) but it certainly is big.  I easily spent 10 hours just questing in the first region but thanks to the fast travel points in the camps there isn’t as much walking as I was expecting and far less than Skyrim.  But regardless of size or relative size the world is chock full of things to do and roaming the wilds does not get boring.

Frequently during the travels I found myself in a scrap and despite all its good role playing features it’s important that it’s enjoyable in a brawl because you do spend quite a bit of time in battles. Initially I played as a Warrior and honestly found it a bit boring. I would set up the fight in the tactical view then just wade into the middle of the fight and hold Right-Trigger, occasionally hitting X/Y etc. It all felt a bit hollow. So I restarted as a mage and that has made all the difference. Being a little outside the fight and better able to watch what is going on makes combat more varied and enjoyable. I still don’t really use the tactical view but find I don’t need to as I usually have a decent overview of the fight.

So there is much that is good about Dragon Age: Inquisition but I do have a couple of gripes. It really is quite glitchy. Not major problems but enough dodgy visual artefacts to be annoying. Huge texture pop-in, repeated odd behaviour from NPC’s (a soldier runs across the path every time I enter haven) and an annoying stutter EVERY time I walk in the Haven gate. It’s all within an acceptable range for a game of this scope but it is slightly disappointing.

This game is simply too big to cover everything in a review and I’ve not even mentioned the War Room or building your Inquisition but as an RPG Fanboy for over 2 decades I can honestly say that if you are looking for a genuine RPG experience then this is the game.  Nothing else comes close.

Oh, and it really hurts when Cassandra “Greatly Disapproves” and isn’t that the sign of a great game?  When you have an emotional reaction to what a pretend person thinks of your avatars actions in a video game?!

Reviewed on: XBox One

Rating: R13 Contains violence, offensive language and sexual themes.

Reviewed by: Aaron



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