With Dragon Age: Inquisition, Bioware has managed to return the series to great heights. Not only have they improved everything which has made the Dragon Age series great, they have also fixed up any major gripes.
Gripes that I have had with previous entries making this game a truly great RPG.
In typical RPG fashion, the game starts with character creation screen where you select your gender, race, class and looks. Somewhat of a letdown is the poor selection of character customisation options for most these categories, especially in terms of looks.
The story begins with a somewhat confusing cut-scene involving you being chased by a horde of very large spider-esque monstrosities and crawling towards a strange glowing lady.
After falling unconscious you wake to find out a breach has opened to the demon realm and that you may hold the key to closing it. In order to deal with the threat you join up with a new faction called the Inquisition whose prime goals involves closing the breach.
Overall I found the story very engaging and interesting. About halfway through the game, the story ups the ante and really hits its stride.
The main story alone is insanely long. On-top of that there are tons of side missions to complete.
Together it would be easy to sink many weeks or even months into this game. Unlike the story though, most of the side missions aren’t very engaging. While many try to have a well-developed backstory, they fail to escape the fetch quest vibe.
There are ample rewards for doing these missions with experience, items, factional rewards and money all being gained along the journey and in reward for completion.
As all of these are useful I actually wanted to spend many hours away from the main story completing them, despite how mundane some of the missions were.
Belonging to a faction creates some interesting gameplay mechanics. Completing side missions gains your faction power and influence. At your home-base area, you are able to access a map room which gives you an overview of the world.
Here you can spend earned points for your faction on perks for such as being able to carry more items or gaining knowledge of a certain topic which opens up new dialogue options.
There are also more side quests that you can send your agents out to compete for minor rewards. In addition to this, main story missions are unlocked here by using some of the power you have gained for the Inquisition.
Dialogue and conversational options is another one of Dragon Age: Inquisition’s fortes. It manages to provide enough dialogue to give enough information however unlike many RPGs I’ve played, not too much that made me want to skip over it.
And of course where would Bioware RPG be without choices. During conversations you are given numerous options to how your character responds. Some of these decisions only affects the immediate conversation whereas others can alter critical aspects of the story.
The choices you make are however under close scrutiny from your accompanying companions.
As each of them have vastly different backgrounds and views on the world, each character reacts differently to your choices which affects your relationship with them. Also instead of a very generic good and evil option, Dragon Age’s options are considerably more grey, making each decision very difficult to make.
This decision making aspect makes the story truly feel like your own.
Combat in Dragon Age: Inquisition is party based, meaning you may have up to three companions accompany you. You can choose any combination of classes in battle however I found that only the two warriors, a mage and a rogue combination works well.
Since these characters play a major role in your journey, I expected them to all have very strong and colourful personalities. What is given however is somewhat of a mixed bag with some of the characters, especially the starting three, being a lot more dull and uninteresting than required.
During battles you get the choice to take direct third person control of a character or a more tactical top down approach letting you issue orders for each of your characters.
Both are easy to use although the third person controls feel a lot more natural and enjoyable with a controller.
During third-person combat with a controller, you attack by holding in the right trigger in combination with using up to eight special abilities, each mapped to various buttons or button combinations.
Overall I found the combat particularly enjoyable and easy to use, especially in comparison to many other similar RPGs, while still having great depth to it.
The leveling up system has also been done very well. For each class there are four categories of abilities which you can choose from.
Each category as well as abilities inside them have a very different play style allowing you to customise your characters to how you play. The abilities are also very useful making you want to level up and grow stronger.
The game is semi-open world. As you progress through the game, you unlock various areas which you may visit at any time. Areas are typically massive and completely open to you exploring wherever you want.
Each area has a unique look and personality ranging from grasslands to desert. Spending too much time in any one area though, which is easy to do given the seemingly endless supply of side quests, can make the area start to feel bland.
The environments also look great but are far from stunning and often feel too overcrowded.
There is also a multiplayer component which offers a surprisingly enjoyable four player online co-op dungeon crawling experience.
The character you use in this mode is separate to the character in the main story. This mode almost feels like an entirely new game, focusing more on the loot and party based gameplay.
With friends, you could easily sink a countless amount of hours here.
Dragon Age: Inquisition has managed to provide a great balance between depth and accessibility, something many RPGs struggle to do.
Along with this it performs strongly in almost every aspect of the game and in doing so it has become not only one of the best games of the year, but also one of the best RPGs to be released.
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