Dragon Age: Inquisition's start screen is immediately recognizable and inspiring for those gamers familiar with the series.
As the game opens, you see two rows of endlessly marching figures. In one of the rows, everyone is robed and glowing with powers barely held back these are the mages. The other row is full of heavily armored soldiers with shields bearing the sign of the Templar Order.
In the Dragon Age universe, the Templars and mages are about as close to mortal enemies as you can find. Originally the Templar Order was started to watch over mages and ensure that their powers were used only for good. By the end of Dragon Age 2, this tense situation had erupted into a full-on mage rebellion. And now, at the start of Inquisition, here they are walking side by side... Say whaaaat!?
Watch the Dragon Age 3 Inquisition Trailer HERE!
Dragon Age: Inquisition is set in the continent of Thedas, the fantasy world in which the two previous games are set. The game will cover more geographic territory than its predecessors, with one map being described as four to five times the size of Ferelden, the setting of the first game in the series.
Simultaneously, the Circle of Magi has gone rogue, in part due to the events of Dragon Age II, and the Templar Order seceded from the Chantry to wage their own civil war on the mages.
The area traversable in Inquisition is much larger than both Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II, and is said to cover two countries and the land between. The countries are: Ferelden (setting of Dragon Age: Origins) and Orlais, with a land known as the Dales located within.
BioWarehas fused elements of both earlier games in the series, Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II, into the creation of Dragon Age: Inquisition.The game features farlarger environments with much more opportunity for exploration.
“Story concepts we had being knocked around even before we started Dragon Age II,” says Laidlaw “In a lot of ways Inquisition is the big successor to Origins, but it also takes the parts that made two work, it has characters that have deeper stories, party members that have bigger stories of their own. The combat is more responsive, we have dialled down the speed so it doesn’t feel so hectic, enemies are more durable, we don’t have ‘here’s ten guys that explode when you look at them funny’.”
BioWare has allowed for multiple playable races, both male and female. Players can play as a human, dwarf, or elf just like in Dragon Age: Origins. Additionally, Qunari are also playable for the first time!
Combat is differs somewhat from its direct predecessor and the focus is more on a player's ability to prepare, position, and form a cohesive team with his or her party members, requiring fewer repetitive finger strikes but better thinking like the first installment. Tactical view also returns for all five platforms in Dragon Age: Inquisition, whereas before it was exclusive to PC in Dragon Age: Origins, and which was removed in Dragon Age II.
Make love not war
The romance aspect of the game has been overhauled. As opposed to BioWare's previous gift and dialogue based system, romance arcs will occur in reaction to events and variables specific to each character and include "mature and tasteful" sex scenes.
Eight romances are available to Dragon Age Inquisition players. Two of these romances are restricted by race, the other six are freely available, At least one of these romance options exists outside the traditional companion or advisory role. Cullen and Cassandra are both options for engaging in a heterosexual romance. Scribbles is likely a bisexual romance option.
Hugs are an available interaction option with some characters. Dialog options now influence a system reminiscent of the Approval scores from previous Dragon Age games. The new system is much more driven by conversation than gifting. Assisting followers in personal goals also increases Approval. Angering a character lowers this score, and may drive a character to leave you. The approval system for advisors works differently, and is currently not detailed.
Additionally, Dragon Age Inquisition breaks new ground in introducing a homosexual male party member in Dorian the Mage. Dorian comes form a culture where propriety and pretense are valued over all else, and his unwillingness to play by the rules of social facades makes him an outcast. It is unknown yet whether or how Dorian will engage in in-game romance, but his sexuality is a distinctive and important aspect of his characterization.
“I think there are some really, really solid counter examples when you look at where relationships fall down and where they’re flat,” Inquisition's Creative Director Mike Laidlaw told IGN. “There are some that are really, really effective.” He points to Persona 4 as a particularly strong example. “I finally got a date with Chie, but that’s not where it stops,” he said. “Later, we’re going to do a slumber party, and we’re going to go to the beach.”
Schematics are guides for creating new crafted items and abilities. Schematics offer flexibility, creating templates within which players may customize their gear.
For example, a sword schematics with three Metal slots may be filled by any combination of metal allows. Each distinct alloy will imbue the blade with different abilities and a unique appearance. Enchantments may also be imbued to further supplement you Wepaon's abilities. Inquisition agents may be tasked with resource gathering, collecting materials to use in Crafting
Characters may also be customized in appearance, though there are no body sliders. Grrr. Check out Gamespot creation.
Inquisition gives you a reason
The interplay of rifts serves two purposes in Inquisition: It's a fun explanation for why your character is so special and important to the world, and it also provides actual gameplay. You can stumble across rifts whenever you're wandering around the game's huge, wide-open zones.
"One of the big things that drove a lot of our decision-making with Dragon Age: Inquisition was the desire to get exploration back into our gameplay," says Mark Darrah, executive producer for the Dragon Age series. "Origins has a little bit of exploration, but you really have to go back pretty far, all the way back to Baldur's Gate 2 to really get big games from BioWare."
Wandering around massive zones to find portals is one of the side effects of this push for more exploration. Another is a surprising mechanical change: the character you're controlling can now jump. This small tweak opens up a ton of options as you explore, from tiny platforming puzzles to sneaking your way up a mountainside that may have been impossible to scale without vertical movement.
The game provides many reasons to explore, and most of them earn you bonus experience and more power to your cause. That cause, by the way, is the titular Inquisition.
Can it compete with Bethesda and their Elder Scrolls?
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, BioWare’s Mark Darrah said that since the developer released Dragon Age II, and following huge sales of Skyrim, a player’s concept of exploration and value for money in an RPG are now completely different.
“Skyrim changed the landscape for role-playing games completely,” he said. “I mean Oblivion probably sold six million units, basically that range, Skyrim sold 20 million. So that, to some degree, changes everything.”
“People age, they typically have less time for games, so it changes their expectations in terms of gameplay segments. It also results in some nostalgia. So they may become even more firm in their attachment to previous features.
“Now suddenly you have 15 million people that have basically had the first RPG they’ve ever played as Skyrim. They have totally different expectations of what storytelling is, what exploration is, and I think exploration is really where we’ve seen the biggest change.
New hardware changes everything. One of the biggest decisions game makers must make at an early stage of development is which platform and using what hardware the game will utilize. Each platform has its advantages and disadvantages, each have their own massive fan bases but which one do you cater to?
“The hardware has brought back the ability to do big again and I think that’s what’s bringing role-playing games back to the forefront. What we’ve traditionally seen is that as a console generation turns over the dominant genre has changed. Shooters weren’t the dominant genre a generation ago, it was racing games. If you go back before that, to the PlayStation 1 era, it was actually role-playing games. I think that’s what we may be seeing here. I don’t know that role-playing games will be necessarily dominant but I do think we may see open-world exploration games being the dominant genre of this generation.
Online only - Multiplayer
Bioware had at one point been working on a multiplayer-only Dragon Age game codenamed Blackfoot, the technology of which was incorporated into Inquisition.
“We actually had a project code-named Blackfoot which was the first game we had that was looking at Frostbite. It was a Dragon Age game, multiplayer only, that was in development before Dragon Age II came out. That became the core of what became Dragon Age Inquisition, the techlines, more than any of the development, so we’ve actually been looking at this a long time.”
Dragon Age Inquisition is a beautiful, expansive adventure. Live, Love and fight within a world more vivid than your richest fantasies. A massive success and one we will recommend to all our readers again and again. 8/10 - Gamertag Gaming