E3 2014: Dragon Age: Inquisition Preview – Third Time’s A Charm
Written Monday, June 23, 2014 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Dragon Age 2 is what I’d like to refer to as a Marmite game. Some people loved the new Mass Effect style of its conversation wheel and more action-orientated gameplay, while others lamented its non-Origins style tactical gameplay and recycling of environmental assets. Both groups of people had a point. Yet Dragon Age: Inquisition should be seen as a new beginning. A new console, a new lease of life and what many will probably look at as the game that Dragon Age 2 should have been.
Dragon Age: Inquisition sees players jump into the shoes of a new, unnamed protagonist, who is simply tasked with the role of saving the world. With war breaking out in both Ferelden and Orlais – the two countries (and the land in between) where the game is set – it’s up to you to gain influence and put an end to all the conflict and save the world from itself. Using an in-game feature called the War Table, players will decide where their own story goes and where their influence spreads on their way towards becoming the hero that the world needs, not the one it deserves.
Everything that fans criticised in Dragon Age 2 has been put under the microscope and fixed in Inquisition. Those recycled and dull environments? They’re gone, and instead players will have a huge open-world to explore, set across two nations. The demo section that we saw on its own was bigger than Dragon Age: Origins’ entire world. With canyons, mountains, valleys, swamplands, huge woodland areas; on this showing alone it’s a hugely exciting prospect, especially after the disappointment of Dragon Age 2. The world is so big this time that there’ll be a whole array of mounts to choose from to navigate the world, some of which BioWare referred to as “exotic.”
Those criticising the less tactical and more action-orientated combat will be pleased to hear that that’s been tweaked somewhat as well. Like Dragon Age 2 players can treat it like an action-RPG more than a turn-based affair, but pausing combat this time will allow you not only to queue up commands for your party, but you can also see the weaknesses and levels of said enemies.
The level of depth on display in the combat stretches from focusing on weaknesses – like a vulnerability to electricity – and keeping your ranged attackers at the back while your beasts, like the Qunari warrior, Iron Bull (voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr, incidentally) fight on the front line. These allies will focus on an enemy’s vulnerable spots, like a monstrous dragon’s legs, to make the scaly beast less mobile and easier to take down. The combat sits somewhere between Origins and DA2’s.
Inquisition is still a BioWare game, and thus, at its core is a complicated choice and consequence system. This works on multiple levels. At the world level, your choices will influence the lay of the land, whether it's population or where settlements are created. At the squad level, you’ll have specific relationships with party members, as in previous Dragon Ages, but now you’ll finally have the chance to choose armour for companions. Even better is the fact you can craft weapons and armour, customising the look of your allies, meaning you can really make the experience your own. You’ll be happy to hear that the traditional BioWare companion banter is all present and correct too, something that warms our cockles every time.
And of course, that choice and consequence also plays a major part in the story. In this specific demo, a choice made earlier on in the game by the player saw fan favourite, Leliana, head into Redcliffe Castle as a double agent, only to be caught and tortured. Despite being rescued by the player character, Leliana has become a tad bitter, and at a key exchange later on in the story, Leliana interrupts and changes the whole dynamic of the events that are playing out before you. This is all a direct result of her being captured. Events could play out differently had she not been captured, had she not been in the party, and so on. It’s classic BioWare choice and consequence, and coupled with the whole Inquisition aspect, it looks like BioWare really has upped the ante with its third Dragon Age outing.
One of the subjects up for debate at E3 this year was which would dominate out of The Witcher 3 and Dragon Age: Inquisition in the fantasy action-RPG genre, and while CD Projekt RED’s title might have the technical edge over BioWare’s, the Canadian developer is still in the running with its epic scale of choice and consequence. It’s going to be a hell of a showdown and I know it’s cliché, but there’s only really one winner: you, the gamer. And maybe BioWare and CD Projekt RED… so yeah, three winners. And I guess EA and Namco… so yeah, five winners. Oh, and Warner is distributing The Witcher in America, so six. Yes, six winners.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is scheduled for an October 7th and 10th release in North America and Europe respectively.