Dragon Age: Inquisition is the third installment in the Dragon Age series from BioWare, the powerhouse behind other mega-successful series like Mass Effect. The studio’s last two mega-releases, Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age 2, were rather disappointing -- because of that, I was skeptical that Dragon Age Inquisition could be anywhere near as good as EA was hyping it up to be. And yet...it’s as good as they claim.
Where should we start? Well, pick any place -- the world is absolutely gigantic. There’s a dizzying amount of places to explore, codex entries to find, loot to collect -- it almost rivals MMOs. This is not a game you can fly through in ten hours, even if you try. You’re in for the long haul here.
You’ll be spending plenty of time in the field, looking for items and completing quests -- no matter where you go, you’ll be treated to lush, masterfully detailed environments; even the bits of landscape miles into the distance will make you stop and stare. Exploring these places is made totally different from previous games with one new, super simple element: jumping. That sounds like an obvious things to have, but BioWare hadn’t let you jump in these games before. It completely changes how you approach the landscapes, forcing you think three dimensionally, whether you’re tackling a hill, searching for a piece of treasure, fighting an enemy, or finding a plot point.
The main plot is a classic one -- save the world and all that, but with twists that won’t be spoiled here -- suffice it to say that Inquisition doesn’t commit the same cardinal sin as DA2 (ending just as the story’s getting interesting). The main arc has you play the “Herald of Andraste,” savior of the people -- but it’s not until you’ve spent considerable time in the world pushing your ideals and gaining fame that events behind the scenes begin to unfold. Dragon Age Inquisition is at its best when it challenges your perceptions, injecting horrible truths and playing with your choices. Unlike the mess that was Mass Effect 3’s plot, the mind games work well here.
Helping you along the way is a ragtag crew of former templars, mages, soldiers, merchants -- really anyone you can get to swing a sword. Some of the best characters in the series return, including two of my favorites: Leliana and Varric. There’s a group of new characters as well; additions like Sera and Iron Bull are especially well-voiced, though the rest of the cast members are great as well. The writing is genius in general -- there’s plenty of snark and sarcasm, and at times, it’s downright funny.
But to get to all these moments, you have to put your weapons to work. Combat in Dragon Age Inquisition is fantastic -- it’s the best in the series, in fact.. It combines the action-first style of Dragon Age 2, but allows you to step back and plan like Dragon Age Origins. It’s a clever system; in certain cases, you’ll actually be forced to take that step back, because your enemies can and will kick your ass if you charge right in. Switching between combat styles is seamless, and you’ll get used to it easily.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is a fantastic game, but it still has a few potential issues.
As good as the story is, don’t expect to be wowed from the start. It takes around ten hours for Dragon Age:Inquisition to really get going, so you won’t be doing much aside from building your army and farming quests at first. The payoff is worth it, but you’ll have to sink a chunk of your life in to see it. You have to know that going in.
And there are bugs. We got the PS4 version late because there was a problem with Sony’s upgraded firmware. The game crashed twice, but more often little bugs like bad pop-in textures or frozen dialogue wheels or glitched doors showed themselves. Sometimes actions don’t cancel properly. That said, EA will also be releasing a day one patch for bugs on the PS4 version, so that should alleviate the problems.
If you’ve played the previous games, you’ll love this. The hype is real. And if you haven’t played the other two, well there’s the Tapestry to help you get caught up. If you’re a fan of BioWare games or Western action-RPGs, you should absolutely pick this up.
Dragon Age: Inquisition was released November 18th, 2014 in North America. Electronic Arts provided a PlayStation4 copy, but the game is also available on PlayStation3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.