When you save your game on Dragon Age, much like with many RPGs it tells you the number of hours you’ve clocked up. Whilst mine was at 14 hours, I was still frightened when I got the option of partaking in a quest called: ‘In Your Heart Shall Burn’, which had in the description: ‘…it is time to march on the Breach and close it…’. Now the complete premise of the game revolves around this ‘Breach’ which opens up, and the divine (Andraste) being killed. So I endeavored to make the most of the world and it’s side quests for the following 14 hours before completing this. Thankfully, this wasn’t to be the end of, what would have been a very short main quest. But in the intervening time between panic at 14 hours, and sheepish enlightenment at 28, I’ve had a great time with the game! Beware, because this post may contain strong word-vomit potential. You’ve been warned.
Race: Choose Dwarf if you enjoy being 3-4 ft tall and want the most unlikely (comedic) looking hero, choose a human if you’re safe and boring, choose an elf if you’re edgy and hip, and choose an Qunari if you love to rock up to fights bare chested with a warhammer. I chose the Elf, as I always do, for some reason the pointy ears fascinate me.
Class: Choose Warrior if you like hitting things hard, choose Mage if you want to be controversial (no one trusts the Mages), choose the Rogue if you are edgy and hip. I chose the Rogue. I think you can see the picture I’m blundering to paint here… However should you choose unwisely, you can always switch characters on the fly to one of your more powerful party members.
Appearance and Temperament: Just a heads up, there’s no temperament option, but I wanted to make a persona for my character because I always end up being the same boring angelic hero. I made my elf rogue small, with ginger hair and sharp facial features, then I gave him an intelligent sounding voice. My character has no muscles (like me IRL) but chooses to fight with words, giving the witty response when a simple ‘Hazaar!’ will do.
Its obvious I know, but the thing I liked most about this game was the world. A good chunk of the hours I’ve put into playing this game haven’t been spent poised on the edge of my seat in epic fights with dragons. In reality I’ve been slouched eating my 2nd pudding, just moving the left thumbstick soaking in the beautiful scenery and listening to the classical music which accompanies it.
Each area is gigantic and diverse with varying elevation levels encouraging you to look at the map and chart a course to your destination. Topography plays a part, so you actually have obstacles to skirt and mountains to climb! Though I keep having to remind myself its an RPG, not a bad platformer when I attempt to make impossible jumps. Quick travel is only unlocked once you’ve discovered camps, meaning that you have to walk places. Quite frankly, this could not make me more happy.
In the Hinterlands sparkling waterfalls gush down into rivers surrounded on either side by craggy valley slopes where mountain goats happily graze. Move further upstream and you’ll find open montane clearings where rocky terrain provides cover for camps and small settlements. Travel to the Storm Coast and the landscape gets more dramatic with cliffs jutting out to meet the raging sea. Often the best way to traverse the area is through coastal caves full of hazardous creatures and sparkling treasures.
Smaller areas such as the Forbidden Oasis, the Fallow Mire and Val Royeaux provide equally stunning different scenery. It seems Bioware have covered every climatological (totally a word) region, and I’m loving the variety on offer.
Although at first I couldn’t get into the war table missions, whereby you send inquisition members on their own quests, I thought it was clever how they provide new areas to explore through using it. This forces you to be less of a loner in your journey and it worked for me, making me care a bit more about the inquisition’s cause.
Characters and Plot
I can’t testify for a lot of the characters who seem (in comparison to the Witcher) a bit cardboard, but some pull the story forward better than others. I found the interaction between characters during my journeys entertaining, it was fun to pick the characters that clashed the most using the lore as a guide. So the mages: Solas and Dorian, are Elven and Human respectively and are constantly bickering about who is better. Varric and Cassandra have some great banter, or at least Varric jokes about and Cassandra disapproves of his callousness. Iron Bull just rubs everyone up the wrong way because hes a Qunari spy, and enjoys killing people, so naturally he has a permanent place.
You have the choice of who joins the inquisition, and you also have to choose 3 of them to accompany you in your adventures, so I’d advise going for the funny, witty characters, or the dialogue gets super dull. Don’t worry if you want to change the party up half way through though, because even when out of combat the other characters level up with you, so they don’t get left behind in the leveling process.
The story is pretty good, no spoilers but I love the time travel bit, its actually quite powerful. The lore is well established from the 2 previous games. The conflict between Mages and Templars still seems to be a big issue, and the rifts into the ‘fade’ are a bit like the blight in the first installment (Dragon Age Origins), but less severe. Lore is portrayed in the character interactions, the missions, and the countless books and notes carelessly left all over the world. Although its a bit of a mission in itself to read them all, they are quite well written and give you a quiet option to find out more if you so desired.
Side Quests and Collectibles
Almost one and the same really. Most side quests are either excuses to give you map locations of collectibles, or missions which help you gain favour with the locals of each region. They are quite nice to do just if you want something brainless, because there is often very little to them, and the people you’re helping don’t have a lot of personality; that’s saved for the main quest really.
Collectibles like shards and activities like Astarium puzzles and oculariums add nice little extras to the game. Astariums especially can actually get quite hard! They involve joining dots in a particular order to make a fictional constellation shape; leading to hidden treasure troves. Shards are found using the oculariums, and instead of being useless, they actually act as keys for a cave within the Forbidden Oasis. Other loot scattered around the world also has essential uses in potion/tonic/bomb making, and armour/weapon manufacture and improvements. So don’t just leave all the Onyx unmined and the Elfroot undisturbed, take everything!
Combat and Abilities
Combat is largely a doddle. Choose your abilities wisely so that you develop a particular ‘build’. I choose to use double daggers and invest my skill points in them, but as a Rogue (for example) you could opt to improve archery or stealth abilities. Don’t make the mistake as a Warrior of going halfsies with the sword/shield and two handed perks, because you will only be able to use half the skills at one time! (I definitely didn’t do this with Cassandra…)
The enemies are diverse but largely easy if you are the same level or higher. Coming up against enemies of higher level however can be a bad idea, ending only in frustration and angry tears. Keeping a multi-skilled team is important if you want to dominate. Don’t make both your mages specialise in fire magic, because you will eventually come up against an enemy impervious to fire.
One thing I love is the secret areas where dragons reside. I’ve only found one so far, but I looked it up, and there are definitely more. That’s not to say I defeated it, because I failed miserably. But I’m glad there’s some challenging stuff involved in the game!
Not many of these. Other than some weak characters, there are a few minor frame rate hitches and small glitches. For example I had a whole camp just disappear infront of me, everything from the enemies to their campfires and tents just upped and left! Also in combat sometimes my team just stand there and let me do all the work, but this isn’t a frequent occurrence, I’ll forgive it!
That’s about all I have to say on the game so far. I’m uncertain whether I’ll do a review since I’ve covered a large percentage of bases here, but I’ll certainly be writing more on my future adventures. Feel free to leave a comment if you feel strongly about me giving the game a score /10. Put a gun to my head though and I’d definitely stick it between 7 and 9/10! I purchased it for a measley £11.99 used, so if you’re into fantasy worlds and RPG games which largely don’t test your gaming caliber, then this might be one to pick up! Oh and if you don’t have a healthy amount of free time, I’d stick to CoD.