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June 16
2014

E3 2014: Dragon Age: Inquisition

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Dragon Age: Inquisition was one of those games that I greeted with immediate cynicism. While I only got a taste of Origins (any devs wanna donate a copy?), I bought Dragon Age 2 based on that limited experience, but grew increasingly disillusioned with each copy-pasted dungeon I explored, Isabella’s puns of “I like big boats, I cannot lie” notwithstanding.

I’ll own my bias: I was expecting to hate and dismiss the game altogether without giving it the time of day, but being the professional that I am I figured I should give it the chance to disappoint me in person. After sitting through EA’s presentation (which needed a better presenter; I’m sorry, but the guy speaking was clearly not comfortable speaking to an audience), I have to say I’ve come away cautiously optimistic.

The visuals are the expected upgrade over the prior games’ graphics, but the scope has apparently been given a similar mega-boost: the intro area where the demo took place is supposed to be bigger than the entirety of Dragon Age: Origins, and it’s just one of several regions, all of which are interconnected to the overall narrative. Also, in addition to being able to collect a variety of mundane and exotic mounts to explore the countryside, you can fast travel to previously visited locales to save on cumbersome wandering.

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Going huge with your game world can be a risk as there is the very real possibility of story objectives getting lost, leaving players stumbling through wastelands devoid of any content. It worked wonderfully for Skyrim though, and if I have to choose between an overly large world and visiting the exact same dungeon five times in a row I’ll take the former every time, so it’ll be fun to see what they populate this vast world with.

Another departure from DA2 is character creation. Hawke had some degree of variation available to him/her, but was largely the same person at the end of any character customization. The hero for Inquisition conversely will have a wide variety of choices in race and physical features in addition to gender and class options so that s/he will look like the hero you want to be the savior of the story.

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Along those lines, the major story-centric characters the player interacts with show a surprising amount of gender and racial diversity, including a black female mage, a white female tough-as-nails archer/rogue, a non-white male mage, and whatever the Qunari classify as.  It’s incredibly refreshing to see such a high level of diversity in a setting that would normally be filled to the brim with fair-featured Tolkienesque white people and maybe one or two token minorities, and given the Dragon Age pedigree, you can bet there will be an LGBT presence as well. Developers are also promising more in depth romance-options that extend beyond just sex-scene rewards.

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I’m willing to give Inquisition a chance. DA2 burned me a bit, but Inquisition seems to be a game that learned from its past mistakes and plans to deliver an experience that’s superior to its predecessors in just about every single way. We’ll see if it lives up to its promise.

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About Christian Walters

(Writer) Christian lives in El Cerrito, CA which is close enough to San Francisco to count. When not busy being unimpressed by press releases and AAA hype, he spends his time singing, finding heavy things to pick up and put down, and occasionally going out on the town in naught but cowhide. He has worked in the industry with companies like Sega of America and Trion Worlds, and one day hopes to design a game of his very own.

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