Dragon Age: Inquisition Preview
I won’t say Dragon Age II was a bad game, because that wouldn’t be true. However, despite its quality, there’s no doubt that it left the beaten path, and not in a good way. Hardcore role-playing fans, to whom this franchise is geared, wondered at the disappearance of key RPG elements, such as the full outfitting of all playable characters and those wide open spaces from Origins. Well, BioWare has listened to the feedback and the result is Dragon Age: Inquisition, which should be the biggest and most robust series entry yet.
We’ll still have the dialogue trees and player choice that has been a staple of the franchise, but we’ll also receive several important upgrades. Driving the game forward will be the Frostbite 3 engine, which has already been on display with Battlefield 4. This will reduce loading times and allow for a more seamless, dynamic experience. The new engine – and the new next-generation hardware – also allow for true-blue exploration: Gone are the cramped little maps from DAII; in Inquisition, we can wander wherever we like, which is why the game is being compared to Bethesda’s vaunted Elder Scrolls IP. Nothin' wrong with that, right?
Yes, a horse is included, which may be necessary given the gargantuan map. But before you begin your enjoyable exploration, you’ll have to create and customize your character. Again, we’re going back to the good ol’ RPG roots; no more pre-set terms for the main character, as you can select your race, gender, class, etc. Once you’ve made your difficult choice (it’s always tough for me, anyway), you can begin questing, and you’ll find a fantastic world that encourages curiosity. And it’s not just about grabbing quests and going to complete them, as you’ll want to indulge in every aspect of the expansive landscape. A new level of immersion awaits...
For instance, there are Keeps that can be invaded and taken over, which are similar to the forts you had to conquer in the recent Assassin’s Creed titles. If you can successfully take the Keep, you can then control them and choose your style— political, military, or espionage. If you go for the latter, you’ll see lookout towers and camouflage. If you’re the military type, the Keep will develop stone turrets and guard posts, and if you opt for political, a capitol building will appear. Each option not only changes how your enemies react, each style also opens up a series of different quests. This adds a never-before-seen level of depth to Dragon Age.
As for the combat, it should be a similar mechanic to what we’ve seen before, but the developers are implementing a new tactical camera. This allows you pause the action and scan the battlefield, which will allow you to assess any predicament. Battle is a fluid situation, so this feature should prove extremely useful to those who wish to be more strategic and thoughtful in their approach. In terms of foes, they’ll range from human opponents and dark little creatures to the franchise’s staple, dragons. These nasty suckers are always on the hunt but you’ll have to avoid them until you’re ready. Your party will have to be buffed big-time to handle a dragon.
I particularly like that environmental destruction will play a role – again, for the first time – in combat. This is also thanks to the new engine, so if you see a wooden support holding enemy archers, take out the damn support! Enemies can do the same, though, so be careful. All in all, I think we’re looking at a rebirth and a fitting progression for this series, so the RPG faithful should be excited. My only concern is that it tries to be too much like Skyrim and doesn’t retain its former distinct charm. But I can’t not have faith in the guys at BioWare. That just seems…wrong.
9/26/2013 Ben Dutka