Category Archives: Dragon Age

Dragon Age: Inquisition is a great game

Hi everyone. If any of you are still out there.

I still don’t have internet at home. The ISP’s technician who came yesterday said that the phone jack was faulty, and then pointed out that the line from the pole to our house has been shredded by… something. Apparently the previous technician from the actual phone company didn’t notice either of these things, and now he has to come back on Monday.

But it’s been too long. I have a blog dammit, I have responsibilities! So I’m going to type this up, email it to myself and then quickly post it using cut and paste with the WordPress app on my phone. Fingers crossed.

Anyway I’ve actually been doing a lot of gaming in the last month or two. Maybe that’s related to not having internet hey? No, couldn’t possibly be connnected…

I’ve played a game of D&D before our group went on a break for the holidays. I still have my review of 5th edition in the works; as soon as I get internet I’ll be hammering out the posts faster than people can read them probably. I also played a game of Warhammer 40,000. The Kings were wiped out to a man but there were some highlights. Lt. Col. Winter brought down some sort of Space Marine bomber thing (I’m just going to call it a “storm-whatsit” and hope for the best here) with a psychically hurled boulder. And my three pathetic ratlings killed four tactical marines. That was extremely satisfying, and bewildering for my opponent.

What I’ve mostly been playing though is Dragon Age: Inquisition. Dragon Age Origins is one of my favourite games ever. Dragon Age II I didn’t like so much. Whenever something happens in Inquisition that references DA II, I think “hey, I don’t remember that. Wait, I don’t even remember any of my companions. Oh except for creepy terrorist Anders, Buxom Pirate Queen and Nu-Metal Elf with Huge Anime Sword.”

The main reason I didn’t like it was that the Dragon Age setting – which is pretty amazing – is often described as dark fantasy. In Dragon Age II they decided that this meant saddling the player with heavy decisions that had no possible good outcome. Like in Origins when you had to choose between killing the Arl’s undiscovered mage son, or letting him live and get possessed with tragic results. That was horrible, and powerful because of it. But in DA II, it felt like every decision was like that. You could never negotiate effectively; every important encounter inescapably ended with having to kill someone who didn’t completely deserve it. It left a bad taste in my mouth.

Inquisition is back on form though, and funnily enough I really feel the dark fantasy setting even more than I did in Origins. I don’t know how the writers have done it, but I keep feeling sad for the poor Dragon Age people. They are little medieval folk living in a world where unnatural spirits keep trying to break through and possess them, and any sort of long term safety is unlikely. War and chaos have descended ever since Origins, and there’s a real sense of continuation here. And the people don’t even know how screwed they are, because they don’t know any different. They’re just fighting against the encroaching madness because what else can you do? It reminds me of Lovecraft, or early Warhammer Fantasy Battle, one of the original dark fantasy settings. I love it. It really gives you space to feel as though you are playing a true mortal hero: a temporary candle in the storm.

Anyway this is my Inquisitor, Saoirse:

Yes, I did just photograph my screen with my phone.  Thanks for noticing.

Yes, I did just photograph my screen with my phone. Thanks for noticing.

The other thing I’m really enjoying about this game is the War Room. You get to direct strategy and diplomacy in the big picture as well as play out the actual plot and fight the battles on the smaller, more familiar C-RPG scale. One of these days I’m going to sit down and write exactly what I would want in my dream C-RPG. This game seems to have most of it already. Except for the ability to change your character’s appearance mid-game. That’s one thing that Dragon Age II had to recommend it.

Till next time (which hopefully won’t be too long),

James

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Dragon Age: Inquisition

Due to the fact that I’ve been living under a stone I’ve only just noticed that Dragon Age: Inquisition is due for release this year some time. I’m a big fan of the Dragon Age games, particularly Origins which I think is simply great: compelling story, interesting characters, the ability to play an arrogant Dwarf aristocrat…

Dragon Age II I was not so taken with for several reasons, though I think aesthetically it was very cool to look at. You have to play as a human for one thing, which makes me feel a little let down from the beginning. This is fantasy, with well-realized non-human cultures.  It seems a shame to make them off-limits to the player. I also didn’t like the overwhelming violence of the game. By that I mean that there was a lot of talking and interaction, as is usual for BioWare games, but it nearly always turned out that you had to overcome a problem by butchering someone. Often it was someone who was semi-innocent. I presume that the designers did this to darken the story and introduce moral ambiguity, but after a while it became predictable to me and left a bit of a bad aftertaste. I’m playing a cunning thief who I imagine is a hero at heart. I don’t want to overcome every hurdle by murdering someone.

So, Dragon Age Inquisition. No non-human hero, again, so I’m a bit disappointed at the lack of Dwarfiness. The few details that have been released sound promising to me though. Equipment will be more customizable in terms of colour and appearance, which is something I really, really enjoy in games like this. I like being able to control what my character looks like without it affecting the performance in-game. Otherwise at higher levels everyone’s game looks the same: some  unidentifiable man/woman in baroque gold armour made out of a dragon’s spiky bits.

I’m hoping for the aesthetics of Dragon Age II (updated of course), and the immersive story, strong supporting characters, and ability to solve problems in multiple ways of Dragon Age: Origins.

I feel – and this is just a personal opinion of course – that BioWare’s games were pretty much perfect around the time of Knights of the Old Republic I and II, and into Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect. But then they lost something. It’s hard to define, but I feel as though the designers messed with a good thing by trying to adapt elements of other successful games.  Probably just because if you’re a designer what else are you going to do? Designing the same thing over and over isn’t very satisfying I imagine. That said, I’m really hoping for a return to past form with this one.

All the best,

James