CAUTION – This post contains spoilers for Dragon Age: Inquisition. Check out the Dragon Age website for information on the game.
Now that I’ve finished my first playthrough I wanted to share my initial impressions of the companions. I have to say that, even with characters I disliked, I appreciated the complexity of their opinions – there was always some common ground to be found, and there no one that I didn’t disagree with at some point.
“Sometimes you need to break a bone before it can be reset. That’s where the Inquisition comes in.”
I assumed I wouldn’t like Cass (because I last saw her threatening Varric), and for the first 15-20 hours it felt like I basked in her constant disapproval. She can be brash, and forceful, but she agonised over whether she was doing the right thing; not in a self-pitying, self-absorbed way, but in genuine concern that she might be acting rashly and making things worse for the very people that she so desperately wanted to save. As far as Inquisitors go, she and Dalya were always going to have disagreements, but the beauty of Cass is that you can build up a friendship even when coming from a different place as regards your faith. My only regret is that I wasn’t more vocal about her becoming Divine, though I was pleased to hear that she planned to rebuild the Seekers. She’s definitely someone who needs a cause.
“Have I mentioned that I hate the Deep Roads?”
The one constant for every world state I have in the Keep is that Hawke and Varric are friends, so there was really no question of my not loving Varric. As I mentioned in my Old Friends post though, I really wanted to see what had changed after DA2. I would argue that this is a more reflective Varric; Hawke questioned why Varric was mixed up with the Inquisition, and he acknowledges that initially he was there because Cass dragged him to Haven, but he also reveals that he sees how events have been shaped by his previous actions and, particularly, inaction, and there’s a lot of guilt over things he feels he could have prevented. He’s still the Storyteller (and chief architect of a memorable evening where Cullen lost his clothes playing Wicked Grace), but there’s a determination to affect the events he’d caught up in, and not just recount them. There is character growth, and yet he remains inimitably Varric. Bravo!
“Abelas means sorrow. I told him I hoped he’d find a new name.”
On the one hand I was determined to have Dalya romance Solas within the space of one flirt option, and on the other, I spent the entire game waiting for a sinister revelation. It will almost be a relief to play DAI again without that hanging over me. Solas was my first choice mage, partly because of how I specced him, but mainly because he consistently gave good banter. He could be harsh in his opinions, and arrogant about his knowledge, which of course all made much more sense when his true identity was revealed post-credits. While the reveal was less sinister than I’d expected, it has raised questions that will probably haunt me til DA4.
“Elfroot; do elves just call it ‘root’?”
Blackwall was a fantastic example of a Warden, even after the revelation that he wasn’t actually a Warden. His Inner Circle quest completely blindsided me; it wasn’t how I expected to find out about his past, and I had a really sick feeling the whole time I was trying to figure out how to rescue him. Rescuing him was never in doubt since he was a key member of my regular party. I also liked the little touch of his oft-mentioned friendship with Sera; he could be quite dour at times and the notion that he was friends with someone with that scatty a sense of humour tickled me.
“If I cry, I’m punching everyone.”
Poor Sera. My decision to play as an Elven archer, and the fact that I wanted to see the companions as intended, so didn’t spec her as a dagger-rogue, meant that she got very little screen time. Her childish humour isn’t my thing, her scattershot approach to conversation was often confusing, and I was never really clear why she had joined, other than to give me a lead on a Jar of Bees recipe. It also didn’t help that I kept forgetting to go and talk to her. That said, I think I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve done a non-archer playthrough – if I’m still not putting her in my party, then it really is her and not me.
“Failure is not a luxury we can afford, my dear.”
I have the utmost respect for Vivienne’s opinions on the Circle, but they were in direct opposition to the stance I had Dalya take, so it was almost impossible to win her approval; I’m surprised it stayed high enough that she didn’t just leave. I did enjoy her wit – right up until she was arrogant and condescending to my favourite companions, at which point I lost a lot of sympathy for her. Overall I thought she was fantastic though, as she made me veer from apoplectic rage at her treatment of Blackwall, to deep sympathy when she lost Bastien; she was wonderfully complex, and I look forward to spending more time with her.
“Looks like Dragon territory. Oh, this is gonna be good.”
Bull was one of those characters I knew I would like, and I therefore feel like I neglected him in the earlier part of the game to focus on characters I knew less about. I found his personal quest really difficult; I hated having to make a decision that either deprived him of his men or cut him off from the Qun. Having drunk with the Chargers I wasn’t about to sacrifice them, but it was hard hearing Bull worry about what becoming Tal-Vashoth might do to him. Taking him Dragon-hunting was so much fun, and the time he played mental chess with Solas in the Fallow Mire is going to stick with me – mostly because they made me feel so inadequate!
“What, you mean there’s no applause?”
Despite being just as arrogant as Vivienne, the trait never bothered me in Dorian. He was occasionally insulting, but it never felt calculating, rather just a product of his culture and upbringing; of course it also helps that he generally apologised when he realised he’d offended. My initial interest in Dorian was because he was a sympathetic Tevinter Magister, and I wanted to see how his view of the Empire tallied with Fenris’. While I suspect they might disagree on the merits of slavery, their accounts of life in Tevinter were in agreement. I appreciated the pride he took in his homeland though, and his determination to make it better. It also felt like a privilege to go with him to meet his father and help him work through that situation, and I think that cemented the feeling of him being a friend, meaning that he became someone Dalya would go and chat to when being Inquisitor felt like hard work. To hear him say at the end that he was staying with the Inquisition, because his best and only friend was there, made me feel doubly honoured.
“Just tell her. She’ll laugh, but then she’ll do it.”
Of everyone, save Varric, I knew the most about Cole, having read Asunder again in preparation for DAI. I was absolutely determined to keep him in the initial scuffle over what he was, and not just because he was the only dagger-wielding rogue I had – I wanted to know more. Yes, he says creepy stuff, but his joy at helping people was wonderful, and his fear over what the Venatori might be able to do to him was heartbreaking. His quest, where you have to choose whether he becomes more spirit or more human, was so difficult, not just because Solas and Varric are so invested in the opposing options, but because I was so scared that I would choose the wrong thing and hurt Cole. It was a relief to see how secure the decision made him feel, and one of the game moments I will most treasure is Cole telling Dalya what happened with Rhys, and thanking her for not turning away.