CAUTION – This post contains spoilers for Dragon Age: Inquisition. Check out the Dragon Age website for information on the game.
I feel I should preface this post by saying that overall I loved DAI, and will be replaying it multiple times. Also this is not a comprehensive review; I’m simply giving my thoughts on a few things that stood out for me in my first playthrough.
By which I mean the things I most enjoyed about the game.
Should I ask the Mages or the Templars for help? Should I leave Hawke or Stroud in the Fade? Should I save the Chargers or the alliance with the Qunari? Should Cole become more spirit or more person? Who should drink from the Well? DAI felt like a roller coaster of difficult choices. Some looked easy on the surface (I’m not sure I could ever leave the Chargers to die), but the potential outcome made them feel costly. I’m now partway into my second playthrough, and already seeing how different the results of the different choices can be. The decisions are difficult and the results feel more than aesthetic. It’s very satisfying.
The War Table
The Awakenings expansion gave a taste of what it might be like to run an organisation, but DAI took it to another level, and the War Table was at the heart of it. Maximising the efficiency of the War Table by picking the right Advisors for the right mission at the right time is probably a game in itself. I loved that operations opened up in a range of ways: by talking to companions and random npcs; by finding things out in the world; or in response to other completed operations and quests. It was also an excellent way to interact with decisions and characters from the previous games without a ridiculous number of cameos.
While I did have a preferred party (affectionately known as the A-Team), the banter kept me rotating the party members. Whether it was Vivienne announcing that Bull needed a jewelled eye-patch, Varric grousing about being outdoors (or near anything remotely Dwarven), or Cole freaking people out, there was always something to make me snort with laughter. At times the banter took a serious turn, and the companion’s opinions on events and each other gave character insight beyond what could be gained in direct conversation. I would be hard pressed to pick a favourite, but Bull explaining the merits of practical armour for female warriors, and Blackwall asking Solas just how far his ‘knowledge’ of spirits extends (“Seriously? Are you 12?”) are definitely up there.
I am fully aware that these are nit picky things that should probably be labelled annoyances, but I have a catchy title and I’m sticking to it.
Generally in DA combat I do just use what’s mapped to the buttons, but toward the end of a game, when I have more abilities than I can map, I’m used to being able to access them from the radial menu. This function seems to have disappeared from DAI, and I’m not clear on why. By the time I had Mark of the Rift and a specialisation I felt like I was forever shuffling abilities around and never getting to use half of them.
It’s probably unfair to label this ‘crafting’ since I mostly enjoyed being able to craft in this game. That said, it was fairly unhelpful that I couldn’t compare what I was crafting to the armour the character had equipped. On several occasions (especially early on) I crafted things only to find they weren’t as good as the armour or weapons already equipped. And yes, I could sell what I’d crafted, but it felt like a waste of time that could have been spent questing.
If it’s junk, could it not just be labelled junk? Instead, research items, requisition items, items moved for sale, masterwork crafting items, and junk were all under one heading. Some things had clear descriptions that made it obvious I should keep them, but on a few occasions I sold things that looked like junk only to find I could have used them to fill a requisition. My inventory often ended up clogged with things I wasn’t sure I needed, and I can’t help feeling that schematics and recipes, which I almost never looked at in the inventory screen, didn’t need to be separated out so much as the random assortment labelled ‘Valuables’.
And then there are things I just found quite odd.
I hit the achievement for 50000 gold long before I finished the game. Given the option to craft, and the huge amount of crafting materials just lying around, most of the weapons and armour I looted got sold. I don’t think I bought that many schematics either. I guess if I’d wanted to buy mounts then that would eat into it, but I barely used the ones I got for free. It just seemed like I ended up with a lot of money and not a lot to spend it on. I can only conclude that this is for the benefit of people who don’t compulsively collect every elfroot and scrap of metal they see.
Skyhold is huge. Huge. Like, it took me several days to notice the wine cellar huge. The 3 upgrade requisitions I found on arrival did take me a little while to complete as I was really bad at finding quarries and logging stands, but I was expecting, given the number of quarries and logging stands out in the world, to get more upgrade requisitions once I’d done those. But no. Also I’m still not sure what effect the courtyard upgrade had because the courtyard never visibly changed.
The Eluvians, through Masked Empire, Last Court, and Morrigan’s introduction of them, feel like a grand set-up that kind of fizzled out into ‘Ooh, a handy escape route back to Skyhold’. Perhaps the whole thing was misdirection to give the Mythal reveal more punch, but I really expected more use to be made of them. Hopefully Eluvians will come into play in future installments, but as Briala has control of most of them, and can be executed in DAI, it seems unlikely they’ll play a big part.