How Important Is Personality?

This week I read an interesting article on the FemHype website about some of the problems with DAI (Why the Backlash for ‘Dragon Age: Inquisition’?). One criticism in particular struck me: that the Inquisitor has “about as much personality as a tea towel”. The writer went on to say that one of the reasons that they had enjoyed DA2 was Hawke’s personality.

Hawke is certainly a more fully formed character than either the Warden or the Inquisitor. All Hawkes have one back story, with little to differentiate it beyond a few comments in a conversation with Aveline, the class-dependent loss of a sibling, and 3 distinct personality types: diplomatic, humorous, or aggressive. This makes Hawke a very easy character to inhabit, because we already know who she is, and the dialogue system’s default to the option most frequently used keeps that character consistent.

It also makes DA2 quite boring to replay. I’ve completed it maybe 6 times, in comparison to the 14 times I’ve completed DAO (and bear in mind I’ve never completed a dwarf playthrough, so it can’t just be attributed to the multiple races and origins). After the first couple of times, playing as Hawke felt like I was repeating myself; I was hemmed in by the decisions that had already been made about the character, and it was hard to weave in the imaginative threads of my own which made my Hawkes individual and distinct. 

The Inquisitor comes with minimal backstory. There are slight differences between the classes and races, and specific dialogue options and quests which open up as a result. Most of the dialogue options are the same, but with the expansion of the dialogue wheel to include ‘tone’ options when discussing many of the big decisions, I felt that I ended up with very different Inquisitors. More than that, the space in the story, allowed by the sparse biography and onus on the player to choose how far they wanted to explore their biography when talking to their companions, allowed me to give my imagination free reign.

I guess it comes down to how you enjoy role-playing. If you’re more focussed on the story decisions, then a character like Hawke may have more appeal; if you’re a control-freak like me, then a character that’s largely undetermined will probably suit you better.

I never felt like Hawke was truly mine; the Inquisitor is.