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Three and a half years may as well be a lifetime in the video game industry. That’s about how long it’s been since we last saw an installment in the Dragon Age franchise, and we’ve seen critically acclaimed RPGs take many different directions since then. We’ve hiked the open (and often hilariously glitchy A Hearty Collection of Funny Skyrim Parodies & Videos [Stuff to Watch] A Hearty Collection of Funny Skyrim Parodies & Videos [Stuff to Watch] All good things must be mocked, and the latest epic fantasy RPG from Bethesda is no different. Today we’ve got a selection of parodies and in-game videos that will hopefully amuse, inspire and tickle you... Read More ) world of Skyrim, survived the savage expeditions of two Dark Souls games, and taken a trip back to old school PC RPG gameplay in Divinity: Original Sin.

When you play Dragon Age: Inquisition, you’ll see shades of all of these RPGs and more, tied together with developer Bioware’s time-tested storytelling skills. Can Inquisition carve out a unique identity among all of the RPGs it strives to imitate?

Thrust Into Greatness

Dragon-Age-Fade-Rift
Inquisition opens to your custom made hero crawling from the aftermath of a magical catastrophe. You’ll soon learn that you’re more than just a lucky lone survivor. Fade rifts are splitting open all across Thedas, pouring supernatural horrors into the world. You alone bear a magical brand on your palm that grants you the power to seal said rifts back up.

You’re quickly recruited by The Inquisition to aid their quest to cancel the apocalypse, but they’re not the only ones eager to put your power to use. Soon you have the attention of everyone from desperate commoners and crafty politicians to mad wizards and admiring adventurers. They all want a piece of you, some figuratively, others literally, and no amount of running from your strange power can keep you out of the limelight. Whether you accept your new lot in life with a selfish hunger for power, a benevolent vision for all mankind, or something in between, the choice is yours and it will impact the world in meaningful ways

The main story will take you several dozen hours to complete, and it’s home to incredible environments, memorable decisions, and riveting gameplay. You’ll assault keeps, attend a masquerade ball rife with intrigue, and stare down hulking dragons before it’s all over, and the rush of facing it all with your personal Inquisitor will leave you hungry for more.

For added personal investment, you can even build custom world states from all of the critical decision points in prior games at Dragon Age Keep. The feature isn’t descriptive enough to give new players enough context to make informed decisions, but hardcore Dragon Age fans will love the ability to tailor their world’s history without needing a save file.

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A World Of Adventure

Dragon-Age-Landscape
Inquisition turns you loose in a world of fantasy adventure very early, and you’re almost never tied down to a single destination to explore. Thedas is composed of discrete zones as opposed to Skyrim’s continuous open world, and the result is a game that feels satisfyingly vast. You’ll wander the verdant valleys of The Hinterlands one moment, and fast travel to the desolate deserts of The Western Approach the next. Load times are long during these transitions, but when they finish, you’ll have a huge, beautiful zone to seamlessly explore.

There’s a lot to do in each zone, but none of the open world adventuring Completed GTA V? 7 More Open Worlds To Play Through Completed GTA V? 7 More Open Worlds To Play Through So you've ploughed all your spare time into beating GTA V but still have that open world itch? Good news, we've assembled 8 of our favourite sandbox games to play through next. Read More holds a candle to the main story set pieces and adventures that flesh out your allies. This free roaming content is where Inquisition actually stumbles a bit. You’ll have to do a fair portion of it to gain Power, a political currency you spend to open new zones. Bioware has crafted amazing encounters, endearing characters, and engaging moral and ethical questions that come together to make the main storyline’s finest and most memorable moments. It’s a shame that you’ll almost certainly come to a point at which you’re hungry for the next chapter, but you won’t have enough Power in the bank to open the new zone.

At that point, you have no choice but to head back into the game’s more generic content, a subset of which is identical in each zone. Closing your 3rd open world fade rift is a thrilling feat. Closing your 23rd one is a chore. Likewise with collecting shards, and when Varric, your wisecracking Dwarf companion, quips, “Who makes a lock that requires this many keys,” it’s not particularly funny when the answer is, “Bioware.” You could focus on only the more interesting tasks in each zone, but as you stumble across the ordinary quests, concerns about having enough Power to keep things moving will likely nudge you toward the dull-but-efficient route of completing anything that crosses your path.

To Arms!

Dragon-Age-Combat
There’s a lot of combat in Inquisition, so you’ll be relieved to hear that it’s exciting and challenging. Part of the challenge comes from the fact that there’s no healing magic in the game. Instead you’ll have to rely on your camps in the open world, and supply caches in story missions, to refill a limited stash of potions as you adventure. Without unlimited healing, you’ll need to make smart use of defensive tools to avoid succumbing to attrition, and Inquisition definitely provides.

Both Guard and Barrier effects can provide you an extra pool of points that deplete before enemies can deal damage to your health. You can also taunt, guard, dodge, and slip into stealth to mitigate even more damage. It’s tough to keep track of it all across four party members at once, but those who master it can spend way more time in the field before returning home to patch their wounds.

Though Inquisition’s combat has you controlling one character in real time by default, it’s hard to get a grasp of everything on the battlefield from that perspective, particularly if you’re wading into the crowd as a warrior class character. Thankfully, you can view the battle from an overhead tactical perspective, issuing commands to your whole party and advancing time at the push of a button. It’s a welcome feature, as you’re only given a few limited tools to shape the behavior of your AI companions, and it’s all but required to win the game’s harder battles. The further I got into the game, the more I favored the tactical battle mode. You’ll just come out of battle in better condition if you use it.

You Are The Inquisitor

Dragon-Age-War-Room
Back at your headquarters, Inquisition does a spectacular job of making you feel like a powerful ruler. From your war room, you’ll preside over a grand map of the continent, and your commander, ambassador, and spymaster can dispatch agents to the far corners of Thedas at your command. Need more resources for crafting? Send your troops to gather them. Did you find a shattered bridge on your latest expedition? Have your engineers rebuild it to open more of the zone.

You’ll also play puppetmaster from the war room, issuing commands to have rulers taken out of power, or dropping a hint that a cocky noble family had best stop implying they have an alliance with you if they value their health.

As you grow in power, so will your holdings grow in complexity. There’s a wide array of upgrades to unlock for your keep, from simple cosmetic changes, to crafting schematics critical to building exactly the weapons and armor you want. Your Influence, a counterpart to the Power resource described above, accumulates at your headquarters as well, and earns you perk points that can do everything from expanding your inventory size to opening themed conversation options on topics like history and magic. If you love scrounging for resources to gain every little upgrade for your empire, Inquisition will give you plenty to do.

Another exciting perk of being the Inquisitor is your ability to dispense summary justice from your throne. Personal enemies will be dragged before you, and you’ll need to decide how to deal with them. Whatever you do makes a statement about your rule, and your allies will applaud or resent your decisions according to their tastes. How will you sentence someone who did terrible things under the influence of dark magic, and begs to die for it? Are you willing to execute criminals, or is that off the table no matter how remorseless the guilty party? If your friends play Inquisition too, comparing answers could lead to fascinating conversations.

The Inner Circle

Dragon-Age-Josephine
Without a doubt, the real stars of Inquisition are your companions, and every last one of them benefits from stellar writing and voice work. There’s enough variety among them that you’re sure to find a few with whom you identify, whether you’re a fan of The Iron Bull’s sincere brotherhood, Josephine’s dutiful attention to family obligations, or Vivienne’s haughty noble air. Among companions that can adventure with you, lighthearted incidental banter keeps things fresh, and sometimes even accounts for combinations of 3 party members at once.

As is Bioware’s custom, all of these companions have detailed story arcs that you can follow to gain their greater loyalty, or even love. I could go on and on about specifics but I don’t dare risk spoiling any of the funniest and most sincere moments I’ve seen in video games. Whether you’re determined to complete every companion’s tasks the first time through, or you just pick a few favorites is up to you. There’s certainly an argument for saving a few of those arcs for a second or third playthrough.

Conclusion

The few things that don’t work in Inquisition are far outweighed by the numerous things it does right. The story is simultaneously epic and personal, the cast is endearing and sympathetic, and character customization gives you strong control over your playstyle for the game’s detailed combat.

New players may miss some references to the two prior games, but never too dependent on its predecessors to be understood, and longtime fans will revel in the references to adventures past.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is out now. Don’t miss it!

Have you been counting down the days to Inquisition’s release, or will you be letting this one pass you by? Let our community know your take on the latest Dragon Age in the comments!

Prefer your RPGs more old school? Check out these options on PC Old School PC RPGs Are Coming Back And These 4 Games Lead The Charge Old School PC RPGs Are Coming Back And These 4 Games Lead The Charge A number of developers are making games that will remind you of everything you loved about the classics, but with modern presentation and design ideas that can pique the interest of a new generation. Read More , including one we’re still waiting for!

  1. dark
    April 10, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    I am thinking about buying this game because I really like these type of games but I am seeing that a lot of people think that this game is not worth buying which makes me wonder if I should really buy this game I like the places and I heard that the story is very interesting the only thing I am not sure that I will like is the combat system , I purchased dragons dogma and played it for a very long time and I really like the game , and I am really think that I will enjoy DAI
    but again many people on the internet saying that they disappointed about it so I am not sure
    can anyone help me decide?

  2. Amsterdammer
    April 5, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    For those who are complaining about crashes, fps stutters and bad lightning. That's on you!
    I run this game on max settings at 60fps in 1080p just smooth. Both with Mantle and dx11.

    After 50+ hours played, I'm still enjoying DA:I.
    I have never played the previous 2 installments and as far as I can tell, I didn't miss much.

    The only gripe I have is the controls and targeting mechanic. I find myself using tactical view more than often. However, you'll get used to that.

    Overall, I do recommend this game for everyone who likes playing rpg's.

  3. Anonymous
    January 23, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    I have never played a dragon age game or anything of the sort in my life, ever. But looks very fun and interesting. Would I be totally lost if I were to just pick us this inquision game and start playing? What would some tips be? Many thanks.

    • Robert Wiesehan
      January 25, 2015 at 9:11 pm

      You'll understand enough to know what's going on in the immediate story. I hadn't played the two prior games, so there were moments and references that were lost on me at times, but it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the main story and gameplay.

      I hope you enjoy it!

  4. Dale
    January 6, 2015 at 5:09 am

    How much did WA Origins pay you to write this drivel? This game is ultra glitchy-there are problems they cant solve with AMD Radeon graphic cards, game freezes, Direct X crashes, PC that start to just not move, no sound, no video, are just the beginning! Bioware says a resounding _NOTHING!!! This game was released at least 6 month early-Bioware should be ashamed!

  5. Clark
    November 25, 2014 at 3:39 am

    Everything about Origin leaves me disgusted. Looks like I'm either passing on this game or pirating it.

  6. Ken
    November 23, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    I've been playing this game since it released on xbox one and I am highly disappointed on some of the gameplay you love a very slowly which can get quite annoying compare to you level up instantly when you play multiplayer online.you don't come across any good weapons barely also a lot of the armor is kind of weak I feel that the multiplayer part of the game is more interesting than the story line in the game I've played this game forcefully and I'm only a level 8 character and I have done nearly all the side missions constantly killing anything that comes around to give XP XP points and still a level 8. I'm selling this game and picking something else, should have picked Halo or something less boring really.

  7. sedrik
    November 21, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    The game is HORRIBLE.
    Constant crashes on the PC.
    The huge visual bugs.
    The awful lightning in any room, especially dark places.
    The horrible faces of al characters.
    The terrible controls.
    The very badly designed tactical fight.
    I fight with myself to keep playing the game.
    The story is good, the playability of the game seems ok.
    But the constant crashes makes it unable to pay.
    The games is clutter and totally NOT smooth.
    And over all of that, the same computer that runs Shadow of Mordor at max graphics extremely smoothly, with way way better graphics then this crap DAI graphics, is barely able to play Inquisition on medium settings.
    This is a NO BUY game. Wait 5-10 more patches and maybe then we will have a real game.

    • Crux
      November 25, 2014 at 7:24 am

      I play on PC, I just finished my main story, a save file with 127+ hours....not one crash, little to no visual bugs. I run it all on ultra, with dx11 (mantle seemed too unstable).
      I say it's likely your computer...SoM might have had GOOD graphics, but they were more "real" and less fantasy/cinimatic. Your hate is obvious...but I believe the majority of DAI's graphics exceed SoM (I loved SoM though, however it took me no time to beat...I got more bang for my buck with DAI, as well as seeing my choices from Origins and 2 effect the game).
      This game is amazing, and had a very smooth launch, decent operation, and very few bugs...I'm sorry that's not the same on your rig...I know consoles are having some issues too...just glad I built my own rig and know it in and out.

  8. Ken
    November 21, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    I've been an avid gamer since the early to late 80's on computers(Yes the C64 Days.) The first 4-10 hours is just the Prologue to the game, not the actual game itself. It's just something for you to get your feet wet and somewhat of a lil standing on the ground aspect of it. The banter is still there. The biggest improvement I would like to see, is the combat control more refined. It's just that with games, no matter how many someone tries to please, you will always have naysayers about it. Can't please everyone. I kind of prefer not having to fetch gifts and suck up to other characters for the romance aspect of it. They just broadened the scope of it to make it more realistic persay.

    The graphics are vastly superior to the other 2 DAO's imo, especially with a high end PC running it. At first I didn't like using an Xbox controller on my PC, but after a break in period, I find it actually more manageable to key mapping etc.. Once one figures out all the lil ins/out and nuances of the game, I think they will find it more enjoyable and pleasant.. Just because one can find it tedious, complex, confusing and non informative at times, just stick with it, till you get the kinks worked out and it will reward you for it...

  9. pbrna
    November 21, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    I have been playing this game nonstop and i think the fact that i pre ordered the digital download andi could only play the very first part up to the farm quests for the first 2 days sureto Internetlatency outage yet annoying may have helped me due to the fact i have had more then enough power to continue with the story at will and I'm in love with this game and every aspect i think they did an awesome job at keeping the old DA feel yet growing and expanding. I love how the story fits so well and I really feel like I'm playing a sequel and not an entirely new game all together and the sequel is in my opinion rarely better then the originals bio ware knocked this one out of the park for me. And i understand you not completely agreeing with the side quests but to mei love it it isa way too farm without repeating the exact same things over and over albeit very similar still enough Suttle differences to keep me plugging along. Great review thanks for that and glad to see I'm not the only one to like it so hopefully the franchise will continue on.

    • si
      November 26, 2014 at 1:27 am

      you can play the single player portion, aside form uploading and downloading files without being on the internet. latency shouldn't affect you at all. if you're having other kinds of issues, it probably has nothing to do with internet.

  10. Kris
    November 21, 2014 at 5:07 am

    Dragon Age: Inquistion is my first foray into this line of games, and I admit that I nearly threw in the towel and returned to Shadow of Mordor about 4 hours in.
    But I perservered through the challenges of learning the tactics, mapping tactics to keys, inventory management, ability selection, etc., and now am having a good time with the game.
    This is certainly one of the more complex strategy/RP games that is out there, but the complexity is rewarding as well in its richness of development. I am well-pleased.

    • Robert
      November 21, 2014 at 9:25 pm

      Glad to hear you're enjoying it! There's a lot of game ahead of you once the exposition gets out of the way.

  11. Robert
    November 19, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    I'm bummed for those of you having a bad experience with the game. As with any entertainment experience, enjoyment will be specific to your tastes. If you're looking for something with a more old school feel, make sure you check out that link to another MakeUseOf piece at the bottom of the article. Hope you find something you like!

  12. Crushed Dragon Age Fan
    November 19, 2014 at 7:50 am

    Sadly, the game does not live up to the hype. I've been looking forward to this game since it was announced. I preordered it and went in with the best of hopes. After several hours of having to force myself to keep playing, I finally gave up and am uninstalling it. Horrible control (ps4 version), with no real options of remapping keys to make it better. Once again, the dialog options (at least the ones I chose) rarely give you the type of response you're going for (I was trying to RP, but I guess that wasn't a priority). The UI has no redeeming qualities, at all. The inventory/skill area is so bad that it MUST have been intentionally designed to annoy people (that's the only theory I've got for that). Combat is not engaging, and left me disappointed (I tried both rouge and mage). Even the skills have no oomph behind them. You rarely have any idea who your fighting unless one of the NPCs decides to make a comment that clues you in, which means there's less personal connection to the people you're killing. If i'm going to kill something (I would at least like to have some idea of who they are: bandit, lord bad guy's henchmen, darkspawn, apostate mages, templars, ect.) The weather effects are notably bad, and the lighting in dark areas is even worse. The team made the loot icon less of an eye sore, but decided to take it further and it is so small and unobtrusive that It actually difficult to notice. The give plenty of instructions throughout the begining, of course they are generic and only helpful sometimes, and they completely leave out instructions for the things you want to understand (have I mentioned the horrible inventory system yet). As for the graphics, the views are awesome, but the smaller items are hit and miss. The people (ALL of the people) have down graded graphics from the first two. They all look much worse than the first two games. There are many many options for character creation, unfortunately, nothing you do will make your character look very good, let alone stand out. Even the over all storyline (at least as far as I've gotten into it) has failed to pull me in, or care for any of the characters. It has made me hate a few of them, which I guess is saying something. The first two games made me want to keep playing, made me want to see how things turned out, made me laugh, or smile when companions bantered. After a couple of hours into this, I don't even care how the story will turn out (with or without choices). It feels like they tried to fix everything that wasn't great in the first two games (and succeeded to varying degrees with it) and then they took everything that was great in the first two games and decided to try something different with it (and screwed most, if not all, of that up). I feel so very let down after playing this game. I would recommend not wasting your money on this.

    • Smilee Phace
      November 19, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      I totally agree.
      Very disappointed. It's annoying, confusing, --I could go on. I guess if I want to play the best in the series, I will go back and play Origins over and over. *sad face*

  13. Ben S
    November 19, 2014 at 12:46 am

    This game is far too meaty for me to add into my queue (I've been excited for Far Cry 4 for months; can't wait to play it) but I love the idea of the game!

    Great review, Rob. I'm sure it's monstrously tough to review a game of such massive scope.

    • Robert Wiesehan
      November 19, 2014 at 1:18 am

      It was a marathon for sure, Ben. After five 10+ hour days of DA, I'm ready for a break in spite of how good it was. Thanks!

  14. likefunbutnot
    November 18, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    I'm incredibly disappointed that DA:I is am Origin title. I strongly dislike content-delivery-as-DRM, especially for single player games with no network component, and I have even less interest in gaming using a console. I suppose the answer for me will be either YouTube Let's Play videos or Piracy, because the way the game is being offered is entirely unacceptable. I very much enjoy the lore and coherent world being built in the Dragon Age titles, but even if the game were otherwise free I wouldn't allow Origin to run on one of my computers.

    • Robert Wiesehan
      November 19, 2014 at 1:16 am

      For what it's worth, Inquisition does have network features, such as the multiplayer (which I was unable to try during any of the pre-release play sessions) and the interactivity with Dragon Age Keep as described above. Also, when my connection to Origin was periodically disrupted during play, the only consequence was a single popup notification telling me I'd been disconnected. At no point did losing connectivity prevent me from continuing to play.

      I appreciate that Origin is inconvenient, and yet another service to sign into to get to your games, but I wouldn't let that stop you from playing Inquisition. Origin's interactivity had no effect at all on my play experience. All the best to you, whatever you decide to do.

  15. Michael Scoates
    November 18, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    I've been counting down ever since I watched Bioware play a little of the multiplayer on Twitch. Since then I've caught a little single player on YouTube and elsewhere, but mainly my preorder was down to "it's a Bioware RPG" and RPG is my favourite genre. Bioware, to me, are the masters of Western RPGs so I know it's a good buy. Should be with me on Friday. Not sure when I'll next be online after that :)

    • Robert Wiesehan
      November 19, 2014 at 1:09 am

      Enjoy it! If a Bioware RPG is what you're looking for, there's plenty of it in Inquisition.

    • Sugram22
      November 24, 2014 at 4:54 pm

      if u want to build ur past in Keep page & import it from there to ur game go ahed, cause u cant iport save from DA2, u need to build it in Dragon Age Keep, i find it annoyin, i wont buy it if they don't add the old import save option what we all know & like to DAI

    • Sugram22
      November 24, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      (FIX)
      Import

    • Sugram22
      November 24, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      in other words u build ur save in Dragon age Keep, like character creation, but u will be stuck there making ur choices hours, i find it annoying, That Keep BS lovers game value in my eyes, so cause of that Keep BS its noth worth the money they ask right new

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