It’s so big…and pretty…and I think I’ve fallen in love with this game

Look, I’ll be honest, there isn’t going to be a review for Dragon Age Inquisition, simply because the game is too damn long, at nearly 150 hours. What there will be, is a semi-regular diary of what the game is like, the characters and decisions made and their ramifications throughout this epic adventure. There are plenty of reviews out there about how good the game is, if you want to read some.

I’ve managed about fifteen hours of play through Inquisition so far, with a female human dual dagger rogue. Mainly because I find tanking quite boring, and because Bioware’s dual dagger rogues have always been great fun to experiment with.

But first, the bad stuff

Before I say just how wonderful the game is, there are some gripes with it. It has to do with what I believe to be oversimplification. Bioware may have said that PC was the lead development platform, but I think the target audience was about ten they wanted to make the game as “accessible as possible”. Whatever that means, right? That’s because, when you level up, you can’t assign attribute points. They’re automatically added to your character when you unlock and learn new skills.

Look, I suppose I just come to expect that fantasy RPGs that are inspired by Dungeons and Dragons should have attribute point choices. But then, I loved the Mass Effect series, and that never let you do anything other than select skills which gave you passive buffs, much like in Inquisition. Perhaps this is an expectation thing rather than a design problem. If you’ve never played an old style RPG, then this won’t be an issue for you.

Next, are the changes to combat mechanisms. The main issue is the lack of an auto-attack unless you’re in Tactical View (which is brilliant, by the way). Both predecessors allowed you to auto-attack targets, allowing you control of the party in all situations, Tactical View be damned. Here though, you have to hold the stupid attack button most of the time. Please can we have auto-attack back outside of Tactical View? I’ll buy some more DLCs! I promise!

A lot of people have complained about the no healing spells thing. Well, aside from the irony that mages are depicted as completely being able to heal people in the game (seriously, there’s a scene where this is explicitly stated), it means that mages can focus on doing what they do best: elemental damage. Again, this is an adaptation of the Mass Effect health system where you had a limited number of healing potions and…well that was it. If you “died”, you could be revived by a team mate, which put a premium on thinking ahead in battles.

And now the good stuff

The good stuff is pretty much everything else. As I said, this first Inquisitor’s diary is based on about ten hours of the game, with very little of the story completed. I have, however, visited the first major area of the game, the Fereldan Hinterlands. Damn, it’s big. It’s so pretty, I could spend the day meandering through the environs. Of course, you’ll have to contend with all those pesky Templars and Mages having a big biffo with each other.

Then there’s also the demons and The Breach where they’re coming out by the bucketload. The story is essentially about saving the world, or seeing it burn. It depends on just how people push your buttons for pet peeves.

Aside from all the obvious stuff, there are lots of side quests, collectibles and people to hang out with. If you are so inclined, you can even spend your time collecting materiel for your war effort and basically deck out all our companions with custom weapons and armour.

Comparisons between this and Skyrim are pretty likely, and as far as I’m concerned, Inquisition manages the whole choice in a big wide world thing better. Yes, in Skyrim the world is just one big country, but it felt quite repetitive, especially in combat. It also felt quite lonely as you spend most of the time alone, without a party or anyone to banter with.

So where am I?

Before you read on, I must warn you that there are massive spoilers, and will continue to be as the story unfolds in my first playthrough.

The prologue, which is an hour long, feels like nothing compared to the rest of the prologue, which ends with an all out assault on your home base of Haven by the game’s Big Baddie, Corypheus. Now, if you’ve not played Dragon Age 2’s DLC package called Legacy, then you’ll have no idea who this guy is.

The real game doesn’t properly begin, in terms of the story or where you can go, until you reach Skyhold, a massive mountain fortress that’s been long forgotten by Thedas. How anybody could forget about this enormous structure is beyond my comprehension, but then I’m not all that good at finding things around my own house.

This then is where the story really begins, you have free run of the world of Thedas and begin to pick operations and areas to explore, as well as fashioning terrific weapons for you and your followers. Where the war room map was pretty sparse before the assault on Haven, it’s now full of options, and you can start them at your leisure. I’ve only just finished rescuing some of my soldiers from captivity in a bog filled with undead, for which I’m rewarded with this absolutely hilarious cutscene.

Thank you Bioware, this sort of thing makes up completely for fluffing the end of Mass Effect 3. Seriously.

Next time, on McMoron plays DA:I

More stuff, more story (hopefully) and more operations. Maybe there’ll be some character development too!

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