Why is it that in every single RPG storyline, everyone in power acts like a bunch of knuckleheads?!

The knuckleheads

Templars, mages, Frenchists Orlesians, Grey Wardens, the lot of them, all knuckleheads. They just want to cause trouble for you, despite the huge threat of an ancient, evil, mad darkspawn overlord with designs on godhood. And you’re supposed to put the world in its place, back together, so that people can play nicely again? On reflection, you just sometimes wonder if it’s all worth it.

But it is worth it, because the inquisition is full of good people, who want to see the world put back together, for themselves, their families and friends. And you have lots of friends too, your nine companions are akin to family, the kind that share you perils, victories and triumphs. They all have their own dreams and wants.

You even get to meet Hawke from Dragon Age 2 again! That said, he sounds like his life has been wearing on him in the time between then and now. Who could blame him really?

The companions

Upon reaching Skyhold, the massive fortress high in the mountains, we meet lots of new and some familiar faces. Dagna, the dwarf who you may have sent off to study lyrium back in Origins becomes your rune crafting specialist, and her chirpy attitude is not lost in the hub.

Your military and espionage advisors, Cullen and Leliana are familiar returning characters. While Leliana has definitely changed since Origins, into a much darker, reclusive, but no less capable woman, Cullen was never really a major character. Josephine, who is your diplomatic advisor is brand new.

But it’s the nine companions that really stand out. Playing as a dual wielding rogue, it’s my job to run around the battlefield in stealth and back stab people. Hopefully with critical hits. It’s a fun, but risky role, since you’re pretty squishy. And by squishy, I mean you can go from 100 percent health to 30 percent in one or two hits.

But you do have your tanking characters, who hold attention while you go in for the kill from the back. I have to admit that I didn’t like the snippet of Cassandra Pentaghast that was available in Dragon Age 2, mainly because interrogating Varric is not a nice thing to do. Speaking of Varric, he’s not as cheerful and enthusiastic as he was in Dragon Age 2, understandably.

But it’s interesting to have Cassandra’s character more flushed out, more complete, a great warrior who has a soft spot for romantic fiction. Who could have known? And her tense relationship with Varric isn’t helped by the revelation that Hawke, the person she most wanted to talk to in the world, was always just out of reach for her. You also have Warden Blackwall, a steadfast paragon of good, upholding right everywhere he goes.

The other major companions are a mixed bag. Iron Bull is great, all brawn and enthusiasm, wisecraking his way through cracking skulls. Dorian, the first openly gay mage in Dragon Age is hilarious and sarcastic, but wonderfully down to earth. On the other hand, Vivienne’s posh and uptight personality grates. This is why I never take her out of Skyhold.

Sera is probably the most scattergun character I’ve ever seen, her introduction in Val Royeaux is a highlight, and her attitude and motivation is hilarious. She literally talks like a British bogan, what with growing up a pauper on the streets of Fereldan and all. The last two, Solas the Strangely Calm Elf and Cole the Strangely Strange Kid, are not particularly interesting (yet), but are useful additions to the crew at least.

Playing with bits and pieces

As I’m finally getting used to the new PC combat system, I find switching between the tactical view and the action view depending on the complexity of the fight is very useful. However, the AI is not particularly good, because you’ll inevitably get one of your archers or mages running directly into the melee going on between your melee characters and whatever unsavoury happens to be the mob of the moment. Frustrating to say the least.

Needless to say, there does need to be a little bit of baby sitting, but if I discover whether that behaviour can be changed, I’ll let you know. Maybe a bit of tweaking in the castrated Tactics Screen is required.

On the other hand, I really like the crafting system, it’s easy, intuitive and really forces you to think ahead and be careful of not wasting resources constantly. The upgrades system that is part of crafting is also very good, giving you visual and statistical cues as to what your new kit can do. Of course, this means that you’ll be forever chasing after that ultimate material for your next big piece of kit.

 

Next time, on McMoron plays DA:I

More of the plot, regions and killing some dragons. Hopefully.

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