I think I’m in the minority when I say that I enjoyed the story for Dragon Age II. I like the idea of a normal person who gets swept up into events. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t think the game had some flaws. Even so, I’m still looking forward to Dragon Age: Inquisition. One of my main disappointments was how the game ended on such a major cliffhanger. While the game’s plot does, for the most part, wrap itself up, I feel like there should’ve been a screen with “To Be Continued…” at the very end. DA2 does come across as feeling like more of an interlude between two points than a full story. Hopefully Inquisition will help connect the stories of 1 & 2 while continuing on its own path.
With Inquisition scheduled to come out some time in Fall of next year, we’re slowly getting trickles of information about the game. I’ve been reading & watching the various news stories coming out from PAX Prime last week & I decided to talk about the factors that I found most interesting.
The first piece that I found really interesting is a mechanic BioWare is calling The Keep. This is a mechanic they’re working on to solve some of the problems that arise from importing save files. If you’re not aware, BioWare has used importing save files in both their Mass Effect & Dragon Age series. This allows players who have completed the previous games in the series to import this save data so that their characters & decisions in those games carry over, thus giving a feeling of consistency to the games. However, these imports aren’t perfect. Glitches & bugs are common. I’ve experienced a few myself. A common one in Mass Effect 2 was that no matter what you did in Mass Effect, you’ll always have Conrad Verner in your game, even though he’s only supposed to be there if you took the Renegade route. This made for some inconsistent experiences when Conrad accused my Shepard of putting a gun in his face — something my Paragon Shepard didn’t do even though I wanted to. There’s also an issue with the fact that importing saves will require cross-platform processing. The new console cycle brings some issues with importing saves, such as whether games stored to the memory of one console can be uploaded to their newer counterparts (which requires reverse compatibility). Plus, you always have people jumping ship when new consoles come out, so there may be people playing the new game on a different console than the previous games.
It’s unclear exactly what The Keep will entail. Will it be a list of all o f the decisions you can make in the previous two games? Will it be a flow chart type of file where certain combinations of major choices open or restrict others? Nothing’s clear yet, but it is an interesting idea. For instance, by using the Keep you can play around with the decisions you made in previous games without having to play them all over again if you wanted to try out a different experience. BioWare reps have also made a point to say they haven’t given up completely on the old-fashioned save imports. The Keep is still in development & they’re supposed to have a beta testing phase early in 2014. You can sign up for the chance to be a beta tester at dragonagekeep.com if you’re interested.
Moving on to the game proper, there are lots of exciting factors. While BioWare is still keeping a tight lid on the story, we do have a basic understanding of what’s going on. Players will take the role of someone trying to resurrect the Inquisition, an order that fights corruption across the land. A big part of Inquisition is building your organization, which includes dealing with the politics of the time, earning land & protecting your people. We also know that there’s a war going on between mages & Templars thanks to the events in DA2. And to top it all off, the Veil separated Thedas from the realm of demons & spirits has torn, allowing demons to flood the world. And with the Templars too busy fighting mages, it’ll be up to you to find a way to make things right.
Inquisition returns to the style of the original Origins by allowing you to pick your character’s race, & this time you can be a Qunari of either gender. The game is also supposed to be much more open-world based. According to the content shown at PAX, just one area in Inquisition is larger than all the areas of DA2 combined. It’s been confirmed that Kirkwall, Feredlen & Orlais will be accessible, at least to some extent. Older rumors suggest Orlais may be the epicenter of the game this time.
Inquisition also boasts a new combat system, which sounds like a mix between the previous two games. Origins’ combat had a turn-based or RTS feel to it. You selected an enemy & your character would attack without your input but you could use special attacks. Overall it had a more tactical feel to it. DA2 was more action-oriented, with you having to continually choose to act. Both systems have their flaws & bright spots. DA2’s system was more involving but could start to feel a bit… button-mashy after a while (especially if you were playing a rogue like I was), while Origins allowed for better battlefield control but could be a bit boring. According to interviews with the staff, Inquisition will give players the option of an over the shoulder camera or a more tactical view. I didn’t see any footage of this tactical camera, but I could imagine being able to pull the camera back to see the whole battlefield to better strategize. I hope they can marry the two systems together.
I’m looking forward to seeing more from Inquisition. Although I don’t rate Dragon Age as one of my top games, I’ve still enjoyed them both & am looking forward to continuing the story. If BioWare can deliver on the type of systems they’re promising I think it’ll be a great game for the next cycle.
I know a lot of people are still, let’s be honest, bitter about the whole Mass Effect 3 ending debacle. Yes, it was a very stupid decision, but in my eyes they’ve at least placated me with the Extended endings. I choose to wait & see how Inquisition turns out before automatically condemning it because I felt snubbed by the developers.