DLC Review: The Descent

I’m not one to buy DLC if it’s just additional weapons & what not, but large story campaigns certainly catch my eye.  So it was no surprise that last Christmas I asked for the GOTY Edition of Dragon Age: Inquisition, despite already owning the original version.  With all the game’s DLC included in the price of a regular game, including story campaigns & item packs, it was actually cheaper to buy a new copy than to buy each individual piece separately.  So I’ve been slowly working my way through a second playthrough, & last week I finished the first DLC campaign — The Descent.

dragon-age-inquisition-the-descentPlot: After reaching Haven, the Inquisitor receives a request for aid from Orzammar to help find the source of earthquakes that are tearing apart some of their lyrium mines.  Upon reaching the fissure, they travel with the Legion of the Dead & a Shaper through the exposed caverns filled with powerful Darkspawn & strange new enemies to the source, which appears to be something referred to as a Titan.

Adds:

  • 14 new quests
  • 2 companions, Shaper Valta & Legionnaire Renn, unkillable companions while you’re in the tunnels
  • 6 new enemy types, including modified & new Darkspawn & a boss
  • 1 new location with 6 explorable areas
  • 13 expeditions (War Table operations exclusive to the Deep Roads)
  • new weapons, armor & schematics
  • 4 new Achievements/Trophies: Deep Roads Commander (complete an expedition), Giant Slayer (kill the Alpha Ogre), Fact Finder (story) & Shaper of Stone (finish DLC)
  • Total gameplay time added: 6+ hours

Cost: $14 standalone

The_Descent_03Opinion: The first thing that comes to mind when I think back over The Descent is, “Man, it was hard.”  Although there’s no level recommendation for starting, the enemies all scale slightly above your current level.  To give an example, I was level 12 when I first entered, & the very first enemy I encountered was level 15.  This made for some of the toughest fights I’ve ever experienced in the game, even including boss fights.  But they were also some of the most enjoyable & rewarding.  Expect to get swarmed a lot.  There were several times when I couldn’t tell if the fodder enemies were simply going to respawn until I beat the bigger threats, or if they really did program that many enemies.  And I still can’t tell.  But, as I said, they were a lot of fun, & nothing that can’t be handled with a well-balanced team.  I think the team intended for it to be hard, because your new companions can’t die in a fight, meaning so long as one person on your team is alive, you’ll have three people fighting.

(For the sake of maintaining my integrity, I feel I have to admit that I cheesed the final boss fight.  The Guardian is a tough fight, mainly because it requires a lot of coordination & running around, which is difficult to do in a split-second, even with the tactical camera.  So after dying several times, my archer Inquisitor got knocked off the platformed & respawned in a place where the Guardian couldn’t attack me, allowing me to pick it off.  It’s possible (though I didn’t test it) that keeping a ranged character near the very edge of the platform can prevent the Guardian from attacking them.  So if anyone’s having difficulty, there’s a strategy.)

Part of what made it so rewarding was the loot.  This was both a blessing & a curse because a lot of the loot was higher level, meaning I can’t use the cool stuff I found.  But at least it gives me something to look forward to when I reach that level.  The new weapons & armor are nicely unique.  But again, it gives me the sense that this DLC is meant for near the endgame.  Between selling excess items & the gold dropped by enemies, I wound up with over 50,000 gold.

tumblr_nsy606eTau1r66d5go2_r1_1280The new areas you explore are interesting, & at times quite beautiful.  In particular I loved the Bastion of the Pure & the Wellspring.  The quests have a nice variety, varying from the main story quest to collecting things that actually serve a purpose (opening doors with more loot), & even a puzzle.  If I can give one piece of advice, it’s to use your Search ability whenever you can.  The areas can be quite dark, & the collectibles are often in odd places you wouldn’t think to check.  There are also new expeditions, which are basically War Table Operations you can only access from the Deep Roads table.  Most of them are pretty basic, such as opening new areas to explore, but a few are repeatable for resources.

If I had a complaint about The Descent, it would be with the story.  While overall it’s coherent & explores the lore in a way not previously seen, I couldn’t help feeling it didn’t really connect with the game world as a whole.  I think it was intended to flesh out where lyrium comes from, & maybe suggest that the Titan is the Stone, but those are just my interpretations.  None of that gets spelled out over the course of the story.  And I suspect that’s what the writers wanted.  The Inquisitor says as much at the end when they say they’re leaving with more questions than answers.  And while I’m still playing through the game, somehow I doubt the plot will affect the rest of my game.

So in the end, I have mixed feelings about this DLC.  While I certainly enjoyed the battles & the rewards, I feel the story is a bit lacking.  Had I actually paid the $15 for it on top of the game’s retail price, I think I might be a bit miffed.  I suppose it depends on what you’re looking for in a DLC.  If you’re looking for a fun way to spend more time with the Inquisition, it’s definitely got you covered.  But if you’re looking for something that expands on the story of the Inquisition, it’s a little too insular for that.  In the end, I feel like I can’t recommend it if you’re buying it on top of the full-priced game, but it’s fine as part of the price of the GOYT Edition.

-GamerDame

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