Dragon Age: Inquisition
Critic Reviews add missing review
Average score: 88% (based on 38 ratings)
Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 25 ratings with 1 reviews)
In my review of Dragon Age II I talked much about how the repetitive environments and the small size of Kirkwall sucked my enjoyment out of the game. No one could say the same thing about Dragon Age: Inquisition: It has a multitude of huge areas which are - with a few exceptions - a joy to look at and explore. It can't be overstated how well the environments are built. In fact, even over five years after release I am hard pressed to come up with a game with better looking areas.
BioWare also resisted the urge to force the player to visit all areas - I actually believe the majority are completely optional! This works towards the feeling of not being pushed into a certain direction and - at least for other player types than myself - leaves one free to abandon unwanted tasks. The main quests, on the other hand, are linear and spectacular and therefore are a welcome diversion from exploring.
Like all BioWare RPGs, the companions play an important part. Most of them are not vital to the main story, but they have unique personalities and are fun to speak to. Except for Sera, who I did not enjoy at all with the monkey-cheese humor and puns, but your mileage may vary. However, nine companions are a few too many: when you make the rounds after a main quest, you might spend over an hour with all new conversations. I think two companions per class would have been perfectly sufficient because there are two mechanical skill directions per class. However, as with Dragon Age II, the companion quests are the highlights of the game.
Unfortunately the big areas have a huge disadvantage: BioWare neglected to fill them with interesting content. Most have a flimsy excuse of a area main quest and otherwise just collection filler content. Because some other areas are not even interesting to look at (the Hissing Wastes, one of the two high-level areas, are an especially bad example of level design), the game would have been served better with cutting half of the areas and make more interesting content for the remaining.
The war table, one of the game's biggest advertised new mechanics, is a disappointment. The usage of real time is a free-to-play mechanic which has no place in a full price game because it leads to unnecessary disruptions (notifications of finished missions) which hurt immersion. It may even lead to the player interrupting their current occupation just to go back to the war table! At least this would be my concern if most stories weren't uninteresting and the rewards only a drop in the bucket. I played the game over the holiday season and had mostly longer playing sessions. Even after finishing all side quests, I still had not enough time to finish all war table missions before ending the main quest.
This leads to the power mechanic: besides the usual experience points, the player also earns power points which are used to unlock more areas and main quests. In my opinion, this is a poor gating mechanism: thorough players soon have more than enough power to last through the whole game while others are forced to do boring side quests in order to get to the good stuff.
I found it baffling how many inconveniences the game had which shouldn't occur in an AAA game: the UI is poor (for example, new codex entries are marked with so little contrast that they can't be easily noticed and the font is hard to read), the controls feel unpolished (the gamepad works better than mouse+keyboard, but still not perfectly) and navigating vertically is a pain because you can never tell if a slope can be jumped on or if it was treated with instant-slipping gel respectively invisible walls.
Combat is obviously supposed to be a mix between the tactical combat of Dragon Age: Origins and the action combat of DAII. Unfortunately this approach does not work very well because it combines the negative sides of both approaches without achieving their positives. At least on normal difficulty, combat is too easy to require any tactical thoughts except using the strongest abilities and healing potions; the hard enemies only take long to kill because they have a ton of health. On the other hand it misses the over-the-top effects of DAII and the characters have a less interesting character design which means it is also not very fun to look at. The tactical view does not work at all. I didn't need once and unfortunately this is a good thing: you can't zoom out enough and the cursor works like a physical character, i.e. you can't just move it over a slope, you actually have to make a detour over the walkway. It is unusable with mouse and keyboard and works only little better with gamepad.
The Bottom Line
It seems BioWare wanted to change everything people complained about in Dragon Age II, but unfortunately they went overboard. For every aspect they fixed, they broke something else. In the end, I did enjoy it more than DAII - but not as much I expected.
Windows · by Patrick Bregger (290109) · 2021