Time for another game review time for Dragon Age Inquisition for those who don't know DAI is Bioware's latest fantasy RPG. So now Bioware give us another good RPG or they finally managed to deliver the Dragon Age Game fans have been waiting for, lets see and begin.
At the beginning the main plot is a classic good versus evil story mixed with a little of the chosen one storyline. The story could seem a little simple almost cliché in some aspects but it works really well because is the characters and side plots what really make it shine. It starts a bit slow but after the first act the game really gets a lot better.
The game begins with a peace meeting made to stop a war but in the middle of it catastrophe hits and the entire place blow up literally creating a hole in the fabric of the universe called "The Breach". Your character is found to be the only survivor and the only one who can save the world. For this you need to gather and army taking advantage that you are the only one who can close The Breach and also a lot of people begin to consider you some kind of savior. The game starts where Dragon Age II ended with most of the events of this game being a consequence of the events of DA2. For fans and people who have played previous games the story plays perfectly as you encounter lots of characters from previous games and the story mentions several events from this games. As I said before as the game advances the plot gains strength with tons of side quest, subplots and more.
The only downside is that for newcomers the story can be a little difficult to grasp at first but Bioware give us several solutions. The first one is the codex, practically an ingame encyclopedia with all the extra information you can need in case you need to understand better some parts of the game. The other is the " Dragon Age Keep" a web page where you can make a recap of the events of previous games, it also allows to modified them end export this decisions and changes to the game. It also works for people who played previous games to export to the game most of the decisions the took in previous games, which ones have some impact in how the story and world of DAI develops.
Now lets talk about the gameplay, now given that the game is so big and with so much different elements I will treat each one individually.
Open world mechanics.
The game has been portrayed as an open world game so it seems fair to judge how well the game gives the illusion of being a virtual world instead of just another game.
First of all I must say Bioware made and excellent work in this aspect. The design of the different maps, they are huge, big enough so they feel like a part of the world and not like a level of any other game. Also the different areas are not limited by invisible walls but by the geography of the area making it look more real. Even the loading screens are disguised you can exit a map through the menu but if you walk to the end of a map you will find physical exits like bridges, a pass through the mountains etc. even if you still has to endure a loading screen this details make the different areas feel connected, this is also helped by the fact that loading screens are really short usually just a couple of seconds a minute top and just in rare cases.
The game world also doesn't feel empty, as you wander the roads you'll find side quests, animals, other people. Even enemies aren't there just waiting to be killed you find lots of enemies doing different things, for example bandits guarding a road, enemies fighting each other mostly ignoring the player unless you enter the fight and lots of other things. Another example is dragons which are considered to be high level bosses but still you can enter their lairs and fight them, I found one in the first couple of hours and get myself obliterated by the dragon.
Virtual people living they lives, enemy and friendly soldiers patrolling the roads, wolfs hunting other animals, even your companions entering conversations as you wander the world, there are so many things that is difficult to mention them all. The only limiting factor is that the game begins a bit slow and that all the areas aren't open to you since the beginning. This in part is to give some direction to the plot, also it fits the logic of the game, as you advance you are given a resource called "power" that is a measure of your military capacity this is expend to send troops to secure roads and scout new locations unlocking new areas for the player to explore. As I say this limits a bit the open world experience of the game but also fits nicely with the logic of it's universe and plot. You know with the war and you trying to build an army and all of that stuff.
The combat in Dragon Age Inquisition is in third person view and you usually fight along a group of other three characters. The system is really similar to the one in Dragon Age 2, you and your allies have different abilities depending on your class and you can control any character you want and fight like in a hack and slash game.
The combat is fast, entertaining and difficult enough. There are some gimmicks though, first and returning from previous games is the wheel menu, that is that you can pause the game at any time and a semitransparent wheel menu appears. With it you can issue some basic instructions to your party, drink potions and do other things. This is mainly to be used as a complement of the combat so the action doesn't breaks to much as you give orders, change characters or heal.
The second important and new element is the tactical camera in this at the click of a button the game pauses the camera zooms out and you control a cursor like in a computer game, with this you can control your character in more precise way, issue commands, analyze the terrain and enemies and plan your strategy. The cool thing is that once you have planed your strategy you hold a button and time starts advancing and you can see how your strategy develops. you need to change something no problem you release the play button time stops you change things give new orders and you can press the play button again.
The good thing is that you can play in real time or with the tactical camera depending on your preferences, some RPG lovers would find the camera perfect others more action loving players could use the real time way and enjoy the game equally.
Like any role playing game this Dragon Age needs to have some characteristics and elements proper of the genre. Mostly in the way of customization and progression of the characters and the game, in this aspect there are several changes respect the previous games most of them are improvements.
The biggest improvement is that you have much more choices with your character, you can choose between four races dwarfs, elves, humans and qunari. Then you can customize your character appearance with a pretty good and intuitive system and then chose a class between warrior, rogue or mage. Something you will notice is that most of the characters in the game will react different depending of what race and class you choose, that's pretty cool.
A feature returning from Dragon Age Origins and better than ever is the crafting system, this allows you to create lots of things, potions, armor, weapons and also upgrades for all of these. Considering how much you can create the system is quite simple, you get materials and you get the schematic for the item to crate. Like potions are consumed more often usually they use plants that are found quite easily and rarer plants are used just to permanently improve your potions. Weapons and armor are much more fun to create they use three kinds of materials metal, leather and cloth. Each possible material you use give some properties to the item like bonus damage or defense the most rare, expensive and powerful the materials you use the stronger the item. All this gives tons of possibilities to the system also potions and schematics don't get useless as you level up as you can just use better materials. The system also it allows to create items specific to each character and playing style.
Talking about the abilities here I have a fan complain, it's not really a problem but is worth mentioning because those who played previous games can find it annoying. In the first several hours of the game the number of abilities at your disposal seems too few, also you can't control how your character level up and the way you can program the behavior of your companions AI seem oversimplified. This seems a downgrade compared to previous games, but as you advance and specially after you get your castle and you get the specialization abilities for the different characters. It is just until then that the new system shines and you see is better balanced than in previous games. As an example in previous games you were always have to had a tank, a healer and a rogue in your team limiting your options in building your team, now the abilities are better balanced so you can have a more varied team without endangering your chances of survival. As I said this is not really a problem and is something probably only those who played the previous games will notice.
Yes, you hear it right this dragon Age has a multiplayer mode. The idea behind this is simple, you can choose between several different characters three of each class and each of them with different abilities. Then you form a team with other 3 players and fight against lots of enemies. The game is almost always the same, you begin in one part of the map and advance through several rooms, corridors, halls, gardens and other places. The total path you must walk to complete the game gets divided in 5 stages and after each stage you get the chance to heal and revive fallen comrades. Right now there are three maps but with each match the path the players need to complete changes randomly. Also some visuals of the map could change depending of the faction of enemies you will be fighting.
Also the game has several difficulty settings so it can be as easy or hard as needed, and even if the game requires a bit of strategy, specially in higher difficulties, it really doesn't need too much coordination of the players. And the direccional pad can be used to send simple messages to the team like, attack that, help me, retreat and thanks.
Most of the systems of the single player campaign are present, you can change weapons, armor and potions. You level up as you play and get experience points. The crafting system is also present and is used to create upgrades, armor and to unlock new characters. To get new items, potions weapons and materials you need to buy chests that give you several random items depending on how expensive is the chest you buy, you can get items when you are playing a match but is not so common. Chest can be buy with gold earned through playing or with real world money, this doesn't affect the multiplayer mode as chest are quite cheap and you can buy at least one for every match you play. Also useless items can be destroyed and transformed in materials for the crafting system.
So overall the multiplayer is fun and a nice addition to a solid single player game. It is also a good place to test abilities, strategies and practice with the real time combat.
Well I almost finish this review, so let talk about the graphics, usually I don't focus in this too much as I consider graphics not really that important in a game. I really consider art design much more important. So about the graphics, this are quite good, characters looks very well and the different areas look really good and overall the games play fluid and well.
Now bout the art design the are things worth mentioning.
The developers and designers made excellent use of the modular open world system, as the different areas are not physical connected they don't need to make a soft transition between them and the different areas are quite different between one and another. And most of the maps feel very unique and look really cool.
As examples of this really cool design: There is a area that's a swamp in a stormy night with rain and lightings hitting the ground and trees randomly. The swamp is filled with dead bodies and you need to walk on dry land, if you walk on the water you disturb the dead and they rise from their aquatic graves to haunt you. I don't know who think all this ideas but they make the place really cool.
You have all kinds of terrains and landscapes huge forests, snowy mountains, rocky shores, desserts, swamps, caves. There is a lot of variety with the maps and a lot of cool things with each one. Finally another change in design that I loved are the dragon's design. In previous games the dragons looked good but personally I always thought they lacked something special. High dragons looked good but not really that awesome, and dragonlings and drakes just looked like big lizards and not really that dangerous. Now dragons look like a giant flying T-rexes and the dragonlings are the size of a tiger and look so much more dangerous and cool.
Now to finish this review, I remarked the strong points of the game but there are flaws with it?
Sadly the biggest problem I found is not the game itself but the game's programming. The game has tons of annoying glitches and bugs sometimes enemies spawn near you and without warning. In multiplayer there are connection problems and some of the vases that contains loot are bugged and don't work properly. Sometimes in dialogs the camera angles and the dialogs itself don't work correctly. Also mission updates sometimes give you messages of already completed quests.
As I say there are lot of glitches luckily most of them are just annoying. The only glitch that is really dangerous is one when dialogue finish the dialog selection appears but you cannot select anything. Usually dialogues can glitch and stop but you always can hit the skip button and go through the dialogue manually. But when the dialogue menu glitches I found no way to escape and I need to exit the game entirely.
As a conclusion for me the game is near perfection with only the glitches and bugs stopping it. The story is great, the gameplay is great, the designs and graphics are awesome even the multiplayer that seems EA forced Bioware to add, is quite good. I strongly recomend the game for anyone who loves RPGs and probably even more casual players will find lots of fun with it.
Now could there be some redemption about the glitches and bugs? knowing how Bioware has worked in the past, probably they have some free content planed for the multiplayer (a battle against a dragon would be awesome). They also usually hear players and try to fix their mistakes. So my prediction is that they will make some patch to fix the problems and they will wrap it along some multiplayer content and some ingame items to make a nice apology gift.
Playing: Dragon age Inquisition