I've never actually been a fan of the Dragon Age series. I'm not sure why. I generally love Bioware, and dragons are obviously boss. I just never got the hang of the combat system in their initial offerings. All that changed with Dragon Age: Inquisition. I went into my playthrough with a blank slate. I really hadn't heard much about the game when I cracked it open, and it was one of the few titles I had a chance to own on Xbox One. I wasn't overly excited, but I was curious to see what I was in for.
Immediately, I was intrigued because of the character creation. It was fun to build my Elf, and make him look as unique as possible. All tales being told, he ended up looking like a ginger Dobby from the Harry Potter movies. But that's the beauty of the character creation in Dragon Age: Inquisition. It's fun and expansive and easy to spend a bunch of time on if you're not careful.
The class options are a bit basic, which disappointed me at first, although it flows well with the game. I went with a mage, based simply on the fact that I had just played a melee character in a recent Skyrim campaign. What you need to know off the bat about this game is that it plays much like an MMORPG in terms of real-time combat. You'll need your tank, your high damage dealer, and usually at least one ranged character in your 4 person party. If one sect of your party fails, it's likely that your entire party will fall. Fortunately, Dragon Age: Inquisition allows you to take full control of every aspect of your party if you so desire.
Personally, I played with a live and let live policy. I didn't meticulously monitor my party's actions. I pretty much did my mage thing and let the tank take a beating while the other party members filled in the gaps with melee damage, ranged attacks, or magic themselves if I was feeling frisky with a two-mage party.
It becomes evident that this fluctuation of party members is one of the beautiful things about Dragon Age: Inquisition. Each combination of party members yields different results for various battles. Some of the dragons were difficult using a heavy melee party, but then became leaps and bounds easier once I switched to a more distanced DPS set. Other times, I was in tight quarters and needed the heavier armor and the close touch of warriors and sneaky rogues to best complete my task. The game doesn't force you to play any certain way, but mixing up your tactics always yielded the best results.
More than the combat mechanics, the interactions between the various characters also made party swapping a fun choice. As in most party-based RPGs, you collect various characters along the way, with various personality types and political or religious viewpoints. Without going too much into the story, there is a divide between the thinking of church and state, mage and soldier, as well as rich and poor. It creates an interesting dynamic for conversations between party members as you traverse the landscape. I found myself forgetting my task while watching small arguments or heavy flirting between my companions.
The questing itself is fun, although it can get slightly repetitive. The various item collection and waypoint discovery quests can get tedious, especially if you've been playing the game for 40+ hours. On a few occasions, I was skipping certain side quests and powering through main story just to move on to something slightly different, which is something I rarely do. I do understand with this much content, things tend to overlap.
For me, the real bread and butter of this game is in the war room. Here, you delegate tasks to your various advisors with different results. Sometimes you want the military to stomp out a rebellion, while other times you need political sway to court and impress various powerful persons. It's a fun way to grab power, weave interesting stories, and develop a real sense of might as you progress through the game. I found this element of the game to be unique and hugely successful.
If I could improve one portion of this game, it would be the general movement and platforming element. For some reason, even though this is a fantasy RPG, they decided to make me have to jump ledges and walk balance beams to get to certain items or objectives. Normally, this kind of thing is passed off as a minor inconvenience as I play, but the sad fact is this element is pretty shitty in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Hopping onto a large mound of dirt over some water is one thing. Scaling a mountain with nickel-sized footholds as party members fumble around you is another thing entirely. Realistically, no one is having more fun because we're making a few jumps up a cliff face. If I wanted that, I'd play Assassin's Creed. Not only is there the implementation of an unwanted mechanic, but it's done poorly, and that's inexcusable. Luckily, it makes up a small enough portion of the game that you'll only suffer a handful of these annoying instances.
Overall, I gave Dragon Age: Inquisition a Coolguy Jones on the Game Awry Review Scale. I loved pretty much every aspect of Dragon Age: Inquisition. I put over 80 hours into it by the end, and it kept me wanting more. It looks beautiful, sounds great, and plays very well to almost flawlessly at some points. The characters are deep and the story is fun and easy to follow. A couple small infractions kept it from perfection, but I still highly recommend it as a gaming experience for anyone. Go into the game with an open mind and a sense of exploration, and you'll get the most out of this wonderful experience. - Mike Burdette