10 Very Best Things about Dragon Age: Inquisition
Okay, so 90+ hours later, we’re finally ready to have a little chat. Or rather, a little froth. Because Dragon Age: Inquisition is a tiny bit brilliant. Here’s just some of the lovely things we love, and we know which games company we’re giving a red rose to this Valentine’s Day…
1. Krem de la Creme
Is this the first time a transgender character has ever been featured in a video game? It’s certainly the first time we can recall one that’s been realised in such a thoughtful, mindful way. Cremisius Aclassi (or Krem for short) is a mercenary serving with Iron Bull. He is completely comfortable with his gender, serving as a positive role model with conversation trees that reveal both his life’s successes and challenges in a way that will reassure everyone needing a positive trans character in their lives and educating those who maybe haven’t thought about this facet of gender identity before.
What we also love is that BioWare writer Patrick Weekes talks really honestly about building the character of Krem. We love how he listened to feedback from the LGBTQI panel when improving Krem’s story arc.
2. Furthering the frontiers of video game romance
Those who have done the maths may consider that BioWare could have done even more to showcase diversity, but they have done a hell of a lot. If you want to romance characters, expect a massive smorgasbord of race, creed and orientation. There’s something for everyone, and there’s no obligation. Hop into bed, romance without bed-times or just buddy along. It’s inclusive, up to you and rewarding whichever way to play it.
Iron Bull, the forthright horned gentleman with a proclivity for safewords? Don’t mind if we do.
3. It’s bigger than big.
RPGs are getting ridiculously big, now. Skyrim wasn’t exactly tiny. Witcher 3’s going to be bigger than anything our tiny minds can imagine. DA:I is so big that we all panicked and initially spent most of our time in the Hinterlands, trying to eke out every last drop of side-quest joy, before we realised that… er, don’t worry about it. There’s more where that came from, baby.
4. It’s very, very close to open world.
The environment’s amazing to play in and the dungeons and environment limitations are woven in beautifully… you can split hairs about whether Dragon Age: Inquisition is open world or not, but at the end of the day, it sure feels pretty open! Scamper up mountains you thought you might not be able to climb, and sometimes you’ll even get away with it. Wander at your leisure, dungeon your heart out in cave or hit the main storyline quest. Whatever floats your boat, you’ll find a whole load of ocean to be floating in.
5. It’s… really pretty.
Skyrim was so great. Lovely moonrises. Running with snow foxes through the hills. DA:I is also stepping up the pretty-factor in games. Highlights have included looking at the rise and swell of the grey seas, enjoying the terrain’s landscape mapped from so far away, and swapping skills from fire-based to electricity because OH-SO-PRETTY.
A quick snark: Playing this game on an apparently acceptably specced-out PC that hit minimum requirements with a Radeon graphics card wasn’t fun. Eurgh. It took a billionty years for the driver to update, the keyboard was so unresponsive that it became a necessity to switch to gamepad, and everyone had weird LEGO bobble-hair due to the lighting, even Cullen (or, as he’s admittedly very unfairly called around these parts, Alistair-lite). DA:I was definitely designed more as a console game than a PC game. Having said that, with a few tweaks and a bit of patience/time, the beauty of the game finally shone through.
6. Character customisation
Scars. Broken noses. Broken horns, if you’re playing as a Qunari. If you wish it, you can colour your inner and outer iris-bits separately. Move the slider all over the place, however you want, for pretty much any aspect of your body*.
YOU CAN DO IT.
* Except, sadly, your body type. You can’t do that. Race classes get pretty much a set body type, so as a human woman you’re never going to quite look like GoT’s Brienne of Tarth, and you’re never going to be a tall dwarf.
7. Build your Dragon Age canon
If you’ve spent 70+ hours making sure Alistair stayed with you as a Grey Warden, you don’t want to see that collapse in a puff of deus ex machina reboot. Fortunately, DA:I lets you import your world-state so you can integrate your key past decisions into the game in a fairly seamless way. After all, no-one wants to see countless days of adventuring and decision-making get stomped into the ground by the whims of a higher entity who’s given you the illusion of free will, knowing all the while that your fate is 100% pre-determined. Because, yeah… that would suck. Speaking of which…
8. Decision-making just got tough
Okay, so Iron Bull has to make a serious decision whether to stick to his deeply ingrained and very interesting cultural code or save his loyal mercenaries. What are you going to do?
Here’s what you’re going to do. Sit back with a cup of tea. Narrow your eyes at the screen, as if that’s going to solve anything. Spend an eternity inching your hand towards a decision, before snatching it away again. Agonising some more. Researching online to see what other people chose and to see just how incredibly awful they felt about it, because this is pain you don’t want to undergo alone.
YES. THIS IS WHAT YOU WILL DO.
And you will love every painful minute of it.
Let’s face it, it’s good practice for that other Grey Warden-flavoured nightmare decision that has to be made in the Fade…
DA:I is full of more tricksy decisions than ever, and it’s made the game even richer. While it hasn’t quite hit the emotional pain levels of Walking Dead (or indeed Witcher, which is the absolute leader in uncomfortable decision-making), it’s definitely making a welcome step in a thoughtful direction.
CRAFTING. OH YEAH.
“Inquisitor, our next mission must be carried out in all haste…”
“Mm. Oh, yeah. Sure. About that. I hear you, but leeeeeeeeeeeet’s… take it back a notch. Because when you say ‘veil’, all I’m hearing is ‘crafting’. Think about it. Roll the word on your tongue. Doesn’t that sound like…. victory?”
Crafting is hugely addictive, and while it’s maybe not as conducive to victory as this particular Inquisitor wanted to believe, it’s still a welcome break from the big stuff.
Hey, sometimes the crafting can take over to the point where the big stuff is a welcome break from the crafting.
It’s a massive relief that craft items don’t contribute to your inventory load. It’s also enormously satisfying that one of the most useful minerals you can craft makes your armour look a bit pink.
Ooh, pink armour! Suits you, Iron Bull. Suits you.
10. The voice acting
Varric sounds like an increasingly embittered mound of witty chest hair. Vivienne sounds like a impeccably-mannered Fox’s glacier mint. Sera… ahaha, Sera! Amazing stuff. Very much a house favourite here at Mookychick Central…
Video games are increasingly and wisely investing in their voice actors, and DA:I is one of the leaders of its field. The happy conjunction of talented actors and rich scripting means the characters you’ll meet will stay with you forever.
Onwards, onwards, never stop
Okay, so it’s not exactly one best thing, but it’s nice that:
BioWare are transparent about their processes and metrics, as seen on their Facebook.
BioWare have worked so hard to create an inclusive game that directly appeals to all genders, regardless of which genders are predominantly doing the buying.
BioWare recognises that players may not create Inquisitors to echo their own gender, as shown in their phrasing in the pic above. Inclusivity and diversity doesn’t require sticking to your own gender role, unless you wish to.
BioWare is ready and willing to enable players to communicate with each other and the BioWare team to shape future games. Which is good. Because, while player feedback isn’t a requirement of all games, it does help specifically with what Dragon Age aims to achieve.