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Dragon Age: Inquisition (PlayStation 4) artwork

Dragon Age: Inquisition (PlayStation 4) review

"Nobody expects the- Oh, never mind..."

As inquisitor in Dragon Age: Inquisition, I took on numerous conflicts. Thedas descended into turmoil, thanks to the events that transpired in Dragon Age II. Mages and templars battled across the land as a result of these events, causing refugee crises. At the same time, interdimensional rifts appeared everywhere, including a tremendous one in the sky. Each of them belched out demons, because of course they did. Nothing good ever comes from alternate planes of existence in video games. The responsibility of closing those puppies fell to me because I was the only one who possessed the means to do so, using a peculiar mark on my hand. My duties extended beyond that, too. Bandits swarmed various locales, nearly a dozen high dragons decided to roost in key regions and the Darkspawn were still a looming threat. Suffice it to say that I had my work cut out for me.
My team looked to me to amass an army by establishing political connections and recruiting agents, forging alliances that would eventually bring order back to Thedas.

But I regularly ignored my required tasks. Inquisition returned to Origins' world map system, offering a generous helping of areas to explore, each with its own laundry list of side quests and heaps of loot. Unlike Origins, though, Inquisition took its stage design to the next level. Each region formed its own semi-open world, decked out with as many gorgeous details and hidden wonders as you can imagine. The Hissing Wastes, for instance, wasn't a simple road or a tiny open space dressed up to look like a desert. It really was a huge, barren desert. Massive stone formations jutted out from its humongous dunes, and deep canyons held little caves and tombs ripe for exploring and plundering. I even crept up the side of a jagged mountain and found elaborate passes with mining camps, overrun by foes called "red templars."

I ran across the Exalted Plains, aiding Dalish elves in locating missing siblings or corralling sacred animals. I drained a flooded regions and cleaned it of its undead problem, then scoured a marsh to light beacons for no particular reason other than gaining experience. I slew spiders in oases and collected shiny shards that allowed me to complete quests within sealed catacombs. And everywhere I went, Inquisition found ways to challenge me. It pit me against the aforementioned red templars, occasionally given incredible skills and stat boosts. I ran afoul of tougher Darkspawn every time I met them, sometimes taking on a boss-level heavy monster that took ages to fell. As I mentioned earlier, I occasionally happened upon those massive dragons, as they dwelt deep in wooded areas, on secluded islands and in isolated swamps.

I pushed aside furthering my army so I could craft new weapons and devise strategies needed to take out these vicious reptiles. I sought armor that could withstand their elemental breaths, perks and belts that boosted my potion carrying capacity, weapons that dealt either elemental or creature type-based damage and spells that wore down their defenses quickly. Granted, at first I was disappointed I couldn't take out the dragons with the classic automated combat system used in the first Dragon Age, but this title comes with a revamped system that works wonderfully. Battle takes place in real time, but you don't have to mash buttons to emerge successful (as in Dragon Age II). Rather, Inqusition allowed me to hold down one shoulder trigger to continuously attack, use one button to pause gameplay and give orders to my allies, and allowed me to throw in the occasional active skill or spell for good measure.

As with any BioWare offering, my companions also had their own stories to fulfill. Dorian had issues to settle with his father, regarding his family's legacy and his sexual orientation. Iron Bull found himself torn between duty to his people and loyalty to his squad. Varric hated a mineral called "red lyrium" after the trouble it caused him in Dragon Age II, and only desired to watch it all burn. Although these bits helped to flesh out my allies, they weren't as fulfilling as the random conversations my buddies have with one another during our travels. Dorian and Blackwall bickered about Tervinter, usually with Dorian suggesting that Blackwall is a classless oaf, while Varric and Cassandra argued about their troubled past. These moments helped me to appreciate this installment's cast, especially since they don't always get along, but do so for a common goal.

Sadly, not all of my tasks were worthwhile diversions. Inquisition put me up to its share of asinine chores, such as your standard fetch quests or "go kill that thing over there" type of labor. Sometimes I'd even chance upon quests that consisted of little more than examining one location, then running across the map to examine another location. Suddenly, QUEST COMPLETED appeared in the upper right of my screen, and I reaped some small benefits for basically doing nothing.

At the same time, it's a good thing these mindless distractions exist. You see, there's a reason Inquisition is so side quest-heavy. It turns out one of my major tasks involved increasing my influence and gaining power, both of which are given numerical values similar to experience. Whenever I completed a quest or brought about major changes to a region, either or both pools would gain points. As my influence climbed, I gained "Inquisition levels" that granted me access to perks that differed from my class' skills. Thanks to this, I increased my backpack capacity, gained passive stat bonuses and even earned grab bags full of herbs or schematics for improved equipment.

I couldn't advance through the campaign without earning power, because I needed it to unlock new stages and begin pivotal story events. I acquired it by completing all of those non-required jobs I mentioned throughout the review. In other words, Inquisition requires you to complete side quests, but offers you the freedom to decide if you wish to tear through the quick and easy endeavors or stand up to the lengthier missions, like retaking forts or exploring temples.

Total, I spent over 130 hours playing through Dragon Age: Inquisition. It more than makes up for its franchise's sophomore slump by modernizing its systems and presenting players with an experience that isn't just a slightly different version if its predecessors. It is its own beast, complete with its own mechanics, concepts and rule systems. It's a thrill to explore and a huge time sink for anyone who loves loot-quest kind of games. Even if you don't, its setup allows you to pick and choose the events you wish to complete and move along at your own pace. This is exactly the direction BioWare should have gone after the disappointing second installment.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (December 04, 2018)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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overdrive posted December 04, 2018:

Now that I have a PS4, this review basically really holds DA 2 over my head like the Sword of Damocles, since I own that one and figured that, like it or not, I'd have to get through it in order to be ready for this one. Mainly because I do have a bit of OCD when it comes to gaming where if I played the first game in the series and CAN play the second before the third, I have to. Hell, since I think the first Witcher should run on my Mac, I might have to buy that one before playing 2 on the 360 and 3 on the PS4. I'm a sick, sick man...
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JoeTheDestroyer posted December 07, 2018:

I don't regret playing the second game, because it does have a few cool things, even if it is mediocre. It also made several of the scenes in Inquisition cooler to experience, because I was like "Hey! I know about that!" Or a character from 2 would show up and I'd be like "Yeah! That guy!"
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overdrive posted December 10, 2018:

I suppose to me, the issue is that I have a LOT of games in my backlog that I need to play to satisfy my OCD before playing the modern series game that's on the PS4. And Dragon Age 2 ranks a bit below Dark Souls 2, Divinity Original Sin, the first two Witchers, Fallout: New Vegas and all those damn Kingdom Hearts games I'm trying to get through on the PS4 right now as far as stuff I want to play. And probably a couple games that either don't have current-day sequels out or have a sequel that doesn't look super-appealing from reviews (looking at you, Darksiders I and II!).

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