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Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition

PC | PlayStation 4 | Xbox One
Genre: Role Playing
Developer: Bioware Official Site:!/...
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date:
13th October 2014
Dragon Age: Inquisition Review
Review By @ 07:01pm 11/11/14
It’s difficult for any developer to create a swords-and-sandals action-RPG experience nowadays without instant comparisons to genre touchstone Skyrim. When you throw dragons into the mix, as BioWare has with Dragon Age: Inquisition, the comparison becomes inevitable. Inquisition is the third entry in the BioWare-forged franchise that ditches the faux-pen-world funnelling of Dragon Age II in favour of, well, an actual open-world experience.

While it starts contained and there are plenty of missions where you’re pushed into a single direction, Inquisition boasts a diverse range of unlockable locales that are visually iconic and incredible immersive when 15 minutes of exploration frequently begets hours of disappearing into side quests. There’s a hell of a lot to do in Inquisition, and thankfully the vast majority of what I experienced didn’t feel like poorly reskinned fetch quests. Take that, genre trope.

The storyline kicks off with a bang as BioWare unashamedly throws you into the middle of a cataclysmic event that sparks strong driving questions for the player and instant division among the game world’s NPCs as to whether the playable character is a force for good or evil. Given the pedigree of the developer, you’d better believe you’ll have the opportunity to prove the divided community of Thedas right, one way or another, by way of the decisions you make – big or small – throughout the course of the campaign.

BioWare had previously announced that PC is lead platform, and the level of visual fidelity on a decent rig is breathtaking and proves the developer pledge. Even my ageing GTX 670 had no trouble making the Frostbite 3-powered Inquisition look stunning across the board, with particularly impressive results on the character design and facial animations, the latter of which BioWare has clearly cast +100 eye candy. There are odd sporadic moments when characters appear and disappear at a speed that would make Tyler Durden jealous, and there’s some noticeable pop-in issues with some of the more open locales but, for the vast majority of the experience, Inquisition’s visual presentation is impeccable.

It’s worth noting that I had to disable SLI because of a known NVIDIA bug that EA said would be fixed at launch, so dual-wielding NVIDIA owners should be able to push the visual fidelity beyond the high recommended settings I played with. Inquisition had issues with my multi-monitor setup (I was only playing it on a single screen), though, with the cursor shifting freely between my main screen and the desktop screens, which resulted in an instant alt-tab if my cursor happened to drift off the centre screen in the heat of battle, which it did quite a bit.

At least it proved Inquisition alt-tabs in and out like a champ, unlike other games I’ve experienced in recent history. Outside of the multi-monitor issue, Inquisition can be played like a traditional action-RPG with keyboard and mouse, where the mouse is used to interact with the environment, the numerals are dedicated to spells and abilities, and WSADQE control character movement. You can hold down the right mouse button to shift the camera, and it’s a great control mechanic for PC purists.

My preference, though – which was, in fairness, initially inspired by the multi-screen woes – was using a controller, which works brilliantly and perfectly complemented my aggressive play style. As a Dragon Age game, party selection is paramount to success. While the character choices are initially limited, you’ll find more options as you progress the campaign and complete specific side quests. There are three classes to choose from to fill out your four-person party – warrior, rogue and mage – with the choice of one of three specialisations and a variety of sub-class trees to progress. My personal preference was to have a warrior wielding a two-handed weapon and tanking beside my sword-and-shield warrior, while an arrow-firing rogue and mage stood back, dishing damage from afar.

For the most part, the friendly AI is sufficiently intuitive, except when it comes to getting the hell out of the way of doorways, and even if you don’t like what they’re doing, you can issue quick commands on the fly by way of a radial wheel, or give more focused orders in the tactical view. Both options pause the fight, while the tactical screen pops into isometric view for specific movement/offensive/defensive demands of your party. On top of this, you can personalise the default behaviours of each individual party member in the Character Record screen, which is also where you level-up each character to suit a party role that matches your play style.

Combat is frequently tough, even on Normal difficulty, and the world most definitely does not scale to your level. For instance, the first time I encountered a dragon, I was reloading a (thankfully nearby) save within a minute, and that was only up against baby dragons. It is possible to take on higher-level opponents with sound strategy, but it’s most definitely advised to level up before venturing too deep into the world. Inquisition conveniently labels enemies with a colour code indicating their level in relation to your rank, so I didn’t experience any deaths that I felt were unfair.

Enemy AI isn’t particularly bright, with the exception of archers who tried to stay ranged as often as possible, and it is sometimes easy to get lost in the pretty effects of an epic battle. The camera intuitively removes cliff faces and walls when they get in the way of your view, but it doesn’t apply this logic to trees or foliage, which can make bushland brouhahas tricky to track. It’s not all about fighting, though, as there are a lot of opportunities to impress or disappoint your colleagues and pursue romantic interests external to the main path.

I found the approval system difficult to predict. Part of me enjoyed the real-life comparison of how my decisions or word choices could emotionally impact others in unpredictable ways, but another part didn’t enjoy how tricky it was to predict what would disappoint or impress particular characters, especially if I was making decisions with the express person of achieving affection or distaste. Party members are also seemingly able to instantly express approval or disapproval even if they’re not present for such moments.

One of the newest features, which has clearly borrowed from the Assassin’s Creed series, is the introduction of a war table, that plays out a meta game whereby various Inquisition agents can be sent out to complete missions for various rewards, or to open up new areas to explore. The war table doesn’t have a lot of depth, and every mission I sent out was successful, which meant I was only sacrificing the allocated time of my agents to achieve guaranteed results.

In terms of opening new areas or completing the main quest, a certain amount of Power is required to access the missions. This forces you to partake in, at the very least, Power-yielding side quests, which allocate a certain number of points depending on their difficulty. Thanks to the diversity of these quests, and the varying difficulty of the similarly categorised ones, it never felt like grinding, and it also was essential for character levelling before taking on later-level core quests.

As much as I was hoping BioWare would announce campaign co-op for Inquisition, I can understand the importance of preserving the single-player party experience and rarely found that I would have preferred human assistance during the solo experience. For fans of co-op, there’s a separate multiplayer mode that works as a one-to-four-player dungeon crawl. At launch, there are three main maps with four randomly determined routes, and from my time with it, playing with four players is definitely advised if you want any hope of getting from start to finish. It’s also advised to have the three classes covered in your four-person party, as specific loot rooms can only be opened by particular classes.

Included VoIP – that actually works really well, even when playing with devs in Canada – helps keep the action real-time, as strategy is necessary for taking down the higher-level waves as you progress through the maps. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, with options to ‘prestige’ characters once you hit the level cap, but it was disconcerting to see an inbuilt micro-transaction option for loot. As far as my tests went, though, Inquisition’s multiplayer doesn’t embrace a pay-to-win model, and the premium component was simply a fast-track system for time-poor or impatient players.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is an epic experience that haunts you between play sessions, enticing you to come back for more. It may not hit the lofty heights of Skyrim, but it comes bloody close and, unlike its most obvious comparison, boasts consistently fantastic characters, a memorable and compelling storyline, and breathtaking visual fidelity out of the box.
What we liked
  • Visually incredible
  • Engaging storyline with big decisions
  • Fantastic characters
  • Diversity of locales and quests
  • Tactical approach to combat
  • Addictive gameplay
  • A fantastic collection of facial hair
What we didn't like
  • Sporadic graphical oddities
  • Multi-screen unfriendly
  • Sparse soundscape during exploration
  • Iffy enemy AI
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 08:29pm 11/11/14
YES! That is all.
Posted 08:41pm 11/11/14
time to pre-order.
Posted 09:18pm 11/11/14
Welp, I'm getting it now. Whoever moderates comments should brace themselves for an influx of trolls though, 4chan is pretty invested in this game failing.
Posted 09:26pm 11/11/14
got mine on pre-order.
Posted 10:08pm 11/11/14
Nice review. In fact nice site overall. I've been looking for an alternative to PCGamer - sick of their rubbish. Think I've found a nice place to settle in AusGamers.
Tanaka Khan
Posted 10:10pm 11/11/14
That review has the release date as the 9th of October 2014.
Posted 10:48pm 11/11/14
i think that was the original release date.
Posted 11:45pm 11/11/14
Cheers tana, fixed :)
Posted 12:18am 12/11/14
Do I need to have played the first two?
Posted 08:30am 12/11/14
You can actually "make" a save through their web game called Dragon Keep.
Posted 08:45am 12/11/14
Hi Meddek, I didn't have a save from the first two games, and it plays out fine. There are some great references to the first two games, but Inquisition is a great place to start.
Posted 12:12pm 12/11/14
Sweet, this totally wasnt on my radar due to the RPG on rails they made the last few versions of DA.
Posted 12:25pm 12/11/14
9.2 out of 10. Wow. I thought this was going to be good but not that good. Have been interested in this game since it was announced as well.
Posted 01:38pm 12/11/14
Let us know your thoughts in the comments here once you've given it a crack, y'all!
Posted 01:53pm 12/11/14
I'll be giving it a crack when I can.
I'm pretty brutal when it comes to RPG's.

I have to play this, just so I can happily say The Witcher 3 is better when I play it.

The review was a pretty light on the details. It read more as a preview. You didn't bring any meat to the details, for example no details about the combat or anything really. Just touched a few subjects :(

It is asif reading everything there was about DA:Inquisition is a prerequisite to this review, and the review acting as a confirmation to say 'yeah it didn't fail on what you've previously read' Which is a problem if you haven't really read much about it.

Posted 08:34pm 12/11/14

I'm just gonna wait for some user reviews.
Posted 08:39pm 12/11/14
what is that link for?
Posted 08:50pm 12/11/14
To show how generally unfavourable DA2 was for users?
Posted 08:58pm 12/11/14
What do you want to know more about, Tollarz0r!?
Posted 11:00am 16/11/14
I wanted to know how the combat works precisely and if it will be fun in the long term. Also, more specifics about character progression and generation.

However, that all may be irrelevant now. The game uses Denuvo copy protection which is made by the same company that made SecruRom and Sony Rootkits... If you've forgotten about those, they had a habit of killing systems and requiring fresh installs. They also became system vulnerabilities exploitable by malware.
There were also plenty of issues with people being locked out of their games due to install-limits and unresponsive customer service.

So yeah, Buyer-beware this game is using what is likely pretty intrusive copy protection from a company with a history of bad press.

The copy protection also costs about 5% performance as confirmed by the devs themselves.

last edited by Tollaz0r! at 11:00:23 16/Nov/14
Posted 12:52am 20/11/14
Just fired this up. Awesome graphics, feels really polished. First impressions - epic.
Posted 03:19am 20/11/14
To show how generally unfavourable DA2 was for users?
Yeah but it doesn't show that at all, DA2 got trolled pretty hard with hundreds of no star reviews within an hour of release because it had day 1 DLC which at the time was a big deal. The game didn't live up to the hype and wasn't as epic as the first but it was far from a bad game.

I played a few hours of this tonight and they really have no consistency with this series unlike Mass Effect. New menus, new combat and new controls. I haven't played enough yet to say whether any of that is bad or not but I am slightly annoyed at the default mouse button mappings, I'll have to sort that out next time I play. The achievement sound that Origin chimes in with now and then is pretty distracting as well, playing an epic dragons and magic type game and then a ringtone sound chimes in and you are pulled right out of any immersion the game manages to achieve.

Another issue I've struck is one that comes up in every bioware game, the character creation process. It's really hard to tell how your character will actually look in game and if the character that you thought looked like a normal human ends up looking like a mongoloid freak in game you have to go through the entire process again to fix it or put up with your monstrosity for the rest of the game. It'd be nice if they let you edit your character without having to start a new game.

Haven't really got into too much of the combat yet, same kind of pause system they had previously for the tactically minded. It doesn't feel as fluid as DA2 but that might just be the default control setup and not knowing all the shortcut keys yet.

Haven't seen much open world space yet either, that is something that I'm interested in seeing as bioware are usually epically s*** on that front.
Posted 05:24am 20/11/14
I loved DA1, never got round to 2, is it good? Worth playing?

Can't wait to play this, it's been added to the backlog!
Posted 08:10am 20/11/14
A few people saying they're going to Pre-Order in this thread... I thought AusGamers was smarter than that.
Posted 08:48am 20/11/14
Metacritic is very mixed for user reviews, lots of highs and lot of lows.

The biggest critism I'm reading is the control scheme/UI and Party Member AI.

Why was it not mentioned in the review of the game how clunky the controls are? No auto-attack (not without the tactical view) Party members doing silly things like a ranged dude staying in melee range? A clunky looting system? For an Action part of Action-RPG these are pretty big issues, it's like having bad gun-play for a FPS.

Just in case people are unaware, it doesn't work on most Duel-Core systems, you really do need a Quad. People are attributing this to the Denuvo DRM DA:I is using, there is no proof of that however, with people talking about BF3 (same engine) running fine on Duel Cores.
Posted 08:58am 20/11/14
A few people saying they're going to Pre-Order in this thread... I thought AusGamers was smarter than that.

I couldn't help myself with the collector's edition, please don't judge.
Posted 09:43am 20/11/14
The achievement sound that Origin chimes in with now and then is pretty distracting as well, playing an epic dragons and magic type game and then a ringtone sound chimes in and you are pulled right out of any immersion the game manages to achieve.

I think you can turn that off in the origin settings.
Posted 08:09pm 20/11/14
Couldn't turn it off in any settings but found a work around on the origin forums where you just rename the achievement.wav file so the program can't find it.

Played for about an hour this afternoon thinking I'll do a bit of gathering in preparation for some serious questing tonight and I fell into an inescapable cavern while looking for iron nodes. Typical bioware and their s***** map design. Autosave popped just as I realised I was stuck so I lost an hours worth of talking to NPCs and killing some kind of armoured yak for it's leather. They have a fast travel system but I haven't yet unlocked anywhere to fast travel to.
Posted 11:23pm 20/11/14
Can't say no to this.

Posted 11:38pm 20/11/14
i wish there was a way to edit the look of your character after starting the game. what looked good during character creation doesn't look so good in game.
Posted 10:28am 21/11/14
I'm playing it with a controller and really enjoying that control scheme although that could be because I've gone a 2h warrior. Certainly addictive game. Spent about an hour and a half doing the keep and working out which character to go. Upon doing that, I figured I'd play for about 30 minutes before going to bed ... 2 hours later.
Posted 06:01pm 23/11/14
it runs well but having the manually adjust the camera all the time is annoying.
Posted 07:42pm 23/11/14
i've played 12 hrs and i've only explored half of the hinterlands. it's so f*****g big.
Posted 08:27pm 23/11/14
I just impulse bought this on mexican Origin store. I have my doubts about the combat though. Ill download it when I go to bed.
Posted 08:42pm 23/11/14
lol i just impulse bought this aswell. i only played about 6hrs of DA origins and never played DA2 so hopefully the combat and exploration is enough to hold me through while i struggle to understand the story.
Posted 12:54pm 24/11/14
i'm playing on hard difficulty and i'm really enjoying the combat. i'm mixing it up between real time combat and pause/tactical cam combat. i usually take on small groups in real time but use pause/tactical cam for bigger groups.

Posted 09:18pm 24/11/14
I have to say the combat is a bit s*** and awkward. May not so much on consoles but It all feels weird on PC. Aside from that and the frame rate issues the actual story and stuff seems ok but these issues are affecting my ability to enjoy this.
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