So, I wandered into GameStop Tuesday morning just looking to see what I could get. Little did I know that my pre-ordered copy of Dragon Age Inquisition Deluxe Edition for PlayStation 4 was sitting there waiting for me. I happily picked it up and went back home. Now, I’d intended to set it aside and get to work in The Iron Banner in Destiny in order to get my raid-level gloves but like a man under a siren’s song, I found myself ejecting the disc for Destiny and inserting Dragon Age. After the usual install and update process (as well as taking the time to download the bonuses for my Deluxe Edition), I started playing the game.
First things first, the graphics are absolutely beautiful. I know that’s a “no duh” since it’s a whole new generation, but just look how Watch Dogs disappointed on that one, so the threat is always very real. Every detail down to footsteps in the snow is so pretty that I kept getting distracted from the Demons I was supposed to be killing. My only real complaint is that it adds in pointless sprite effects at odd times. For instance my character and the leader of the Inquisition were standing around on a dirt road talking and there was dirt coming up from their feet as they were walking around. I wish that were the end of it, but it seems the same problems that bothered me in the last 2 games are still in this one. First, there’s a LOT of clipping. helmets edge through collars, weapons seem to have merged with the backs of coats and weapons seem to have a mind of their own. For instance right after picking up my rogue daggers, there was a cutscene and it showed my hands open with the dagger handles sticking through the palms as if I was some sort of Qunari Jesus.
Mechanically, they’ve introduced a new tactical combat system that I’m not sure I like at all. When activated (on PS4 by pressing the touchpad), it gives you a zoomable top-down view of combat and freezes time. You can then go through your characters one by one and set their individual actions. Once set, you hold down R2 in order to forward time. It’s a really interesting concept and for people who miss micro-managing their combat like in older games or for people who want to maximize their tactical advantages in combat. Me? I’m just your old school Mario Bros platforming gamer and my approach to combat is a little less Chessmaster and a little more “HULK SMASH!” so this feature isn’t really for me.
Another great mechanic in the game is the “Search” feature. While you’re walking around you depress the Right stick (R3) and you’ll see a ringed pulse and hear a sound similar to the motion tracker from Aliens. It will then highlight anything in the immediate area that you can loot or interact with (books, bags, ladders, chests, etc…) making them easier to find. If there’s a secret nearby a section of the ring will glow brighter directing you towards it.
My favourite part is that the small, closed off feeling of Dragon Age II is no more. Instead of being stuck in and around one city, you have two entire nations (Ferelden and Orlais) to explore as well as areas of The Fade and The Deep Roads. You scout a region and once scouted you can wander around in it, Skyrim style, discovering landmarks, quests, hidden items and enemies. The game itself also gives this feeling of being much, much longer. The prologue alone took a couple of hours to complete. By the time it was over, I was certain I had completed Act I and was surprised when it flashed the title card of the game. It was like the game was saying, “You know those 2.5 hours you just played? That’s a drop in the bucket. Say goodbye to your life from here on out.”
All in all I’m really enjoying myself and I’d give Dragon Age Inquisition 4 out of 5 Dangling Participles of Gaming Awesomeness.