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Dragon Age: Inquisition review: Big, bold, and full of fetch quests

Hayden Dingman | Nov. 12, 2014
Dragon Age: Inquisition has some utterly amazing moments, but they're padded out by a fair amount of ho-hum filler.

Dragon Age: Inquisition

In the wake of the disastrously incoherent, repetitive, and nearly-linear Dragon Age II, BioWare has thrown around a lot of claims for Dragon Age: Inquisition. Chief amongst them is that the RPG landscape changed in the wake of Skyrim--I mean, Dragon Age: Inquisition's executive producer literally made that claim.

Skyrim, with its open-ended freedom and massive world. Skyrim, with its emphasis on exploration. Skyrim, with its faceless blank slate of a character. Skyrim, with its lackluster combat and underwhelming main story. Skyrim, with its repetitive dungeon-looting, and yet still scratching some primeval itch to cross items off a heroic to-do list.

Congratulations, Inquisition--you took a lot of what Skyrim had to offer. But how does that mesh with what BioWare traditionally has made, a.k.a. story-heavy, semi-linear games? Well, it depends on your outlook.

Vindicated

First off, and I think this is important to say, Inquisition doesn't repeat the worst of Dragon Age II's sins. Where Dragon Age II was set primarily in a single city, Inquisition is pretty damn massive.

In fact, there are now (oddly) zero cities for you to explore. You'll unlock an achievement at one point for gaining access to the city of Val Royeaux. This "massive" city is actually smaller than any of the wilderness maps in the game, consisting primarily of a central square and a handful of merchants. You will basically never go there. The closest thing to a city is your own town, Haven (and later, Skyhold) where you'll find all your companions, plus a handful of merchants and tertiary characters.

The focus is on exploration, and there are around a dozen sizable environments for you to traipse around, from wind-whipped deserts to lush forests to tundra. These are discrete environments, though--it's not Skyrim's single massive map.

My main issue is that there's not much to do. And that actually is a lie, because there's plenty to do. I'm never going to 100% this game, but BioWare's claim of "150 hours of content" seems reasonable. The crux of the issue is how much of said content you'll want to do.

Inquisition 's wilderness is like an endless series of Skyrim's procedurally generated quests. "Collect these seven letters from dead soldiers, collect these ten supply caches, collect these four signs that a dragon has been around, collect these six herbs, collect these twelve rocks, collect this key, collect these landmarks."

Even when it's not put into "collect" terms, it still amounts to the same thing. For instance, part of the story involves you closing "Fade Rifts," and there's an achievement that happily congratulates you for closing 75 of them. It's the same battle every time--walk up, fight five or six demons, wait for the second round to start, defeat five or six more demons, seal the rift. Seventy-five times.

 

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