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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.

The game even makes snarky jokes about it. At one point my main character said, "Who even keeps a journal these days?" Another character, Iron Bull, later commented that "This door sure needs a lot of keys." Lampshading what are essentially stupid fetch quests doesn't make them any less fetch quest-y though. Instead, it's aggravating that the designers realized how utterly stupid these quests are and still left them in. You end up with dozens of quests eventually, but no real draw to do any of them.

And the greatest sin is that these quests don't add anything to BioWare's biggest strength, the story. The main storyline in Inquisition isn't going to redefine the entire notion of game storytelling as we know it--you awake with amnesia, and quickly find out you have to save the world--but it's damn good. Much of that is owed to the unique set-pieces employed, including a lengthy level at a masquerade ball that totally changes the pace and is absolutely my favorite section of the entire game.

Characters and dialogue are similarly excellent, though BioWare does them a bit of a disservice by making your main keep so large that it's tedious to walk around and find them all to see if they have a new conversation for you. As a result it's easy to convince yourself "I don't need to check on Cole," just because you don't want to waste two minutes walking upstairs to where he's been tucked away.

But the main story is padded, and padded hard. There are only five or six story beats in the entire game, and each of these main beats is padded by five or six hours of garbage collection on either side. As gamers, we always joke about "This game is slow at first, but it really gets going five hours in," as if it should be perfectly acceptable to waste five hours of your life to get to "the good part."

I clocked it: The first time I really felt "into" Inquisition, I was a dozen hours in. That's utterly insane. You could do it faster, I'm sure, but I tried to play the game the way BioWare clearly intended--exploring the nooks in various environments, chatting with my companions, and generally absorbing each location as I came to it. There's a lot of filler.

Filler is par for the course for RPGs. Skyrim is guilty of it, The Witcher is guilty of it. In the past, however, I felt like BioWare tried to keep the amount of filler down. You were given enough side quests to make each location feel lively, but most of your time was spent on the main story.

 

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