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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.

Inquisition is the opposite. The ratio of engaging story content to useless fetch quests is not very favorable here, and the worst part is it screws up the pacing of the main story as a result. There's nothing like hearing that it's "urgent" you save the Empress of Orlais or she might die immediately, only to be told to come back in six hours when you've gathered enough "Power" (a meta-currency) to actually attend her masquerade ball.

Pop! Goes the Texture

I'd also like to take a moment to discuss Inquisition as a PC game.

First off, BioWare deserves some commendation for sticking the tactical combat view back in; as in the original Dragon Age: Origins, you can play Inquisition's combat sections from an overhead, active-pause mode. On normal difficulty it's entirely unnecessary, but you could do it.

Combat is fairly rote. To attack you literally just hold down a button and start swinging away, occasionally triggering one of your special abilities. It feels a bit awkward on mouse and keyboard, but it's not unplayable. Plugging in a controller and playing with the triggers and analogue sticks definitely seems like the preferred control scheme, though.

At first I also thought the menus were designed with controllers in mind, as they seemed pretty awkward/unresponsive for mouse and keyboard. Plugging in a controller completely changes the menus, though--meaning it's literally just poor menu design for the PC.

And then there are the even weirder bits. Changing any graphics options requires the entire game to be restarted, and switching between mouse/keyboard and gamepad necessitates exiting to the main menu. Why?

This wouldn't be too egregious except that Inquisition's load times are massive. Even simple cutscenes required a few seconds of black, and loading into a new area meant it was time to pull out my phone. Once you're in an area everything seems fine, though there's a bit of distracting texture and object pop-in, but those initial loads are mammoth.

I also hit some bugs. If ever somebody complains again about how many bugs are in Bethesda games, point them at Inquisition, which proves the problem isn't with Bethesda but with the entire genre of massive open-world RPGs. My favorite bug saw me flying two dozen feet into the air for no discernible reason. My least favorite bug was when the game crashed to desktop four times during the course of my playthrough.

On the plus side, Inquisition is well-optimized. By dropping a few settings I was able to run it on my laptop (a mid-tier Origin gaming machine) with few problems, although the frame rate took an occasional dive.

Bottom line

This is where tacking a score on a game feels awkward. On my ultra-scientific Dragon Age: Origins to Dragon Age II scale, Inquisition definitely leans towards the former, and I'm constantly impressed by the extent of the world-building and lore-crafting BioWare has done for this universe. If you played through the core story and only dabbled in the side content, this is a perfectly decent story. It ends a bit abruptly, and it'd still feel a bit padded out of necessity (you'll have to grind a bit to get to the recommended level for each piece of content), but Inquisition's main through-line is strong.


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