Tactical Wizarding Action In Dragon Age: Inquisition

I hadn’t noticed until now, but the vast majority of the footage we’ve had of Dragon Age: Inquisition hasn’t featured combat in the way it will be played. Everyone will use the over-the-shoulder camera for, oh, 24 seconds or so then never again. Far more useful is the free-roaming tactical view that pauses time, giving you a moment for a sip of tea and a good think. Perhaps you’d like to target your fireball over here, sir? Or bash this ingrate’s head in with a warhammer, ma’am? Bioware, continuing a trend of blitzing us with trailers at Ubisoft pace, show it off below.

As someone currently three-mage-one-Shaleing his way through Dragon Age: Origins, I’d be mighty dead without this. I spend most of my time targeting AoEs so massive and damaging that careful placement is vital but it’s great for microing individuals and prioritising targets too. It’s infinitely better than the various squad-command elements present in shooters and I rather hope it gets ported over to Bioware’s other heavy hitter, Mass Effect.

Gosh, Inquisition is pretty. Dragon Age as a universe is plenty grim but still gives us a light show when it wants to. I doubt I’ll be doing as many cinematic pans around my characters as above, but I appreciate a good looking explosion as much as the next boy who refuses to grow up. After the recent slip you’ll be waiting until November 21st to have a go. In the mean time, here’s Nathan (RIP) giving his thoughts on the E3 demo and chatting with producer Cameron Lee.


  1. DompR says:

    Oh my, those are some innovative tactical commands: Attacking targets! Moving to a point! Using potions OR poisons!

    Sarcasm aside, it does look pretty, but it feels very…anime-y in the way that every attack comes with a huuuge visual effect regardless of how impressive an ability was used. I guess it’s a matter of taste, but here’s hoping that it can be toned down a bit in the finished product.

    • Zenicetus says:

      The anime-style attacks crept into the game series in DA2, and it looks like it’s now entrenched. Like that silly staff whirling before launching a magic attack.

      One of the deeply annoying things for me in DA2 was that I like to play Rogues in games like this. You know…. sneaky little bastards who you don’t see, until they suddenly stab you in the back. In DA2, my Rogue became a Chinese acrobat who launched 20 feet in the air during attacks, and magically teleported behind enemies when executing a backstab. I don’t know what he turned into there, but it sure wasn’t a Rogue in any traditional sense.

      These combat moves are going to get old after you’ve seen them 100 times, unless there’s a huge variety, or they’re tied to specific spells and attacks that evolve during the game.

    • PopeRatzo says:

      Are you saying those lower-level magical attacks just don’t look realistic and tasteful enough?

      If I were designing magical attacks, I’d make the weakest ones have the most impressive visual effects to make up for the fact that they’re not doing so much damage. The enemy would be all like, “Whoa, did you see that? It must have been some unbelievably powerful spell, judging from the all the sparklies and stars that came shooting out of that stick. We better get out of here, pronto!” And I’d win the battle with a level 1 “shove” attack.

      The most powerful attacks would have no effects at all. You’d just see the enemy wink out of existence. And his entire family for seven generations across all of the mulitiverses. And his name erased from the Book of Life.

      So just be grateful that I’m not designing magical attacks.

      • Imbecile says:

        I dunno. That sounds pretty awesome.

      • DompR says:

        It’s more that I really liked DA:O’s gritty, “realistic” visuals. They were a welcome contrast to the over-colourful look of quite a few other RPGs at the time (Mass Effect, for example).

        Also, I have been wanting something like Power Word: Kill in cRPGs since I remember :D In my opinion just _ending_ someone without any fuss is a much more impressive display of your control over reality than any amount of ice shards bursting from the ground in slow motion.

        • Blackcompany says:

          This comment recalls to mind the Asha’man (I think I have that right; its been years) from Jordan’s Wheel of Time novels. Now those guys were battle mages. No fancy fire balls or bolts of lighting. They just spoke words of power and bodies came apart on the battlefield. In droves. When people saw the long black coats that marked the male mages they just…found a reason to be elsewhere like lightning deciding it needed to strike somewhere else.

          Surely we are reaching a point in video games where we can display the power of a mage without tossing about ice shards and throwing fireballs that no one seems to notice hitting them except the health bar floating above an enemy’s head. At this point I would rather play an RPG without magic.

        • JFS says:

          Baldur’s Gate has Power Word: Kill, doesn’t it? And that Banshee thing, and Finger of Death. You point, they die.

          Goes to show why after 15 years, BG is still one of the greatest cRPGs ever.

        • jerf says:

          Good that we have The Witcher series which still aims for this “realistic, gritty” feel. This is one of the reasons why my hype over The Witcher 3 is about an order of magnitude higher than my hype for DA:I.

    • Scelous says:

      I did like the combat in the first Dragon Age, especially since the slower combat meant you could show those more thorough executions, which I missed in DA2. However, when my mage would twirl his staff around in DA2 and strike the ground and lightning would shoot out and shit would go crazy, that felt pretty good, too. Ultimately, I think I did like DA2’s (and Inquisition’s) flashier combat more, and I didn’t think I would.

    • ssh83 says:

      Lol. Your silly comment is analogous to putting down game of throne for using the same words and grammar as every literature classic.
      The key factors to look for is strategic depth like cross class combo in DA2 (a step above Divinity’s solo combo that leftout rogue and warriora). Or strategic conservation and timing of cooldown to handle multiple waves. Drawing enemies away from their spawn area to another location more advantageous to you in DA2 since the whole map is opened to you in most fights. The depth is in the details, not basic control scheme. Lol

  2. Utsunomiya says:

    But… but will I be able to bring down civilizations using powerful necromancy?

    • Pich says:

      i’d be more than happy to be able to summon more than 2-3 thralls.
      what’s even the point of being a necromancer if you can’t hide behind 7000 skeletons?

  3. Zenicetus says:

    Gee guys, do you think you could make a trailer about carefully considered tactical combat, and pace the editing ANY FASTER?!! I know the in-game combat can be paused, but they must think everyone has ADHD these days. Grumble, grumble, and get off my CRPG lawn.

    Something I’m curious about, and couldn’t tell from the fast edits in the trailer, is how potions work in combat. I hope they’re not insta-heal during pause, like Skyrim. That took all the challenge out of combat if you just carried enough potions. At least in Divinity:OS (and yes, I know we shouldn’t make direct comparisons, yada, yada), there is an action point penalty for quaffing healing potions. Healing spells also usually have a time-based component, so you can’t just instantly top someone off. I just couldn’t tell from this trailer how it works here.

    • TheMightyEthan says:

      At 1:34 you can see them use a potion, and it doesn’t take effect until time has resumed. There’s an animation of the character drinking the potion, and only at a certain point in the animation does it take effect, so presumably if his health were low enough he could be killed after the potion has been selected but prior to actually drinking it, and trying to do something else in the meantime would likely cancel the potion.

      • RedViv says:

        Yeah, seems like in the previous games. Health poultice applies after action is finished, if you cut it too close during an attack (or are burning, or poisoned, or other damage over time), it might be lights out anyway.

  4. Orija says:

    It’s EA. Nothing more needs to be said.

    • Big Murray says:

      Nobody cares about your prejudice.

      • Orija says:

        The game could be the best rpg of the decade, I still wouldn’t give EA any of my money out of principle.

    • Blackcompany says:

      I dont think its prejudice, really. Given all that EA has done to their customers lately, I not giving them money just seems like sound decision making to me.

      • Big Murray says:

        Dismissing any game published by them before considering whether or not its good is just stupidity personified.

        I’ll be over here waiting to see whether or not this is a good game.

        • Spider Jerusalem says:


          Sometimes, you’re just really tired of someone’s shit.

  5. SupahSpankeh says:

    This is the required feature to get me to read a review; until I’d seen proof of the tactical view, I wasn’t going to bother as the combat looked like a single player MMO.

    Several of my chums are threatening to pirate the game to see if it’s any good. These are people who are devout worshippers at the altars of Steam Summer Sales and PC Gaming; I do hope the numbers of pirate copies don’t discourage EA from making more PC games as it seems following DA2 a lot of people are going to try before they buy.

    • Orija says:

      Nothing wrong with trying before buying, though they could always play it a friend’s place, but I guess that wouldn’t be as convenient.

      • Koozer says:

        It would also require one friend to take the risky first purchase.

  6. El Spidro says:

    I was warming to it over the course of the review but that screenshot of the dialogue killed it dead for me. I don’t want to make that jarring a transition from Divinity: Original Sin and a copy of Planescape I’ve been tucking into after picking it up in a charity shop down to…whatever that is.

    • Big Murray says:

      Your complaint is that it … isn’t like some other games?

      Is no game allowed to do its own thing anymore …?

      • Spider Jerusalem says:

        Well, if one game has an excellent thing and one game has a non-excellent thing and they’re similar things, you’d likely want the excellent version, no?

        • Big Murray says:

          That’s assuming that there’s a “right” way to do dialogue.

          Dragon Age does its thing, old RPGs do their thing. To suggest that everyone has to do dialogue the one way seems rather silly.

        • Premium User Badge

          gritz says:

          There may not be a right way to do dialogue but there are almost certainly several wrong ways to do it.

  7. aliksy says:

    Meh. EA game, UI looks bad.

    • Big Murray says:

      It’s running on a console. Bad UI is inherent.

      • morrolan says:

        The PC UI will be different just like the other 2 DA games.

      • Dave Tosser says:

        Nobody cares about your prejudice.

        • Big Murray says:

          If you can suggest a way that a top-down strategic combat game can have as good a UI using a console controller as it can on the PC, thus breaking the inescapable limitations of the controlling peripheral within this particular game genre, then fair enough.

          Otherwise, what you just said was stupid.

  8. chargen says:

    Looks like an alpha version of Wildstar. Bioware’s return-to-form RPG is… a single player MMO.

    • morrolan says:

      I didn’t see any ultra cartoony figures or massive amounts of colourful shapes on the ground so I dunno what you’re seeing.

      • Distec says:

        I don’t get it either. I get the feeling that people who call this “MMO Combat” aren’t familiar with MMOs or RPGs throughout history.

        “OMG but there’s hotbars! It’s just like WoW!”

        • Laurentius says:

          What about enemies being HP sponges and combat that for the most takes ages to kill anything, involves spaming all your skills back and forth, and even regular fights means several fireball trading on regular basis.

          • Wulfram says:

            That’s pretty much an RPG standard.

          • Laurentius says:

            Well, MMORPG for sure, and other MMORPG inspired RPG too, but I don’t recollect this as a staple for cRPG. Even in Divinity:OS with its turn based system I seem to be killing stuff faster then what’s been shown in these DA:I videos.

        • Wulfram says:

          The threat mechanics and cooldown system make DA combat at least a cousin to MMOs.

          Though in practice the games haven’t tended to force such rigid roles as a trinity based MMO. And of course the fact that you control the whole party changes things a fair bit.

  9. Big Murray says:

    I doubt the combat will be massively stimulating and/or complex … but then combat isn’t really why people play Bioware RPGs anyway.

    • MichaelGC says:

      You have no idea why I play or do not play Bioware RPGs and you’re therefore in no position to issue prior judgments.

      • Big Murray says:

        Unless you’re proportionally representative of Bioware’s entire player base … hush.

        • MichaelGC says:

          Generalisations are always tricky. Unless you can come close to proving them … hush.

          • Big Murray says:

            Bioware games have always had average combat. When was the last time people kicked up a fuss about it and didn’t buy the game? Did Mass Effect 2 not sell because it had bad combat? Were people up in arms about Mass Effect 3 because of it’s combat, or because of it’s story?

          • BlackAlpha says:

            If the combat is boring, people aren’t going to be playing the games because these games are for a large part about the combat.

            I thought Dragon Age Origins had pretty good combat. Mass Effect 1 had average combat. Mass Effect 2 had pretty good combat. Mass Effect 3 had really good combat. Dragon Age 2 combat bored me to tears.

        • somnolentsurfer says:

          I really enjoyed the combat of DA:O. I’d always found turn based combat a bit off putting, but the pause and play tactical view of that encouraged me to try Frozen Synapse, The Banner Saga, XCOM, and Divinity: Original Sin. Loved every one of them, but it’s DA that I’d still most like to revisit.

  10. skyturnedred says:

    I really dislike the look of the UI. It just looks too ‘hi-tech’ to be in a fantasy game. Hated it in DA2 too, as well as the anime combat and all them other usual complaints too. The graphics do look nice though.

    Also, could someone show us how it plays with mouse? I know it will be a whole different UI and all that and should be fine, but I hate that type of movement in tactical view that the console version does. It reminds me of giving your squad commands in the shooty XCOM, and it was bad. Oh, so bad.

  11. thesundaybest says:

    Biggest problem with Dragon Age 2. At least this is featured this time.

  12. JFS says:

    Has “negative space” returned? The header image must be its herald!

  13. nrvsNRG says:

    dunno why everyone’s got their knickers in a twist, it actually looks reaaly good, and i’m now officially hyped.

    • Big Murray says:

      It does look good. I’m more interested to play this than any other RPG on the horizon.

    • BlackAlpha says:

      Well, you know, trailers always look good. You know that, right? You could create a trailer about shit and make it look amazing. By the way, perhaps you’d like to buy some shit? I could totally sell you some. I could even create a trailer about shit, if you aren’t entirely convinced yet that my shit is what you need. Pre-order some shit right now! ;)

      People are skeptical because EA screwed up last time with Dragon Age 2. See here:
      link to metacritic.com
      Overall, it wasn’t exactly a good game. If it didn’t bore you completely, it was average at best. So now people are being careful.

      But hey, even if this new Dragon Age flops (again), at least we had Divinity Original Sin this year (lots of props to the guys who made that). So at least we got one good, real RPG that wasn’t streamlined/consolized to death.

      • nrvsNRG says:

        No. Maybe to you all trailers look good, but TO ME they dont all look good.

      • Big Murray says:

        This … isn’t a trailer? It’s gameplay footage.

        • BlackAlpha says:

          It’s not actual gameplay footage because you don’t see like 90% of the footage. They only show you the good looking parts, which is what trailers are supposed to do. Don’t forget that trailers aren’t just cinematic videos, they are supposed to show gameplay footage, technically.

          Think of the usual Hollywood trailer. Yes, they show movie footage but do they represent the final quality of the movie? No. Do they give you an idea of what the movie will be like? No. Do they look awesome? Yes. Do they make you want to watch the movie? Yes. Same with AAA video games trailers.

    • Krull says:

      Of course it looks good.. Don’t worry, it’s just common internet hate against AAA products.. Will be picking it with other great RPGs like Wasteland 2, Pillars of Eternity and Risen 3.. Good months are incoming, indeed..

  14. Tim James says:

    Did Penny Arcade do the character icons in the upper left of the screen?

    I’ll take grimdark (sneer, sneer) over F2P Dreamworks Face anyday.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I’m assuming the cartoon 2D elf avatar at the upper left is a placeholder in an early version. It doesn’t fit the rest of the “big budget AAA Bioware game” aesthetic at all.

      It will be nice if the game lets players upload their own avatar graphics, but there should be heads that at least look somewhat like the in-game characters as default.

  15. Krull says:

    I just notice one thing in the title screenshot… Teh displayed hitpoint numbers ! Yes ! (*anime-like watery eyes*)

  16. Volcanu says:

    What I cant work out is whether there will be an optional text box thing-a-majig that keeps a record of what’s going on in combat or not?

    I hope so – but I doubt it. I’m not a big fan of the way the damage numbers pop up in big floaty red letters and then disappear and such ‘text boxes’ (like in the Infinity engine games) are useful for keeping track of what status effects are active or what buffs/magical defences have been triggered. Anybody know? Probably not a deal breaker as most of my hopes rest with PoE and I do generally still enjoy the type of games nuBioware make – even if they have ceased to be cRPGs.

    • skyturnedred says:

      That would be nice. It was easier to tell what was going on in Origins when the combat wasn’t as flashy and fast. This seems like a giant clusterfuck.

    • Big Murray says:

      Combat is probably too fast here for such a textbox to be useful.

  17. milton says:

    Not too sure what to expect.

    From what I’ve seen with game play and trailers it seems pretty decent. I mean I’m not expecting a masterpiece but it definitely looks interesting.

    Honestly, I don’t get why people are automatically trying to brand it ‘bad’ or ‘trash’ because they expect some massive masterpiece or because it’s missing certain features. Surely even if it’s just a solid game and not an amazing game it’s still worth playing?

    Even if you do the whole ‘I’m looking at a ‘wait for price cut’ purchase rather than a first day purchase’ there’s nothing wrong with that.

  18. InternetBatman says:

    Hmmm. I’d like to see the game played with a mouse. It looked pretty clumsy in tactical mode, but that might have been a controller.