The Ferelden Scrolls: A Dragon Age Diary, Part 1

are we in New Zealand?

Beginning a new diary series for Dragon Age: Inquisition. Yes, I’m mostly doing this so I have an excuse to play Dragon Age: Inquisition during work hours. There will be spoilers and there will be presumed knowledge, but there probably won’t be much taking anything seriously.

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that everyone in Thedas hates:

1) Mages, because they keep getting possessed by demons and recently got into a big, catastrophic fight with the Templars.
2) The Qunari, because they look like demons and some of them occasionally kill people for no good reason.
3) The Blight, seeing as the last one very nearly destroyed the world.

So, my being a Qunari Mage named Blight is probably starting things off on the wrong foot.

I am very tall. I am broad shouldered but have just a hint of a waist. I have two enormous obsidian horns sticking out of my forehead. I am calm and dutiful, but refuse glory and am gently snarky towards the over-earnest. I throw lightning from my hands and have jet-black lips. Basically, if Brienne of Tarth and Tim Curry from Legend had a lovechild, it would be me, only to the best of my knowledge I’ve yet to entrap any of the cast of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in synthesiser-hell. I might have done, though. When all this starts I seem to be in my 30s, so anything might have happened before now. Sorry, Mia Sara.

Anyway, I’m a nobody, but then one day I get killed by an explosion which births a mysterious big green thing in the sky, only for it to chuck me back out, alive again, and with a much smaller green thing stuck to my hand. At first, everyone wants to kill me again because of this, but then a very serious French lady decides I’m going to save the world instead (this sentiment is endorsed by a Sex Dwarf and Richard Elf’Brian, but I’ll get to them another time). With the hand-thing. I don’t know, it looks like a dollar store LED flashlight to me, but because it’s green and the big sky-thing is also green, she thinks it’s the answer.

So I wave the hand-thing at the big green thing in the sky, and it turns out La Femme Grave is bang on the money. The world, ravaged by conflicts with the Qunari, the mages and the Blight, has just been saved by a Qunari mage named Blight. Deal with it, plebs.

They really do deal with it, as it happens. Waving my little green thing at the big green thing knocked me out, but when I wake up I’m greeted by this:

No, folks, really, I’m not a hero. Right place, right time, right LED flashlight stuck to my hand, that’s all.

I should be delighted by the fact that they love me, they really love me. Instead, I’m motivated partly by the memory that, not so long ago, most of them wanted me dead because I happened to be in the same place as the big green thing, and partly by the sight of houses with unlocked doors. As the crowds cheer and wave, I brazenly walk into their homes and take anything that isn’t nailed down. No, folks, really, I’m not a hero.

Even daylight robbery can’t dissuade them. I’m praised wherever I go, and ushered off to a reception with La Femme Grave. Also in attendance is a moaning bloke wearing a box on his head:

And another very serious French lady, who I have a funny feeling I’ve seen somewhere before:

They’re not getting along too well. Box-head is pretty sure that my flashlight marks me as cause of rather than solution to our ongoing Big Green Sky-Thing problem, but everyone else is all You’re Our Only hope. There are more Big Green Sky-Things cropping up, and they’re spitting monsters all over the place.

I’m not entirely unconvinced that Box-head has a point, but the decision is made that a) I’m definitely a hero b) I’m going to save the world a whole lot more c) everyone here is essentially seceding from the church in favour of refounding The Inquistion. This is basically because everything’s gone to hell and someone who isn’t a fanatic needs to sort it all out. I don’t know, ‘Inquisition’ doesn’t have entirely positive connotations, does it? You people are sure we’re not the bad guys here?

Anyway, there are epic speeches, a whole lot of earnestness, Box-head is sent packing, I’m sworn in as an Inquisitor, and there are glimpses of what’s going on in far-off lands. It’s all very exciting. Then when it’s all over I find myself here.

Must have been quite a party.

72 Comments

  1. mukuste says:

    I can’t wait to find out what constitutes a Sex Dwarf.

    • Belsameth says:

      That is such an amazingly apt description for Varric, at least how he looks…. :D
      Also, Liliane has a lokk on her face like said Sex Dwarf is currently hiding (and being busy) under her robe…

    • jezcentral says:

      It involves chair hair. Lots of chest hair.

      • deadwanderer says:

        And an extreme V-neck.

      • Toadsmash says:

        Varric’s chest hair is what lets him wear that insane open necked shirt way up in the mountains in the freezing cold and stay warm at night!

    • bodydomelight says:

      I believe the primary defining factor of a sex dwarf is that they are required to lead disco dollies to a life of vice.

  2. tonka_92 says:

    can’t wait until tonight when I can actually play it… days after those people across the ocean

    #nooceans

  3. newguy2012 says:

    Lookout for Denuvo on this title.

    • montorsi says:

      We’re all rather concerned about the 1-3 FPS hit.

      • newguy2012 says:

        Rumours say it just might munch up your SSD. It is not confirmed yet but buyer beware on this one.

        And it eats up 5% system performance which may or may not matter depending on your system.

        • HothMonster says:

          That was shown to be a bunch of hogwash. No one has been able to recreate the initial “findings”

  4. Krazen says:

    Probably a good thing you picked a Qunari as your main character as even after this many games Bioware still can’t do good hair on their characters..

    • Zenicetus says:

      The beards are worse. I’m running a human mage, and for some reason there is a big gap in the choices between light stubble and Santa beards. Can’t have a standard groomed beard apparently. Most of the mustaches are pure comedy too, with lots of Snidely Whiplash twirlers and Fu Manchus.

      I settled on a goatee that seems to be floating a few centimeters in front of my guy’s chin.

      • Makariel says:

        Aye, I saw some screenshots of one of the new companions and he looks like he pulled a fake pirate beard from a dumpster and glued it to his face without looking into the mirror.

      • qutayba7 says:

        Yeah, the hair has gotten worse in each Dragon Age installment. Tip: stubble goatee looks better than costume prop goatee.

  5. Napoleon15 says:

    Are the PC controls for this with keyboard and mouse as bad as I’ve been hearing? I’m potentially interested in the game, but if what people are saying is true and not hyperbole, then I don’t want to touch it until the controls get patched or modded with something better.

    • Krazen says:

      They’ve acknowledged the problems and will be patching the PC version – link to forum.bioware.com

      How soon and how well? We’ll have to wait and see.

    • 2late2die says:

      There indeed have been some issues with the controls, but honestly they’re pretty minor and certainly not enough to detract from the experience.

    • Hidden_7 says:

      Yes, they’re really bad. They’re so bad they nearly put me off playing the game entirely, and I’m someone who very gladly and happily plays through things like Mordor or Dark Souls with a m+kb, so take that as you will.

      They AREN’T so bad that they’re unplayable, I did eventually wrangle my way through, but I’m very happy to hear they’re being looked at in a patch.

      They are so bad though, that I’m honestly a little surprised I hadn’t heard any mention of them in reviews. Especially here on RPS. Usually, even when the reviewer is being all superior “oh just use a gamepad you silly billy I know better than you how you like to play games” they’ll mention that the m+kb controls are bad.

      But yeah, not unplayable, but you may want to wait for the patch.

      • Bester says:

        I’m playing on a m+kb, and I don’t think they are that bad. They are a little unintuitive, but it is far from unplayable. Once you get used to them that goes away.

        My big irritations are there being no automatic walk to loot so you have to manually get close to what you are trying to loot, and the inability to zoom out at all in tactical mode (tactical mode is basically useless as it currently stands, and I don’t use it as a result). I don’t know if the latter is PC only or not, so your experience may vary.

      • ocelot113 says:

        “They are so bad though, that I’m honestly a little surprised I hadn’t heard any mention of them in reviews. Especially here on RPS.”

        Seriously, I returned my game because it was too much for me to handle (I stopped playing dark souls at the first boss, if that gives you a meter stick :P). I want to enjoy the game and the controls are so nonintuitive and sluggish for me that it would tarnish my entire experience. I am more interested in tactics than hack and slash and the tactical combat I feel was the worst off. But every dragon age game so far had a lock on and attack system, this one does not and because of the sluggish nature of my warrior, it was brutal to try and finagle a camera that was very unfriendly to previous DA players, in my opinion.

        That being said, I’ve been following the BioWare forums the past couple days expecting someone to write something about the massive lash out from the PC version. But not a peep from the journalist.

        Incredibly shocked, like you said, not from IGN or the other console focused sites, but the smaller PC centric sites.

        P.S. There’s one… no cause for celebration though.
        link to incgamers.com

        • simmuskhan says:

          Actually, it does have a lock on (though I had to look at the manual to find it)!

    • Zenicetus says:

      It’s not unplayable on M&K, but it feels like they did the minimum necessary to make it work at all.

      There is no toggle for walking. You and your party run everywhere, constantly jerking to a halt, especially in confined spaces indoors. Until they add a walk toggle, it will feel more like a MMO than an RPG.

      Looting is clumsy because you can’t mouse click on loot to simultaneously move the character to the loot and open the loot screen. You have to manually move very close to the loot… run, jerk to a stop… no, not close enough… run, jerk to a stop again… and then click.

      It’s not strictly a mouse and keyboard issue, but the promised Tactical view doesn’t zoom out far enough to be useful except in a very few cases outdoors. It just doesn’t show enough of the battle area to make it worth issuing movement orders for flanking, so I’ve just stopped using it because it’s so annoying. The game can be played in a semi-tactical way by using the pause key, and jumping between characters to issue commands.

      Anyway, it hasn’t stopped me playing the game with mouse and keyboard, but it sure could be better optimized.

    • notenome says:

      As far as controls go, it’s nothing out of the ordinary for an rpg. ‘I’ opens your inventory etc… The one thing I would say they did probably confused a lot of people (still trips me up occasionally) was making ‘left mouse button’ attack and ‘right mouse button’ ‘use.interact’. As a consequence of this I have swung my axe at just about every vendor, piece of loot, horse and companion in the game. There are plenty of other issues as far as character goes, but those aren’t specific to m+k.

      Honestly I’m surprised at how well received by RPS. I agree more with Eurogamer, there’s a lot amateur hour stuff going on this game.

  6. craigdolphin says:

    Been hearing the mouse and keyboard controls are absolute shite for DAI. Was a bit surprised after RPS giving it such a glowing review. Did you use a controller Alec? If so, how about unplugging it and testing the game using the kb&m controls for a while. Seems like a review that doesn’t factor in kb&m controls is missing something fairly significant for many PC gamers.

    • mukuste says:

      The resistence of PC gamers to using a controller in games which were clearly designed to be played with a controller bemuses me to this day.

      • Cinek says:

        If my favourite genre would be platformers or action games I would consider it, just like I would consider joystick for flight sim or wheel for racing games (that one I actually do have). But I don’t play platformers or action games, one of my favourite genres are RPGs, and RPGs, strategy games and shooters = K+M.

      • Noumenon says:

        I’ve tried more than once to get my 2013 laptop to accept controller input. There’s some kind of unresolvable driver issue.

    • montorsi says:

      Hello, 2006 called. It wanted to know why you hadn’t bought a fucking controller already.

      • Cinek says:

        Hello, 2014 called, wanted to know why the f*** would you need to buy a controller?! FOR AN RPG!

        • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

          Because it’s an action-RPG?

          Not being snarky, actually asking. If you have to move your dude around and biff people then sure, a controller is great. But if you just pick stuff from menus and a controller is better at it than a friggin’ mouse, then something went very wrong for sure.

      • Brinx says:

        But I suck so much at using controllers.

        • mukuste says:

          Takes a couple hours tops to get used to, enriches HUNDREDS OF HOURS of future playtime since, let’s face it, pretty much all our big AAA titles are console ports and designed for controllers.

          • PopeRatzo says:

            let’s face it, pretty much all our big AAA titles are console ports and designed for controllers.

            Which is the best reason of all not to simply comply.

            Consumers are supposed to get what they want, not what the industry thinks we should have because they are console-centric (for no reason beyond “because piracy”).

            If people didn’t complain, the developers of Dragon Age Inquisition would not be rushing to put out a patch so people can use their interface of choice. A controller for an RPG is perverse.

      • Zenicetus says:

        I’ll tell you why. It’s because I have a joystick, throttle quadrant, rudder pedals, and TrackIR plugged into my USB ports. That already makes it “interesting” to get some older games working, that aren’t expecting so many control inputs. I’m not going to add a gamepad to complicate things even further. Especially since most of my gaming involves strategy, flight sims, and RPG’s that don’t require twitch-reflex action controls.

        Is that reason enough?

        FWIW, I’m also a little disappointed the RPS W.I.T. didn’t at least mention the mouse and keyboard issues. It’s not a game-breaking problem, but it’s something that should have been addressed.

        • mukuste says:

          Erm… a few bucks will get you a USB hub so that you can plug/unplug all that stuff at will.

      • Jade Raven says:

        Because a mouse is a much more precise and easier to use than a gamepad and a keyboard has a lot more buttons. Also a PC is basically unusable with just a gamepad, that’s why nearly everyone who has a PC has a mouse and keyboard and hardly anyone has a gamepad. They are shit for just about anything except 2D games.

      • Jason Moyer says:

        1991 called and wants its Gravis Gamepad Pro back.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Started on mouse/keyboard, switched to gamepad from curiosity a couple of hours in, am probably sticking with gamepad cos they’ve done that very well. The PC controls didn’t have anything that particularly outraged me, but it did feel kind of… off.

      • jezcentral says:

        Burn the heretic!

      • Bester says:

        I have to agree, and that is a good way of stating it. They aren’t disruptive, but they seem a bit off. It is more of a niggling irritation that they should be slightly more intuitive.

      • MontyTexas says:

        I dunno, I love the game, but I think this is the first out of many I have been on the WTF side of the fence when it comes to m&k implementation. It’s like I bought a Tesla with roll up windows and manual locks. Clearly there are things I don’t understand about game development.

        I’ve dusted off my controller after 30 hours of trying to adapt, but it still grinds my gears.

  7. Cinek says:

    Wanted to buy it, but…
    First I found out that it’s an origin title. No way to buy standalone version, anywhere.
    Then I found a price for it… £49.99 for a standard edition or £59.99 for 3 virtual animals, chair, box and some metal armour. OH MY GOD.
    And a final nail to the coffin were all of the problems with PC version. Seems like this game is unplayable unless you got one specific GPU that devs imagined, TV and a controller plugged in to your PC… all of that for “standard edition” £49.99.

    … yea… right…. keep on going EA, keep on going…

    • mukuste says:

      Actually the benchmarks I’ve seen suggest that High settings look almost identical to maxed out and are well playable even on a lowly R7 260X. It seems pretty well optimized.

    • Creeping Death says:

      You need to learn to shop around. Amazon had it for £35 a couple of days ago (Unfortunately they seem to have raised it to £40 for release day) and a few others sites I’ve seen had it listed for £30 (simplycdkeys.com is the first that springs to mind).

  8. Brosecutor says:

    I’m playing it with mouse and keyboard and I don’t see what the hoopla is about. Brillant game so far, already my favourite of the series.

    • Krazen says:

      The fuss is that the control system is completely different compared to DA1 & DA2 which worked very well on KB+M. You can no longer control almost every thing with just the mouse, no click to move, loot collection sucks etc. For example this means people with disabilities are finding the game completely unplayable in its current state.

  9. dforce66 says:

    I am also playing with a mouse and keyboard and having no issues, loving the game so far.

  10. Hex says:

    So I mean. What is it with world-saving epic heroes wandering into houses and stealing toast or a fistful of change or some poor sap’s grandmother’s brooch?

    It would be nice to have a properly funded adventuring crew from time to time, so you can focus on orc-genocide and whatnot.

  11. Auldman says:

    I’ve got a 660ti (going to have a 970 soon) backed by an I5 3570k (unlocked) and it’s run pretty well on High settings (textures Ultra) and with anti-aliasing turned off. I think I’ve been getting anywhere from 45-60 fps depending on the scene and action and the game looks crazy good! Long loading times at start up are my main complaint.

    PC controls are a little awkward at first but at the end of the first hour in game I was pretty used to them. I am still in the first major area of the game and it’s Skyrim huge with tons of things to do. There are a lot of fetch quests but it does feel as though BioWare have linked these much better to the main plot so I never feel like getting food for someone is somehow completely unrelated to the main story. It’s a really solid game and vastly superior to DA 2. Do I think it’s better than Origins? Not ready to make that call yet but I got a suspicion I might end up feeling that way.

  12. shagen454 says:

    I thought I was really burnt out on games, even games that I really love like Elite: Dangerous – I can’t seem to get into that sinkhole of lost time through obsession with most games – you know when it’s a pain in the ass to go take a shit or eat food since you’ve been utterly sucked into and biologically adapted into the game world for hours on end.

    I really thought this Dragon Age was going to be subpar compared to the reviews. But, now I can say that I have totally lost a lot of time to this game so far, the questing is quite pleasing as the exploration is very satisfying (and varied).

    One of my favorite moments was maybe the second actual ladder in the game and instead of clicking on it falling off of the platform into a canyon below. That was when I knew they made one of the most important changes to the game-play.

    • shagen454 says:

      One thing that really pisses me off though – is that I cannot bind auto-run to the scrolling mouse button like i do with most RPGs.

  13. MataDor says:

    This is unbelievable…. I can’t toggle run/walk. My character always runs. This pissed me off so much I had to quit after 15 min. This is not acceptable in RPG game. Need to wait till they fix his…. Christ….

  14. Blackcompany says:

    How is combat? Seems like neither weapons nor magic gave any real weight or impact? Is that so?

    • Hex says:

      Well they said combat is more like DA2, I believe, so…that sounds about right.

    • notenome says:

      Tbh? Pretty shit.

      It’s a lot more like DA2 then DA1. There is a tactical mode but you can’t queue up actions, and actions occur so quickly it really doesn’t make much sense to use it unless it’s a big boss battle affair. I’m playing on hard and honestly most ‘difficult’ enemies are just hp sponges. It basically adds up to combat being something that ‘happens’, it’s neither involving nor engaging enough to require much thought.

      It’s not as bad a DA2, but it’s definitely a weak point of the game.

    • ffordesoon says:

      Not playing it on PC, because I took one look at video of it and said, “That looks like a controller-centric game.” Bought it on PS4. Based on comments here, I think I was right to do so.

      That said, my experience with combat so far may apply to the PC version as well, so: it’s not a game you want to play for the combat. It’s not bad combat – in fact, it may be the best combat the series has ever had (inb4 “NUH UH DA:O BECAUSE PC MASTER RACE”), because it combines DA2’s responsiveness with DA:O’s focus on positioning and threat management.

      However, the immediate comparison that came to mind when I first played it was not either previous Dragon Age, but Neverwinter, the MMO. If that game didn’t have to deal with input lag at all and had more responsive enemy staggers, it would feel similar to Inquisition – at least, Inquisition on consoles. It doesn’t feel quite as floaty as Neverwinter, but you are still basically holding down a button and waiting for things to die. Which I don’t mind. But if you’re looking for a game that feels meaty and visceral and otherwise action-game-y in combat, you’ll be disappointed.

  15. WiggumEsquilax says:

    *Sigh*

    Still no warning to people from RPS on how tactical mode is completely broken?

    Don’t worry, maybe there just aren’t any DA:O tactical or BG2 fans who trust your reviews.

    • Ex Lion Tamer says:

      Perhaps other RPS readers just, you know, read Adam’s WIT (published earlier this week), which absolutely takes the tactical mode to task. I find that design choice frustrating too, but can’t blame the Hivemind for that.

  16. simmuskhan says:

    Really disliking the lack of movement options with the mouse. What was wrong with the auto move to target for close combat guys? (Or looting for that matter.) For people with lesser mobility, the pure mouse controls of the original Dragon Age were great. How did they get lost?

  17. ProlificSky says:

    First off, I have to say I enjoy the game, I really do, but it suffers from a serious case of consolitis. The gutting of AI tactical behaviors, the clunky and overly large UI, the limited tactical camera (with the omission of an ENITRE fast forward feature when not using a gamepad), the awkward M+KB controls, all indicative of a console port. What makes it so sad is the fact that PC was supposed to be the lead platform!
    link to videogamer.com

    If you have interest in getting the game and own a current gen console, I highly suggest getting the game on one of those instead. The PC version is currently unoptimized and I feel even worse for the people who bought the game for previous gen consoles. Shame on Bioware and EA. Buyers beware.

  18. statistx says:

    ok, someone please help me out here:
    What Setting (on PC Version) would be for hair quality?
    Mine looks like molten plastic, poured over the characters head and then scrubbed down with oil.
    It’s static and shiny as fuck and i don’t see that in the screenshots above.
    If someone knows, please answer, so I can skip the whole messing around with my settings and restarting for some of them.

    • ProlificSky says:

      You want to set Mesh Quality to at least High to get rid of that ugly plastic effect. Yea, it’s pretty bad…actually hair in general was done poorly with the severe lack of options (at least half of them bald) in character creation.

      • Hafnia says:

        Nice tip, thanks. I was having the ‘lego hair’ effect as well, will try this out.

      • statistx says:

        Thanks, gonna ramp that setting up then.
        I also agree that it’s pretty bad and especially if you don’t like short hair on female characters.

        The characters in general have some pretty bad sliders to choose from too.
        Same as in Mass Effect back then, there are just a few details you CAN’T change, but exactly those make the character seem “off” somehow and the “Skyrim effect” of having bad light in your character creation and the character slightly moving around all the time, doesn’t help.

    • Brinx says:

      I read on the interwebs that you’re supposed to set “glitter quality” to ultra to get rid of it. Be warned that this was on a German website and I’m not sure how the option is named in English. (Not getting the game till after I have played through the other Dragon Age games agian.)

  19. Buuurr says:

    Great game. Loving it. You can tell its great because of all the silly complaints.