Have You Played… Dragon Age: Inquisition?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Back in the spotlight recently, due to Bioware’s latest game, Mass Effect Andromeda, to some extent aping its MMO/Ubimap-like structure. I have mixed feelings about Dragon Age: Inquisition. On the one hand, I thought it had a great cast of companion characters, boasting both charisma and weirdness (say hello to Solas, above). On the other, I never finished the thing, having burned out on frantic random encounter combat, endless pursuit of icons and the ever-spinning loot’n’craft wheel before the storyline could resolve.

I don’t think it’s even remotely a disaster, or even the red-headed stepchild of the Dragon Age family. I think, in fact, it’s Bioware’s best game since Mass Effect 2, particularly in terms of characterisation.

I enjoyed my time with it quite a bit, but inherently struggle with almost any repeated activity, and increasingly it felt as though DAI was defined by repeated activities.

I do fear every big budget game slowly morphing into an icon-based open world game, I must admit. But I think it’s time to accept that this is what’s going to happen to what we once might have called RPGs, because that’s what sells. I hope that the next Dragon Age can find ways to advance, rather than simply siphon, the formula.


  1. HopeHubris says:

    I enjoyed the game, too bad it was surrounded by 60 hours of pointless combat and walking

    • Haldurson says:

      Exactly. That said, the game did have a really enthusiastic following. I had friends who could not comprehend why I was not excited about the sequel. Ah well. I guess some people saw something in the game that I did not. There was enough to enjoy there that I did push myself to play the first game all the way through… once. But some of it was just tedious and felt more like work than plaly.

      • Konservenknilch says:

        DA2, despite its many, many flaws at least tried to do something. A smaller, more personal story with time-jumps and being about religious extremism. DA:I went back into the comfortable mould of hero-saves-the-world with endless gameplay. Well, if that’s what the people want.

        • malkav11 says:

          It’s not really about religious extremism, though. It’s about a magic rock that makes people crazy.

          • Konservenknilch says:

            True, I overstated it. Forgot the whole Lyrium thingy. Still, one of the few games that takes religion seriously. DA3 is called Inquisition, for Goodness’ sake, and I play the Inquisitor.

    • LexW1 says:


      I played it twice, myself, but the first time I just burned out maybe 2/3rds of the way through. There was so much tedious combat, boring areas full of dozens of quests the game seemed me to want to do, and so on.

      The second time, I came prepared. I refused to do any quest which seemed dull. I didn’t stick around in areas I wasn’t enjoying. I realized you didn’t need to craft, but I also found the Black Emporium (added waaaaaay after release), which let you skip the bad bit of crafting – that being gathering the materials so I could when I wanted to. Then I just focused on the story and characters and the rare, more interesting fights, and I had a jolly good time. I finished the entire game and expansions in the time it took me to get 2/3rds of the way through the base game before!

      It’s one of the very few games I’ve ever played when I felt it would be a legitimately better game if they’d just cut a lot of the content. Not in the usual way, where one might wish they’d put less effort on A, so more on B. Not so here. Here they could just have cut entire zones, entire quests, all the epicly long and awful collectathons, and it would have been a wildly better game.

  2. Fry says:

    Yes I have played Dragon Age: Inquisition. About 5 hours worth. And that was more than enough, thank you.

    • LearningToSmile says:


      Wasn’t anywhere near as violently bad as the second DA, but it lost my interest as soon as it opened up and the MMO part started.

      • SaunteringLion says:

        I much preferred Dragon Age II to Inquisition. Everything in Inquisition just felt bland.

        Origins, on the other hand, is top 5 BioWare games for me (Baldur’s Gate II, Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect 2, Mass Effect 1).

        • Konservenknilch says:

          I guess a lot of the people responsible for the games you like – and I like (not kotor though, different topic) – are simply not in the company anymore. So nothing to be done.

          • sosolidshoe says:

            Yup, though it’s particularly galling that they were damn close to creating a formula for the, for my money, ideal CRPG with just the right blend of accessibility and complexity in the gameplay and interesting stories, before the shifting culture at the company as a result of the EA acquisition set them on the present path towards open world collectathons with plots based on purely character-conflict-driven Soap Opera rubbish.

            Now we’re left with a situation where, a couple of outliers aside, your choice for CRPGs is the nuBioware style or harking back to 90’s top-down isometrics.

  3. isr1eg says:

    Yeah, the gameplay loop was fucked up by the mandatory yet weak side content.

    It did have great writing and nice ideias, I’m confident that if they stick to the formula, the next game could be a blast. You can see some of that in the DLC content, especially the first (wich gave you an open map with actually interesting and varied quests) and the last one, wich was a masterpiece, although very linear.

  4. Halk says:

    >I do fear every big budget game slowly morphing into
    >an icon-based open world game, I must admit.

    I have struggled for quite some time with understanding why anyone even still plays big budget games. It was at some point in the first half of the 2000’s when their genericity began to exceed that of Hollywood movies.

    (Hollywood at least makes interesting movies *from time to time*, the AAA gaming industry basically never.)

    • lordcooper says:

      For me, it’s because every now and then you get a Witcher 3 or Resident Evil 7.

    • ZippyLemon says:

      It was a breakthrough moment in my adolescence when I realised the futility of pinning my hopes and dreams on the AAA videogame industry.

      I barely play videogames any more. I just read RPS and chortle.

      • Premium User Badge

        zapatapon says:

        Your life sounds like a blast!

        (… sorry, I’m being facetious, no real offense intended.)

        • ZippyLemon says:

          “Can I say something dickish and insure myself against being a dick at the same time, without being vapid? I don’t know, but I can try!” you must have thought.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      Because indie RPGs, while often much more imaginative and better-written, tend to lack staying power. Even Torment: Tides of Numenera, with its $4 million dollars of Kickstarter money, was not a particularly long game. Many players want RPGs they can get lost in for weeks at a time, not days.

      It’s also worth considering that there is a significant difference between cinematic RPGs and text-driven RPGs, with many players preferring the former for ease of immersion. For obvious financial reasons, 90% of cinematic RPGs are triple-A titles.

      • RuySan says:

        I have no idea what do you mean by “staying power” but I had way more fun with legend of grimrock 1&2 and divinity: original sin than any AAA RPG from the last decade except the witcher 3.

        Even so, I kind of enjoyed dragon age inquisition. Much more than any mass effect. The success of that series baffles me.

        • TheAngriestHobo says:

          Staying power. The ability to last for a significant amount of time. Seriously, you didn’t get that from context?

          • RuySan says:

            A boring game, even if big, can’t last for much time, can it?

        • SaunteringLion says:

          Shadowrun Returns, particularly Dragonfall and Hong Kong, were some of my favourite RPG experiences of this decade. The only triple-A RPGs that come close are Witcher 3 (winner) and Mass Effect 2.

          • Hoot says:

            As far as the RPG goes, Pillars of Eternity most definitely belongs in the same league as The Witcher 3, despite them being completely different in many ways.

            Tyranny was also decent but wasn’t a patch on Pillars.

            Played the trial for the new Mass Effect, not impressed. Booted up ME2, imported a savegame and was instantly more entertained by the opening hour of a game I’ve played 4 times than by a new, megabucks triple A title from the SAME once-lauded development house.

      • RichUncleSkeleton says:

        Maybe the creators of those indie games are just more judicious at cutting out underwhelming or unnecessary bloat than big developers are, freed as they are from the confines of massive marketing budgets that rely on game size/length as an advertising bullet point. The truth is, most games, and especially RPG’s, and especially especially “AAA” RPG’s are utterly larded up with subpar content that exists only as padding.

    • April March says:

      Sometimes I like being told to go to the next waypoint, then doing so while a very pretty scene unfolds. I usually have an AAA title that I play intermittently for months, when I don’t feel like playing the weird and bizarre indie thing that’s the thing I’d mention if you asked me what game I’d been playing recently.

      But sometimes I just play Eldritch or Tower of Guns and that’s cool too.

  5. Creeping Death says:

    There is a really great 20 hour game buried in the 80 hour collectathon that is DA:I.

  6. Dewal says:

    First, if can I do my SJW, isn’t “red-headed stepchild” a bit outdated expression and insulting towards red-headed people ? (I’m not, but was sensibilized on the subject)
    I allow myself this criticism, knowing that RPS is usually progressist on this kind of things.

    On the game now, I liked it. A bit of grinding and ininteresting questing true, but that can be easily skipped. The scenario (spoilers) had a nice progression to it, not exceptional, but I liked the way we lost the first fort and had to relocate, and then start again. Reminded me a bit of Fable III (spoilers), when you spent part of the game becoming king, and then you discover another phase of the game where you actually rule. Or the first Guild Wars, where you start in a nice little country and then everything burn down. Few games make you lose like that (or just change the setting brutally) and it’s refreshing. Also, some of the companions were interesting and the dialogues between them made me genuinely laugh from time to time.

    I spent a lot of time running in circles, true, and not everything it did was rememorable. In the end, the game was far from perfect but it had some very good moments.

    • Faults says:

      Redhead here. I understand how the term could be construed as offensive, but really as a (very) white male, I still have all the privileges of general whiteness and maleness. Sure, I was teased at school for it, but it’s not like I’ve faced any systemic oppression by being ginger.

      So really, while it’s an annoying bit of pejorative, it’s fine.

    • LexW1 says:

      As someone with ADHD, whose life has been pretty severly impacted by it (mostly negatively), I’ll just be happy when people stop using “ADHD” or “attention deficit” as an insult or joke. You see a lot of people who regard themselves as tremendously progressive, and who throw a fit if someone is called a “retard”, happily using ADHD as a punchline.

  7. UnholySmoke says:

    The combat was dull as dishwater but I played right through Inquisition, I guess for the characterisation. It’s a shame it becomes such a grind because the locations and visuals are just brilliant right till the end, and it does what big RPGs do so rarely by delivering a really satisfying ending. The best thing I ever did was whack the difficulty to the lowest setting a few dozen hours in and treat it like the campest fantasy storybook in history. Really wish they’d let you bang the foxy scout dwarf lady but I was very happy being the bit of rough to my posh French ambassador ladyfriend.

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    Drib says:

    You botched the link to the tag, there. It 404s and is a weird attempt.

  9. welverin says:

    “On the other, I never finished the thing, having burned out on frantic random encounter combat, endless pursuit of icons and the ever-spinning loot’n’craft wheel before the storyline could resolve.”

    Serious question people: Why is this an issue? Do you simply not realize you can skip the inane crap (I did next to no crafting in DA:I myself), are your obsessive compulsive tendencies to strong to ignore it and not playing at all is the only answer?

    I got burnt out on the Assassin’s Creed games after three, a few years later I was ready for more and decided to catch up, but in order to not burn out again I made a concerted effort to ignore the random collection and simplistic side quests. I was mostly successful, I am all caught up, and looking forward to the next game whenever it may come out.

    • Halk says:

      Have not played these games in particular, but many RPGs have the same problem, for example the Infinity Engine games. You often need to do the sidequests for XP or gear; and if you don’t, you usually don’t know that you don’t. And even if you know that a sidequest is not needed for that reason, there is no a priori way of knowing whether this is one of those worth playing (because it delivers interesting content you don’t want to miss) or one of the boring filler ones.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      It’s always the same issue: there are good sidequests in games like these, so what do you do? Skip this ! on the map expecting it’s gonna be another boring 10 bear ass fetch quest, potentially missing something great?

      That’s the problem, really. The developers don’t tag quests as “boring filler”. You only know that in retrospect. Applying preemptive culling of quests that look like filler would make you miss out some of the best stuff in The Witcher 3, for example.

      • MasterPrudent says:

        Honestly in DA:I it’s really not hard to know which bits are boring filler and which are not. Is it under the main quest or companion section in your journal? If so do it if not pass on.

      • EwokThisWay says:

        I agree 100% with this.
        That’s why i’m not affraid anymore to play RPGs with online guides/walkthrough or using the wikipedia of these games.

        I restarted the Mass Effect trilogy (only played the first game halfway through before) with an online guide that roughly tell you what side missions actually have an impact on the trilogy, give you a prefered order to do missions, visit planets and get your companions and warn you about crucial decisions that impact before you do something stupid that ruins the end. Without really spoiling much.
        It’s unbelievable how the games are MUCH, MUCH more enjoyable like that, because i know i’m playing the game how it was intended to be playing, i play the the game the devellopers made.

        • nFec says:

          Care to link to this guide? I’d be game to restart the series from scratch :D

    • RQH says:

      As a matter of fact, I am very, very good at ignoring inane crap. So good, in fact, that I stopped playing DA:I and never looked back.

    • Otterley says:

      Why do you need to ask, if you yourself burnt out on AssCreed? Seems you know exactly how it happens and what it’s like.

    • SaunteringLion says:

      Main quests are gated in Inquisition behind the MMO type grinding, no?

    • Hieronymusgoa says:

      Totally with you on that one. I play indie games 90% of the time, apart from Bioware games. That is were I get my innovative gameplay. That is why I dont really mind and simply ignore every one of the Bioware “collect stuff” or “craft that thing” quests or activities in their RPGs and just talk and talk and talk and have some occasional fighting. I enjoyed every Bioware RPG (though of course to very different degrees). I even *gasp* didnt mind the Mass Effect 3 ending without the DLC although I will admit I liked the extended ending much more. DA2 wasn’t the best of their works, but DA:I (and also Andromeda) get much more hate than necessary.

  10. CartonofMilk says:

    guess i’ll repost what i said in the ME:A comments

    I never could keep interested in any bioware game i tried past the first couple of hours (cutscenes is probably my most hated things in games, and i consider “good story” and “complex dialogues” in a game, rpg or not, to be about number 50th in the list of priorities, in a rpg specifically i just need a half assed excuse to, in order, explore, customize my character, loot and improve my skills. Don’t force me to watch your subpar fantasy movie or read your subpar fantasy book). Mass Effect especially has always been puzzling to me. i tried the first two for about 4 hours each and was left scratching my head as they seemed to go out of their way to tick all the boxes of things that bore me to death in games. But then when they said that DA:Inquisition was gonna be more “open world” i got interested. Turns out this so called open world was very shallow, ugly and separated in uninspired small regions.

    Still…this is only Bioware game i have played past a few hours and even through (150 hours, went through every inch of content..well..that you can on one playthrough). But…was i entertained? Reasonably so i imagine if i finished it, yet I remember getting pretty sick of the game around the 80 hours mark but being a completist (a really dreadful mental disorder i don’t wish on anyone) i plowed on. My opinion today would be that it was an alright but ultimately unmemorable game.

    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      So in short you play RPGs expecting DOOM and then go “Why isn’t it Doom? Help, there’s words here!”.

      I don’t really get why you’d play a genre you hate everything about.

      • Hoot says:

        For real. I think the guy thinks an RPG is the same as an ARPG. Big hint, they aren’t.

        Baldurs Gate = RPG
        Diablo = ARPG

        Simplest games that illustrate the difference.

    • Konservenknilch says:

      “I never could keep interested in any bioware game i tried past the first couple of hours (cutscenes is probably my most hated things in games)”

      So… don’t play Bioware games? Because that’s kinda their thing.


      “(150 hours, went through every inch of content..well..that you can on one playthrough). But…was i entertained? Reasonably so i imagine if i finished it, yet I remember getting pretty sick of the game around the 80 hours mark”

      Who the hell complains about a game they played for 150 hours? And if you got sick of it after 80 hours, you still played 70 more hours? I mean, sweet Jesus.

    • napoleonic says:

      “i consider “good story” and “complex dialogues” in a game, rpg or not, to be about number 50th in the list of priorities”

      Gonna go out on a limb and say that RPGs are not for you.

  11. Kefren says:

    Not played it, but one of the voice actors is doing audio books for me and I’m really impressed with her.

    I tried Dragon Age Origins and got bored quite quickly. I plan to give it another go sometime, since it took three attempts before I could last longer than a couple of hours in Mass Effect before getting bored (but eventually I did learn to enjoy ME – years later!)

  12. Flangie says:

    Played about 15 hrs of this, but came to it after TW3, so my RPG expectations had definitely moved up a gear. Also its mmo-ness was really grating. Quite liked DA1 but never played 2.

  13. Auldman says:


    Should you attempt it again I’d suggest avoiding feeling the need to do every shard hunt or dull fetch quest in every area. I tended to just bypass those or some of those.

    I ended up relishing the dragon fights as they were far tougher than in Skyrim.

    If there’s one thing that’s odd to me about their decisions regarding DAI it’s that BioWare set you up with this villain for the main game and the fight with him is fun for a bit but feels anti-climactic when you finish and then…
    ..You get that last bit of DLC they put out where you learn of *spoilers follow* just how treacherous one of your beloved companions has been and how that individual is a far worse villain than the one you fought for 100 hours of game!

    Alec, try it again but make sure you have the DLC and see if you don’t come to the same conclusion I did-that the real villain of the piece has been with you the whole time and under your very nose! It’s an odd design choice and brilliant at the same time!

  14. Zanchito says:

    Loved 1,very much enjoyed 2,as flawed as it may have been, paid full price for inquisition. Never more. I have mmos when I want to play mmos. Sad, because there were some really interesting things in inquisition (Trevor’s conversation his father gave me goosebumps. Very close to some real fucked up stories that have happened to friends).

  15. MrDeVil_909 says:

    I really enjoyed DA:I when it came out. Burned through the game in 80 odd hours. But there’s a weird thing with this game and DA:O where it goes cold on attempted replay and in the memory.

    DA2 for its many, varied and well documented faults I could play through twice and enjoy each time. Each Witcher I’ve played twice. (except 3 because it’s just too damned big and I was happy with how it ended for me.) Mass Effect 1 & 2 I played both twice at least, and I intend to do a full series replay at some point.

    But Origins and Inquisition both just feel weirdly cold and passionless and I can’t get more than 10 hours into a replay.

    I’d still wholeheartedly recommend them, and apparently Inquisition has some good DLC, but they are strange old games.

  16. dummiesday says:

    Playing through it at the moment and having a blast. Funnily enough, I was never interested in DA2, but I enjoyed the first one.

    By the way, the mage pictured is called Solas, not Solus. :)

  17. mavrik says:

    Characterization? Hmm… I remember each character having a short 30min quest and then never getting any special dialoge or things again. Am I remembering correctly?

    Also the main villain was so dumb and one note (“I’m evil, ugl, raaaarghh!”) with no development it could star in a Michael Bay movie.

  18. Abacus says:

    Yeah but I didn’t last long. The MMO combat was bad enough without the MMO everything else. That coupled with an insulting lack of respect for the player’s time was enough to convince me to quit maybe two hours into playing it. Luckily I only spent $10 on a PS4 copy so it wasn’t a huge loss.

    When I see scenes like “The Dawn Will Come” on YouTube I’ve got to hand it to Bioware, they have a special brand of schmaltz that I don’t think anyone else can hold a candle to.

  19. piesmagicos says:

    The tedious collecting nonsense was made bearable by the feeling of actually impacting the world. It was subtle things but still really welcome. The idea of coming back home after each foray into the dangerous world to get caught up on the rather mundane details of the goings on within the Inquisition. Possible seeing the castle around you take shape, the comings and goings of staff and the random quips you hear passing them. The general feeling that everyone had their own motivations and were enacting them…i mean it would have been supremely amazing if you could *actually* see all this happening like catching Cole in the act of burning turnips but not telling you why etc…but you know…10 rifts werent enough, we needed 50, so resources were needed elsewhere I guess. I do wish I wasnt nearly as OCD as I am so I could skip all those dang ?’s and !’s on the map and focus though. Oh well…all in all I totally enjoy the cliched savior role and being the chosen one. Not many games pull it off to this massive scale.

  20. MooseMuffin says:

    This game revealed to me that if you have good characters in an RPG, I don’t really care how you handle everything else. Its all just an excuse to spend time with my crew.

  21. Ivan says:

    Possibly the worst gaming experience I’ve ever had, and definitely the worst single-player experience I’ve ever had. Loved DA:O, really dug DA2, loved all three Mass Effects… but this. This. Augh.

    It’s not even about the MMO-ification. It’s about the fact that everything had about as little work put into it as possible, and the things that didn’t were irritating.

    The combat was some of the worst I’ve played in anything, with an inability to manage party members and fiddly, boring abilities. A gigantic highlight of all the other DA and ME games is having party members banter and/or influence the quest you’re doing, and there’s pretty much none of that here, in part because riding a mount makes them magically disappear, and most of the giant, empty environments need to be traversed on horseback. The potion mechanics were hyper-irritating, but it didn’t matter, because combat was simultaneously hyper-confusing but also really boring and non-impactful, not to mention hilariously easy even at the highest difficulty.

    The villain was boring, the companions pretty much had one “gotcha” moment and that was it, and in the end, everything just felt pointless. Maybe it would have been a tolerable game for me if it was done in the DA:O or DA2 combat style, but it wasn’t, and as such I’ve pretty much stopped caring about any furtherances to this world.

    • malkav11 says:

      I don’t like telling people they’re playing games wrong, because usually that’s arrogant bullshit…but using mounts in Inquisition is Playing It Wrong in a big way. They do almost nothing to increase your movement speed, are slow to mount and dismount, make it harder to navigate terrain, and as you note, turn off companion banter. And there is an enormous amount of companion banter in Inquisition. Hours worth. It’s some of the best writing in the whole game, too.

      If schlepping across the whole map is getting you down you are far better off using fast travel than mounts.

      …oh, and the combat is Dragon Age II’s combat system with a few improvements, so I am baffled as to how you could enjoy it there and not here. (It isn’t -good- combat, by any means, but at least there aren’t any of the ludicrous immersion breaking triple wave encounters that so characterized the slog of DA2’s combat, there’s a greater variety of enemies, and your abilities look better and are more generally useful.)

      • Ivan says:

        Yeah, I wish I had realized the thing about the mounts earlier. May have enhanced my enjoyment of the game substantially. As is, ugh. I wish they at least had some sort of minor signpost indicating that or something. Like a warning sign that says “Your companions will not be present while you travel on a mount.”

        As for the combat, I really don’t know what to tell you. It felt incredibly different. DA2 wasn’t fun, but skills felt meaningful, you didn’t have to make choices about which abilities to fit onto your skillbar, and playing on the hardest difficulty, it was actually important to pause, manage companion skills and cooldowns, manage aggro, have a tank, heal stuff, etc. In DA:I, playing on the hardest difficulty, it was a fiddly but laughable faceroll of everything. Sure, some skills sounded cool in theory, but it was all meaningless junk in the end. I dunno, maybe it was just not for me, but I played DA2 and DA:I back to back, and it was night and day.

  22. Laurentius says:

    I have. I was sure if I wanted to play it but glowing rvies also here on RPS convicted me and I wanted something to play during holidays. Do I regret buying it? No, it is competent game, maybe even good and I got my money worth for sure. It’s game though with many flaws, like main plot was very weak and those othr interesting themes were shuffled to the background. Whole singl-player mmo aspect was as expected vry gin and unrewarding. Charactres were by the numbers Bioware standars, which mean, interacting wih them was the best part of the game. All in all,as I said it is competent game, but nothing more. It’s even more crystal clear that ti should not win RPS Best RPG of 2014. That was not a good pick, espcially that year.

  23. Zenicetus says:

    I got roughly halfway through it before bailing out. It started okay, and once I read somewhere that you didn’t HAVE to spend all your time in the Hinterlands and could move on, it picked up a bit. In spite of the MMO filler, I was still at least a little interested until I hit a tedious scripted sequence at some large party event, and just said the hell with this. It ain’t worth it.

    I think if the companions had been more interesting, if I actually LIKED any of them and cared about them, I might have finished the game. But none of them really clicked for me. I’m hoping the same thing doesn’t happen with ME:A.

  24. deiseach says:

    I played it and enjoyed it, but it didn’t linger in the memory. I reluctantly concluded that, just as you can’t make a new Ultima VII and sell it to the modern gamer, you can’t even do a new Mass Effect. The gaming past is a foreign country – they do things differently there.

    Then I played the​ Witcher 3 and realised that you can still fall in love with a game and the problem with DA:I wasn’t some kind of temporal crisis, it was just another adequate game. I will not be picking up Mass Effect Andromeda any time soon.

  25. noodlecake says:

    It’s one of the few games that I decided to just outright buy rather than pirating it first to try it, just because nearly every game review site gave it glowing reviews (lots of 9/10s).

    I spent 12-14 hours with it and was so bored. Also there was a lot of of overt liberal propaganda woven into what I did play, which is sort of fine as it’s mostly values I agree with, but it felt really forced and clumsy and at odds with the general feel of the world to the detriment of my suspension of disbelief.

    I think if you want to make those points you shouldn’t have characters in this harsh, olde timey world all sound like their lines copied from a Tumblr blog post.

    The combat was abysmal, like even worse than Dragon Age 2 which was passable.

    I really enjoyed DA2, and Origins too. I wonder if part of the problem is time. We’ve seen games delivery narrative driven games much more successfully since. The Witcher 2/3, Telltale’s games, Oxenfree.

    I have been told that spending 12 hours in the first area trying to complete it is the worst way to play, but I didn’t feel much better about it the hour I spent in the next area either.

    • Beefenstein says:

      “Also there was a lot of of overt liberal propaganda…”

      Such as paying for games? ;)

    • noodlecake says:

      I spend tons of money on games. I just pirate them first to make sure I’m not spending £40 on something I don’t like. People say you can get refunds on Steam, but there are plenty of games that are horrendously boring for hours before they pick up, and those devs lose out on my money if I’m limited to the first two hours of their boring five hour intro (I’m looking at you Assassin’s Creed games).

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        Nauallis says:

        Claiming moral high ground is basically irrelevant once you admit to pirating, regardless of however justified you feel your reasoning is. May as well stop trying to argue that.

        • noodlecake says:

          I have bought more games than I otherwise would have, which means the games industry benefits. Sorry if that conflicts with your values, oh arbiter of all that is moral.

  26. Troubletcat says:

    Just one more nail in the coffin. BioWare hasn’t released anything worth playing since DA:O’s expansion pack in 2010 and ME2, released that same year.

    But this is what happens when you gradually lose all your good writers and replace them with authors of bad fanfics.

    Not to mention the alarming crash of the DA franchise. DA:O seemed like it was the first wave of revitialisation for the CRPG genre with its melding of an interesting original world, strong characters, and ABSOLUTELY VITALLY, engaging tactical combat mechanics that felt like an evolution of 90s entries in the genre.

    And then it nosedived off a cliff in an attempt to appeal to the call of duty audience (not my words – actually said by people working on the game in the lead up to DA2) even though they were making a bloody RPG – a genre that should be pretty much the antithesis of the simple, visceral satisfaction of yer CoDs.

    PoE and Tyranny and Torment (the new one) are all great throwbacks to the 90s but they are not evolved mechanically to the extent that DA:O was. I’m grateful for them, but it still feels like they’re missing an opportunity to genuinely modernise and mechanically in the way DA:O did. I will never forgive BioWare for throwing that away with the dreck they released afterwards.

    CDPR is, at least, still making OUTSTANDING RPGs, but gameplay-wise they’re in a different place.

    I feel bad for ranting but it’s one of the few things in gaming that really upsets me. The fall of BioWare. A name associated with some of the great defining classics of the RPG genre, and that seemed poised to carry them into the future when DA:O came out reduced to releasing utter trash like DA:I in such a short span of years. What a waste.

    • noodlecake says:

      It seems a strange thing to be genuinely upset about, to the point where you harbour resentment towards them.

      I like Anish Kapoor but I don’t think he needs to apologise every time he makes sculptures that don’t appeal to me.

      There was a lot about DA2 that was better than DA:O. DA:O, story wise, was your typical generic fantasy story, akin to Star Wars or The Belgariad, but with DA2 they did a lot to make it different. Instead of being the ultimate saviour of everything like in every other fantasy game ever made, you were driven by money and the divide between good and evil wasn’t quite so obvious.

      There were issues. It was a much smaller game, the combat lacked the depth of DA:O, assets were heavily re-used, but story wise it was much better than DA:O in my opinion. I found myself rolling my eyes more often than not at DA:O’s relentless barrage of fantasy cliches.

      • Crimsoneer says:

        Absolutely this. DA2 was a great concept that needed a few more years to mature. From a writing and design perspective, it was far better than DA:O, that was generic hero schtick

      • malkav11 says:

        It had potential from a writing perspective but the whole central conflict was so contrived and the third act so atrocious all around that I can’t stand with you on the better than Origins thing. Especially since it dropped the titular origins, which were a fantastic idea very well executed, in favor of a single protagonist with a single not terribly interesting background. And ruined the shit out of Anders, who was The Best ™ in Awakening. And killed Ser Pounce-a-Lot offscreen between games.

        Still, if there’s a reason to play 2 (and on the whole I’d recommend it once), the first two acts w/ attendant character writing (Anders aside) would absolutely be it.

    • Arglebargle says:

      Yeah, I’d have to agree. I quit the Bioware train at DA2. Played the demo, and could tell that it wasn’t for me. And then it turned into a rushed attempt to make the game a different genre. ME2 and DA:O were it for me, nothing since then.

      Bioware followed the same trajectory that all EA game company acquisitions do: They are slowly digested for several years until they do nothing but poot out crap.

  27. crazyd says:

    This game taught me that preordering isn’t such a bad thing. Because I waited for reviews on this game, the reviews were pretty damn universally great (link to opencritic.com), but holy shit did I hate this game. Maybe the characters are good, I couldn’t get around the absolutely horrible combat and mission design for long enough to actually get to know them.

  28. Freud says:

    I actually played through it just a couple of weeks ago.

    It looks good and some of the companions are well written and interesting but the game is a bit tedious. They’ve thrown in so much pointless filler MMO/fetch quests. The jumping puzzles, in an engine not built for it, are painful. The idea that you have to run a route through Skyhold every 30 minutes, talking to your companions, hoping to trigger a companion quest got old real fast. I wasted so much time doing this. The items were uninteresting stat sticks for the most part.

    By the end of the 80 hours I spent with it (OCD completionist) I didn’t even enjoy the game. Just wanted it to end.

    Bioware got a bit unlucky that Witcher 3 came along and illustrated just how good and interesting you can make an open world RPG. Even minor side quests don’t have to be pointless time fillers. They can tell you something about the world and those in it.

  29. pendergraft says:

    Playing through it right now. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am every time I see a “!” quest indicator on the mini-map and rush over to it only to find a book instead of an NPC.

    Sometimes you’ll find a person, though. Like that one time a random lady moaned about her missing ring almost in passing and a quest entry appeared in my journal. Then there’s the guy in the desert who gave me roughly in the neighborhood of a million mundane fetch quests in the lead-up to a dragon battle.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s almost zero side content worth your time within the zones themselves. Anything of quality derives either from the main quest or from constantly checking in on the companions.

  30. hey_tc says:

    Dragon Age Inquisition. Dull gameplay, a contrived plot, bad writing, unbearable characters (save a couple of returning characters) and Ubi-esque collection driven quests. Face clawingly bad all in all.

  31. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Wasn’t really bad on the first playthrough.
    Stuff to do was kinda generic and ubi but I could get away with exploring 25% and choosing which quests to pursue so I don’t really get the hate of players as collecting is completely optional. It’s even possible to enter difficult optional areas and get owned by dragons.
    And the premise of gathering an army and owning a keep was good.
    Inventory and UI was really bad.
    Establishing bases should have had more impact on the environment, more patrols, less monsters spawn, civilians move in, world map gets colored green etc – wasted opportunity.

  32. kud13 says:

    No, not yet. At some point I want to play 2 first, and given how many hours I’m putting into Age of Empires 2 HD these days, that seems like something in a very remote future.

  33. Sorbicol says:

    Wow. I’m going to speak in defence of DA:I because, while a long way from being a classic, really isn’t a bad game at all. It’s a game with a lot of bad mechanics in it, that I would say – the open world icon based maps being one of the main issues – but the combat, while not great was certainly serviceable and the environments created for the game and DLCs were really quite lovely.

    Where it flies is in the companions and their development over the course of the game – from Iron Bulls explainations of the Qun and how he came to lead the chargers, Cassandra’s love of Varric’s distinctly second rate Mills&Boon romances, Dorian’s troubled relationship with his father to Josephine’s exasperation at your actions should you choose to romance her. Admittedly they don’t all work – Blackwall And Cullen were really dull, Sera I found irritating and Vivienne drove me insane, but some of the interplay between them all was really well handled. Of course, it’s a shame they couldn’t put that into the main plot which was as derivative as them come.

    However, if you finish the main game and then play the Tresspassers DLC it all clanks into place and makes a mediocre storyline into something with the potential to be something really special. The lore which Bioware have burdened the whole Dragon Age series they finally decide what to do with, where they want the story go and what they want to ignore and it all becomes something quite gripping. At least it did for me.

    At least part of DA:I’s problems were caused by the release of The Witcher 3 a couple of months later which was light years ahead in almost all areas and showed just how antiquated DA:I was in some of its thinking.

    So yeah – not a classic but certainly a lot better than I think a lot of people give it credit for. However, I do agree there is a lot of turgid dross in the game which does smother the parts that sparkle.

  34. Cyrus says:


  35. Jason Moyer says:

    First they MMO’d Star Wars, and I did not speak out-Because I wasn’t a Star Wars fan.
    Then they MMO’d Dead Space, and I did not speak out-Because I wasn’t a Dead Space fan.
    Then they MMO’d Dragon Age, and I did not speak out-Because I wasn’t a Dragon Age fan.
    Then they MMO’d Mirror’s Edge and Mass Effect-And there were no EA games left that spoke to me.

  36. Deviija says:

    My favorite game with the greatest of companions and friendships. Individual character voices and writing were great. Choices were enjoyable and had weight. And I’d say it has the best DLC of any BioWare game so far in Trespasser. Critiques about busy work and activities to pursue in so many maps not being engaging enough is fine, but I have serious side-eye when it devolves into ‘so much Ubi clutter, so grueling and tedious’ complaints. Because it’s all optional content. You are not forced to do it to finish the game. Just do enough to get the recommended level for the next main story node and ignore the rest.

  37. icarussc says:

    Yes, and loved it. I played DAI through twice, then played Witcher 3, and thoroughly enjoyed them both … wait for it … for different reasons.

    DAI had these great characters (or at least character concepts; they didn’t all work out, but most did), a cool sense of management and leadership, a really epic setting, some neat alternative beats (the ball!), and absolutely amazing environments — for me, the highlight. The Storm Coast? The haunted Exalted Plains? That amazing temple in the desert? So, so cool. And it deserves props for being one of the only games *ever* to try and deal thoughtfully with religion.

    Witcher 3 has amazing writing and character work, an unbelievably realized world (not fantasty, not impressive at all in the sense of DAI, but real like no other; the city of Novigrad has no peer in RPGs), a solid, believable reason for virtually everything that happens, a fine combat system, and really cool and different lore.

    Loved ’em both. Looking forward to whatever comes next. (And, FWIW, couldn’t finish ME3).

    • Konservenknilch says:

      I’ll agree with you on the religion thing. So many (most?) fantasy games tend to skip that entirely, but in the DA games, it’s clearly a very important part of the characters lives. And why wouldn’t it be in this scenario. Cassandra was one of my faves, btw.

  38. malkav11 says:

    I enjoyed it mainly on the strength of the writing, lore, characters and absolutely stunning visual design. The combat’s bad (but thankfully trivial), and the Hinterlands are a nexus of terrible design, and I didn’t particularly like crafting or the loot, mounts were useless, and there were too many pointless collectibles and for a while loading times were atrocious. But man, so pretty and so much absorbing writing. The DLC was also very worthwhile, which has not always been the case with Bioware. Lots of cool worldbuilding and historical details, and a really interesting twist in Trespasser.

  39. pasports31 says:

    I liked DAI for the most part, but would’ve been nice if at least SOME of the side content aside from the companion quests was any good. I like open world stuff a lot, and some fluff/filler is fine, but dai was essentially a single player mmo.

  40. Konservenknilch says:

    Funny, just talked about DA:I over on BoingBoing some hours ago.

    Yeah, played through it. Incredible amount of filler. God damnit, those stupid shards, and the rewards weren’t even worth it. Pretty shitty writing, especially the romance stuff. Looks good though, and their engine performs amazingly well on crap hardware. That desert place (don’t remember which one) was quite beautiful. Overall i’d rank them 1 -> 2 -> 3. Yeah, I liked DA2, despite the obvious production flaws. At least it tried. Now we’re back to “save the world” stuff. Sigh.

  41. keefybabe says:

    Liked it enough to finish the main story and a lot of the side quests. But it was a definite case of, “that’ll do, pig” after that. I have no idea why they even bothered releasing DLC.

  42. barelyhomosapien says:

    Really enjoyed inquistion, played through it and spent some time with the multiplayer with friends to boot.

    I played exactly as much of the game as I wanted, skipping entire area’s but finishing the main storyline and I had no regrets. I remember the final boss being ridiculously easy as, despite not really pursuing crafting, I was able to make my inquisitor Rogue a pair of ridiculous daggers that tore him apart.

    I also really liked Iron Bull, though I always wondered how him and my Dwarf lady managed to have sex…

  43. DThor says:

    If they had put one character in there that even started to evoke the smile I get when thinking of Shale from Origins, it would have been a much more enjoyable game. Shale seemed almost off-handedly added into an already excellent mix of characters to make off-camera chicken feather explosions part of my warm and fuzzy memories. While I honestly didn’t hate Inquisition, it was enjoyable, it was more that it didn’t scale the storytelling heights of Origins. Same gut feeling with ME-A. They’ve lost some solid writers, they need to hire some new blood. Or, perhaps due to the maddening habit of players pre-ordering games and justifying the bean counters, they don’t need to do a damn thing and will simply continue churning out cookie cutter rubbish.

  44. Kasper says:

    The combat got a lot more interesting with the zoom out mod/cheat engine hack for tactical view. Almost infinity engine like: link to youtube.com

    • Angstsmurf says:

      That is great!

      What I’d like to know is how anyone actually plays the battles in the vanilla game. The tactical view is basically useless, so are you actually supposed to constantly switch between your four characters in real time? Controlling one character and leaving the others to the AI usually seems to mean instant death for them on hard difficulty.

      • malkav11 says:

        Actually, I played Inquisition on hard and I just controlled my main character and let the AI run the others. I had way more success that way than trying to do anything tactically, and it was almost never challenging outside of a few times where I hit things higher level than I was (and that stopped happening pretty quick as I outlevelled the content). I don’t know if that would work with every party composition – I was a mage and 90% of the time used Varric, Cassandra and Solas as my go to team. But it certainly worked for me.

      • Zenicetus says:

        Did the same as malkav11 above. Just let the others fight on auto, and maybe had similar success because I was also playing a mage as the PC. Crowd control was pretty easy that way, as I recall.

        I really WANTED to play in the tactical view, and spend more time running the companions, but it was useless.

        • malkav11 says:

          Yeah, I really missed how tactical the combat was in Origins but I just couldn’t get it to work that way in 2 or Inquisition so I gave up.

          • Kasper says:

            Seriously, if you ever replay it, try the camera mod and bump up the difficulty. It’s a totally different and tactical game.

          • malkav11 says:

            I was playing on the second hardest difficulty. There simply is neither need nor reward for tactical play, because the primary limiting factor on ability use is cooldowns and the only really important criteria are damage type (which only matters insofar as enemies are resistant or not) and whether it’s AoE or single target. There are status effects, of course, but they’re so temporary as to be effectively meaningless. I never even used tonics, grenades or lyrium potions, and I really only bothered with regen potions as a backup for healing potions.

            Is it possible that the final difficulty somehow made it necessary to master all these subsystems when they could be safely ignored on difficulties up to Hard? Perhaps. But since as far as I can tell the only things that setting changes are HP and damage for enemies, I doubt it.

          • Angstsmurf says:

            I think what I did was trying to use the tactical view, and switching to real time when the bugs became too much (the ceiling getting in the way of the view, the game not letting me select certain enemies). What I found was that battles that were not too hard in tactical mode meant instant death in real-time. So I had to go back to easier areas and grind up my level.

            It is interesting that so many people seem to like the game apart from the combat. Would be fun to try a mod that eliminates the combat entirely, and see what is left.

  45. Hammer1649 says:

    Maybe because I am older and played NES rpgs when I was a kid, but I loved DA:I. The grinding for loot isn’t an issue for me at all, and random combat encounters are what I grew up on. I keep reading about ME:A being like this game, and I am completely on board with that.

  46. Cross says:

    I really, really don’t get why DA:I gets so much shit. I absolutely loathed origins for being an obtuse game, which had only spite for its player if they hadn’t been playing CRPGs for the last 15 years, and besides that, an incoherent and crap plot. DA2 was repetitive and cut corners like a circle obsessive, but it was at least accessible and held onto the good writing of characters. While its story felt realtively inconsequential until the very end, the smaller scale allowed it to at least elicit some emotion. DA:I merged the best qualities of both, in my estimation, with a bigger world than DA2, but also a meaningful plot with some meaning to it, and a really rather good villain. The combat was passable, but at least demanded some thought, and aside from Sera, i loved all the different charatcers. Playing through it again right now as a warmup to ME:A, and it makes me hopeful.

    • Hammer1649 says:

      Agree with you, except for the part about Sera. She was my favorite companion to have tag along. Oh well, to each their own.

  47. Joote says:

    Bought everything Bioware, then along came this POS and ruined my faith in Bioware.

    The one benefit that can be salvaged from DA:I:pos, is that Mass Effect A, has to be better. It would be impossible for it to be worse than this POS.