As mentioned on episode five of the Player’s Club Podcast, (which you can find here) I finally beat Dragon Age: Inquisition. The base game at least, I still have three more expansions to venture through. Regardless, I want to talk about the fantastic moments, feelings, and sheer enjoyment I had with this fantastic piece of fantasy. So, here we go.
First I need to give some exposition on the third game in the Dragon Age franchise. Dragon Age: Inquisition takes place in 9: 41, one year after Dragon Age II when the mage rebellion in Kirkwall reaches a breaking point and Divine Justinia V sets up peace talks between the Mages who are striving for independence and the Templars who see them as monsters. The main menu does nothing BUT set the stage of what you will be going to experience in the game as it shows the Divine Conclave and mages and templars heading to it in a single file march. The music in the main menu is nothing more than heavenly.
As soon as you hit the option to start a new game there is a massive explosion. The player character is seen running away from spider-like creatures in what could only be the Fade: a realm where the Old Gods slumber. You then awake as the character you create and encounter Cassandra Pentaghast who was in the previous Dragon Age game in what seemingly was some time after the events of DA II as she has Varric tell the story of Hawke: The Champion of Kirkwall.
At this point in the game you are believed to be the one who destroyed the Conclave and all that were in it. With me wanting to say the right/thing and be a good person I initially set out as a reluctant hero. The first thing you notice when you are freed from imprisonment and taken outside is a giant tear in the sky. When you and Seeker Pentaghast journey to a rift where two allies are fighting demons and you come to their rescue. One is an apostate mage named Solas while the other is fan favorite Varric Tethras with his unique crossbow Bianca at his side. Solas grabs your wrist and you discover why your hand is constantly glowing whenever there’s a rift nearby. Whatever happened at the Conclave imbued the player with the ability to close rifts.
It felt great to see Varric again after his stellar debut in Dragon Age II. I wasn’t really keen on Solas until I learned he was voiced by Gareth David-Lloyd aka Ianto from Torchwood. Other returning faces to the series were Leliana who was a party member in Dragon Age: Origins, Cullen who has appeared in all three games in the series first beginning as a Templar in Origins, rising up the ranks in Dragon Age II, and is now a Knight-Captain in Inquisition.
New party members are always expected in BioWare RPG sequels. Standouts are Blackwall, a Grey Warden who pledges to fight alongside the Inquisition and sounds too much like Robert Baratheon, there’s Iron Bull who is the Qunari mercenary leader of the Chargers and just so happens to be voiced by the coolest guy on the planet Freddie Prinze Jr.
Other characters from the series appear in the game such as King Alistair, and ironically his mother Fiona who plays a key role in the story depending on what choice you make. Fiona is a former Grand Enchanter of the Circle of Magi, a former Grey Warden who somehow had the darkspawn taint leave her thus rendering her no longer a Grey Warden. Some other characters that make appearances in game for the first time are Empress Celene, Briala, and Duke Gaspard who are fighting a three way battle for power in the Orlesian Civil War.
Arguably the biggest return in the game is Morrigan who had not been seen in Dragon Age since Origins and she ages like fine wine. I loved all these characters both new and old and shockingly the one character who made an appearance I didn’t really lose my mind with was Hawke. It could be due to the fact that I am currently doing my first playthrough in Dragon Age II since 2012-2013.
The one thing that ran through my mind as Morrigan, Hawke, Alistair, and more were showing up was the following: “Where is my Hero of Ferelden?” while we don’t get to see the protagonist of the first game we do discover the he or she is working on a way to eliminate “The Calling” which is an internal message that sends them to Orzammar, particularly the Deep Roads where the Darkspawn are located and fights down there until either the darkspawn kill them or the taint does. While I was disappointed I couldn’t see my Warden, Morrigan, and Kieran as a happy family. (Depending on whether the ritual was done in Dragon Age: Origins) I am hoping things have changed after I finish my canon run in Dragon Age II and move back to Inquisition.
The main villain of the game is a character that really calls me out on the fact that I never completed any of the Dragon Age II downloadable content as the villain in the “Legacy” expansion, a being kept in a Grey Warden prison named “Corypheus” or “The Elder One”. He is a former Tevinter magister turned Darkspawn who seeks to enter the Golden City where the Maker, (God), resides and becomes a living god. This all begins with the very interesting plot twist where after the player is denounced by the Chantry as the Herald of Andraste and the Templars break away from the Chantry via Lord Seeker Lucius, you are approached by Fiona who is the leader of the free mages in Ferelden. Very much like Lucius, Fiona suspected something would happen at the Conclave so she sent someone in her place and wasn’t among the dead. She asks you to meet her in Redcliffe. This sets up the “In Hushed Whispers” quest that is one of the main selling points alone in my opinion. When you get to Redcliffe Fiona denies ever meeting you and freaking time travel is surmised as the reason. They literally talk about time travel magic affecting her timeline. This is where the Tevinter mage companion Dorian is introduced and it gets even better.
Regardless of who you choose to form an alliance with to seal the large breach at the Conclave ruins, Haven, which appeared in Origins as the location leading to the temple where the Urn of Andraste is found, gets attacked by whatever faction you chose not to side with. This is where Corypheus makes his debut in the main story. That’s where I’ll stop with what I thought of the story as to stop the spoilers I’m dropping left and right.
While there is a ton that you can do in terms of the main plot, you have so much at your fingertips when it comes to the various locations you can travel to that factor into side-quests for the various party members. Coupled with that is the War Table. It is the method of doing missions, doing operations, etc. It’s a great mechanic that felt immersive and practical. Going back to the many different sandbox locations such as the Hinterlands, the Hissing Wastes, the Western Approach, and more I absolutely loved every minute of it. The locales are split between Ferelden and then Orlesian empire and each area has a unique look, a backstory, and in most cases, there will be a dragon you can fight. I mean, it is called “Dragon Age” after all.