[Dragon Age Inquisition] Origins gave me a character, Inquisition gave me a husk
One of the key differences I’ve encountered when playing Dragon Age Inquisition was the feeling that my character was just a stand-in for myself rather than me stepping into the shoes of some figure in Thedas. In Dragon Age: Origins the player experienced a brief tutorial/backstory event, determined by their race/class, that explained how your character ended up in the Gray Wardens. The experience primed me on how my character might view the world.
Each intro gave the player a different experience and outlook on society in the setting. After each I felt like I had a grasp of how my character might react to various situations. My city elf, fresh from a scumbag human noble’s attempt at prima nocta, had little patience for the human king, while my recently deposed human noble found hope for revenge for his family. With each I felt like I was playing a character who had a story, goals, opinions, and feelings. Yet even though each one gave a framed view of the world the player could still decide how they would react. For example, my City Elf could choose to still believe in the good of humans, or become resentful at the injustice she faced.
In Dragon Age 2, this was toned down because the player was set in the role of Hawke, but the introductory sequence did give you some impression of who Hawke might be. Oddly enough, in their attempt to make the player feel more connected to a character they achieved the opposite result and left Hawke feeling a little hollow.
Inquisition did away with the introductory sequence and instead dropped you into the shoes of a race/class combination with a brief backstory. Now I understand that Inquisition’s storyline required the player to be in the dark, but as a result I had no framework with which to build my character. I was placed into a hollow shell, meant to be filled, but in a game where there are choices that are much more wrong than others the RP potential is sacrificed on the alter of min-maxing. Now we can say that the player is making that choice, but it means the game is, at times, punishing them for playing a character.
Were I a new player to the series, I would not understand the experiences of the various races. A new player won’t have much grasp of how the Dalish elves view Thedas after only a few paragraphs, nor the somewhat alien philosophies of the Qunari. In an attempt be more of a blank slate, the game’s setting loses it’s engrossing appeal. Origins encouraged me to play new characters to experience Thedas from their perspective, while Inqusition does not offer anywhere near that experience. There is little reason for me to replay the story; we all get to the same results anyways. They toned down the setting so much that I think it lost it’s life. Perhaps some players like that blank slate, but for me it disconnected me from the experience.
As I said, now my hollow husk of a character just picks the options that seem most likely to appease my companions because their approval as become a form of min-maxing. Instead of someone with conviction and drive, I become sycophant to my companion’s opinions. The binary approval system walks hand in problematic hand with the lack of character building. But that is a topic for another time.
Posted by Clockwork at 4:45 PM