WARNING: SOME SPOILERS (But hopefully nothing that will ruin the good moments 🙂 )
I would like to begin by saying I love Dragon Age: Inquisition. The only Bioware game I did not fully explore was Dragon Age II (but really, what was there to explore?). To say I’m an addict would be entirely accurate. It is because I am a BioWare addict that I feel more than a bit betrayed by recent information that has come to my attention.
There are many reasons to love Dragon Age: Inquisition. The story is great, the game mechanics are solid and the diversity of its characters is superb. They have a good equipment/crafting system, multiple difficulty levels and engaging interactions. This is the first video game RPG I have played where I have asked myself ‘what would my character do?’ rather than ‘what answer do I need to give to get the outcome I want?’ Like any good RPG, this game includes a ton of side quests and collecting quests and places to explore. To fully complete the game would take hours of dedicated hardcore gaming…
Its a good thing I’m a dedicated hardcore gamer.
I always begin a game like this blind. I never read up on the upcoming content, I never watch the trailers and I never go to the website. This means I experience the story as it was intended to be experienced. I made sure to update my universe in Dragon Age Keep and I began the game with my usual choice: female elven mage. At the beginning, I felt like I was sliding into a hot bath after walking for hours in the snow. Dragon Age: Inquisition was everything I had been wishing for. (Aside from the crappy PC controls)
I chose my romantic partner based on who my character would be interested in. In this case, my intended romantic partner was Solas. I fully completed the first three explorable locations before closing the rift in the sky. I made sure to upgrade the castle and fully explore some of the newer landscapes (and completing all character quests) before finishing the Grey Wardens Storyline. An equal amount of game play happened before I decided to get around to saving the Empress. Throughout this lovely exploration, I figured out all of the details about equipping items, the crafting system, the combat system and how each characters abilities effected the other so I could maximize my effectiveness. At this point, I was 150+ hours into the game.
Alarm bells began to ring fairly early on. Nothing was obviously buggy, but I have played every other BioWare game. Its almost impossible not to draw comparisons with Dragon Age: Inquisition and previously released BioWare titles. I found myself comparing Dragon Age: Inquisition to the Mass Effect trilogy more than I was comparing it to the previous Dragon Age games.
Here is what I noticed:
> The controls and game mechanics are very similar to Mass Effect 2 and 3. This is most obvious when playing the Multiplayer part of Dragon Age: Inquisition. (no, seriously. It really is Mass Effect 3 multiplayer with new skins. If they tell you any different they LIE.)
> The loot and item system is very similar to Mass Effect
> The crafting system is similar to any MMO, but the customization for armor and weapons is right out of the Mass Effect trilogy.
> The mechanics for the castle is almost exactly like upgrading the Normandy in Mass Effect 2 and 3
>The Romance aspect of the game is far more like the Mass Effect games than the previous Dragon Age games.
> They re-use sound effects from the Mass Effect games. Terror demons use the same sound as the Banshee from Mass Effect 3. The sound effect for finding a hidden object in Dragon Age: Inquisition is the same sound effect for completing a minor quest/finding a quest item in Mass Effect.
I think that a company that builds off of its previous successes is a good company. Unfortunately, Dragon Age: Inquisition fails to live up to its predecessors when it comes to implementing these game mechanics. It did such a bad job in some cases, that I was positive my game was bugged.
The character of Solas was the starting point of my tragic journey. Every other primary character in BioWare has a ton of dialogue and side quests. This lack of content when it came to my romance with Solas made me do something I had never done before: I checked the forums. Would you know it? I was not the only person to notice this problem. I discovered Solas has notably less content and the content he does have is so buggy that most people can’t access it. (In case you were wondering, I’m one of those people.)
The possible suggestions for how to avoid these bugs required me to restart my game. I deleted my previous game without finishing it and I began again. THIS IS HOW IMPORTANT it is for me to go through my first play through without a hitch! I willingly lost 150+ hours of gameplay! I would not do this for any game. I would only do this for a game where everything that your character does determines everything your character can do.
After speeding through the beginning of the game while avoiding completing some quests and lower level areas just to avoid certain bugs, I find I’m stuck with the same bugs I was experiencing during my first play through. I’m frazzled and all of my effort needs to be redone… (All the shards need to be re collected…)
After delving into the forums SOME MORE, and reading MORE spoilers, I find a little article on Game Informer’s website.
I felt like I was one of those characters who looses their glasses. After spending time searching for their glasses, the character manages to get them back on their face with enough time to see some horrific danger coming at them but without enough time to do anything about it.
In some ways I felt vindicated. Things were missing! Before the release of the game, BioWare pulled out content because it was not completed. They did not appear to have time to figure out what pulling this content would do to the rest of the game. This is a game where every choice you makes effects everything else. The code must be like a spiders web. I would venture a guess that pulling some content and game mechanics out is the cause for many of the character and quest bugs reported by most players.
It is only because I am a lifelong fan that I feel comfortable venturing a guess as to WHAT is missing:
> Solas is missing entire scenes and sequences because he is too buggy or content for him has not been released. I would be shocked if he is not the focus of a major patch. As it stands now he’s a piss poor excuse for a BioWare primary character. T3-M4 had more content than Solas does!
> The castle upgrades and customization options should get a serious upgrade. Everyone who has finished the game reported the upgrades to your castle do not effect the outcome at all. In Mass Effect, if you did not upgrade your ship people died and your ship was ripped apart. Upgrades were also minor mini quests with your crew. Garrus would upgrade your weapons systems, for example. This allowed for more character interaction. I would be very surprised if the Castle upgrades, resource management system and management of the fortresses you capture don’t receive upgrades of their own. This was another part of the game where I felt things were missing. They could have improved upon the Normandy upgrade system, made the main characters more involved in the fixing/upgrading of the castle. As it stands, I prefer the Normandy.
> I would not be surprised if the crafting system expands more weapons, armor and customization options. In Dragon Age: Inquisition, the material your upgrades are made out of effects the appearance and functionality of the item. This is very similar to Mass Effect, except the materials your armor was made out of only effected the texture of your armor, not the color. You could make your armor any color you wanted. I felt this was brilliant, and its really disappointing to see Dragon Age: Inquisition did not improve or even include this brilliance. They could have included dyes (they have a potion and elixir game mechanic set up already) or SOMETHING so your armor could be as customizable as Mass Effects. It also would not have been hard to include Mass Effects ability to choose what clothing your character wears when they are on their downtime. When you were Shepard in the Normandy, you could choose from several outfits that your Shepard could wear when they were not in their armor. In Dragon Age: Inquisition you have two situations where you could include this ability: The outfit you wear around the castle and the formal outfit you wear to the Orlais Royal Court. They could have improved upon what Mass Effect began by allowing you to create and customize these outfits. There are many examples of different kinds of clothing worn by NPCS. The clothing already exists in the game! They could have at least included the ability to change your haircut and your makeup. Its sad when Commander Shepard has a better fashion sense than my Inquisitor (who has diplomatic and social duties to attend to).
> In Mass Effect 3 the multiplayer and single player were linked. In single player, Commander Shepard would go to the places you go to to in multiplayer. The idea was, Shepard would unlock these areas and the people you played in multiplayer would be holding these areas. It helped to see galactic readiness rise as you played the multiplayer, which would effect the single player game. This story link is much less apparent in Dragon Age: inquisition. You could at least see the multiplayer characters walking around the castle. So sad to see these story opportunities missing. They could have really improved upon what Mass Effect 3 began.
Now I have a choice to make: Continue playing and accept what happens, or wait and see if they fix what I’m hoping they will fix. I remember a time when games were released they were finished. I think everyone needs to look at Blizzard and Valve’s giant piles of money and realize release dates are not as important as customer satisfaction.