For many fans of the epic fantasy RPG series Dragon Age,felt oddly limiting, taking away your playable race options and instead putting you in control of the human character Hawke.
Sure, you could still customise your looks and gender and even choose between mage, rogue and warrior -- but compared to the breadth of options (and different introductory sections) in the first game, Dragon Age: Origins, it did feel a little restrictive.
There's none of that in Dragon Age: Inquistion. It's a return to form, and you can happily spend a good hour in the character creator, tweaking the angle of the horns on your Qunari rogue before setting off for adventure. (And let's be honest -- it's the first time we've been allowed to play the fearsome Qunari, so you're going to want to do just that.)
I've been playing Inquisition for some time now, and I have to say that despite having fulfilled my review obligations, I won't be stopping any time soon. I'm already imagining the character I'll use for my second 70-hour-plus playthrough -- it's seriously that good.
At first blush, the plot may not have the sprawling, epic feel of Dragon Age: Origins -- but it does allow for a lot of scope both in the story and the way the game plays out. This time around, tears in the barrier between the ethereal realm known as the Fade and the real world are allowing demons to pass through, and you're part of the titular Inquisition hell-bent on putting a stop to it.
By addressing a few key issues from the previous games and expanding the gameplay significantly, developer Bioware has taken the series to a place where it can offer not only the best Dragon Age game to date, but for my money, one of the best RPGs out there.
So much character
The Dragon Age: Origins-style introduction section tailored to your specific race and class are gone in favour of starting out 'Skyrim-style' -- arrested, mildly amnesiac and pleading for your life. The Origins character-specific intros are definitely missed -- it was a great way of getting more emotionally invested in your character and the callbacks to your personal story throughout the run of the game made you feel like a genuine protagonist.
That said, Inquisition gets away with it because it has such a strong storyline from the outset. There are tears in the Veil, the barrier between the fantasy world of Thedas and the metaphysical realm of the Fade beyond, letting all manner of demons through. You seem to be the only person capable of closing them, for reasons that are (at least at the outset) very unclear.
Among the cast of companions that make up your adventuring party, you'll find a number of familiar faces, but plenty of fresh names to keep the game from feeling too much like Dragon Age: The Greatest Hits. There are nine companions you can recruit -- the largest cast of unusual suspects that Bioware has offered in a Dragon Age game to date.
In terms of gameplay, there's much here that's familiar, with some interesting tweaks to keep it all fresh. Micro-managers will delight in the new tactical view, which lets you pause combat and zoom around the battlefield, analysing the state of play before dictating your squad's next move. (For the more story-minded players, you can also just set your difficulty to casual and trust that everyone will take care of themselves.)
That said, there's plenty that's unfamiliar too. I encountered a locked door at one point that told me a needed a particular Perk to unlock it. It confused me until I headed back to my War Table interface -- you're in charge of various inquisitorial underlings, and this is where you can send them off on their own missions to unlock news areas and so on. It's also where you buy the new Inquisition Perks, based on how much influence the Inquisition has garnered in certain areas. And it's not just for lockpicking -- the new Perks system runs the gamut from more efficient gathering of herbs to unlocking more of those ever-important dialogue options on the conversation wheel.
The crafting system feels initially overdone - even a little opaque. There's a system for creating and upgrading (which is more than just having Sandal delightedly shout "ENCHANTMENT" at you) and a similar, but actually quite different, system for helping to supply Inquisition troops.