Okay, so I just put a bow on Inquisition. Since there isn't yet a dedicated story discussion, I thought I'd kick one off myself. Here I go.
As I watched the end credits roll, I confess I found disappointment blooming in my chest. Now, a few hour removed, I realize that was actually ambivalence. The story wasn't godawful, but it didn't blow my pants off, either. On reflection, I am not entirely sure what I expected - I'm of the opinion (one which not everyone will share, I think) that Bioware's strength is in its character writing, and they were never that great at the "big picture" stuff.
And, to their credit, the character writing is fairly good. My rule for games is 50/50: if half of your main cast catches my interest, then it's a good main cast. By that standard, Inquisition's succeeds. My faves are Cassandra, Varric, Dorian and Leliana.
But I digress. I wanted to talk about the main plot. Since I won't be able to organize my thoughts in a sensible way, I will put them into a numbered list:
1: There aren't actually many events in the core story. It reminded me a bit of Mass Effect 2 - a fairly lightweight main quest accompanied by a raft of optional content. I also think this game is a lot like (don't kill me!) Skyrim, in that the vast majority of your playtime will be spent "making your own fun" - exploring random caves, collecting flowers, crafting stuff, hunting down landmarks. I actually didn't mind it, but it was a surprise to see Bioware, this celebrated narrative RPG developer, leaving me alone for hours at a time so I can find all those goddamned glowy stones, even encouraging me to do so. I doubt that approach will resonate with everyone, but as the story started to lose my confidence, I appreciated that the game was, seemingly, designed to allow me to forget about it.
2: The Redcliffe time travel arc was pretty lame. The whole "glimpse into a dark future where you aren't there" is already a cliche, but what bothered me more was how cavalier the writers were about deciding that time-travel is now something that people can do in Thedas. The concept of time travel is so earth-shattering to any narrative that I was stunned at how casually they employed it, and how inconsequential it is to the plot afterward. I could see this turning into a real Harry Potter Time Turner conundrum.
3: Having you seal the Breach so early in the game was a mistake. Blunt as it may be, a big fucking hole in the sky is a driving threat that any dolt can comprehend. It gives the Inquisition's task a feeling of heft and immediacy. But once you, rather too easily, resolve that problem, it's replaced by the secondary threat of Corypheus (who will hereafter be referred to as Cory) in his bid to become a god. The problem is that Cory isn't nearly as scary as a hole in the sky, because the hole is obviously dangerous, whereas the game never successfully makes the case that I should be scared of Cory. After Haven, the Inquisitor wrecks every single leg of Cory's plan without much pushback, which just makes him seem incompetent.
4: It gets repetitive when each leg of Cory's plan boils down to "enslave the minds of this militant Theodosian order". It's kind of a bummer, too, because I feel like that excuses the writers from needing to grapple with any deeper ideological goals - no one needs a reason to do anything. Even the overtly political stuff with Orlais lacked nuance. Despite its many failings, I liked that DA2 was at least mildly allegorical. There was something I could take away from it that applied to my life, in the world I live in. There was nothing in Inquisition that I could appreciate on that level, though I imagine some of the conversations about faith might resonate with other people.
I spent the last part of the game, from the Arbor Wilds to the end, kind of in a daze, not clear what the stakes were anymore. Every big plot point of this game was trumped by the scene where you find Cassandra giddily reading one of Varric's trashy novels. That scene was great!!! Morrigan implies that with the Breach dealt with, the political groups of Thedas might start gunning for your upstart Inquisition, which to me sounds potentially interesting. Fertile ground for a sequel (or at least some Shadow Broker-tier DLC). But as for the events of Inquisition itself, I can only give a half-hearted shrug.
So, that's me. What did you guys think of Inquisition's story? Feel free to sound off on what the hell the post-credits stinger means.