Dragon Age is Back (with a fresh coat of paint and a minor identity crisis to go along with it)
Dragon Age: Inquisition, the latest installment in the critically acclaimed Dragon Age series, delivers on most every level and, though it has a couple hiccups along the way, is a must play for any RPG or adventure fan out there. From judging those who have wronged the people of Thedas, to saving the world from the brink of disaster, to hunting down the most fearsome of dragons, Inquisition delivers on its promise to rejuvenate the Dragon Age series and provide a more open-world based storytelling experience.
Inquisition is a tremendously vast game, providing more than 100 hours of content sprawling over an impressive eleven areas throughout the countries of Ferelden and Orlais. This is quite the departure from developer Bioware’s usual RPG formula, which most commonly includes 4 major areas in addition to the starting tutorial world (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Dragon Age: Origins) sometimes including smaller areas for vignette style side-quest exploration (the Mass Effect Series). Additionally, Inquisition is the first console era Bioware game to exceed an average playtime of over 70 hours (Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights being the only other games in Bioware's catalog to do so).
Adding to the overwhelming amount of game-play that Inquisition has to offer are the visuals and Dragon Age: Inquisition looks stunning on the new generation of consoles (Xbox One & PS4) as well as on PC. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Xbox 360 and PS3 releases of Inquisition. The amount of texture popping that occurs in the previous generation consoles in near impossible to miss and, while it doesn’t take away from the overall function of the game, presents a very underwhelming feeling to those who choose to play this game on older hardware.
While Dragon Age: Inquisition certainly doesn’t fail to impress, it does feel streamlined compared to the other titles in the Dragon Age series and while there is an emphasis on exploration, the content within each of the vast areas are very similar to one another and have little relevance to the plot aside from leveling your characters. These things start out as minor issues but, due to the length of Inquisition, the repetitive aspect of many of the side-quests and certainly the crafting system (I can only collect so much elfroot before losing my already fragile grip on reality) can really bog down the player experience, especially on the back-half of the campaign, where the narrative loses some of it's steam where it should be doing the opposite.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is a wonderfully crafted game that boasts incredible visuals and a narrative that is truly engaging...when you're playing a story mission that is. As much fun as Inquisition can be to play, I can't shake the feeling that it's just a single player MMO (and that is far from a good thing) so while it makes great strides in technical ambition for both Bioware and Western RPG's as a whole and does well with making the player invested in the characters and world that it has crafted, it falls just a little short.
*Editor's note: the DLC released for Inquisition during the first year of it's release definitely makes the narrative feel more engaging (Trespasser in particular) and while this adds positively to the experience overall, just makes me wish that the core game emphasized on it more.