Hype Train: Dragon Age: Inquisition

dragon-age-inquisition-headerI generally don’t preview games based off of PR snippets, trailers and hands-off demos but I think I’ve come up with a way to do it. So, welcome to the Hype Train in which I sift through all the hype behind a game to give an early preview of what is being promised and what to expect.

After the disappointment with their last three products, Dragon Age II, Star Wars: The Old Republic and Mass Effect 3, BioWare was suffering from a lack of consumer confidence. With the move to next-gen BioWare is hoping to regain its crown as the king of Western RPGs, starting with the next Dragon Age game, Dragon Age: Inquisition.

As you probably know, DA:I is in the Frostbite 3 engine which is the same engine that will power the vast majority of EA’s offerings over the near future. BioWare says that moving Dragon Age over to the Frostbite engine from their proprietary Eclipse engine has allowed them to do a lot more with the game than they were previously able.

dragon-age-inquisition-concept-art-01The first thing that BioWare wants to let you know is that they’re opening up the world. It’s not going to be one massive world map but various large regions that are connected by a sort of fast travel system. Each of these areas will be full explorable and have their own unique look. Already that’s a big departure from wander around Kirkwall in Dragon Age II.

In addition to the newly re-opened world, Dragon Age: Inquisition promises a destructible environment with lasting consequences. These elements include destructible terrain which can be used to shape battlefields, collapsible bridges that can cutoff parts of land masses and force you and enemies to take alternate routes and destructible boats which will affect shipping and transit routes over water.

Also back from the first Dragon Age is the return of choosing your character’s race, class and gender. Among the confirmed selectable character races are humans, elves, dwarves and the qunari. Perhaps more interestingly is that female qunari characters were developed for this game after only male qunari were seen in Dragon Age II.

Descriptions and video of combat seem to indicate that combat is going to be a bit of a hybrid between Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II. There will be some of the hack-and-slash combat that was in DA2 but there will be the old-school tactical Dragon Age combat. If you’d rather not do all the real-time combat, you can queue up actions for yourself and your allies using active pause from classic BioWare RPGs. There will also be behaviour presets you can assign to your allies to use under specified criteria. BioWare says that this is optional so you don’t have to pick classic combat over the more active combat of DA2.

dragon-age-inquisition-promo-01In addition to the combat (and dialogue, which I’ll get to in a second), you also have an Assassin’s Creed style agent system to affect matters in the world. The followers that you’ve recruited into your inquisition can be sent out on various missions in the world. Completing these missions will changes the world around you in some way. The press was shown an agent mission that involved sending a team to stop poisonous gas from covering a valley. The successful resolution of this task by your minions resulted in you being able to explore that valley without dying.

BioWare’s trademark Dialogue Wheel will, unsurprisingly, be a part of DA:I. However, in order to clarify the short text on each segment of the wheel, major decisions will have pop-up explanations of the likely consequences of choosing that particular dialogue option. These pop-up explanations will be an option so you can turn them off if you so choose. I think I’d rather play without them.

It’s not just dialogue that’s supposed to affect the world around you. Executive producer Mark Darrah told Adam Sessler that actions would speak louder than words. It’s not going to be what you say but what you do or don’t do that will affect the world around you too. Darrah used the example of a skirmish on a route between towns as an example. You can choose to intervene or avoid it depending on your preference. Either way, the decision could result in a different consequence that means that you will have a certain piece of content unavailable as a result of making one choice rather than the other.

And don’t worry about not getting Dragon Age: Inquisition if you don’t have a PC up to spec or a next-gen console. The game will be available on PS3 and 360 when it is launched next fall. BioWare hasn’t disclosed all of the differences between the current and next-gen games but they say that the differences will largely be in terms of visual quality and the number of NPCs running around the game world.

Speaking of cross-generational matters, BioWare has developed a way around the cross-generational saved game issue. Since long-time Dragon Age players on the PS3 and 360 won’t be able to bring their saves over from current-gen to next-gen consoles, they’ve developed Dragon Age Keep. This piece of software will allow you to manually input decisions from the first two games to generate a file to import into DA:I in order for the game to reflect your decisions from the first two games. Presumably, this won’t be an issue for PC gamers unless you’ve lost your saves.

While we’re still over a year from seeing Dragon Age: Inquisition on store shelves, it’s hard not to be interested in this game. However, BioWare is hitting all the right notes with the info that they’re giving out so far. I’m pretty sure that we said the same about the aforementioned BioWare efforts that ended up disappointing fans. Hopefully, BioWare Edmonton has learned their lesson and will release a game that fans and gamers in general will love.

Sources: BioWareIGN, Kotaku, Rev3

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About Steve Murray

Steve is the founder and editor of The Lowdown Blog and et geekera. On The Lowdown Blog, he often writes about motorsports, hockey, politics and pop culture. Over on et geekera, Steve writes about geek interests and lifestyle. Steve is on Twitter at @TheSteveMurray.

Posted on September 3, 2013, in Games and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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