Learning from one's mistakes is a good principle to live by, and one which BioWare might have taken to heart with Dragon Age: Inquisition. Somewhere around Dragon Age II, BioWare very quickly alienated many longtime fans, but the upcoming Inquisition is an admirable attempt at mending these demolished fences.
I was able to see Dragon Age: Inquisition in action at E3 today, and while I remain wary of the final product, BioWare has proven they are capable of taking feedback and doing something with it. The result is an RPG more akin to its parent Dragon Age: Origin and indie competitor The Witcher. The comparison isn't as weird as you might think. What impressed me the most about the Inquisition demo is, in fact, the gameplay and how well it's come together since Origins and the sequel. Oh, and the game itself is beautiful, thanks to the Frostbite 3.
Strategy is a huge selling point this time around, with the devs taking every opportunity to mention the alternate overhead camera in combat. This is a feature we've already seen in the two previous games, but for those who aren't aware, activating this phase pauses a fight and allows players to then map out the next course of action for each party member. Once you return to the fight, these actions will be executed accordingly.
Another returning party feature is the micromanagement, being able to jump to and take control of an ally. None of this is new, I know, but something about the way BioWare seem to have shifted focus to said features is a wonderful relief, one that I wholly needed after joining many in their fear of Dragon Age becoming a glorified dating sim (again).
During the demo, the party -- comprised of a female human warrior Inquisitor, bodacious prodigy-mage Vivienne, edgy rogue elf Sera, and the stoic Qunari warrior Iron Bull -- ran into a number of different enemies. Random encounters are a thing of the past in Inquisition, now that all creatures have been properly integrated into the vast in-game world. A bear might charge of the woods at you, like one did during the demo, or the party will stumble across some NPC in distress. After the debacle of Dragon Age II's tragically limited environments and recycled instances, BioWare clearly have a lot to make up for, and they appear to have succeeded. While watching the Inquisitor bounce on the saddle atop a Ferelden Bay, passing beneath the shade cast by a dense forest turned red and gold with the autumn season, I couldn't help thinking back to The Witcher. For me, this is a good thing.
Another aspect of Dragon Age: Inquisition that BioWare continues to push is the evolving world, one that will shift with the Inquisitor's actions throughout the game. Mind you, this isn't exactly a new thing to BioWare games either, but meaningful and appropriately drastic consequences wouldn't go unappreciated. For now, I'll abstain from getting too hyped over the cause and effect mechanic.
The end of the demo switched gears to show a bit more character interaction and story progression, and we were introduced to another mage ally, Dorian. He's a dark-haired man with a righteous mustache, and a citizen of the magocractic Tevinter Imperium. Not that Dorian is particularly proud of his country's reputation, and he seems eager to bring honor back to its name. Based on what little he said, I'd liken his demeanor and sense of humor to (old) Anders.
Leliana, Sera, and Iron Bull all make their appearances in the cutscenes that closed up the E3 demo. Both elf and Qunari were fairly quiet throughout the drama that unfolded, but Leliana showed herself to be a ruthless and cold-hearted shell of her former self, though this could very well change depending on the Inquisitor's choices and actions throughout Inquisition. Again, I'm not entirely sure how far-reaching and impactful the consequences are in Dragon Age: Inquisition, but if BioWare really is looking to The Witcher for inspiration, then my hopes are tentatively raised.
Expect more to come in the months leading up to October 7, when Dragon Age: Inquisition will be released for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PS4 and PC.
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