Hidden away in the EA behind closed door session was Bioware’s Dragon Age: Inquisition. I managed to grab 30 precious minutes with the game and controller in my hands, and it was everything I’d hoped that it would be.
What struck me the most about the hands on time was just how expansive the world was. I was exploring what the developers described as “the smallest area” and it was enormous. Not only was it filled with side missions, exploration was also a ton of fun. I actually got a bit lost on the map, something that was completely enjoyable as I found new herbs to collect and even some weird side activities. It was fantastic to have such freedom on the map, fighting enemies, exploring every nook and cranny and not feeling like I was being guided down a hallway towards the next plot point.
Combat really is incredibly intuitive and fun. For the most part, I surprised myself and ended up using the normal action-based combat controls. However, upon finding more difficult enemies it was fun to switch into the camera, advancing the combat more tactically and slowly. You can set the actions of each character, slowly advance the action and even change your commands on the fly. It’s quite a cool system, especially if you like to take your time in combat rather than just running around slashing all the things. I felt particularly cunning organizing back stabs and magical walls of fire – it was easy to control and pretty intuitive once I understood the system.
The UI and menu system has had a serious upgrade. As you collect new armor and weapons, you can easily check it out and compare to your existing load out. For those who just like quick visuals, you can see on the bar graph how changing your equipment will affect your performance. For those who are more numbers inclined, you can also do more thorough comparisons of the equipment, checking out the exact numbers and descriptions as you go deeper through the screens.
I would love to tell you more about the story that I learned during my hands on time – the part I played was all about hunting down someone who wanted to kill me. There was some excellent dialogue with the mission giver as well as some cool interactions regarding other side missions. However, I became so caught up in exploring the environment, finding secrets and engaging in cool combat that I didn’t move too far forward in the story. I did, however, find a small rift that I managed to close after battling all the demons. It was exciting and fun – I even managed to claim some key points on the map. Exploration and side activities are excellently crafted rabbit holes you will be happy to fall down.
The game itself is absolutely gorgeous. The screenshots don’t even do it justice – every aspect of the game is well crafted from the environments to the enemies, the music and the voice acting. It was so immersive that I honestly completely forgot that someone was looking over my shoulder while I was playing – I was absorbed by the world and could easily have sat in that room playing for the rest of the day. The experience is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was in previous iterations of Dragon Age; Inquisition might just be the best RPG Bioware has created to date.