Dragon Age: Inquisition Rant

dragon_age_inquisition1

Fear my glowing green palm of death!

Steve-O and I finally wrapped up our Dragon Age: Inquisition run a couple of weeks ago. It’s taken me longer than usual to sit down and write this because A.) I had two shorter posts to write, and B.) I wasn’t entirely sure how to properly convey my feelings towards this game. I think the best way to come out with my feelings is to say that I did not completely fall in love with this game like the rest of the internet appeared to have. Aside from complaints about the glitches we come to expect from Bioware games (more on that later), everything I read sang praises about Inquisition. Good story, great characters, excellent battle system, lots to do… So what’s not to love?

Part of me feels like Bioware went overboard with their response to gamer complaints about how limited the setting in DA2 was. Yes, it was a lot of repeated maps and having Kirkwall as the only city was cheap and snooze-worthy. But you know what else is snooze-worthy? Spending 5 hours wandering the same map collecting mats and shards, especially after taking a half-hour detour to get from point A to point B. Between the pointless map wandering and real-time war table quests, you can’t tell me Inquisition isn’t chock full of padded game play hours. I love sandbox games, don’t get me wrong, but make all my wandering at least somewhat engaging. I was bored to tears after an hour of exploring maps to gain Influence that I didn’t really need every time I sat down to play. After suffering through the first couple of maps we committed to doing what we had to do to kill all the dragons and be on our way.

Speaking of the dragons, aside from their elemental weaknesses, the fights are all very samey. For a game titled Dragon Age, you’d think some more work would’ve gone into making the dragon fights feel more varied and exciting. Basically, you fight them to get the loot and that’s it. No epicness is truly felt here.

There’s no epic feelings with the dragons or with the story. Having played DA:O and DA:II I can safely say that the story falls somewhere in the middle between how awesome Origins was and how bland II was. The writers didn’t do themselves any favors by incorporating half-assed time travel crap and a completely cliche main villain. A baddie who wants to be the newest all-powerful god in town? Join the club, buddy.

I think one of the things about Inquisition that irks me the most is the supporting cast. I’ve come to play Bioware games for the characters more than the overall narrative. Sadly, I didn’t like ANY of the new characters. Not a one. Hell, I liked the cast of DA:II better! At least in DA:II the characters I disliked fell into a “Love to Hate” relationship status with me (Aveline) and there was none of that here. The only characters I was interested in were from previous entries: Leliana, Varric, and Cassandra… all, coincidentally, characters we didn’t have the option of romancing either due to our gender or because Bioware says so. We flirted with the idea of romancing a couple different people, like Sera or Josephine, but they eventually turned us off so we decided to fly the game solo.

Plus, we were pro-mage and basically no one else is. Even the mages themselves were against my actions when I expressed favor for freeing the mages. Yeah, makes total sense. Bunch of self-loathing assholes. Vivien can piss up a rope. I can’t stand her.

That’s right: Inquisition is the only Bioware game I’ve played where I did not partake in romancing a character. Compare that with Origins, where I romanced everyone, or Mass Effect, where I was fiercely loyal to Liara (to the point of obsession) throughout the entirely trilogy.

Compounding these complaints with the horrific experience we had the last two nights we played the game really soured our taste buds. The second-to-last evening we spent with Inquisition we partook in the drawn out, fancy-schmancy ball, where our Inquisition rubbed noses with royalty and tried acting like the upstanding citizens we weren’t. Anyway, we had a glitched door that would not load the next room which was, you know, required to proceed with the game. Thinking it was an issue with switching to the digital version from the disc, we deleted the digital version, re-installed the game disc, and played. We researched the issue online (evidently the geniuses at Bioware screwed their game up even further with one of the patches). Realizing our issue was due to a patch and not the way we were playing, we switched back to digital, only to be met with our game refusing to load, period. It wouldn’t work the rest of the night.

We never found out what happened, but the following morning after my PS4 updated it worked fine. Scared that we would lose over 60 hours of progress to more bugs, and getting bored with the game, we decided to plow through the main story mission and move on with our lives.

For this, we were rewarded with two slaps to the face.

First, we made the mistake of trying to bring Cole with us. News flash: If you don’t do his personal quest, you don’t get to use in the final battle. Ugh. Okay, fair enough. But, and here’s where I thought my head would combust, THEY DON’T ALLOW YOU TO GO BACK TO THE INVENTORY AND TAKE HIS GEAR OFF!

In what world does that make any sense?!?!

And because we had no one besides our actively party appropriately geared, we ended up bringing a naked Sera into the FINAL BOSS FIGHT.

And guess what?!

We STILL had the glitch where the final boss fight–ya know, the part of the game that’s supposed to be all super climactic and shit– became broken because we damaged it too quickly.

Yes, you read that correctly. We did too much damage to the final boss before some invisible time frame with a NAKED ROGUE. I’m sorry Bioware, was I not supposed to explore your large, boring maps and do your countless, boring side quests to get better gear and level my characters? I kinda thought that was the point of open-world games.

In the end, we had to reload the game and I picked my nose while the rest of my team whittled away at it because I was too scared to break it again.

Google it, it’s a real glitch. Along with the previous one I mentioned. That’ my friends, is Triple A, Game of the Year material.

I am dumbfounded, to be honest. And I’m also reliving the tragic experience I had with Skyrim when I literally couldn’t beat the game until a patch came out to fix my terrible luck with broken games. Know how I responded to Bethesda for releasing a broken game? I boycotted them.

Now I’m terrified the new Mass Effect with be a broken, glitchy, padded game with boring characters and a lackluster story. And that makes me a sad panda.

Because I really want to play Mass Effect, and I really want it to be good. Like I wanted this game to be as good as everyone said it was.

Plus, if I boycotted every developer that released a broken game I’d be playing nothing but retros and indies. But I guess that’s a tale for another blog post.

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Dragon Age II

Dragon Age 2 Cover Art

 

Just like with the Mass Effect video game covers… I have no idea who this well-dressed bloke is.

I absolutely adored Dragon Age: Origins when I played it on the PC a few years ago. Actually, it was the first Bioware game I’d ever played. I fell in love with the characters, battle system, and world. I was completely engrossed in it’s stylish storytelling and relationship building. I hadn’t played a game anything like it before, and I fell in love with it. Under normal circumstances, I’d be the first in line for a sequel to one of my favorite games. Gaming Gods know I’ve forked over my hard earned money to play BAD sequels too many times over. For some reason I listened to the fanbase’s concern this time around and refrained from playing it until Steve bought it used from Gamestop. We decided it was time to get up to speed before Inquisition is released later this year.

All I can say is, I’m glad I didn’t buy this game. And I’m glad my friend didn’t pay full price for it. I wouldn’t necessarily come out and say it is a bad game, per se… I mean, I did enjoy the hack-and-slash approach it took to battle. And the leveling system was solid, mainly because it imitated Origins. Despite my boredom or straight out hatred of some of the characters, their banter was edgy and hilarious most of the time. Unfortunately, it is a shallow and rushed game, evident from beginning to end.

I completely agree with the general sentiment that Dragon Age II has no real feeling of accomplishment. Or, you know, plot. The experience is akin to playing about 30-40 hours of side quests. The first act is, quite literally, doing enough side quests to earn 50 gold. I’m being 100% serious here. And it sets the tone for the entire game, as DAII feels like a string of forgettable side quests with no real purpose. Some of the character-specific quests are interesting, I’ll admit.

After you do a bunch of seemingly unrelated quests, BAM! You’re at the end of the game. The grand climax with no climax at all.  In fact, the only reason I knew we were at the end of the game was because they did a similar “point of no return” room with one-on-one conversations with each party member, akin to Origins and Mass Effect. We were sort of like, “Wait… we’re at the end of the game already?” It wasn’t “already” as in the game was too short (It is shorter than Origins, but long enough for me) but because there were no significant events that felt remotely close to major end game revelations. I don’t know about you, but when I’m getting to the last couple of hours of a really good game, I can feel it in my bones.

As Dragon Age II is sorely lacking in anything else for me to discuss, and Bioware’s main selling point for me is usually the great cast of characters they write, I’m going to talk about all of the cast members and what I hate about them:

Bethany

Here’s Bethany. The main character, Hawke’s, sister, and the reason you can’t side with the Templars in the Mages vs. Templars battle if you have any family values whatsoever. Don’t get too attached to her or start relying on her as your healer. The developers figured you didn’t need a third mage, so they take her away from you for the vast majority of the game. I’m convinced it’s because she was one of the only characters I actually liked. And just to be jerks about it, during the 2/3 of the game you don’t have access to her, they kept her image on the character select screen. Jerks.

Fenris

Here’s Fenris. This game’s version of Zevran, with funky markings and an uncharacteristically deep voice. Most of his dialogue and character background revolves around him whining about his time in servitude and being on the run (even though he’s all settled in Kirkland with his own house and everything. At least Isabela hangs out in the bar). Due to our group dynamics and preferences, we never really used him so I can’t attest to whether he’s useful in battle or not. All I can say is that when he got pissy with me for siding with the Mages and stood against me, I didn’t miss him in the least. Go whine about your crappy life to the Templars. Don’t hold your breath waiting for them to give a crap.

Varric

Behold Varric. I know you can’t tell he’s a dwarf for lack of an abnormally large and/or braided beard, but he is. I wasn’t aware there was such a thing as dwarves without beards until Dragon Age. Anyway, I did actually like him. He’s a sarcastic, opportunistic smart-mouth who also happens to be a bard. As I chose the snarky conversation options 95% of the time, he and I got along smashingly. A lot of his dialogue is funny and interesting. He has a unique equipment trait as well. Unlike the other characters whose weapons you will change out periodically throughout the game, Varric never loses sight of Bianca, his beloved crossbow. His unique skill tree is dedicated to abilities for it/her, and Bianca levels as he does. You can also count on him having something to say every. single. time. you enter The Hanged Man bar.

Merrill

This is Merrill, another pointy-eared, pointy-nosed elf with facial markings who insists on talking funny and using blood magic. She’s so… mousy and naive, despite the fact that she uses BLOOD MAGIC. As cute as it was when Isabela made fun of her, the whole naivety act got old real quick. “Gee, I don’t know why the Dalish hate and fear me. I’m so sweet and innocent and, look, a rainbow!” … “Because you’re using black magic and trying to use a demon to put a cursed mirror back together, you idiot!”

Andersedited

Ugh. Okay. This is Anders. He’s one of the characters I absolutely loathe. First of all, we were barely into act one and he was assuming our female Hawke had the hots for him. Um, no. Not even close. Seeing as how you’re possessed by a demon and in total denial about it, “He’s not bad! His name is Justice for cryin’ out loud!” Then Anders basically blackmails you into accidentally assisting him with doing something completely off-the-wall and “What the hell were you thinking?!” stupid… All for “Justice.” It’s actually revenge, but it’s how he justifies the dumb, uber-violent thing he does. Which, supposedly, the spirit-demon thing didn’t make him do (Yeah, right). As another complete annoyance, because Bethany is taken away from you as a party member for most of the game and Merrill is a Blood Mage, Anders is your only choice for a healer unless you decide to play as a Mage. We played as a Rogue, for the record. And we decided to go without Anders most of the time. That’s how much we disliked him.

Isabella

In case you couldn’t tell from this image, here is our resident T&A for the game. If you care about something silly like her name, it’s Isabela. She’s received a major makeover from Origins. You may not recognize her, but she was the skill teaching pirate you could engage in a threesome with if you played your cards right. Her character hasn’t changed much at all. She really exists just to set the feminist movement back about 100 years. Isabela is a walking stereotype. A hyper-sexualized town bicycle. Or whatever the pirate equivalent would be. I’m not going to pretend I didn’t laugh at her jokes and banter (most of which were quite funny.) After all, we chose her as our romance partner. She’s not the type to get all jealous over us visiting the local harem from time to time. And I didn’t particularly like any of our other options. She’s a great partner in and out of battle, to be sure. I’m still wondering how her assets can be that perky without wearing a Victoria’s Secret Bombshell bra.

Aveline

Here we go. Prepare yourselves for a super rant. This is Aveline. In direct contrast to Isabela, she’s your total Girl Power character. A female TANK, who leads Kirkwall’s Knight Guard. She literally commands respect from dozens of soldiers and works to keep the city (and your party if you didn’t decide to play a tanky warrior) safe. Normally this is the archetype I root for. There should definitely be more woman in roles like this in video games. But there’s a slight problem here… She is an insufferable, holier-than-thou know-it-all. I can’t stand her! And, like Anders, we were basically stuck with her because she’s the only tanking character you get. I’m also convinced the writers either gave her a multiple personality disorder or they were just messing with the players, because she just doesn’t make sense. As in Origins, the decisions you make affect your party member’s opinion of you. Nothing I did ever made her happy, even when I thought it would. Then, when I thought I had her all figured out and started making decisions just to spite her, I’d get friendship points! WTF? At one point in time I gave Aveline a shield as a gift and she even managed to turn that into a negative! Finally, my Hawke was like, “Look bitch, it’s just a gift. Take it or leave it.”

There you have it. This time around, Bioware managed to create an entire cast of characters that I either tolerated  because they were funny or I completely loathed. Well, there’s Bethany, but she hardly counts. They even managed to screw up the cameo appearances from Origins. Alistair, Zevran, and Leliana (My previous flame) all have short, meaningless cameo appearances that left me scratching my head asking “What was the point of that?” Except for Zevran… His cameo appearance existed so he, Isabela and Hawke could partake in a little naughty time together.

This game is so descaled and rushed compared to Origins, I actually don’t blame the fanbase for being disappointed in it. Instead of adding onto the great character customization options and gearing, you barely get to choose what they’re wearing. Weapons and accessories only. The side quests all blend together with the main quests. I only knew what was what when I bothered to check my quest menu. The maps were recycled over and over again, with cheap fake walls put up to cut certain areas off. Overall, the game was bland.

Now that Dragon Age 2 is cheap to purchase, it might be a good idea to pick it up and get caught up before Inquisition comes out. Don’t expect a grand, epic game like Origins or you’ll be disappointed. Instead, look at it as a decent medieval fantasy action/RPG game that thinks it belongs in the Dragon Age universe, and you should be okay.