- 1. Story
- 2. World
- 3. Characters – companions and NPC’s
- 4. Character creation and progression
- 5. Combat
- 6. Other gameplay elements
- 7. Technicality
- 8. Other information
- 9. Official trailers
Dragon Age: Inquisition is the third installment in a popular fantasy cRPG series from BioWare Studios, originated in 2009 with Dragon Age: Origins. The game is being created for PC’s and consoles of both past (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3) and new generation (Xbox One, PlayStation 4). The game’s release is planned for November 18th 2014.
In this article we gathered the most essential information about the no. 3, and split that into thematic categories. This compendium is being systematically updated with new information revealed by the developer.
The story of Inquisition begins soon after the events of Dragon Age II. The continent of Thedas struggles with many problems, the major one being the war between the Templars and mages, as well as the Breach between the material world and the Fade, which leads to an invasion of demons. The hero, whose role takes the player, is the only one who survived the explosion that caused the tear in the Veil, which gifted him with a unique ability to close holes which monsters use as gateways into this world. Such quality makes him or her a perfect leader of the titular Inquisition – the organization charged with restoring order in Thedas, and most importantly, ending the invasion of demons.
However, the faction remains in ruins, and before it can realize its prime objective, the organization has to reclaim its status among the leading powers on the continent. The story in Inquisition should be less linear than in the previous parts of the series, and bring difficult, branching off choices more often. The game will offer several completely different endings, whereas each of them will be shaped by 40 major factors and hundreds of minor ones. Finishing the game may take up to 150 hours (if you do all side quests and thoroughly explore the world), however, if you focus only on the main story and really hurry up (including skipping cut-scenes), you can be done in about 40-50 hours.
In contrast with the previous installments in the series, Inquisition will let you explore a large portion of Thedas, including Ferelden (where the first game was set), Orlais, and Dalia – however, the world is smaller than originally promised, as it was also supposed to include places like Free Marches, and Nevarra. These territories will not be open as a whole, but they will be divided into separate, although really large locations (in many cases one such area is larger than the entire world from Dragon Age: Origins). Besides, each location will have a living environment (e.g. wolves hunting deers), and be subject to changes caused by the player’s actions – you may e.g. cause a species to become extinct and replaced by others.
The living world will also be made shown in such aspects as influencing local settlements, or rebuilding local structures (such as ruins and bridges). Such changes will mainly be driven by capturing and rebuilidng strongholds by the Inqusition (more about that in a moment). It is noteworthy that the player will not have the entire world at his or her feet right from the start – new locations will be progressively unlocked along with the growth of importance of the organization. One of the reasons for that, may be the fact that the developers are not going to implement level scaling system.
The size of the world is also evident in the fact that you will be able to ride mounts. These are not limited to horses – the Inquisitor will also be able to ride creatures like huge lizards, harts, or unicorns (sadly, no flying creatures). Such a “companion” will aid the hero with unique features and abilities. There is also fast travel system, which allows you to move instantly between encampments, strongholds, and other Inquisition compounds in a given location (more about residences can be found in section no. 6).
3. Characters – companions and NPC’s
As usually, the protagonist will be accompanied by three characters at any given moment. You can select them from nine heroes available, whose number is not going to increase later on, since the developers are not planning to introduce any new companions in DLC’s. The complete companion lists is:
- Varric – a dwarf rogue armed with a crossbow, an influencial member of a family of merchants with a cheerful disposition; an old friend from Dragon Age II;
- Cassandra – a human warrior, a tough member of the Seekers of Truth order; another important character from Dragon Age II;
- Vivienne – a human mage, the First Enchanter of the circle of mages in Orlais, a ruthless woman with a penchant for political intrigues (“the Lady of Iron”);
- Solas – an elf mage, an apostate who lives alone in the forest and examines the Fade on his own (an expert in his field);
- The Iron Byll – a Qunari warrior, the leader of the mercenaries who serves as an intelligence warrior for his people, a fearless but good-natured warrior; voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr;
- Sera – an elf archer (rogue), a mischievous girl tied to crimial underworld devoted to fighting against the corruption among the political elite; a lesbian;
- Blackwall – a human warrior; a Grey Warden, devoted to the cause for which his orgainsation fights (he joined the Wardens of his own free will);
- Dorian – a human mage; an citizen of the Tevinter Imperium, who stood against the law of his homeland and was exiled.
- Cole – a melee-fighting rogue; a spirit of the Fade trapped in a human body, who seks his own identity by helping humans.
No less important than companions are your advisors – non-playable characters who manage various departments of the Inquisition and guide you through strategic decisions. These are three old friends form the previous games: Teliana and Cullen – who manage, respectively, the intelligence and the army – as well as Josephine (“Scribbles”), responsible for the diplomacy. Besides, you will encounter other well-known faces. The first and formost is Morrigan (the Witch of the Wilds) met on the Imperial Court of Orlais, rumored to have vile plans for the Empress. You will also meet the witch Flemeth (Morrigan’s mother), and Dagna (a female dwarf from Orzammar). Moreover, there is a big chance of meeting the protagonists of the previous games (The Grey Warden and Hawke), as well as Alistair. On the other hand, you will definitely not meet Zevran and Shale.
As always, each of the key characters will have their own individual abilities and personality, and the player will get a chance of building meaningful relationships with them. The first and foremost are romantic relationships (optional, of course), which are promised to be more mature and variable than before. There are 8 characters you can have a close relationship with (supposedly more than ever in the history in the series), and not all of them are going to be members of the Inquisition. Companions will be able to disagree with your decisions and even leave the team.
4. Character creation and progression
At the beginning, you choose the character class, race, and sex. In the first category you will be able to select from the traditional: warrior, mage, or rogue. When it comes to races, there are: human, elf, dwarf, and – that is a novelty – Qunari. Besides, you can shape the appearance of the character as well as their voice (all lines spoken by the protagonist are going to be voiced). It is also noteworthy that the differences between races are not boiled down to appearance and base statistics, but are also made shown in how the character will be treated by NPC’s of various backgrounds.
Character creator will offer relatively wide range of options, including such details as inner and outer iris color, or horns, in the case of Qunari. Interestingly, though, there will be no choosing of body build. Other than that, you will be able to chose the timbre of voice, selecting from one of four options – two male (Harry Hadden-Patton, Jon Curry) and two female voices (Alix Wilton Regan, Sumalee Montano). If you choose a human, you will be given noble origins (provided you are not a mage), whereas a dwarf is going to be a surface dweller.
Each character class has its own skill trees, there is also no shortage of talents unique for specific characters. You will be offered a range of 200 different abilities and spells (both new and the ones known from the previous games), which will help you shape your own play style. Moreover, representatives of each race will be able to select one of three specializations after they reach the right experience level. The character progression stops around 25-30 experience level.
As previously, combat is going to be tactical, although this time it will combine old-school solutions from the first, and action elements from the second Dragon Age. You will be able to overwatch battles from three different perspectives. The first two are the classic isometric view with active pause, and the TPP view, which is somewhat similar to the second part of the series (here too you can pause time and give out orders). The third camera placement is an innovation – it is third person perspective with the camera placed right behind character’s back, which gives you more direct control over the hero, and brings Inquisition closer to an action game (however, unlike in that type of games, you wil not be able to perform attacks manually).
Just as in the previous games, it is crucial to combine and complement the abilities of all character classes. It is also important to use the environment – e.g. a fragile wooden terrace is a perfect target for an attack that would take care of several opponents at the same time in both quick and spectacular manner. When it comes to difficulty level, the developers do not intend to compromise – this approach may result in the most challenging game in the history of the series. One of the reasons for that is more advanced enemy AI. However, should it turn out that the challenge you decided to face is too great for you, you will be able to safely withdraw form a fight.
A special type of combat is fighting a dragon. Here you should attack particular parts of body of the beast, slowly decreasing its mobility (e.g. heavily damaging dragon’s wings will prevent it from taking off). What should also be mentioned is the new resource used in combat – Focus. It is generated through cooperation of the entire team, and distributed to all its members, thus giving them really powerful abilities, which can often change the result of a battle. Unfortunately, there will be no setting the ratio between action and storytelling (as it was in Mass Effect 3). Neither there will be fist fighting nor mabari hounds, but it will be possible to set traps.
6. Other gameplay elements
6.1. Managing the Inquisition
As it was mentioned before, a key role in the story has the increasing power of the Inquisition in Thedas. Largely, it depends on making contact with representatives of the key world powers (such as the monarchies of Ferelden and Orlais, or the Order), and winning their trust and sympathy through your actions, as well as – the most crucial thing – helping them to fight the results of the Breach. Another expression of the increasing power of the organization are outposts. Almost each location has a stronghold or other fortifications – which can either be taken over right away or first require to be recaptured from someone eles’s hands – from where you will spread your influences over the area.
The first and most significant stronghold of the Inquisition is Skyhold. Here you make key political decisions, interact with all you companions (especially when it comes to romance), make judgments about local issuses, and send your men on missions varied in time and complexity (some will even require your personal intervention). It is noteworthy that you will not become a lord (or a lady) of a castle right away – originally, the Inquisition’s headquarters are set in a small village of Haven in the Frostback Mointains. Moving to Skyhold neither will let you enjoy glory and comfort immediately, as initially the stronghold lays in ruins. During the next couple of hours of gameplay the stronghold will be progressively renovated and expanded by new sections, made available by removing debris from tunnels, corridors etc. In time, you will also make general decisions about Skyhold décor, and on your adventures you will collect new decorations and furniture (such as thrones or coats of arms).
Doing missions and eliminating enemies from a given location will increase “the experience of the Inquisition” and make it gain new levels, as well as generate two types of resources: Power and Influence. The first one is somewhat a currency needed to push the story forward, and also needed for unlocking new areas on the world map, which can be found on the grand table in the mainhall of Skyhold. In turn, the influence will result in four types of bonuses granted for the hero – Strength allows you to carry more healing potions early in the game, Secrets will increase the number of experience points gained for new Codex entries, and Connections will help you bargain better prizes at vendors. There is also one called Inquisition, but its use is yet unknown.
Missions can also be given out in strongholds scattered around different regions of Thedas. These will offer local tasks, such as patrolling a certain area, capturing a point, or rebuilding a structure. Every such action will pay dividends, and to some extend transform the entire location. Changes will also touch the strongholds themselves – there are several patterns of strongholds (e.g. an army camp, trade center, intelligence headquarters), besides, you will be able to manipulate the appearance of individual chambers and raise certain structures inside the walls. Of course, the greatest range of modifications and constructions (stables, prison, etc.) is available in Skyhold. Lastly, it is worth mentioning that residences will be much bigger than camps from Dragon Age: Origins.
Again, the game uses dialogue wheel menu. This system comes in different variations, depending on your current situation. Some novelty is a bar that informs of the consequences of choosing a given dialogue option or shows what exact words will the protagonist speak out upon clicking. It is also worth mentioning that the developers limited the number of icons displayed on the dialogue wheel, and reserved them only for the key options (e.g. the ones that result in fighting or starting a romance).
Inquisition offers even greater freedom than before, when it comes to choosing the appearance of individual companions. This involves both separate items of clothing, as well as abolishing class limits (e.g. there is nothing stoppong a rouge from running around with a plate armor, and a warrior from wearing mage’s robes – however, this will have some consequences). Unfortunately, the limits will stay there for weapons – what is worse, warriors will not be able to wield two weapons at the same time (fans of dual wield will have to play as a rouge and settle for fighting with a pair of daggers). It is also worth mentioning that equipment does not wear out.
At this point, information on this gameplay feature is rather scarce – the developers only promised that the game will have the most complex crafting system in the history of Dragon Age series. We can thus expect such crafting options as alchemy, creating traps, or enchanting (with more runes than ever), as well as new ones. It was also revealed that the player will be able to choose the appearance of items (e.g. by changing colour of various parts of an armor).
When it comes to movement, the game will offer much more freedom than its predecessors. Coming into an invisible wall will definitely be something uncommon, besides, the hero will be able to jump (no climbing, though). There will also be some room for riding mounts.
7.1. General information
The game is being created with Frostbite 3 engine, known best from Battlefield series. Thanks to that, it will be possible to reach a really high level of graphical fidelity, with such effects, like the aforementioned destructible environment, dynamic weather system, or realistic physics (not only of bodies and various objects, but also water and fire), let alone the ability to generate huge open spaces. Interestingly, though, there is going to be no day-night cycle – the time of day is set for individial locations and does not change.
7.2. PC version
Right now, PC system requirements of Inquisition are unknown. AMD company announced that the third Dragon Age will be among the games with Mantle support (low-level rendering API, which is an efficient alternative for DirectX libraries). PC users will be able to use either keyboard + mouse configuration or console gamepads.
7.3. Console versions
There is no information on the game’s efficiency on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The game is being designed primarily for PC and the eighth-generation consoles, so Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners must expect lower level of graphics on their platforms.
8. Other information
At the end of August, it was announced that Dragon Age: Inquisition will offer a co-op mode for 4 players. It will be completely separate from single-player campaign, with individual, combat-driven missions. Initially, multiplayer will offer 12 characters (others will come after the release), but some of them will have to be unlocked, either with in-game currency (gold coins) or real money, or be “found” in treasure chests. Character progression system and crafting system (creating sets of armor for certain types of characters will unlock them) will be implemented too. Moreover, co-op mode is going to have a companion app for PC and mobile devices, named Inquisition HQ, which will allow managing character progression and equipment.
8.2. Dragon Age Keep
Along with the game release, there will also come Dragon Age Keep service. On the one hand, it will serve as a social app, letting players share their experience and game materials. Another function is to help players of previous Dragon Age games to generate their own save game file to be used in Inquisition – this will present a summary of the story from the first and the second game, allowing you to make the key choices from both games, as well decide on the progression of the two protagonists (The Grey Warden and Hawke), the status of NPC’s, and the political situation in Thedas. There will also be a custom game start for those who will not want to use Dragon Age Keep.
8.3. Collector’s Edition
In may we learned of Dragon Age: Inquisition Collector’s Edition – the richest edition will include, among others: an inwrought case (9 x 19 x 29 cm), cloth map of Thedas, 72-card tarot card deck with custom artwork depicting mythology from Dragon Age lore, a full scale, six piece, lock tool set, large map markers, Inquisitor’s badge, quill and inkpot, 40-page Inquisitor’s journal, Orleasian coins, and a SteelBook case. The American price of the Collector’s Edition is 170$.
8.4. Development status
On 1 may 2014 it was announced that the game is right before alpha testing. The framework is ready – right now the developers work at such things as: voice-over, spotting errors, as well as adding miscellaneous extras and cutting off elements that do not fit in the game. Thus, the release date of Inquisition is unlikely to change.
The first announced expansion for the third Dragon Age is Flames of the Inquisition (contains sets of unique weapons and armor, as well as an armored mount), which is also as a bonus DLC added to pre-orders. More extras will be available for purhusers of Digital Deluxe Edition – Skyhold Throne for the Inquisition headquarters, two mounts (Red Hart and Bog Unicorn), and digital soundtrack. More add-ons (not announced yet) are going to be first released for Microsoft consoles (Xbox 360 i Xbox One). In September the developers said that the nature of the future DLC’s will greatly depend on players likes and needs. They added, that there will be no large expansions, comparable to Awakening expansion released for the first Dragon Age.
9. Official trailers
Christopher Mysiak | Gamepressure.com