We check out the third Dragon Age at a recent preview event in the UK.
By Stace Harman on September 6, 2013 at 11:51 am
A recent preview of Dragon Age: Inquistion attended by games.on.net suggests that BioWare Edmonton understands the need to recapture and build upon the concepts that underpinned Dragon Age: Origins. As such, Inquisition borrows from its forbear, adds hints of its sequel, and includes some smart new additions that could make it a sequel that’s worth waiting for.
The first hint of this amalgamation of its predecessors’ differing approaches is that Dragon Age: Inquisition lets you role-play as one of multiple races, including the physically imposing Qunari, while also telling a predefined story. As a leader of the Inquisition you’re charged with discovering the origin of the Fade Rifts that are spawning nightmarish terrors into the world of Thedas — but how you go about that is up to you.
Your choice of class and race as well as the action you take influences the direction and ethos of the Inquisition. Your choices will also affect your relationships with your immediate party members and it’s apparent that the wry humour that stood out in the first two games will return here.
There’s more choice and variety for defining your own character, then, and this flexibility spills over into the combat, too. Tactical View makes a welcome return and offers a paused, top-down view of the battlefield, from where you can direct the individual members of your four-person party. There’s also the choice to take direct control of party members and adopt a more free-flowing approach to combat.
The most intriguing elements of Dragon Age: Inquisition are those that we currently know the least about. The Frostbite 3 engine is allowing BioWare to create a much more open world and utilise some incidental but neat effects: muddy shores suck at your heroes boots and make steep inclines tougher going, but there’s little information about how the improved physics might affect combat.
Similarly, the crafting system has been improved and expanded to enable a greater level of customisation of weapons and armour, but BioWare is not yet discussing how this will integrate with character progression and abilities. What is certain, though, is a dedicated PC interface for those with a natural distrust of radial menus.
Elsewhere, there’s a new stronghold mechanic that could prove a defining feature. Players work to weaken enemy strongholds by using tactical nous, such as opting to poison its water supply or sabotage its lines of communication, before then taking it over by force. Once conquered, troops can be stationed there to further the reach of the Inquisition and the keep can be customised to serve a particular purpose, like providing military reinforcement or espionage opportunities.
Later, numerous building projects can be undertaken in the local area depending on particular environmental features that then confer bonuses to the Inquisition’s cause.
While many of the changes made in Dragon Age 2 felt like cutbacks rather than refinements to Origins’ core concepts, Dragon Age: Inquisition looks to be building on the mechanics of both. It will have stiff competition from the likes of The Witcher 3 when both games launch next year but that just makes it all the more exciting a time to be a fan of the RPG.