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If you're not playing Dragon Age: Inquisition, you should be

So I decided to surface before my surgery tomorrow and do my due diligence—Dragon Age: Inquisition is, hands-down, the most amazing game I've ever played. Now, full disclosure—I don't play a lot of different video games, or franchises (like, for instance, I've never played Elder Scrolls or Metal Gear Solid, say). The ones I do play, I am stuck on for life—Final Fantasy, EverQuest I and II, Phoenix Wright, Silent Hill (okay, just the first three games, but still), and now Dragon Age. I've played through the first two games around 7 or 8 times each, and I've loved every minute of it.

I came into the games midway—I believe I saw a trailer for DA2, which made me pick up DA:O (for PC—I tend to avoid games on consoles. Just a preference). Within about 2 hours, I was hooked. And had already fallen head-over-heels for Alistair. It was like the game took everything I loved about MMO's, RPG's, fantasy, and good writing and smushed them all together in one place.

Was DA:O perfect? No, but it was close. Probably my biggest beef with it was that my player character was mute. I found that...odd. But, I loved the game and couldn't wait for 2.


So...Dragon Age 2. I've mentioned this on here before, but I'm one of about 16 people that actively love this game. Let's get the complaints out of the way. Yes, yes, YES they reused zones. Being an MMO player of longstanding, this didn't bother me as much as it did other people—we're used to zone formats getting reused. Yes, you couldn't customize the look of your companions. Yes, all of the action takes place in and around one city.

But oddly enough, it was that last point that I loved the most. You're not some nameless whoeverguy that can somehow change the world, even though you're currently in your smallclothes and have 1 copper to your name.

I really enjoyed the smaller scope of DA2. You affect and are affected by events in your city, in your sphere of influence. It made sense, but I think that by making the scope of the story smaller, they ended up making the game smaller as well, and that's essentially what everybody has against it.


For me, the biggest selling points of DA2 are the writing and the characters. I had Varric, Isabela, and Aveline in every single one of my parties that I could, and I was never disappointed with their banter. The entire game is incredibly well-written, and fun to experience.

Which brings us to Inquisition. Holy crap, is this game huge. It's like they took every single complaint about DA2 to heart and over-over-OVER compensated. DA2 too small? Here, have a completely gimongous world. Zones were reused and it was too linear? Here, wander around this massive piece of land all you want. Jump up on things. Go into caves. Wander around and just gather crafting mats. Run past the NPC's and listen to their conversations (no, really. You should).


Oh, and is there ever crafting. DA:O and DA2's crafting was...okay, I was going to say simplistic, but it's really non-existent. Gather that resource, push this button, presto! You've made stuff. Not in this game.


You can choose your starting race (Qunari are an option for the first time ever), and away you go. Yes, once again you're "THE ONE", but this time, it doesn't feel inevitable. It feels organic, and you're actually allowed to question this within the constraints of the story.


And so far—nearly 50 hours in—there are hardly any constraints. Once I began playing this and realised how deep and wide this game actually is (both physically and story-wise), I gave up any pretense that I was going to finish this in a week. So I completely gave myself over to the game, and now I'm just enjoying the experience of playing it. The other night, I spent 45 minutes—45!—just talking with my companions. More than even the first two games, you feel like the information you're giving and taking with them (and getting from the codex entries) is absolutely integral to the story, and not just something to gather and collect.

I haven't even started the third-ish main storyline quest yet. I've been too happy just noodling around, seeing what I can see, finding stuff, and listening to my companions. I'll probably finish this game some time next year, but I am completely okay with that. Mostly, because it feels like the very best MMO, but with the knowledge that I'm working towards a finite point.


And it's the experience of playing that feels new for me. I'm actually nervous walking into dark caves (and man, are they dark. Even if you have a torch). I was roaming around, looking for stuff, when I rounded a corner and literally ran into a dragon, which proceeded to turn my ass to toast. Way higher level than anything I had previously encountered in the zone. You getting comfortable walking around? Yeah, well—maybe you shouldn't.

And, unlike the first two games, when I make a statement to somebody, or ask a question, I'm *really* not positive how it's going to land, or what the consequences of it will be. Look, I adore my sarcastic Fem!Hawke more than anything—I really do. But I also knew exactly how she would respond in any given situation (assuming I kept choosing sarcasm, which I did), and how people would respond to her. Not in DA:I. You get the sense that people are actually listening to what you say, and weighing it in the balance against lots of other factors.


I'm not really going into what the combat is like here—I'll let others far more qualified than I take that on. Combat in games, for me, is secondary (or further back) than most other things. I play on godmode if there's a mod; if there isn't, I pick whatever the easiest possible difficulty level is. These games have never been about the thrill or challenge of combat for me; they've always been about the story, the lore, the land, and the characters. For me, combat is just something that gets in the way of me finding more stuff and having more conversations. Suffice to say that on the lowest level ("casual", I think), combat is still enough of a challenge that I'm finding it a bit irritating. Keeping me away from my stuff, and all that.

But that just illustrates the best thing about this game—there's no one "right way" to play it, and it accomodates a number of playstyles. I know this is probably true of other games, but it's like they took the best things from the first two DA games, force-fed them awesome, and created this amazing and wonderful playground of a world, with interesting people in it.


Also, dragons.


If you're crazy about dragons, fantasy, great writing, an immersive world, crafting, exploring, RPG's, combat, whatever—well, apparently this is the game for you.

Go and get it. You won't be disappointed.

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