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The One Man MMO Project
The story of a lone developer's quest to build an online world :: MMO programming, design, and industry commentary
I Wish Dragon Age Inquisition Was a Bioware Game
By Robert Basler on 2015-02-12 01:10:21
Homepage: email:one at onemanmmo dot com

Tonight I played Dragon Age Inquisition for 40 minutes. In that time I killed an alcove full of spiders, went through a cave of spiders, got chased by a bear, killed a giant and closed one rift by avoiding combat entirely. I've played about 20 hours of Dragon Age Inquisition so far and I'm so disappointed.

I loved Dragon Age Origins. It (also Mass Effect) is perfection in the form of a giant branching story punctuated with carefully designed scripted battles. Add gear progression, crafting, and characters you can really care about, and I spend hundreds of hours on those games.

I'm also an explorer by nature. I loved searching every nook and cranny of Skyrim. It was beautiful, and amazing, and huge. Dragon Age tried so hard to be Skyrim, but open-world is directly at odds with what Bioware is good at: scripted storytelling. They want to tick off the open-world feature checkbox but aren't willing to give up control of the player's experience. On Saturday I spent 20 painful minutes jumping all over in order to get to the top of a rock bridge to my goal in the desert only to discover that there was an invisible wall preventing me from crossing the bridge (which was misleadingly textured with the "walkable" texture.)

Dragon Age has multiple environments which is certainly an improvement over Skyrim, and they are impressive and beautiful for the first five minutes, but they are so huge, uniform and vacant that they're completely boring. Add to that that you have to jump over nearly every pebble in the environment and its entirely frustrating just getting around.

The story so far has also been really disappointing. Characters talk, but conversations are rare and shallow. There just isn't any meat to the story. Of the 6 playable characters I've recruited so far, the only one with any personality is Red Jenny.

On the upside, I've collected 3 of 17 tavern songs so far! I honestly don't know what they were thinking with that feature. Running out of potions and having to return to base to refill just as you reach your far-off destination is also super-annoying.

I thought the Dragon Age Keep was interesting, although I would have preferred the game to just import my save files. (You might also want to do the Red Lyrium Reapers quest for some extra weapons.)

Dragon Age Inquisition is a massive game with excellent production value, and I still have hope that I might like it some day, but I really don't understand all the "Game of the Year" awards. It really isn't very good.

The funny thing is that I loved the tutorial. It was pure Bioware: beautiful environments and dramatic storytelling punctuated by challenging battles.

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