Dragon Age Inquisition Review (PS4)

In the interest of full disclosure, I should advise that I haven’t completed Dragon Age Inquisition. This isn’t because I’m not interested or not thoroughly invested in the game, quite the opposite. It’s because this game is MASSIVE. I’ve sunk just over 40 hours into the game since release and still feel as though I’ve only begun to scratch the surface. So as not to leave you waiting until 2015 for my full review, I’ve put this review together based upon my feelings and experiences thus far.

As I said, this game is massive. Not just in terms of map size, but also visual scale and possibility. There is just so much to do and all the time in the world to do it, which you’ll need. In their press kit, EA advised that you should set aside between 50-65 hours for a play though of the main game but I call BS. There is no way that you could possibly jump into this game without finding yourself distracted, running off to bash up a few apostates or close a handful of rifts.

Not only is it difficult not to get side tracked, it’s also a hell of a lot of fun. By seeking out many of these side quests you are forced to explore more and more of the gigantic maps of Ferelden and Orlais. Each of these separate ‘world maps’ are then broken down into smaller location maps such as the semi-tutorial area of The Hinterlands. Here you’ll cut your teeth as a burgeoning Inquisitor by amassing supporters to the Inquisition and various other engagements of derring-do. That said, skip the damn Druffalo mission. It’s really not worth the XP. Here’s a hot tip for new players, don’t hang around in the Hinterlands for too long. There’s a massive world out there just waiting for you to explore. Plus, you can always come back later.

The combat system has seen a bit of a makeover since DA2 with the ability to fight on the fly in real time or switch to a top down view wherein you can plan the movements of each player and stop or advance time at your will. The latter of which is particularly handy when you find yourself overwhelmed by enemies and allows you to survey the battlefield for an advantage such as a high point for a bow-wielding rogue. Many of your battles will be fun, but not too difficult while others will seriously push your limits. Encounter a dragon early on in the game, say, the Ferelden Frostback, and you’ll promptly have you arse handed to you. As you progress in the game, however, these battles become more doable while still providing a challenge.

The story, as it should be, is the best part of the game and instantly transports players back to the world of Templars, Apostates, Blood Mages and, of course, dragons. This game builds upon what has come before it, keeps much of the established look and feel, but still brings something new to the table which, in this case, is scale. Almost as if they took a note from the book of Skyrim, Dragon Age Inquisition is big. multi-level castles, great expansive maps and a multitude of customisation options give so much motivation to play, all the while compounded by a tonne of my favourite fantasy element: LORE!

Fans of the DA franchise will find joy in many of the cameo appearances and pieces of dialogue that refer to incidents past. Speaking of dialogue, Bioware have done it again and provided a stunning array of dialogue based story decisions with an incredibly varied palette of voice actors. Considering just how many lines of dialogue there are in this game, it’s incredible that the lip syncing is as great as it is. In fact, the animation and graphics in general are superb, showcasing the power of the Frostbite engine. At times I found myself standing in the rain on a storm battered coast or basking in the serenity of a lush green pasture just watching the long grass undulate and the trees sway. This is Dragon Age Inquisition’s real strength, its ability to transport you to somewhere fantastic. As a kid, growing up on 200 acres in northern NSW, I would run around the bush with a bath towel for a cape, broomstick as a magic staff, or a plastic sword, or toy bow and arrow, slaying imaginary orcs and goblins. I still have such fond memories of those days and DAI drew out those feelings that I had almost forgotten.

I’m somewhat thankful that I haven’t rushed through this game because even though I’ve already spent a considerable amount of time questing and looting, I know that the adventure has only just begun.

- Ryan

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