Mar 13 2014 3:00pm

Gaming Roundup: Dragon Age: Inquisition Patrols the Skies This Fall

Dragon Age Inquisition

Fans of BioWare’s Dragon Age franchise have a lot to look forward to later this year as the series returns to gaming screens everywhere via the upcoming Dragon Age: Inquisition. The story-focused medieval fantasy RPG series is, along with Mass Effect, one of BioWare’s flagship franchises, and Inquisition marks the developer’s first foray into next-gen consoles. So what can we expect from BioWare’s latest?

Well, if the game’s latest trailer is any indication, the developer has taken much of the fan feedback they received from Dragon Age II to heart. Dragon Age: Inquisition returns gamers to the world of Thedas, and it looks absolutely spectacular. BioWare is clearly taking full advantage of EA’s Frostbite 3 game engine (as well as next-gen hardware) to maximize the size and beauty of Inquisition’s environments. Producer Cameron Lee went into some detail on the current in-game environments and ecosystems: “The world’s population is based on an emergent system that adjusts what you’ll encounter based on how your actions tip the balance in the area. You’ll see towns attacked by bandits, deer fleeing from wolves, giants feeding on bears, and countless other scenarios.” As we learned from Skyrim, these kinds of details go a long way toward making a world feel responsive and lived-in. Dragon Age: Inquisition is one of the 2014’s most hotly anticipated RPGs—we’ll be keeping a close eye on the game as more news emerges.

Dragon Age: Inquisition launches Fall 2014 on PC, Xbox 360/One, and PS3/4.

In other gaming news this week, Hearthstone, Dark Souls II, and Titanfall all see the light of launch, Witcher 3 gets delayed, The Last of Us hits the silver screen, and The Last Guardian is still alive. Read on!

  • Of note to Blizzard and Magic: The Gathering fans everywhere: Hearthstone, Blizzard’s first venture into card gaming, is now out of beta and available free-to-play on their site.
  • So Dark Souls II launched this week for Xbox 360 and PS3, and millions are dead as a result.

  • Speaking of A-list titles launching this week, Titanfall stomped onto the Xbox 360/One/PC landscape a few days ago. If you’re craving some mech mayhem, check it out.

  • The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt looks absolutely incredible, but fans of the Witcher series will have to wait a little longer for the game. Developer CD Projekt is pushing the game into February 2015 to ensure comprehensive quality control.
  • Know what’s awesome? NASA using GLaDOS (NASA’s Official Talking General Leisure and Diversion Operational Server) in their newest IRrelevant Astronomy series of educational web videos.
  • The Last of Us is going Hollywood. The game’s lead writer, Neil Druckmann, will pen the screenplay in collaboration with Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures production company.
  • Team ICO’s mythical The Last Guardian is apparently still in development and on Sony’s radar. We’re crossing toes, fingers, and eyes here that this game eventually sees the light of day. Team ICO has built considerable (and deserved) goodwill due to their sublime work on Shadow of the Colossus and ICO—here’s hoping The Last Guardian continues their string of success.

If there are games you’d like us to cover or other angles you want us to examine, please let us know @tdelucci or @pritpaulbains.

Chris Nelly
1. Aeryl
Is DA:I going to be next gen only? Cuz that blows.
John Hatteberg
2. Oronis
No PC version? Bioware has been going down the hole for years now. They used to make great games, now they're all bixesual dating simulators with hackneyed storylines added in.
Lauren Hartman
3. naupathia
I love the Dragon Age games. Do you have any specific links to the fan feedback you mention? I liked DA2 a lot, but I did hear some negative critiques about it but don't remember what they said was wrong with it. I thought it was a pretty solid game.
Lauren Hartman
4. naupathia
It says right in the article it will be out on PC:

Dragon Age: Inquisition launches Fall 2014 on PC, Xbox 360/One, and PS3/4.
Patrick Mullane
5. Patrick Mullane
No one expects the Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Patrick Mullane
6. Porphyrogenitus
@3 naupathia:

Criticisms included extensive reuse of limited environments, action-rpg combat mechanics without the tactical depth of DAO, inability to customize party member gear, reduced player impact on the game world, and waves of enemy reinforcements appearing out of nowhere.

So far it looks like they're addressing all of the above. It looks like it has incredible promise; hopefully they also learned from the ME3 ending debacle and won't pull any anticlimactic, Deus Ex Machina, non sequitor endings that entirely obviate prior player choices...
Pritpaul Bains
7. Kickpuncher
@1 Aeryl, @2 Oronis - See @4 naupathia. :) Dragon Age: Inquisition will launch for current gen consoles as well as PC.

@3 naupathia - IIRC, most of the feedback surrounding DA2 involved repetitive environments/gameplay and some quibbles about the combat system. The trailer shows enough, I think, to shoot down the first of those issues. From what I recall, general consensus seemed to be that it was a very good game that was just shy of being a great one.
Pritpaul Bains
8. Kickpuncher
Aaaaaaand @6 beat me to it. But yes. That. ;)
Walker White
9. Walker

There is a theory (with some slight evidence behind it) that the ME3 ending was the result of the storyline leak that happened 6-9 months before release. There was another ending that had to do with all the Dark Energy build-up referenced in the previous games. But this was scrapped and replaced with the new storyline after the leak.

From a storytelling perspective, DA:II was a lost opportunity. You had a more intimate story than the classic "world is ending" Bioware plotline. You had the unreliable narrator in Varrick. And all of it was thrown away in a 3rd act that made ME3 look Shakespearian.
Patrick Mullane
10. Colin R
While some people were critical of DA2's story, that wasn't it's problem. The problem was that it so repetitive that it was clearly rushed. The environments were sterile and boring, and they used the same four maps for every dungeon. And the combat system, while dynamic, was unpolished and not very well explained.

I'm mystified by the trailer really--Bioware has never had impressive environments. Their selling point has always been engrossing (some might say bloated) scripts. I have a hard time believing that they're going to compete with Bethesda, Rockstar, or Ubisoft on creating interesting environments to explroe. So this is a weird development.
Walker White
11. Walker
Their selling point has always been engrossing (some might say bloated) scripts.
Their combat is also more interesting and more tactical than any of their competitors. Witcher is too actiony to get pull off any reasonable controller tactics. And if it weren't for Dremora Lord summoning, I would have given up on Skyrim soon after I started playing it.
Patrick Mullane
12. StuartB
The inability to customize party gear wasn't that much of a problem for me. As opposing to min/maxing a large group of items per character, we gave them natural growth and acquisition of new weapons and armor. In a way, it was Bioware making a mature story experience and streamlining it into the game.

The environments, on the other hand, those were unforgiveable.
Chris Nelly
13. Aeryl
@12, I agree. It would have been a neat mehanic to reuse the locations, switching from day to night in Kirkwall, if there's been more to do outside of Kirkwall.
Patrick Mullane
14. Colin R
It would have been nice if Kirkwall looked like a city people actually lived in rather than a collection of brick boxes.

My other pet peeve from DA2 is the 'trash loot.' Like, the very fact that some loot is trash is acknowledgement that collecting and managing loot is pointless. Why am I forced to collect toenail clippings and assorted junk, then lug it to a merchant, just to justify making money? What gaming value is this providing? Just give me GP! Arg.
Chris Nelly
15. Aeryl
Both the DA games were bad at that, having you collect items that pretty much worthless. At least in Origins you had the thing were you could give stuff to your army.
Patrick Mullane
16. Colin R
Right, but the very act of labelling it as 'trash loot' whose only purpose is to be sold, they're acknowledging that they know this is ridiculous but they feel that they have to somehow justify the player getting money from fighting. Why is this even a thing?
Chris Nelly
17. Aeryl
Well, they weren't the first. Nothing was funnier than in Bard's Tale(for PS2) than the game explaining that you found loot in dead animal carcasses because they ate it.
Erica Redshift
18. Erica_Redshift
Ah, the map recycling in DA2 really bugged me. Every cave and mansion/house interior map was the same. If you got lucky, for a change, the map was mirrored so perhaps you entered from the north instead of south. I remember BioWare stating that it was time constraints, but I couldn't say for sure. People do a lot of complaining when a release is pushed back. I would personally prefer to wait for a solid game.

I enjoyed the stories in both DAO and DA2. For the most part, they entertained and immersed me.

I am really excited about Inquisition. From all I've read, watched and listened to, the developers are working hard to get everything "just right," although that's relative.
Chris Nelly
19. Aeryl
@18, Yup that was the trick with the dungeons and mansions, they just changed the route through the map, and had you enter from different entrances.
Patrick Mullane
20. SFC B
I'm excited about seeing DA:I as well. I preferred the gameplay and story in DA:O, but I think that DA2 is unfairly maligned. The repeating maps were a cop-out, but the story it was telling was, to me, fairly engaging. Varic is an awesome character who I'm looking forward to adventuring with in DA:I. And the scene where the fate of Hawke's mother is revealed made me actually go "Oh my GOD!" Given the economics of video games I just can't bring myself to be too harsh on a developer releasing a game that tells a decent story, with engaging gameplay, but uses the same map a few too many times.

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