Be warned, there are mild spoilers in this text
When Dragon Age: Inquisition came along, we were all blown away. It’s a really great game, filled with gorgeous landscapes and lots of quests, and there are dragons. Definitely GOTY material. Additionally, it really gives players a sense of being the hero, not only because they get to lead the Inquisition, but also because most of the quests involve helping others, or plainly saving whole regions of Thedas. All in all, it was definitely one of the best games in 2014.
Now, where does this third title in the series stand among its peers? Does it really work as part of the saga? Does it really make you feel as if you are actually playing a Dragon Age game?
First of all, the setting is adequate. Events in Dragon Age: Inquisition do happen as consequence of the conflicts solved in the previous games. The state of the world involves things old-time players will surely remember and there’s an overall feeling of familiarity concerning politics, geography and, most of all, heroic deeds from the past. It all seems about right.
Why is this setting only adequate then? Well, it doesn’t feel like the same story. The pieces are right, but there’s a different tone, a different deepness in the tale. The problem with Dragon Age: Inquisition`s plot is that instead of feeling like a whole story, facts and soul, it’s more like a display in which all the things Bioware thought fans expected are shown. The glue that ties all the cameos and references is thin and many times ridiculous.
None of this means Dragon Age: Inquisition’s story is less than great; it only states how apart it is from the other games in the franchise. This feeling of dispersion is additionally accentuated by the differences in the game’s mechanics and world disposition. Dragon Age games hardly ever included huge maps, extended non-urban zones, nor were that much based in exploration. Moreover, MMORPG-like quests added a whole new feel which, even though works perfectly in Dragon Age: Inquisition, feels completely foreign to many long-time fans of the series.
Besides the historical setting, the relation to the previous games is established via mentions, in dialogs and songs, of the deeds of the heroes you were in the past titles. NPCs will often speak about Kirkwall’s Champion or the Hero of Ferelden, but it all stops right there. It’s true that having Hawke appearing in the game was a very interesting addition, which made complete sense, but the connections could have been a lot tighter. What’s the point of having an incredibly detailed site such as Dragon Age Keep, with a myriad of world-state options, when they don’t really seem to change anything?
Comparisons are a drag, but often come in handy. Anyone who played Mass Effect knows what Bioware is capable of doing with in-game choices. As the illustrious Commander Shepard. players were able to decide things ranging from romance options to the fates of whole species and planets. The best part was that every new game in the series was perfectly consistent to what Shepard had done in the previous ones. Moreover, companion deaths carried over and were as important as the presence of those who remained alive.