Dragon Age: Inquisition – Vast World, Story Details, Playable Qunari

The thought that kept coming to mind while watching the closed-door, hands-off, developer-played demo of Dragon Age: Inquisition at PAX Prime 2013, is that BioWare seems to have taken the lessons of 2011 and 2012 to heart in a serious way.

Gone are the horrendous recycled dungeons, same-same enemies and relatively tiny explorable world of Dragon Age 2. In their place are staggering vistas, realistic physics, and a wide variety of opponents. Inquisition will also see a long-requested feature, the ability to play as a male or female Qunari, as well as a return to the vast open world style of Dragon Age Origins. Better, what aspects of the plot BioWare reps were willing to reveal — and it wasn’t much — suggest an epic story that doesn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.

While Inquisition won’t be a repeat of the family drama of Dragon Age 2, it also (apparently) won’t be yet another Tolkien rehash. Instead, players will experience something that looks to be part high middle ages, part gritty war drama, and part … police procedural?

Ultimately, what emerged from the demo is the picture of a game that aims to make up for a brutal couple of years for BioWare, and patch up the frosty relationship between the company and its fanbase. The question of whether it succeeds won’t be answered until late next year, but from what we saw yesterday, things look promising.

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Setting

BioWare is choosing to remain mum on the specifics of Inquisition’s story, but it did provide a bit more context. First making it clear that “Dragon Age isn’t about any specific story, it’s about the world,” we were told that Inquisition would be about “large-scale concerns, fate of nations kind of stuff.”

The titular Inquisition is an ancient organization dedicated to rooting out corruption and righting wrongs, your standard knight-errant stuff. Long ago, the organization faded away, replaced in the Dragon Age world by the Templars. However, at the beginning of Inquisition, an unspecified disaster has caused tears to appear in The Veil (the metaphysical barrier between the physical world and the spiritual world). Through these tears come all sorts of horrors, and the player character will be instrumental in resurrecting the Inquisition as a means of determining what that disaster was, who caused it, and how to fix it.

“There are no mustache-twirling villains,” BioWare says.

As you build up the Inquisition, it will grow from a rag tag band of do-gooders into a full-scale political force that affects events political and spiritual, worldwide.

Other themes include moral questions about the regulation of mages, “walking nuclear time bombs” according to the opinion of in-world citizens, and the consideration of motive and circumstance when trying to explain the evil actions committed by characters in the game. “There are no mustache-twirling villains,” BioWare says, adding that one theme it wants to explore is the question of whether people can make bad decisions for good reasons. This is reflected in the decisions you’ll have to make during the game, but more on that below.

Characters

The biggest news to come out of the demo was the announcement that Qunari will finally be included as playable characters. Long requested by fans of the series, the ability to play as the secretive horned race promises interesting story elements (more on that below). It’ll also be exceptionally cool just to play as the large, horned badasses who up to this point have stuck around mostly to be intimidating and difficult.

But more important than the specific implications of the option is the confirmation that despite the epic-sized themes and the fact that Inquisition will be as distinct from DA2 as DA2 was from Origins, there will be what at least appears to be a high degree of shared continuity.

BioWare is seriously considering taking a page from the Saints Row series, with a range of voice actors to reflect differences between Dragon Age races.

During the demo, in which the party explored a region called Crestwood that was afflicted by problems resulting from the holes in The Veil, and later conquered an enemy fortress, it was revealed that Leliana (she is clearly heard talking) and Varric Tethras will both be able to join the player’s squad. (The devs also confirmed that Morrigan will appear in the game, though not in what capacity.) While in-game dialogue was brief, it did reveal a heavy focus on the relationships between characters. One can only assume you’ll be able to enjoy difficult romances or outright orgies, just like in previous games.

Dragon Age 2 had voice actors for the male and female player characters, an easy enough feature considering players could only play as either a male or female human. As evidenced by the inclusion of the Qunari, Dragon Age: Inquisition restores the wider range of playable races available in Dragon Age: Origins. But fortunately for those of you who liked being able to hear your character talk, Inquisition won’t be returning to the mute protagonists of the original game. Inquisition will feature fully-voiced protagonists for all races and genders.

BioWare told us the extent of this voice work is still in the discussion phase, but that it’s seriously considering taking a page from the Saints Row series, with a range of voice actors to reflect differences between Dragon Age races, and possibly even differences in body type. Get ready to spend even more time customizing your character.

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17 Comments on Dragon Age: Inquisition – Vast World, Story Details, Playable Qunari

Averia

On August 31, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Wow, the writer of this article is an idiot. They did NOT confirm that Leliana was going to be a companion, and they’ve already said that Morrigan will not be.

Top-quality gaming journalism as usual from the brilliant minds at Gamefront!

Aedelric

On August 31, 2013 at 4:10 pm

So how much of the game will be removed for release day DLC?

okay, I will admit it does look interesting, but I have read all the PR rubbish before and no offence Ross but the previews gaming websites gave for Dragon Age 2 sounded just like this at the time. `Better this´ `Better that´ `Lessons learned´ and so on. We ex-fans have a right to be skeptical and Bioware really has to pull out all the stops for this. Not just make a good game but not abuse/insult players with micro DLC, release day DLC or lack of support (patches etc)

I am skipping this one, if reports from payers are good after release, and if ME4 holds up and then maybe I will come back. I can not pretend the last few years did not happen or that I wasted a large amount of money on fairly bad games from Bioware.

fethski

On August 31, 2013 at 4:27 pm

I’ll admit that I was a massive fanboy of Bioware at one point. Games were day 1 preorders and I didn’t need to know anything other than it was being made by Bioware. Everything I’m hearing so far is actually getting me interested, almost excited, for this game. I’m also pretty damn excited that EA has tried to shove this game down our throats already and that it isn’t coming out until next year.

However things like the linearity of Dragon Age 2 and the pick your color ending of ME3 I still haven’t forgotten about. I also wonder how the mp is going to fit in. We were told players wouldn’t be punished for not playing mp on ME3 and yet they still locked out part of the ending prior to the EC.

And as petty as this sounds there’s also the fact that EA’s name is stamped on the box. I hope EA can do right with this game and not find a way to shoot themselves in the foot. In the end call me cautiously optimisitic.

Kevin

On August 31, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Going to have to echo what’s already been said.

What they’ve been saying seems like an honest attempt to actually get back on track, before ME3′s ending, before Dragon Age 2, Hell, before SWTOR. But I will not, no matter what they do, be buying this on release day. I used to pre-order them the moment they were made available, I got the Collector’s Edition of ME3 and SWTOR (Yeah, I felt real good about that £190 afterwards). Instead I’ll be waiting until all the reviews are in, until some of my more gullible friends let me know if they think the game is worth it.

Ross Lincoln

On August 31, 2013 at 6:00 pm

I totally understand what you guys are saying. Believe me, I’m particularly cynical. Until I saw this demo I wasn’t even interested in playing this game.

I can’t comment on any commentary regarding Dragon Age 2. I don’t personally recall a lot of people discussing DA2 as addressing any perceived problems with DA:O. If anything, DA:O was already a good game. I certainly did not talk about DA2 as somehow fixing anything wrong with DA:O. Full disclosure, I actually loved a lot of DA2 and it was only after subsequent playthroughs that its problems became apparent to me. (The way ME3 was completely screwed up only made DA2 look worse.)

BioWare (and, let’s be honest, EA really) have made a lot of tremendous mistakes in the last few years, and skepticism ad rejection from fans is richly deserved. But if the company actually managed to learn those lessons and apply them, and (as seems from the demo) they’re not trying to make a DA game that attempts to attract anyone except for core fans of the series, I think some benefit of the doubt is warranted. Perhaps this time, it’s not simply being rushed out because the parent company wants to meet quarterly earnings metrics.

It’s worth noting that we here at GF were among the first outlets to agree with the fans who called BS on ME3. Trust me, if I say this looks promising, I say that as someone who hasn’t had any interest in BioWare produced games since I reached the color coded endings. Which is to say, I hope I’ve reported the story honestly, as I saw it.

gasmaskangel

On August 31, 2013 at 7:31 pm

I’ll admit that some of the stuff in this preview has piqued my interest, however I’m still going to remain firmly in the “wait until consumer reviews are in” camp.

I really, really hope that this is a return to form for Bioware. I don’t want another ME3 debacle, because frankly no one came out of that looking good, and frankly I just want to play another really mindblowingly good RPG.

I’m just so tired of how damn depressing gaming has gotten lately.

SherwoodPro

On September 1, 2013 at 9:06 am

I’m pretty excited about DA:I. I know a lot of people were uptight and disappointed with some of Bioware’s previous games, but I think the harsh reaction is a bit much. Yes, there are legit things to be upset about – such as the smaller areas, fighting mechanics being changed, etc in DA2. But, the story was still very good I thought, the characters were memorable, and these elements did affect me emotionally and intellectually. To some that might be a cop-out, but I think one thing Bioware has been consistent on is their storytelling, character realization, and making them matter to us.

Indeed, ME3 had a terrific story. I was deeply moved by many threads in this game. Mordin and the genophage, Legion and Tali, how heart-breakingly hopeless the mission felt at some points in the game, and I thought the gameplay was fantastic. With that being said – the ending came off to me as an exercise in determinism. That’s not to say I was thrilled with the ending – but my real let down came from there not being a sense of closure with the various characters and the world. (My actual biggest complaint was that stupid reporter being in the game. I don’t even know that girl’s name off the top of my head, but that was just stupid.)

Now, I was not too thrilled at all with the multiplayer aspect. But, I ended up having some fun with that too when I finally forced myself out of my isolated box. I think in the end though – Bioware had made up for some of these short-comings when they released the extended endings. They also gave us the DLC Citadel which I think was a terrific send-off to some of our favorite characters in gaming.

The point being that yes, Bioware has made some odd choices in recent games. But – they haven’t failed at doing what they do best: And that is creating a great story, with believable characters that become a part of us. And if we focus so much on what they’ve done wrong – then we’ve sort of let ourselves miss the greater parts that were good.

Aedelric

On September 1, 2013 at 11:22 am

SherwoodPro.

Mordin, Tali and Legion all those scenes were memorable due to the fact the previous games defined those characters and made you care about them. Without that that right backstory, those particular scenes would not even have a fraction of the impact that was intended. ME3 as on its own was quite sub-par in regards to the story and very quickly deteriorated the further you progressed in the main arc.

As for DA2, I am not sure uptight is the right word to use, perhaps mislead and definitely disenchanted. The squeal DA2 was inferior to the original in almost all ways, the only improvement was in graphics, animation and a little with the combat, but people are still divided with the change from strategy to action game. First and foremost it was a roleplaying game and unfortunately that is where the biggest letdown was. Away was the exploration, away was the character race selections away was the dialogue choices that defined your character and the world around you. As for the story itself, it lacked in epicness and the quests felt mismatched or disjointed.

I would not say Bioware made odd choices, what they did was make -very bad- choices. You are not wrong for liking ME3 or DA2, but you really are quite in the minority with that belief.

Just to prove my point as fact here are the metacritic user results.

DAO user metacritic – 8.5
ME1 user metacritic – 8.5

DA 2 user metacritic – 4.3
ME 3 user metacritic – 4.8

M.A.

On September 1, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Ross:

Will you be reviewing Inquisition? I pretty much agree with your evaluations of both ME3 and DA:2, so I’m really looking forward to your final opinion on this.

Kevin

On September 1, 2013 at 5:09 pm

@Ross: No, I agree with you and I am more than willing to give BioWare the chance to make up for the previous years of bad decisions, but where-as I used to immediately pre-order the game at the first possible chance I’ll instead be waiting until friends play it and give me an opinion and reviewers start… reviewing (Especially you guys here at GF).

gamerboy

On September 1, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Did you really officially hear the Leliana is a party member? I thought the only confirmed party members were Varric, Cassandra, and Vivienne.

Lora

On September 2, 2013 at 3:02 am

” it was revealed that Leliana and Varric Tethras will both be able to join the player’s squad.”

When was this revealed? The party members shown are Varric, Cassandra and new character Vivienne. There was no sighting of Leliana, or did the developers mention her at some point that I missed?

Ross Lincoln

On September 3, 2013 at 6:25 am

During the closed-door demo, Leliana’s voice was clearly heard. Admittedly, I could have been mistaken, but it was the exact same voice. They may be holding that information back for the time being, but anyone who’s spent any time playing these games will have instantly recognized it, and I fully expect official confirmation of it soon. Also, Morrigan was specifically mentioned by the devs during the demo. Morrigan has never been ruled out to appear in Dragon Age: Inquisition, but she has not been stated to be a party member. In fact, it’s been said she will have a ‘significant role’.

Ross Lincoln

On September 3, 2013 at 6:26 am

Adding that I have now made these points a bit clearer in my article. Apologies for that. Also, in case it somehow isn’t clear, this article is based on a closed-door demo, not on the PAX panel. (I’m happy to share the audio recording of the meeting with anyone who doubts my reporting.)

Roy Batty

On September 3, 2013 at 9:41 am

@Ross

I don’t doubt you but I do doubt a company that has a proven track record of phucking over its customers/fans. Let us suppose Inquisition is stellar and makes the planets align with characters we care about plus a fantastic ending. The question is when EA/Bioware relaxes will the next iteration suck? Or the next? When will then rip our beating hearts from our chests and claim it is “art”? Why should I risk getting burned yet again?

I will wait for a compilation Dragon age 6 or 7 just to be safe. There are so many other worthy worlds to explore and conquer from other companies.

I feel the same way about ME – even if ME4 (or whatever they want to call it) starting sh!tting me tiffany cufflinks I would assume that somewhere down the line they will totally screw me.

My problems with DA2:
Game engine sucked
Graphics sub par
Terrible script
Lackluster characters (the only exception was Isabella)
Voice acting was substandard (due to the script)
Horns on the Qunari? Was that really necessary or was this a George Lucas moment?

“You have failed me yet again Starscream!” ~Megatron

Dinah

On September 4, 2013 at 1:32 am

As usual, not to detract from your article, it’s a lot of Bioware PR fluff. There’s absolutely NO way a company like this can reform itself from the evidence we have of 2011 and 2012.

If anything it’s more profitable for them to dumb down what’s come before and break up characters, storylines, and rpg “elements” like…weapons and armor as DLC.

A year and a half on and I am glad to be supporting many other publishers and developers other than EA/Bioware despite any high-res screenshots or PR bubbletalk they come out with.

king

On September 14, 2013 at 3:57 pm

almost looks 1/2 as good as my skyrim on pc does now.