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.
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.
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.