In an intimate auditorium in Central London, a small group of Playfire community members joined VIPs and press for an exclusive live demo of Dragon Age: Inquisition, hosted by EA and Bioware. In this two-parter we invited the lucky fans to guest-post their impressions Playfire blog. Joining us today is self-proclaimed Bioware fangirl, Rachel (a.k.a. LynchyXIII).
When JP and Cameron from Bioware asked me about my first impressions of Dragon Age: Inquisition, the first thing that came out of my mouth was “When can I pre-order it?". I wasn't just saying it because of being a massive Bioware and Dragon Age fan, but genuinely because of what I had witnessed in the magical half-hour presentation.
I had no idea what to expect when we walked through the welcoming doors of The RSA - the invitation was fairly elusive - but the fangirl inside me almost had a massive freak-out when they said they were showing live gameplay. When the game loaded up for the first time in front of us my eyes were dazzled and I’m pretty sure my jaw was laying around at ground level somewhere. Beautiful does not even begin to describe it - the draw distance details were incredible and when Luke climbed his way high onto a cliff-top to pan the camera across the world of Thedas, I was astounded at the level of detail that you are able to see. What's more, this was merely an early pre-alpha build of the game running on the Frostbite 3 engine. With still over a year to to develop, tinker and polish Dragon Age: Inquisition, I'm eagerly looking forward at seeing the final outcome.
One of the aspects I relished in Dragon Age: Origins was the tactical side of it, having to plan attacks, being able to command different party members and use their different abilities to overcome the enemy. But despite being fun, it did seem rather slow at times - especially if you were playing as a dwarf wielding a huge axe or sword.
In Dragon Age 2 the combat was fast and smooth flowing, but any attempt at using tactics soon boiled down to running in swinging your sword or staff, cartwheeling around the battlefield, while wrestling with a camera that appeared to have been drinking from a lead tankard.
Dragon Age: Inquisition takes from its past lessons and combines the best of both games. The tactical view makes a welcome return - allowing you to scan the battlefield ahead and chose your plan of attack - while the characters move more realistically in combat, swinging their swords with a satisfying 'clunk' as they come into contact with an ill-fated enemy. I can't wait to experiment with the various party members, their unique abilities, and create a sweet party setup the likes I've not had since Dragon Age: Origins.
One thing that really blew me away was the sheer amount of content that Bioware is packing into Dragon Age: Inquisition - the map is huge! You're able to explore the whole world of Thedas, a massive leap from the relatively claustrophobic Kirkwall of Dragon Age 2 that spoke of a massive world that you never really had the opportunity to explore. But Dragon Age: Inquisition goes beyond that and let's you customise aspects of it. Players will be able to invade and take command of keeps, customising them to reflect your playing style. This is sure to add many hours of play time onto what will already be my undoubtedly long game.
The final aspect to really impress me during the live presentation was the choices and the consequences of your actions or inactions. At the start of the the first scenario we were shown, JP said there were 5 individual outcomes and, I'll be honest, I was initially skeptical. In previous games there has always been choices but they mostly boiled down to a multitude of paths that only led to one or two possible outcomes. After watching the scenario play out, any fears I had were promptly squashed. The actions really do affect the world around you, the outcomes not always resulting in the same result, and the choices affecting the relationship between your party. Varric’s reaction to your choice not to save Crestwood really hit home despite the fact it was born from inaction by the Player. This is sure to weigh on your mind when making any decisions, a characteristic of Bioware games that fans like myself adore. I can't wait to choose my own story and see how my choices impact the world and the companions I chose.
In summary: This is the Dragon Age game I have been waiting for, and after talking to the developers, this is very much the game they have always wanted to make. They've listened to the fans and continue to do so as they push forward in creating what I'm sure will be the best Dragon Age game to date. Fall 2014 can't come fast enough!