Dragon Age: Inquisition Reviewed And Benchmarked

Article Index

Clunky Controls, Miscellaneous Bugs

Keyboard and Combat Controls:

Dragon Age: Origins was a tactical RPG with somewhat clunky controls and a host of broken skill implementations that got cleaned up thanks to modders and post-launch patches. The final game, with third-party modifications, is fairly tight -- but one could scarcely call it streamlined. Dragon Age II, in contrast, streamlined combat mostly by removing features and capabilities.

Tactical Camera
The tactical camera in action.

Dragon Age: Inquisition promised to meld the action-RPG "twitch" approach of Dragon Age II with the deeper, more tactical game of its predecessor, but struggles to do so. The Tactical View camera that's available does function and dropping into Tactical Mode does give you a wider set of capabilities, but the two modes don't fit well together. Tactical Mode gives you skill targeting and mob information that's closer to Dragon Age Origins, but it uses entirely different keyboard commands than Standard View. It's also very difficult to control the camera -- I end up switching back and forth between the two modes quite frequently.

Abyssal Dragon
On the upside, you get to fight dragons. Skyrim, eat your heart out

Meanwhile, the lack of healing spells in the main game was meant to allow for fine-grained tuning of monster encounters, but this feels more-or-less absent. Run low on Healing potions (supplied intermittently from caches) and you'll be reloading the fight, trying to make your supply stretch just a little farther. There's no kind way to say this: Dragon Age: Inquisition's combat controls and mouse behavior are clunky almost to the point of being broken. In the real-time combat mode, some skills require targeting, some auto-target themselves even if you're facing in the opposite direction (watching a crossbow bolt fire backwards is always entertaining) and some simply fire in the direction you happen to be facing, no matter what. In previous Dragon Age games, your characters would reposition to launch an attack, even in "RPG" mode. That's gone here. Auto-attack is also gone -- if you're in RPG mode and you aren't clicking a button, your characters will stand there and die.

Meet The Inquisi-Dolphin:

One of the strangest decisions in Dragon Age Inquisition was making your character part dolphin. Here's the deal:  There is an absolutely mind-boggling amount of stuff to collect in this game, partly because hey -- you're not some random group of people, you're an entire army. As a result, you frequently can't walk five feet without stepping on Elfroot, Deep Mushrooms, or some sort of ore. BioWare must've realized that simply making all this stuff glow constantly would wreck game immersion, so it made the "glow" effect optional. Hit "V", and your character emits what looks like a sonic pulse. Collectable items gleam in the light.

There are two problems with this:

1).  The game does not tell you where the collectable item is in relation to you. It might be behind you, or off to the right, or only barely visible behind some rocks. You can't tell.
2).  The "chirp" goes off when any item you can interact with is present in-game. This means that if there's a ladder and a giant box of treasure nearby, the ladder will trip the detection system. You can't tell if you're near actual treasure, because the huge number of items in-world screws with the detection mechanism.

Miscellaneous Bugs:

There are too many to name. Most are small -- the game comes unpaused when you switch characters or cutscene animation falling out of synch with audio. A few are subtle -- I've actually been working with people at BioWare to track down a bug in which in-game banter is supposed to play, but doesn't. Right now, Ferelden and Orlais can feel like very empty places, given that your other party members only talk to each other about once an hour.

Some of these are tiny. Some are downright frustrating. But at the end of the day, they don't topple one of the largest, most immersive RPGs ever built.

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