Escapist Podcast: 165: So How Good Is Dragon Age: Inquisition?

165: So How Good Is Dragon Age: Inquisition?

This week, the Escapist talks Dragon Age: Inquisition, a lot.

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Justin Clouse, you might want to wait more than a year to upgrade your PC, for when 4K becomes the standard or below $1000 or so.

I'll wait until AMD's APU's have DRR4 and always on the lookout for affordable PCI-SSD.

I also was heavily completionist with Dragon Age, leaving the story missions until I'd done all the exploration and questing, and it by the end it did get pretty grindy. The game would have actually been a lot more enjoyable if I'd done the common sense thing and interspersed exploration with story mission. But, I didn't do this, because in previous Bioware games, if you don't do all the side missions, they can become unavailable later. So, many playthroughs of Bioware games have trained me to do absolutely everything else before moving on to the story missions, and while that ethos served me well through Bioware's other games, in Dragon Age: Inquisition it does not. So in a weird way, it's a result of Bioware training us to play a certain way, and then diverging from their formula with the whole open-world thing.

Also, regarding Justin's masterworked stuff, the reason what you're finding is relatively junk is that they made the crafting system in a way where crafted items are significantly better than the stuff you find - so if you've made tier 3 schematic/material gear, then yeah, you're never finding something better, unfortunately.

Xman490:
Justin Clouse, you might want to wait more than a year to upgrade your PC, for when 4K becomes the standard or below $1000 or so.

Yeah, that was basically my thought. Wait for some specific threshold before building from scratch.

Slycne:

Xman490:
Justin Clouse, you might want to wait more than a year to upgrade your PC, for when 4K becomes the standard or below $1000 or so.

Yeah, that was basically my thought. Wait for some specific threshold before building from scratch.

I was holding off too, but my video card died so I replaced it with a 970. Now I am having a hard time justifying a new system when I can play Dragon Age: Inquisition on almost full max settings.

Not to get political, but does Dragon Age seem like an analogue to the current war climate to anyone else, with the templars as a surrogate "F YA 'MURICA" and the mages as any brown-skinned people? So a mage blows up a chantry in DA 2, killing many and destroying half a city. As a result all-out war between templars and the more extremist mages. Meanwhile, the mages not fighting are ducking their heads while simultaneously denouncing what their more militant faction is doing, and we have the Inquisition in the middle playing NATO, gathering allies and trying to keep the situation from getting even more extreme. And hey, we even have versions of Benedict, Ratzinger, and Francis in DA's chantry - one dead divine with a liberal and a conservative vying for the chair, as well as many in the higher priesthood unwilling to compromise for the betterment of all. It's like a skewed mirror looking back at us and shaking its head at our folly.

Remus:
Not to get political, but does Dragon Age seem like an analogue to the current war climate to anyone else, with the templars as a surrogate "F YA 'MURICA" and the mages as any brown-skinned people? So a mage blows up a chantry in DA 2, killing many and destroying half a city. As a result all-out war between templars and the more extremist mages. Meanwhile, the mages not fighting are ducking their heads while simultaneously denouncing what their more militant faction is doing, and we have the Inquisition in the middle playing NATO, gathering allies and trying to keep the situation from getting even more extreme. And hey, we even have versions of Benedict, Ratzinger, and Francis in DA's chantry - one dead divine with a liberal and a conservative vying for the chair, as well as many in the higher priesthood unwilling to compromise for the betterment of all. It's like a skewed mirror looking back at us and shaking its head at our folly.

I think it can be found with many other analogues if you know the history for the issues.

Archers in DAO were really weird. They weren't very good as rogues, even after the bugfixes and changes; but warrior archers were great. Then Awakening added Spirit Warrior, and warrior archers were ridiculously broken. Also depressed none of them played warrior. Reaver was amazingly powerful, only thing more broken is Knight Enchanter mages, which is just because they are completely broken overpowered.

Oh, and calling bullshit on killing dragons and now getting anything good. You may not have needed any of it, but you're guaranteed to get 3 uniques and fistfuls of tier 4 crafting mats. Even if you don't need any of the uniques or are leveled over them, the crafting mats are important because barring a few exceptions, all the best gear is crafted and tailored to what you want. Especially with a lot of the edge case builds, like dwarf warrior. The Legion of the Dead armor is matched by literally nothing. It's so good it made me angry it's dwarf only, and my warrior was human.

Jennacide:
Archers in DAO were really weird. They weren't very good as rogues, even after the bugfixes and changes; but warrior archers were great. Then Awakening added Spirit Warrior, and warrior archers were ridiculously broken. Also depressed none of them played warrior. Reaver was amazingly powerful, only thing more broken is Knight Enchanter mages, which is just because they are completely broken overpowered.

Reaver?
I'm playing as a warrior on my second playthrough and Reaver didn't appeal so much. Templar is abysmal yes, but Champion is leagues better than both.

Walking Fortress. 8 seconds of invincibility vs. 32 seconds of cooldown.
When upgraded, you gain guard and reduce cooldown times whenever an attack connects, and yes, it reduces it's own cooldown time. I'm actually more effective soloing than as a team because of this.
While it's on, you can do whatever you like, no need to build guard at all. When it runs out, you have all your guard generation abilities ready to bridge the gap for the next Fortress, if there even is a gap.

I looked into Reaver quite a lot when making my decision, and I can see how it works if you have another party member tank... but being at the HP levels required for Devour and Dragon Whatever to work, you're quite frail... also it looks stupid.
Warrior already has some great offensive abilities, and I didn't fancy being at the bottom of my health and vulnerable constantly just to do a wee-bit more damage.

On that note... What's the point of Artificer?
I don't understand how something so obviously awful could've been left like this in the release. 5% crit chance... ...great!

I really don't understand why people enjoy DA:I so much. It's obviously inferior to Origins in several ways, but the primary one being that it's really only about 4 set pieces of content that average about 2 hours long each, strung together with pointless MMO style fetch quests. Heck, even the combat is inferior - it plays like a single player MMO, down to the "Every button is awesome" play style, but without the visceral impact of the moves on the enemies other than the flash and pixels flying off the attack SFX.

Now, I never thought the writing in the Dragon Age series was all that fantastic, not terrible, but serviceable for the game. This time around however, I feel like it's particularly bad, with the romance sections being incredibly cringeworthy. Seriously, it feels to me like they were written by a teenage fan-shipper from fanfiction.net

Even the GFX don't seem to be stellar, at least not when compared to similar titles that have come out this year. Most of the models are down right fugly (although that may be an art direction choice, I don't particularly enjoy staring at ugly people all the time) with serious practical issues with clipping and poor textures. Skyrim, as hysterically bad as it was in some places, did a better job of the animation rigging and such than DA:I did, and it had tons more model content and a smaller budget.

I've been really disappointed by the quality of reviews coming out about this game, to the point where it's made me question what several sites seem to think the purpose of a review is. I hardly see any negative mention about this game, particularly when comparing it to other games that do pretty much everything better, and I see high scores across the board from most major websites without any mention of the obvious issues in terms of gameplay, particularly the multiplayer co-op, the animations and yes, even the incredibly stilted voice acting.

While there a bunch of obvious bait reviews on Metacritic for this game from customers (heaps of unwarranted 10s and 0's), the overall score the last time I checked was about right (6ish). This is not a bad game, but it's not a good game either. Maybe it is if you have a extra money to throw around, but I can't help but wonder if a lot of people like myself aren't feeling ripped off.

As someone who has bought pretty much every BioWare game since Shattered Steel, I think I'm finally done with this company. I know it sounds cliche at this point, but ever since EA bought the studio out their quality has gone down. I'm just chalking them up as another victim of a publisher buying a good studio and running it into the ground.

I realize other people will have a higher tolerance for this than I do, but for me, this is the end of the line. They'll have to deliver an exceptional product in the future before I take another look at anything they put out.

Jake Martinez:
I really don't understand why people enjoy DA:I so much. It's obviously inferior to Origins in several ways, but the primary one being that it's really only about 4 set pieces of content that average about 2 hours long each, strung together with pointless MMO style fetch quests. Heck, even the combat is inferior - it plays like a single player MMO, down to the "Every button is awesome" play style, but without the visceral impact of the moves on the enemies other than the flash and pixels flying off the attack SFX.

One criticism I don't understand and maybe you can clarify it for me. How are the quests in Inquisition "MMO style fetch quests" and the ones in Origins aren't? Many times it was talk to this NPC complete an action and go back to that NPC or another one. There were a few that were different, but many of them were either go find a special object or kill a specific NPC.

Now I do agree there are plenty of zones that you don't have to go in, but I don't see how it would be any different if they dumped all the quests from the secondary zones back into the primary ones and it would be any better. For I understand the complaint about feeling you can beat the game in ten hours or less, but I think I was running Origin in about twelve hours too once I stopped exploring and only doing the primary quests too.

Sanunes:

Remus:
Not to get political, but does Dragon Age seem like an analogue to the current war climate to anyone else, with the templars as a surrogate "F YA 'MURICA" and the mages as any brown-skinned people? So a mage blows up a chantry in DA 2, killing many and destroying half a city. As a result all-out war between templars and the more extremist mages. Meanwhile, the mages not fighting are ducking their heads while simultaneously denouncing what their more militant faction is doing, and we have the Inquisition in the middle playing NATO, gathering allies and trying to keep the situation from getting even more extreme. And hey, we even have versions of Benedict, Ratzinger, and Francis in DA's chantry - one dead divine with a liberal and a conservative vying for the chair, as well as many in the higher priesthood unwilling to compromise for the betterment of all. It's like a skewed mirror looking back at us and shaking its head at our folly.

I think it can be found with many other analogues if you know the history for the issues.

I know what you mean. To me the qunari were like if spartans got introduced to muslims in history.

Sanunes:

Jake Martinez:
I really don't understand why people enjoy DA:I so much. It's obviously inferior to Origins in several ways, but the primary one being that it's really only about 4 set pieces of content that average about 2 hours long each, strung together with pointless MMO style fetch quests. Heck, even the combat is inferior - it plays like a single player MMO, down to the "Every button is awesome" play style, but without the visceral impact of the moves on the enemies other than the flash and pixels flying off the attack SFX.

I think you're misconstruing the criticism. It's not that mcguffin quests exist at all, ergo "go slay x and return y for z", some of this is just practical ludology, you need state flags in order to progress a plot line after all. It's about how thinly they are wrapped in plot lines and how almost none of it actually advances the plot, or advances your character and seems to exist solely to fill up time between new content areas. A constant criticism of DA:I is that it promotes the MMO "theme park" feeling of playing, and this is one of the major reasons why because this is exactly how MMO "narrative" is strung together.

Jennacide:
Oh, and calling bullshit on killing dragons and now getting anything good. You may not have needed any of it, but you're guaranteed to get 3 uniques and fistfuls of tier 4 crafting mats. Even if you don't need any of the uniques or are leveled over them, the crafting mats are important because barring a few exceptions, all the best gear is crafted and tailored to what you want. Especially with a lot of the edge case builds, like dwarf warrior. The Legion of the Dead armor is matched by literally nothing. It's so good it made me angry it's dwarf only, and my warrior was human.

I won't argue that the crafting mats are useless, though I've found there's some crippling indecision as to when to actually use them. If I'm not crafting at least a tier 3 masterwork I'm probably not touching any of that dragon materials. But there's still a feel bad moment of taking down one of the most drummed up enemies in the game and getting a bunch of gear that's at best going on secondary characters you never use.

garjian:

Jennacide:
Archers in DAO were really weird. They weren't very good as rogues, even after the bugfixes and changes; but warrior archers were great. Then Awakening added Spirit Warrior, and warrior archers were ridiculously broken. Also depressed none of them played warrior. Reaver was amazingly powerful, only thing more broken is Knight Enchanter mages, which is just because they are completely broken overpowered.

Reaver?
I'm playing as a warrior on my second playthrough and Reaver didn't appeal so much. Templar is abysmal yes, but Champion is leagues better than both.

Walking Fortress. 8 seconds of invincibility vs. 32 seconds of cooldown.
When upgraded, you gain guard and reduce cooldown times whenever an attack connects, and yes, it reduces it's own cooldown time. I'm actually more effective soloing than as a team because of this.
While it's on, you can do whatever you like, no need to build guard at all. When it runs out, you have all your guard generation abilities ready to bridge the gap for the next Fortress, if there even is a gap.

I looked into Reaver quite a lot when making my decision, and I can see how it works if you have another party member tank... but being at the HP levels required for Devour and Dragon Whatever to work, you're quite frail... also it looks stupid.
Warrior already has some great offensive abilities, and I didn't fancy being at the bottom of my health and vulnerable constantly just to do a wee-bit more damage.

On that note... What's the point of Artificer?
I don't understand how something so obviously awful could've been left like this in the release. 5% crit chance... ...great!

Reaver is for people that wanted to play a warrior and not be the tank. Which is good, because unlike DAO, you can't tank for with anything but warrior as templar or champion (DPS and dodge tanks were a thing in DAO). Reaver is all about running Aura of Pain to lower the cost of Dragon-Rage and lower the cooldown of Devour. You should be able to do the Dragon-Rage x3 combo, and Devour right after. With a good twohander and some +Heal Bonus gearing, you become an unstoppable murder machine that can solo most of the dragons if you wanted. If you want, you can add +Guard on Hit masterwork to your armor and then you flat out become unkillable. I went for +15 Stam on my armor and Hidden Blades +7 on my weapon, along with the epic +50 Stam ring so I had enough base stam that my below 50% mechanic and stam on damage taken could keep Aura of Pain rolling at all times.

The damage you do with that build is pure madness. I would hit for 1k > 1k > 1.5k x2 without any of them even critting, just from the Dragon-Rage combo. And for laughs you can always pop Rampage and never stop pressing Dragon-Rage until it ends.

Jennacide:

Reaver is for people that wanted to play a warrior and not be the tank. Which is good, because unlike DAO, you can't tank for with anything but warrior as templar or champion (DPS and dodge tanks were a thing in DAO). Reaver is all about running Aura of Pain to lower the cost of Dragon-Rage and lower the cooldown of Devour. You should be able to do the Dragon-Rage x3 combo, and Devour right after. With a good twohander and some +Heal Bonus gearing, you become an unstoppable murder machine that can solo most of the dragons if you wanted. If you want, you can add +Guard on Hit masterwork to your armor and then you flat out become unkillable. I went for +15 Stam on my armor and Hidden Blades +7 on my weapon, along with the epic +50 Stam ring so I had enough base stam that my below 50% mechanic and stam on damage taken could keep Aura of Pain rolling at all times.

The damage you do with that build is pure madness. I would hit for 1k > 1k > 1.5k x2 without any of them even critting, just from the Dragon-Rage combo. And for laughs you can always pop Rampage and never stop pressing Dragon-Rage until it ends.

Aren't you assuming that the dragon won't hit you? I'm pretty sure dragons will 1-hit you through a small layer of guard and a tiny amount of health.

I can output similar damage using Whirlwind with it's gradual power increase, and I'm completely invincible during it!
While it's true that I am technically tanking, I'm not actually playing defensively... I'm constantly using skills and being on the offensive. The only difference between what you and I are doing is that the enemy is actually attacking me, but I actually benefit from that... having enemies attack me makes me able to go even further on the offensive.

When people say 'tank', I think back to my WoW days, when all I wanted to be was an Arms Warrior... DPS. But I could never get a group for that, and tired of the constant whispers of "tank?" "No." "okay", I ended up having to tank.
That consisted of:
-making sure everything is attacking me
-debuffing enemies so they didn't kill me
-probably using some defensive stance that lowers my damage

That's not so here. I use Warcry specifically so enemies will crowd around for Whirlwind, and so they'll attack me while invincible so I can use my skills more often, so I can do more damage. I don't use Bull Charge Thing just because it generates guard, I use it because it knocks down, giving my Mighty Blow an insane damage boost, and the whole combo costs close to 0 stamina because Charge only costs 5 at the distance I use it and it makes Mighty Blow free.
The only defensive thing I have is Block and Slash, which also knocks down for the big Mighty Blow bonus to be honest.

Trust me, it works, and it's not what I'd call tanking.
Also bare in mind, I'm not close to the end of my playthrough so I don't have all my equipment yet, but I can tell you Whirlwind procs Hidden Blades a lot.

Son of a bitch!
I was wondering who the hell Felandris was too!
All this time ... bah!!!

garjian:

Aren't you assuming that the dragon won't hit you? I'm pretty sure dragons will 1-hit you through a small layer of guard and a tiny amount of health.

I can output similar damage using Whirlwind with it's gradual power increase, and I'm completely invincible during it!
While it's true that I am technically tanking, I'm not actually playing defensively... I'm constantly using skills and being on the offensive. The only difference between what you and I are doing is that the enemy is actually attacking me, but I actually benefit from that... having enemies attack me makes me able to go even further on the offensive.

No, I soloed the Highland Reaver (the 23 dragon) when I was lv21 as Reaver with the store bought Dragonslayer axe from Bonne (or whatever her name was in Skyhold) Dragon-Rage hits so fast you will max out guard consistantly, and being a warrior you naturally have a lot of armor anyway. With my +20% Heal Bonus ring, and my armor having an addition +27% Heal Bonus, Devour gives me way more health than Dragon-Rage uses in the 3 swings to reset it's cooldown. So even if the dragon can burst me (they can't) Devour does absurd healing. I'm like 99% sure Reaver is the highest dps spec in the game because of how fast you dish out constant 1k+ attacks. Dragon-Rage doesn't factor swing speed of weapons, so you can use it like every half second.

The only class more broken is Knight Enchanter, because they can solo stuff way earlier and way under leveled because of how their barrier passive works and the crazy amount of CC and mana sustain they can achieve.

I completed everything that could be completed in the game (collectibles included) with a few exceptions, but shards/locations/landmarks etc I completed.

Took me around 155 hours total to complete everything. I had over 400 power at the end.

Regarding my party: I almost exclusively I used Cassandra, Varric and Solas because I thought they were canon in my eyes. I only swapped some around for specific quests or areas, but I kept that first party mostly throughout all of the game.

My Inquisitor was a male 2hded warrior.

 

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