Dragon Age: Inquisition

December 21st, 2014

I liked Dragon Age: Origins a lot when it came out way back in 2009.  I’d long been a fan of Bioware’s D&D based fantasy RPGs, especially Baldur’s Gate I and II.  Dragon Age seemed to introduce a new level of grittiness both moral and physical to the genre, with some interesting characters, dark themes, and tough moral choices.  I was pretty disappointed with Dragon Age II, though, which followed only a year and a half later.  The setting still worked and there were some good characters but it felt rushed, repetitive and decidedly un-epic.  I finished that review by saying, “I hope they do another, and do better with it, because the game world has great potential…”  So, three and a half later, have Bioware done better with Dragon Age: Inquisition?

In the midst of a civil war between wizards and templars, a giant explosion destroys the ineffectual leadership of Thedas (The Dragon Age Setting, believe it or not) and tears giant holes in the sky through which demons begin to pour.  But can a hastily instituted new Inquisition save the war-torn and politically fractured world from enemies without and within?

I guess you could say Baldur’s Gate had a pretty open world, but over time, with games like Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect, Bioware tended to move towards more limited, linear game worlds with the emphasis more on story and character interactions.  It’s Bethesda that have tended to do the truly huge and flexible open worlds with games like Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls, offering huge potential for exploration but less in the way of plot and personality.  Inquisition makes as good a fist as I’ve seen of trying to combine the two.

The world isn’t truly open – it offers maybe ten or so regions you can open up and explore, but each of them is pretty damn big and beautifully realised, much less artificially enclosed than the likes of Mass Effect, and with all kinds of side quests and collections to get lost in.  Then episodes in the central storyline will occasionally take you away to other areas for some specific purpose, even into the world of dreams or a possible future… You don’t get quite the magnificent vistas, varied light and weather, and freedom of Skyrim, but the world still feels massive.  And there’s just a lot more actual people in it.  In Skyrim you feel you face the world largely alone.  In Dragon Age you feel you’re part of a group of companions, but also of a wider society, and there’s a strong sense that your actions impact on the world and people.

The setting is a strong one with plenty of believable background, offering dark twists on fantasy staples.  Elves are fallen from past glories and enslaved.  Dwarves are fallen from past glories, embittered and isolationist.  Wizards are fallen from past glories and in constant peril of falling to demonic madness.  The nobility are self-interested backbiters, the church is hidebound and oppressive, their templars drug-addled zealots.  Inquisition gives you the chance to steer the fate of most of these groups, for better or worse, but few actions come without consequences…

Gameplay will take the form of a hell of a lot of running around and a fair bit of killing stuff.  Three classes, various skill trees and heaps of customisable weapons, armour, potions and accessories give you the option to tailor your approach to this in some detail.  You can control your character in real time and allow your sidekicks to follow their own script, or for particularly tough fights you can pause things and give out detailed orders before advancing time bit by bit.  There’s probably a fair bit of depth and complexity to all this but I must admit, playing on normal difficulty I never really needed to do much beyond the basic.  Even fighting the ten (magnificent) dragons which are the game’s most challenging additional content a few judicious potions were enough to get me through.

Still, Dragon Age is more about the story than the action and on that front it delivers admirably.  It’s not Skyrim-massive in terms of its sheer sprawling enormity, but it would be a bitter critic indeed who complained about the quantity of content.  After about 20 hours of solid play there was a prolonged sequence that made me feel like I’d just got through the prologue and, completing pretty much all the significant side quests, it took a full 100 hours to finish the game and my enthusiasm never really flagged. I’d even consider playing it again with a new character, which is truly rare for me these days.  Your nine companions are varied and well-realised, their off-hand interactions while you wander the wilderness often a real high point. You also have three advisors – military, spying and diplomacy – who can contribute to the cause via a strategic map of the world, and all have their own distinct personalities, concerns, and outlook on events.  Some of these folks are people we know well from the previous games, which only adds to the feeling of an ongoing, developing world.  There is a lot of depth and clever detail out there, and I encountered very few bugs or nonsensical bits of conversation.  The whole thing feels extremely polished and carefully thought through.

Criticisms?  Well, dialogue isn’t always supremely well written and the acting is a little patchy, with some characters way more entertaining than others, but that’s highly forgivable considering the sheer quantity of content.  Compared to Dragon Age 2 there’s vastly more range in the movement and expressions of the characters, as well as the way the conversations and cut scenes have been ‘directed’.  There are some sequences that fall a bit flat but also some great moments – even some you could call moving, and seeing a character you’ve customised and created yourself fully participating in the drama can be a real buzz.  Sometimes you’ll get a tight close-up of a face in a certain light with eerily convincing skin and plant-matter stirred by the wind in the background and the whole thing looks magnificent.  At other times expressions can seem a little off, delivery weirdly halting, and my character had a really peculiar, stiff-shouldered walk, a bit like John Wayne, which bugged me every time she walked into the war room.

If you were being harsh you might say dialogue options seemed a little limited.  Usually there’s a ‘nice’ response, an ‘arch’ response, and a ‘harsh’ response, and the harsh one just seems overly prickish and calculated to piss people off, giving you the feeling you’d have to be evil AND an idiot to pick that one.  One of the nice things about Mass Effect was it tended to give you the choice between Ruthless Hardass or Generous Paragon, both conceivably sensible for the mission.  In this version of Dragon Age I found it hard to be harsh without feeling like I was foiling my own aims – the choices more or less boiled down to lightly snarky hero or entirely unironic hero.  It didn’t feel quite so dark a world or a game as the first Dragon Age, either.  Origins served up lashings of slavery, betrayal, madness and apocalyptic pessimism which (no surprise) I rather liked.  This serving did feel rather more vanilla.  I never really doubted the heroes would prevail.

Still, overall I’d have to call it a massive success, much the best of the three Dragon Age games, with a vivid and vibrant world and characters, plenty of drama and oceans of content.  If you dislike the whole concept of long, involving fantasy RPGs you need not apply, but I’ve always liked em a lot, and there hasn’t been a better one since Skyrim.  Maybe before…

Posted in games by Joe Abercrombie on December 21st, 2014.

58 comments so far

  • Frank Fitz says:

    Just started Inquisition myself. Feel a bit overwhelmed at the moment, the world seems massive, and I haven’t really grown into the game and got comfortable with my character and where the story’s going.

    On a side note, I actually preferred Oblivion to Skyrim, and the first Knights of the Old Republic above any other RPG. But I guess that’s merely sentiment, as it was my first huge, open world and I was only 13(ish) at the time, so it felt like an achievement.

  • Timo says:

    Just finished it, took me 125 hours.

    In the end, I was left feeling a bit empty. I wanted to experience tragedy, a heavy loss. The feeling that saving the world didn’t come without a devastating price. The last words of a dying friend on my arms. But nothing. Only the bad guys died.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    The villain was also more than a bit lame. He even looked pretty ridiculous.

  • Ernest Schirmer says:

    Really liked DA:I. While the story and companions were not on the level of DA:O and the world isn’t on the level of Skyrim it is really well done. I particularly liked that I got closure with my Warden and Morrigan from Origins

  • Simeon Gavalas says:

    Very interesting review (kind of warmed me up to the game again). In what platform did you play it? Personally I couldn’t handle the PC M+Kb controls and gave up entirely after 3 hours (probably missing some great content it seems). I was so frustrated that I refunded the game (the first ever in 20 years of gaming)… I don’t think I have encountered such unfriendly and sloppy interface and controls for a long time (at least not in the games that I choose to buy-play).

  • Oni_Ita says:

    Hi Joe,
    Love the idea that we’re playing (and loving) the same game and meanwhile i’m finishing Half a King.

    Do you have some kind of routine regarding which characters do you play?
    For example i always start with a 2 hand brute warrior lawful good and then i re-play it on higher difficulty as a female rogue chaotic evil.
    I shunt mage gameplay, Juvens strikes me!

  • Dav says:

    One of the few stories where, after a certain point, the bad guys just get weaker and weaker, and you get stronger and stronger.

    Sure, that happens in most stories, but usually not before the first quarter.

  • Niels says:

    Sounds good! Maybe the next game I’ll play.

    I’m playing Divinity: Original Sin at the moment. Highly recommended as well!

  • Ben Sugden says:

    You killed all 10 high dragons? Much respect to you for that. I’ve tried for the last two, several times and can only hope I get to try after levelling through the end quest.

    I still prefer Glokta’s inquisition over mine.

  • Jess says:

    I completely agree! I’ve been regretting playing on normal because I don’t have the same sense of challenge that Origins gave me and that takes some of the excitement out of it for me. Maybe I’ll play through again on a higher difficulty but for now, 75 hours in, I don’t really want to restart. Origins reigns supreme for me.

  • Vanessa says:

    Like Timo, I felt a little underwhelmed at the ending. I was expected something really bad to happen, like Cullen dying or something along those lines. Maybe I’m just a pessimist but I wanted a darker ending. Although there seems to be a sort of betrayal with one of your companions which I won’t spoil. Looks like we wont find out whats up with that till a dlc or sequel?

    Also, I feel like they might have been playing it safe with the ending after DA2’s ending.

    In any case, I’m still addicted to the game even if I had to delete a character I played 10 hours with because of a corrupt save file. Damn Hinterlands always freezes on me. And Hawke’s dialogue never works smoothly and I have to skip it to get on with it.

    By the way, whatever happened to The Architect? Did they mention him and I simply missed it?

  • ColinJ says:

    I only had enough money to get either this or SHADOW OF MORDOR. I chose Middle-Earth, and while I’;m really enjoying it it’s beginning to feel a bit repetitive.

    I think I’ll pick up DA:I when it’s on sale.

  • David says:

    I haven’t bought it yet but my wife and I are big fans of the series, only a matter of time. Until I do get it I am busy playing the newer enhanced versions of Bioware’s classic RPGs like Baldur’s Gate.

    So Joe, if you had the opportunity to work with Bioware to develop an RPG set in your worlds, would you?

  • Aaron says:

    I agree with Joe’s review that this is the most enjoyable Dragon Age game, and probably the best RPG since Skyrim. I cannot think of any significant criticism to level against the positives of DAI, but I do really miss the darker themes and wonderful origin story from DAO, or The Witcher 2 (arguably the best RPG for story and lore).

    (spoiler alert) One of my favorite moments in gaming history was choosing to slaughter the village of dalish elves to secure an alliance of werewolves. And how the game constantly reminded you of those difficult, perhaps cruel choices. Skyrim had a bit of this as well, not to mention the fantastic Fallout 3 and New Vegas games. But compare that negative to an impressively vast lore, massive landscape(s), flowing combat, and stunning visuals…. I honestly don’t think I could find a better $60 purchase. Now I’m just waiting for Witcher 3 and Fallout 4 – two RPGs that will undoubtedly consume hundreds of hours.

  • pedro says:

    What did you chose as you characters race and class Joe?i picked a qunari warrior,seemed like the more outcast of the choices,a random dude thrown into that mess,a creature with no religion beign called the savior of the major religion in Thedas was rather cool

  • Kyle says:

    I have a feeling I’ll be playing as Sand dan Glokta.

  • Robert says:

    I have this game on my Christmas wish list (as well as Far Cry 4) and need to hurry up and finish AC Unity. I have grown to respect Joe’s reviews in the past. Some games that he as reviewed in negative trend I have purchased anyway and found myself agreeing with him.

    One of the things I really liked about Skyrim was that it was such an open world.

    I must say though I would really love to see a First Law RPG. You already have some great artists working on the graphic novel.

  • Paul says:

    I thought it was a great game with a full realised set of companions and a solid story. I really liked the way they expanded upon the lore but still left a ton of questions unanswered. By this point you can’t know what’s actually the truth.
    Anyway, care to give us some more specifics Mr. Abercrombie in a possible spoiler filled post? I figure a lot of us would like to know your choices.

  • Kyle says:

    I agree that a bioware First Law game series would be unbelievable–as would a tv series provided it was HBO and Ray Stevenson played Logen. Surprised you didn’t like KOTOR, Joe. I could see a storyline like that working for a First Law game.

  • Seth says:

    If you have ever played The Witcher series, which I highly recommend because of its fantastic story and characters, The Witcher 3 is hopefully going to be amazing and completely open world like Skyrim. Just watch the early gameplay for it, the world is gigantic.

  • David says:

    I hope it picks up. I have only had the opportunity to play surreptitiously because my boys won’t get their copy until tomorrow with the xBox one. So far it feels like “find, fetch, kill” – DA 2 with more character options.

    I will keep playing if only for the story and lore as I did in DA 2. I think Bethesda could do a lot more with the franchise.

    It’s a shame they can’t produce a decent novel from it.

  • Hawkeyye says:

    Maybe I missed it, but what class did you play?

  • Kreso Dokaza says:

    Ohhh Joe, this is gonna be my first “I don’t agree” posts on one of your reviews.

    I think DA:I is good, a 7.5/10 on par with KOA:Reckoning or Dragon’s Dogma, doesn’t touch the 9-9.5/10 of Skyrim, Witcher or Dark Souls.
    I actually played DD after reading your review, and thought the review spot on and enjoyed the game.

    I loved DA:Origins, best RPG other than Skyrim since Baldur’s Gate.

    Now, I played through Inquisition 3 times over the last month+ (what can I say, I game a lot, my GF is the best…), and here’s what I found wrong with it, going to try and keep it as short as possible:

    The world is big, beautiful… And fake.
    NPCs just stand and do nothing, they don’t move or walk or talk, no day-night cycle, you can’t interact with objects, nothing reacts to you, etc.
    Skyrim or Witcher 2 feels like a world which exists and you just happen to be there.
    DA:I feels like a theme park specifically designed for you to quest in.
    It’s not really open-world, like you said, as the level-restricted loot and level-tiered zones really don’t go well with open world games.
    Also, exploring and then having to go grind power and go back to Skyhold to mend a bridge felt really immersion-breaking.

    Combat was a mess. The AI tactics were basically butchered and the tactical camera is useless (poor zoome, poor PC controls).
    It wants to be action, but you have to pause every 3 seconds because the AI is horrible (archers and mages run into dragons, “Hold” doesn’t work, etc.).
    And it wants to tactical, but with the tactical camera being awful, it just isn’t. Especially with autoattack removed and you having to manually attack (this isn’t Dark Souls or Lords of the Fallen where attacks are different, not even Skyrim or Witcher where you got Light and Heavy attacks etc… There’s no need to manually attack if your every attack is the same – I thought this was an obvious implementation due to multiplayer).
    (apparently it’s much better with a controller, but I’m used to KB+M for tactical games, I use controller for Dark Souls etc.)
    It’s also a bit of a letdown in the difficulty department.
    I kill a dragon on Nightmare in literally 5 seconds.
    It never felt like and tactics were needed at all.
    All you do is gear up and face tank and hold down the attack button.

    And most of all, I felt the RP elements were cut down and they wanted it to be as simple as possible.
    8 spells, no access to your spells in combat, no access to you inventory in combat (LOL), no stats assigning on level-up, no out-of-combat skills like pickpocketing or persuasion, weapon-streamlined classes and skills, etc.

    The UI is awful. The hairstyles on the character creator look and feel really, really lazy.

    The story?
    The companions were great, I thought, much better than DA2.
    But the story felt very uninspired and ordinary, and the villain was just a complete cartoon villain.
    A massive step backwards in both areas from the DA:O story of Fereldan politics or the complex villain that was Loghain.
    It didn’t help my character is just thrown in there with no background or explanation, never felt the connection I did in DA:O.

    Now, gonna stop before it looks like a rant, it really isn’t.
    I enjoyed the game, it’s a good one, the world is big and beatiful, crafting was very good, companions were mostly done very well, etc.

    But for me, it’s 7.5/10.

    I still bought it for my brother for Christmas, I don’t think it’s rubbish or anything – but good, not “great”.

    (I also bought myself Half a King book version to go with my Kindle for Christmas – so this evens out any grudges you might have with me disagreeing here… 😀 )

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    No grudges here, man, let a hundred flowers bloom and a thousand schools of thought contend and all that. Don’t necessarily disagree with your criticisms. Sounds like you’re playing on PC? That may have something to do with it. I’m pretty much console exclusive these days…

  • Kreso+Dokaza says:

    I do both actually.

    I’m a firm believer in couch gaming when doing stuff like Uncharted, Last of Us, AC etc.
    I did Dark Souls on PS3, but switched to PC for DkS2, simply cos of better performance.

    I do Skyrim and basically everything remotely moddable on the PC because, well… Mods are the shiznit.

    Here’s a question you don’t have to answer and/or can be as vague as possible, but can you tell us if you’ve at least had contact about rights to your work regarding games? 😀

  • ACAJ says:

    I disagree, for much the same reasons Dokaza did.

    1. The UI is absolutely atrocious. This may be fine for controllers, but the PC has a mouse, a keyboard, and room for way more text.

    1.5. The controls are, also, atrocious. I’ve only played a mage so far, and thank fuck for that; at least I only have to hold down F and make sure I’m within line of sight; from what I could tell, the melee characters won’t even approach the targets.

    1.5.5. The in-combat camera is, you guessed it, atrocious. The camera, and the controls, for DA:O was pretty much as good as it could get; you could see all you needed to see, could zoom in and out greatly, and you had far greater control over the party members- you tell them to attack, and they jog over there and smack a zombie in the face.

    2. The AI was balls-out useless. The melee characters moved from target to target, the ranged characters won’t stay where I tell them to stay.. but that’d be manageable, if I could customise the AI (when X, do Y) or have control over them with a properly zoomed-out camera and controls.

    3. Everything was too shiny, and the beards looked glued-on and unnatural.

    4. Timed missions for NPCs. What sort of madness gripped the developers when they decided that the player should send out an agent, in a single player game, and have said agent busy for 24 real-life hours? This sort of thing should stay in freemium scams.

    5. Meh characters. The woman at the start, what’s-her-face? I reckon she was intended to be some sort of badass, but she was really just an unlikable cunt. The rest of the characters were so bland, I’ve no idea what sort of personalities they have, if any; aside from the flirty gay mage guy, none of the others merited even talking to after recruitment.

    6. Incredibly bad dialogue. The characters make insane assumptions and statements (This mark? Yeah, you can use it to close the tears. How do I know? Because PLOT.), and your character’s responses are either “I are teh heroes of goodness!”, “I am the witty, tee-hee” or “Hate me, please”. Except when facing the villain for the first time; then you’re reduced to being a meek, confused, useless bint.

    6.5. The voice-acting for females was.. sad. Femshep had the greatest voice acting I’ve heard in a video game, and I loved it so much I finished all three games. In this game, though.. just no. You’re presented with a 12 year old girl with an alright accent, or a slimy american accent from an alright voice. Minor gripe, probably racist to some, but that’s that.

    7. The questing was daft. This is a cRPG, not an MMO; there’s no need to have a thousand meaningless MMO-style quests to fatten out the content. It’s one thing to have them, as extras, but making them mandatory both for the XP and arbitrary points? What the hell is that about?

    7.5. Stupidly large areas that are difficult to navigate efficiently, with a great deal of nothing. At least Fallout 3 had atmosphere, vistas, and so on. You can’t see shit in this game.

    8. Character customisation. There wasn’t none. You can spend an hour to make a face, if you care about that, but you’re hardly given any freedom with regards to how you play your character; 8 spells at a time, one skill point per level to spend on a very short list of abilities and passives, and that’s it. No attribute points, no clever builds, nothing (well, you can get an extra skill tree, but they bring nothing interesting to the table (and you’re still limited in the number of abilities).

    9. A joke of a crafting system. It’s pointless, and not worth it. (Maybe min-maxing for the highest difficulty, but I highly doubt that difficulty will be an issue for people who get used to the interface.)

    10. The level-gating. It’d be fine if, like Skyrim, you had a lot of land to explore, a lot of dungeons to crawl through. But the way DA:I is set up, you’re pretty much going to do the same set of quests, in roughly the same order, every time. At least up to level ~12, where you can explore 3 zones instead of 1.

    11. Pointless mini-games and faffing about. You place a puzzle in front of me, and I will solve that bitch. Even if there’s no reward. This extends the “playability” of the game, sure, but without adding anything to it. Then there’s the collections and shit, which is something you should send out agents to do, not something that the so-called hero is supposed to do when the world is ending. In fact, most of the game is you, faffing about, wasting time when you’ve more important things to deal with.

    12. The animations are ridiculous. I’m playing a mage, not a bard with 30 point in Perform.

    12.5 They also take too long. Looting & harvesting should be instant. As it is, it’s not worth picking up herbs and ores, even though it should be the optimal thing to do.

    12.5.5. Looting is fickle; stand a centimeter too far from the lootable, and your character won’t take that extra step to loot the nth corpse.

    13. Resources, including money, are worthless. So far, the only thing I’ve spent resources on are quests (because completionism), and the only money I’ve spent was on re-speccing.

    14. No healing. I understand the decision to go away with it, and I think it’s a terrible one. If the AI and/or the UI were better, then it’d be workable. But as it is, I’m going to play with 3 mages and a tank, just so that I can keep everyone shielded.

    All in all, 6/10. It’d be a 7, possibly 8, if the UI was improved to the level of Skyrim’s “SkyUI” mod. But it’d never go higher than that without massive changes to the overall game. The amount of bad decisions when it comes to basic gameplay is staggering.

  • G says:

    Although I’d agree with Joe’s review regarding the storyline and how much better the game is than DA2m I’m still left really disappointed that three is no chance of loss of supporting characters and more so that it’s a huge great whittle down the hp monster game.. e.g. You’ve struggled your way through to level 8 or so and feel pretty tough with 300 or so HP then you encounter a group of bandits with 2000+ HPs? So do you use your innate ability to parry and deliver a killer riposte? no you sit there auto attacking and occasionally pressing one your special ability buttons as they cool down.
    I’m sure we’d all be pretty disappointed and bored if Joe’s next book had a fifteen page description of a fight between a main character and a group of 3 bandits that didn’t end rather quickly and viscerally (is that even a word?)

    I may be out on a limb here as everyone seems to have raved over how good DA3 is and I’m still very disappointed with the combat, which, let’s face it is a huge part of the game.

    I guess the designers have embraced the MMO standards of auto attack, codlin special abilities and buffs for the RPG genre rather than evolving a really great system for heroic combat based on your teams ability at defence as well as attack. The truly great warriors are masters of not being hit and delivering devastating replies to their opponents rather than slugging it out for ever.

    This is the reason I love Joe’s storytelling and brutal combat descriptions – they give a much more realistic vision of the world and characters abilities and how they would fight.

    So sorry for the negatives in this post, but I really wanted to make a point and see if anyone else out there was on the same wavelength – and also to ask has anyone expressed an interest in producing a First Law based RPG either computer based or table top? That’s something I’d really like to see and play…


  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Some minor preliminary approaches on games rights, nothing that’s come close to bearing fruit. Games rights do tend to get tied up in film/tv deals, though.

    Seems a lot of folks had problems with the action, it seemed far from electrifying to me, but didn’t really spoil the experience overall. More challenge would’ve been nice, but I’m having a hard time thinking of an RPG where the action is really great. Mass Effect, maybe? Elder Scrolls always seemed pretty ropey in that department for me…

    Well YMMV, of course. Voice acting definitely a bit by the yard and the dialogue patchy, but your point 5 seems pretty unfair from where I’m sitting. Some characters were a lot better than others but I can’t think of many RPGs that do better.

  • Kreso+Dokaza says:

    I didn’t have a problem with the action in the it’s-too-actiony department.
    For me, it was not action done well (not reactive nor fluid enough to be proper action combat a la Souls or even D.Dogma), and just too messy to be good at tactical combat (manual attack + bad tactical camera).
    They basically made action combat and tactical camera combat on different controls, it fells really unintuitive and wants to be good at both – then ends up being mediocre at both.
    (I definitely agree that combat in Skyrim, for example, wasn’t exactly a shining beacon of what combat could be like in an RPG)

    I thought the characters were great, almost across the board.
    Some had issues with introduction (the Winter Palace thing was nicely written… I just wasn’t given any reason to actually care about the Empress, Gaspard or Fiona, for example), but overall, they were pretty good.
    Cullen felt like fan service, as did the Hawke appearance, but overall, yes, quite good.
    (Morrigan still stole the show in half the game though)

    The main problem for me is that the franchise lost its identity.
    They saw some stuff that works in other games (Skyrim exploration, Souls “Estus” flasks, etc.) and they implemented it, without really understanding why it works in those games.

    As for the writing…
    I thought DA:O was a gaming masterpiece in that department.
    This story, the villain, all of it, felt very… Bland.
    It felt like they designed the zones and then said “write something where we can ship off the characters there”.
    I felt less love for my troups than in DA:O, and Loghain makes Corypheus look utterly ridiculous in the villain department.
    (I might be spoiled though… after GRRM, Joe, Bakker, Lynch, etc… I just want “realistic fantasy”, black-and-white and cartoon villains just seems childish these days)

    But again, it’s got quite a lot of redeeming qualities, it really isn’t a BAD game.
    It’s just… “Good”.
    Feels more like an opportunity missed, more than anything.

    Hopefully, modders manage to get past the engine issues.
    A few good mods could make DA:I much better.

    Bottom line, I’m glad you enjoyed it, Joe, I did as well, for all the flaws I think it has.

    Now then, the big question… Are you gonna play Witcher 3????

  • Chris B. says:

    I’ve seen these criticisms stated here before by Kreso/ACAJ in various game forums, wiki-chats,etc. and pretty much can’t find any fault with most of what’s being expressed…

    That said, I’m not really seeing anyone say they abandoned the game or drifted away from it at a certain hour mark due to a general disinterest created from some of these stated flaws, (like for example as we’ve seen with past Elderscroll games, were all of a sudden the novelty wore off and it became exhausting when every one of thousands of in game npcs had some variety of quest for you to complete. As a completion focused player, this system was always equal measures maddening and distracting in my mind).

    I think Bioware absolutely nailed the pacing on this game by front-ending some of their mechanical weaknesses with an understanding that if you just pushed through that first turgid 10 hours in the Hinterlands, that your resulting playing style would subsequently allow for players to customize a fulfilling middle and end experience.

    I found this game consistently compelling, and pushed through (or even ignored) elements that I didn’t like without issue and with a undeniable feeling of satisfaction at the end of 120 hours +, that this was indeed money well spent.

    For everyone complaining out the AI issues: this seemed to be resolved somewhat with more careful equipment management, and proper skill allocations/behavior adjustments that I don’t think everyone was catching on to. Learning how to mark a spell as a favorite for example (Barrier, with my party’s mages or removing caltrops entirely from a rouge archer so they don’t closely engage with an enemy, etc) while lowering the stamina reserve from 50% to 10% certainly helped.

    Finally, I’m not sure where the hate is coming from for the female characters in this game. I really respect Bioware’s choice to veer away from the traditional rpg clichés of unrealistic good looks/ too generous chest proportions or in treating girls as wish fulfillment props for the male gamer to engage in via eye-rolling narrative.

    Sera in particular was brilliant and I felt a wicked inversion of the modern, manic pixie dream girl. She was wholly unpredictable and as much a romantic idealist as she was a foul mouthed imp. I kind of like the disconcerting feeling this left me with, as it felt more in line with the flawed individuals I’ve come across in the real world from time to time.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Chris B,
    I’m totally with you. I think there are plenty of fair criticisms you can make of the gameplay, some aspects of the graphics, the slightly weak dialogue and voice acting at times, the feeble villain, the lack of darkness or real moral complexity that was a strength of the first game. But overall I still thoroughly enjoyed the experience from start to finish. And it was paced very well – often with RPGs I find there’s a ‘sweet spot’ where I’m loving it, then a gradual waning of interest until I’m going through the motions a bit. Inquisition kept me involved right through, and whatever your issues with the details, surely that’s the bottom line?

    And characters seem, in general, great in Dragon Age. I can’t think of many games that do better, certainly not RPGs with this amount of content. Skyrim for instance, as the foremost contender, clearly has the incredible scale, openness and detail of world, but it has no real characters at all. You feel pretty much alone in that game. Inquisition created the sense of being part of a group, taking a hand in the making of something big.

  • Robert says:

    I guess I take it with a grain of salt and don’t get to worked up over graphics and dialog. The graphics a still superior to anything that was around a few years ago. some people lose track of the idea that BETTER graphics mean more of a drag on your machine. Sure it would been keen to have NPC’s moving around and doing things like AC Unity. Voice overs, I generally turn the volume off or down on those and go with the subtitles.

    I got the game for Christmas and started playing on Saturday. Overall I am ok with it. I hear what people say about the combat IA and the camera, but I adapted and overcame it.

  • Robert says:

    I have been a light to hard core video gamer since 1980. I think my biggest observation on the progression of games is to many developers tend to get hung up on the WOW factor of how a game looks and get away from making a really fun and challenging game. Arcade games really took a downward dive in the mid 1980’s in that respect and many computer games have been doing that as well. I look at Balders Gate…great RPG…and a lot of the TSR D&D games were great content. Might and Magic 1 through 4 were awesome. But then developers get hung up on the people with great graphics cards and the WOW goes up but the game play suffers.

    UBI Soft is starting to trend in this direction for me.

  • Kamal says:

    I’m really enjoying DA:I so far. I’m playing on the console (XB1) with a controller, which I did not do for the first 2 games, which were on PC with M+K. I agree that I don’t like the tactical camera controls very much, especially the strange “terrain following” that the cursor needs to do.

    I think the dialog criticisms are a bit much. There’s a LOT of dialog, and that has good and bad points – a lot of it is exposition on recent events and fleshing out the backstory of the characters or the world. Interesting, but not essential so no need to complain if you don’t like that kind of stuff. I found it useful to better understand the NPCs and the world. The voice acting was perfectly fine, though I played a male human, not sure what the other character (ie not NPC) voices were like.

    I miss some aspects of Skyrim’s crafting system, and I wish there were more merchants in the various zones (loved Far Cry 4’s wandering Sherpa merchants!), but there isn’t that much “stuff” so usually my characters are not overloaded too often.

    I haven’t finished the game yet – I’ve only gotten to the reveal of the main villain and just past the opening of Skyhold, so maybe I’ll change my mind later. Its enough of a challenge for me that I feel I have to manage most rift battles, but no longer micromanage the random bandit / wilderness fights.

    f’ing bears though…tougher than most greater demons!

  • Chris+B. says:

    Well, I’ve heard an idiom said before about authors that I think applies here in maybe considering the merits of both “Skyrim” and “Dragon Age Inquisition”; wherein sometimes you come across great writers, and sometimes you come across great story-tellers, but neither descriptor is necessarily needed in tandem to get a damned good book…

    Seems to me, that both Bethesda and Bioware are fully aware of their respective development niches and intended gaming audience, with the result being that we all benefit from differing, but none the less, immersive and wholly satiating rpg experiences (i.e. variety and choice are ultimately good things, right?).

    Lol, I’m sure you’ve said this before in your blog, but I have to agree within the context of this conversation about DAI, that it really is a fantastic time to be gamer.

    I mean come on, having wrapped up a solid and absurd 120 hours of playing time, I was again reminded of just how wonderfully spoiled we are these days.

  • ACAJ says:

    Chris B. :

    “That said, I’m not really seeing anyone say they abandoned the game or drifted away from it at a certain hour mark due to a general disinterest created from some of these stated flaws, (like for example as we’ve seen with past Elderscroll games, were all of a sudden the novelty wore off and it became exhausting when every one of thousands of in game npcs had some variety of quest for you to complete. As a completion focused player, this system was always equal measures maddening and distracting in my mind).”

    Well.. me. The first half hour is excruciating to me, and the first dialogue choices really ruin my mood for the game; all of them make my character, whom I wanted to see as a competent, confident woman seem like a frightened, helpless little girl. The option to [Stay silent] when Cassandra is interrogating you? “I-I don’t know”. With a shaky voice.

    And then you go to the Hinterlands; a bland, frustrating land that requires actual effort and will for me to get through.

    Yes, the game gets better. But it took me ~6 tries to play more than half an hour at a time, and it’s only recently that I managed more than 3 hours.

    Regarding the AI, I have set my tank (Blackwall) to Defend Dorian, and both Dorian and Solas to Follow Blackwall; I set barrier and support spells to prioritised, disabled dispel, let them use all but 20% of their mana, and so on. They still like to run around and do nothing, stand idly by, and walk into fire. Blackwall, being melee, was worse; I’ve had to disable his charge ability, his shield wall ability, his chain-grab ability, and the wall-creating ability, simply because the AI was utterly ridiculous in its use of them (The charge skill being broken anyway; he’d charge into enemies, pass them, then teleport behind my mage).

    But since I play on normal, I can manage most things. Dragons are annoying because of the poor controls and the camera, but still manageable without too much face-palming or shouting at the screen.

    “I mean come on, having wrapped up a solid and absurd 120 hours of playing time, I was again reminded of just how wonderfully spoiled we are these days.”

    Long does not always equal good. Most of this time, I fear, is spent running around doing nothing but killing goats and hunting shards and getting arbitrary plot-progression points.

    Skyrim, by contrast, does not really have a main quest that can rightly be called THE main quest; it has the first questline you get, the one about the dragons, but that’s ignorable. I’ve put more hours into Skyrim than any person should admit (thanks to mods, but still), and I’d still be playing it if my setup wasn’t so prone to crashes.

    But, hey, who knows; maybe DA:I becomes way better at some point further down the line. But it’s exceptionally poor design to have the first ~30 hours to be the lowest point, since people who have better things to do would probably have found something else to play.

    And I still stick to my statement that the characters are uninteresting, and my evidence for that is that I barely know them. They’ve given me no reason to care enough to remember their names, let alone what they’ve got to say. The only partial exceptions are Dorian and Blackwall; Dorian, because he’s charming and fun to flirt with, and Blackwall because he’s sane & reasonable.

    Other than that, we have..

    Varrick (who, even after playing through DA2, I still can’t say anything definitive about),
    Cassandra (who might be interesting if she were tolerable, but I can’t stand her so I can’t tell. But from what I’ve tried, I doubt it. She seems like a ruder, less likable, more violent version of the guard captain from DA2),
    The black mage woman (At least she’s pleasant enough),
    The qunari warrior (Does he have a personality beyond the tired “Harr, I am warrior and I like fighting”?),
    The spirit guy (“I am a weird spirit of goodness or something, ooooh”),
    The nutty elf rogue (Because “trousers” is such a funny word, and british slang too, innit gov’na?), and.. I’m not sure if there are others. Probably not, ’cause it’s 3 of each class, but I’m not sure.

    None of them are interesting, to me. I’m sure that they’re well-written and in-depth and all those other terms people like to use. But those terms don’t equal interesting.

    Even if you take all of them together, none of them will be as interesting as, for an example, Sten. Or the Architect from Awakening. Even Barkspawn, as silly as she was, was more interesting to interact with than the cast of DA:I (sans Dorian because, again, flirting with NPCs is fun).

    ..and thinking about examples from previous DA games makes me want to replay DA:O:A properly. Maybe if I get through or give up on DA:I I just might do that. 😮

  • Kreso says:

    DA:I did make me go back and replay (a heavily modded) DA:O.
    And man, DA:O is easily a 9.5/10, a work of love and passion and you can easily see the difference between a game run by Brent Knowles (DA:O) and Mike Laidlaw (DA2 and DA:I).

    Like I said, I thought the characters were fine (though not as good as the DA:O cast) but they suffered being implemented into a story that felt ordinary and cartoony.

    Personally, I think of Joe’s books as mostly character-driven instead of story-driven (whether that’s correct or not), but in order for that to work, the story has to be (at least) “good enough”.
    I thought it wasn’t in DA:I. Everything except the Eluvian/Morrigan bit felt rather bland and… Well, yes, ordinary, mundane, etc.
    And characters end up suffering as a result (some of them, anyway).

    I think the issues I listed with the game are mostly factual (not hating or anything popular on the interwebz these days), and as someone who really loves RPGs, I have to intentionally, forcefully overlook them.

    Buuuuut, I won’t lie, despite all that… It’s still enjoyable (for me), just not “great”, but “good”.

    Just that if they had taken that one more step and left some proper RP stuff in there, it could’ve been great.

  • ACAJ says:

    “Just that if they had taken that one more step and left some proper RP stuff in there, it could’ve been great.”

    ..and fixed a number of issues regarding the interface, controls, the camera, the excessive faffing, and so on. 🙂

    Abercrombie’s books, sycophanty aside, to me, have both interesting characters and an interesting story; Murcatto, Ferro, Bayaz, Ninefingers, Black Dow, Glokta, Cosca, even Friendly. Most of his main characters, and even a good deal of his extras are interesting. I’ve no idea if they’re considered “well-written” or what-have-you, but they are interesting, even fun, to read.

    And, aside from Heroes (because it didn’t advance the overall plot that much, and though it was a lovely read, could’ve been summed up in a chapter in another book), most of the books have interesting storylines as well. I’ve not read Red Country yet, but I imagine that it, too, will be interesting.

    Imagine if Abercrombie got creative lead for a video game.. It’d be delightfully interesting, dark, and there’d be a lot less pointless faffing, except for funny bits (you’d never want to play it, though, ’cause your main character would get crippled, maimed and permanently mutilated after the first fight :p).

  • Kreso says:

    Oh, I disagree on Heroes, it’s my favorite fantasy stand-alone book in the last 6-7 years, it’s very different from nearly everything else, I would’ve hated to see something like that summed up in a chapter.

    It’s just my opinion, but why I grew to love Joe’s books are his characters. It doesn’t mean the story and the plot are weak, just that the character make his books stand out.
    Glokta, Logen, Shivers, Bremer dan Gorst, Dogman…Pure awesomeness, and they’re really quite unique in fantasy literature.

    But I digress…

    My point was, while I much prefer Alistair, DA:O Leliana, DA:O Morrigan, Sten, etc. to the DA:I companions, they were still very good.
    Dorian was great, Sera was hilarious (though I can understand why she’d bore someone after a while… also, she looks like Joffrey Barratheon), Blackwall and his background were great, Iron Bull had decent moments (well, the “phallic” based romance dialogues if you played a female were a bit… lulzy), etc etc.

    What they suffer from is a story where I’m given neither the background nor the motivations for my character and they fall flat because of it (at times).

    The story really does feel like it was an after-thought at times, lazy and because, well, “plot”.

    By far the most fun I had was in zones doing the “zone story” and utterly ignoring the shards, the fetch quests, requisitions etc.
    That was actually highly enjoyable and the biggest reason why I willed myself to ignore the stuff I saw as flaws or issues.

    Bottom line, I can easily see why someone would love this game, but I hope others see why someone else would have serious issues with it.

    We’ll see what the DLCs and possible mods do, I still got some time before Witcher, Bloodborne and Pillars of Eternity come out. 😀

  • Ed says:

    I know nothing about games…they look fun though. Never owned any sort of console, poor me. Anyhow my brother in law got a new x-box for Christmas, lucky boy, and gave me his old x-box 360. I guess I now what I’ll be doing for the next few months. I’m after some recommendations for games. Thought this would be a good place to ask as many of you seem knowledgeable without the crazies and meanies you seem to find in the more game orientated places and hey, we share a mutual fandom for Mr Abercrombie.
    Keep hearing about skyrim, is that a good place to start. Recommendations much appreciated

  • Chris B. says:

    Kreso, I’m not sure if the bigger modern gaming companies will ever again not factor in some level of content meant to appease the lowest common denominator? I mean, when your signing off on 100 million dollar/60 million pound projects with the loads of inherit risks that come with, you’re always going to have pressure from some higher ups or marketing types about having to reach the right/most demographics or some such shit.

    I kinda doubt that most of the obviously talented and intelligent creative and design team members, script-writers, etc. for DAI were thrilled with several of the features included in the final product.

    And, I seriously don’t think that anyone is defending the time-wasting inclusion of say the shard quests and even the sadly limited repercussions/rewards from choosing certain leaders to complete war-table operations all of which, smelled like a compromise (never seemed to matter who I sent where, doing what for why. Towards the back half of DAI, i just started shooting off the person with the quickest return time and stopped reading the mission text entirely).

    ACAJ, no argument here about excessive length not always being a good thing, but aside from spending way too long learning how to ride an obtuse horse and in chasing a few annoyingly unreachable shards, I never found myself interrupted from a pretty steady sense of enjoyment. There was just too much great content to instead refocus on if one of these secondary features wasn’t cutting it for you.

    Kreso and ACAJ concerning the issue of flat/lacking characters; I didn’t really see a drop off from the quality of the personalities found in DAO in comparison to those in DAI? It more felt like the game seemed to subtly shift your perspective away from being a hero creating change through force of arms alone to one who additionally relied on personal administrative touches and leadership.

    The DAI characters were a bit 2d for sure, but I believe that this superficiality was intentionally used to create an affected sense of distance between you and the people you were leading (the officer can’t mix with rank and file or some such). My interactions with these people had added tension and vulnerability as a result that I think added to a sense of being in charge of something bigger then just the typical RPG posse.

    Finally, total agreement that it would be pretty cool to see Joe become involved with a lead writing role in some future gaming projects.

    I saw where Pat Rothfuss recently agreed to script a character for the pending planescape torrment KS project, and he seemed pretty stoked by it.

    Huh, could you even imagine if say Martin, Joe and Rothfuss all took a turn collaboratively penning a character for the next DA entry?

  • Chris+B. says:

    Hey Ed,

    I thought all of the Gears of Wars games found on the xbox 360 were good, punishing fun. It’s a dark first person shooter that focuses on modern combat mechanics found in a gritty and dystopic urban environment. Plus, you’re main gun you use throughout play has chainsaw on it for cutting through baddies, which is always a plus.

    You might also like the original Dragon Age: Orgins we’ve been talking about via this forum’s conversational thread.

    Finally, I’d have to say the Mass Effect series was top-notch too if you want to give an epic and sprawling sci-fi game a go. Great combat, memorable characters, solid story, etc.

    Hope that helps mate!


  • Kreso says:


    I think Dragon Age:Origins is the best place to start with RPGs, as it’s fairly linear and still big and well, awesome.

    Skyrim is something that anyone can play and love, and you can use mods etc. to tailor it further to your pleasure.
    I honestly don’t know a single person who’s tried it (regardless of whether they were into games or RPGs specifically) and who didn’t like or love it.

    Chris B.,

    As for flat characters, I’m not sure I expressed it correctly or you misunderstood me etc., I said most of them were good, but they fall flat because of the shallow, ordinary story and the cartoon villain.
    Also, at points, the writing feels lazy and I feel like they just scribbled something and expected me to buy into it because… “plot”.

    My own character was definitely nothing I genuinely connected to, it felt (and feels) like some of my MMO characters instead of my DA:O character – if you know what I mean.
    He/she were cool and powerful etc., but I never felt the emotional connection I felt to my DA:O Warden.

    Mostly, it feels like Bioware wanted to make Hawke the DA version of Shepard – and backed out of it after the lukewarm reception Hawke got as a consequence of a pretty bad game in DA2, especially the feedback regarding playable races etc.

    And then they had no idea how to introduce a proper new protagonist, DA:I is the first Bioware game where you don’t get a chance to know your character (at least a little) before the actual story starts taking place.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    If you go to the ‘category archives’ pull-down menu up on the left and select games, you’ll see my thoughts on most of what I’ve played over the last six or seven years. I’m mostly a playstation player, but most of what’s on PS3 is on XBox 360 also. Long story short, I’d strongly recommend Red Dead Redemption, The Last of Us, The Mass Effect Trilogy, Skyrim, Grand Theft Auto V, then also Dragon Age: Origins, Bioshock Infinite, Tomb Raider, Fallout 3, etc. etc…

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Kind of amazing, in a way, that you formed so close a relationship in DA:O with a character who never actually spoke and scarcely emoted at all. I’ve long felt that as games get more and more detailed, we go from blurry sprites to beautifully realised faces, from text options to full voice acting, there’s less room for players to flesh things out with their own imagination. I remember playing Elite as a kid, I’d spin off all kinds of stories and notions about what was going on behind the scenes of the game, some of which are still with me thirty years on. There’s much less of a role-playing element to a lot of games these days, as the character you’re playing comes fully formed. A more filmic experience, more immediately dramatic, but less involving in the long term, perhaps. Maybe that’s one of the big advantages of Skyrim – no one really has any personality (especially your own character) so you’re free to imagine your own.

  • Kreso Dokaza says:

    Yes, the voiced, cinematic protagonist doesn’t mean a better RPG, I’ve found.

    In DA:O, they gave me a wonderful little background (Human Noble), motivations for my character, I got to know his brother, parents, nephew, librarian, cook, friends, etc.
    Then I got to know Duncan and the Warden, the King and Loghain… It all had a proper introduction, and the lines my character said were the lines I said in my head – it never bothered me he’s silent.

    If anything, the voice-overs in DA:I were a bit “off” IMO – for the males.
    Apparently, the Brit has to have a posh accent and a silky voice, and the American was like a lovechild of John Wayne and Sly Stallone – I couldn’t relate to either.
    (it doesn’t mean all voiced protagonists were bad by default, I thought Geralt in Witcher and Shep in ME were excellent, even the bland Hawke was decent in that department in DA2)
    Female Inquisitors were much better IMO.

    I don’t know if its the resources that go into voice-acting and the time spent there, but it genuinely does feel like the more “fluff” my character has, the less personality the writers and developers put in it, less motivations for his actions etc.

    Skyrim has some rather thin story lines, and most are adequate at best, nothing to write home about, and same goes for the NPCs.
    But I role-played my one-eyed Nord named Caul (yes) to my great pleasure, it never bothered me he was silent or didn’t move his facial muscles in dialogues.

    The bits that aren’t there are left to my imagination, and while some don’t prefer that, I think it definitely works in RP games.

    Basically, most games today feel more “Hollywood”.

    I don’t know if you anyone’s seen HBO and David Simon’s “The Wire”.
    But games like Souls games, DA:O, Witcher, even Skyrim, feel as though the devs went out to create a great game – and didn’t care if a certain audience didn’t care for it – much like David Simon knew “The Wire”, as great as it is, wasn’t for everyone.

    There was an interview where the host asked Simon if he feared the series wouldn’t attract the casual viewers.
    He said, excuse the French: “F**k the casual viewer, give me the guy who wants a good story.”
    The series wasn’t a hit initially, it became a cult show after DVD releases, and is now widely considered the best TV drama ever made.

    My point is, you don’t necessarily need to compromise or shine stuff up to make it seem better – which seems to be norm for most products these days – games, movies, music, etc.

    Off-topic question, Joe, seeing as Half a King just released in Croatia in Croatian as well, are you planning of ever coming here to a book event or something? 😀

  • Chris+B. says:


    You did make some solid points about the story telling dragging down and limiting the impact of otherwise good characters. I guess I just went on a bit of a tangent in response, but without getting too abstract here, I was really trying to infer that this all becomes deeply subjective at some point based on preference, instead of being more readily objective in relation to experience.

    For instance, I knew what I was getting from DAI by doing research before even purchasing the game via reading numerous reviews. I stayed away from anything feeling too corporate and tried to mix in both U.K./European and American review sites. I then felt pretty comfortable that there was a solid aggregate opinion from the critics that this game, while not without fault and flaws, was doing a lot of things right.

    I think this really helped to temper any expectations that might have hurt how much fun I ended up having with DAI. The opening intro/tutorial/cinematics were minimal and wonky while the grind through the Hinterlands was a little too aimless and slow to develop for my taste. But I knew about this rough stretch of play ahead of time, so these bumps in the road ultimately felt trivial once DAI truly got going even with the clichéd story. Out of curiosity, did you play on the PC or through a console?

    And maybe something of note about another key difference between Skyrim and DAI; the ES series has always benefited from literally starting with a clean slate with each new entry in the franchise. They have a clearly delineated master map that divides each region up by a assigning it a specific race and culture. So, when you start a new, region-specific ES entry, you essentially get a brand new world aesthetically that just happens to be in the same universe thematically. This is pretty clever, as Bethesda subsequently avoids the whole mess of trying to establish story continuity, which has seemed to hurt other series (like the internet-melting uproar over the polarizing ending of ME3 or even DAI having to recover from the much maligned DA2).

    Hitting on further points that you and just Joe made, I’m wondering if the ElderScrolls template really is more inviting for someone wanting a deeply imaginative and open-ended RP experience?

  • Joseph says:

    Hey Joe!
    What class/race was your character? My Human Rouge Archer is the bees knees but I’m trying to get ideas for a second playthrough. Oh, and did you try Shadow of Mordor yet? I heard it’s rad.

  • Robert says:

    I started a horned guy dual swordsman rogue and an archer elf rogue. I have normally been controlling the dwarf archer or the elf mage. I have found during combat the contact fighters tend to keep swinging even if your to far away and in busy combat I end of wasting a lot. So I control one of the range guys and that way I am always hitting something.

    I think the game is getting better and better the more I play it.

  • Alejandro says:

    @ Ed: As you are on XBox 360 I would add to the recommendations of Master Abercrombie “The Witcher 2” and “Alan Wake”.
    Beside that every Fantasy nerd should at least try one of the Souls games.

  • Ed says:

    Thanks for the recommendations everyone. I had a crack at fallout 3 but found it a little too open world for a complete beginner. I need something that tells me what to do and where to go and how to use the damned controller without having to look things up every 5 minutes!
    After reading the review on here, thankyou Joe, I plumped for Tomb raider (£6 for a used copy). Its absolutely fantastic. The perfect level of difficulty without leaving me completely lost. My only complaint is where you have to hit certain buttons at certain times whilst fighting etc. I imagine there is a name for this. I’ll find myself immersed in the story and game and these moments drag me out of it, leaving me hunting the control pad for which ever button I’m looking for whilst I repeatedly die until I get the timing right. It reminds me of nude scenes in films. You’re immersed in a story, all of a sudden there’s Scarlett Johanssons boobs staring me in the face for no apparent reason and I’m dragged out of the story whilst I oggle such a splendid sight like the drooling pervert I am. Ok, its nothing like that at all but well……thanks Joe for the review.

  • David says:

    Well I played it pretty religiously over the holidays but I haven’t since going back to work and today (Sunday) when I have some free cycles I just have no desire. It simply is not compelling enough. You pretty much move from area to area doing the same thing – is this really the game of the year for 2014?

  • Grace says:

    I swear there was a reference to The First Law in this game, I came across it last night and nearly choked.
    It’s when you’re taken aside by Iron Bull and you’re introduced to a group of soldiers under a fake name:
    “Here’s Grim, he doesn’t talk much.”
    *says little*
    This has to be intentional right?! I about died. I know you’re into your games so I had to tell you 😛

  • Hanks says:

    “Various skill trees” and “Detailed orders” huh?
    Have you actually played Origins?
    Also, if you get through all the dialog options with these “varied and well-realised” companions, you’ll know how much of that they actually are.
    And “just a lot more actual people”? like a requisition officer that repeats one line of dialog over and over again, while even a placeholder character in Skyrim says more than that? Not to say anything of boring, nonsence fetch quests, simple non-tactical combat, a broken loot system and really really shameful technical bugs.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    You disagree with me!
    Congratulations, it’s quite the achievement.

  • Robert says:

    There was a comment earlier on the crafting system for this game. I now have about 30 hours into the game and I guess I quite disagree. I feel this is one of the more relevant crafting systems. I normally detest crafting because you can spend a lot of time doing it for very small results. Some of the things I like about this system of gathering and crafting is that the things you craft can actually be relevant. Most of my characters are carrying crafted weapons and armor because I can make things better than I am finding in many cases. All the plant components I gather have a use. Especially the things I craft on the potions table.

    I am impressed that the AI for my other characters in combat do utilize a variety of their skills I would like to see them using the potions other than healing. However, the combat system is nice in that I can quickly change control of a character and get them to perform a specific action.

  • matt iden says:

    I was curious how you felt about an issue that bothered me in both Skyrim and DA:I, namely that each game had a “split” plot—one half grounded in a mundane political scrap, the other in an arcane apocalyptic showdown.

    That setup describes the setup of the First Law books, where it works well, but as a story arc in these games I found it jarring and strange. Skyrim: we’ve got dragons rising from the dead with the intention of snuffing the universe as we know it, but it’s this damned civil war that we really have to pay attention to. DA:I: Darkspawn magister with an archdemon pony threatening our very existence? Definitely inconvenient, but it’s those pesky templars poking apostate mages with their swords that trumps all.

    I get it, it’s a way of involving the character in real world stakes while also giving them something epic to fight for. But I found BG1, BG2, Planescape: Torment–where Life trundles along, largely oblivious to the dark forces at work–much more compelling. “PC/protagonist as underdog,” a winning formula in both games and novels, becomes garbled and somewhat ludicrous when said main character is both Frodo *and* Aragorn. I think both games would’ve been stronger had they chosen the PC to be one or the other.

  • Zach McIntyre says:

    I agree with most of what you said my only major criticisms being the dialogue quality and combat mechanics were a little simple for me personally. Im sure you are aware of it but if not do yourself a favour and check out Pillars of Eternity. It’s a BGI/BGII/IWD successor game that started as a kickstarter by a lot of the same team (Josh Sawyer etc). Combat is complex and the dialogue is excellent. It’s launched March 26th and I’m sure it will make your nostalgia tingle. Love your work.

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