Bioware return with the latest in the Dragon Age roleplay game series. It started off positively with Dragon Age: Origins where they returned to their roots of the party strategic combat system popularised in the much loved infinity engine game Baldur’s Gate. Mostly everything about that game was fantastic, perhaps the only criticism being that the story wasn't very immersive and involving. The follow-up, Dragon Age 2, came at a time when mass effect was riding a wave of success at Bioware and it most likely took away a lot of resource, the result being that it really felt that the dragon age sequel was very half-arsed and console-ified. I dragged myself through it and it's terrible copy and pasted areas.
Thankfully, Inquisition is mostly a return to the brilliant western RPGs that Bioware is renowned for. The environments can be huge and detailed - the first main area can easily keep you busy for hours. The frostbite 3 engine is also gloriously detailed and with all the options dialled up it looks beautiful, perhaps not captured so well in our screenshots. A lot of the maps are large and there are many side quests, but I never felt overwhelmed with them and the number of icons dotting the maps like I have been in many recent 'open-world' games where the filler feels excessive. The story is well written, and there is plenty of content - I am some 60+ hours in and am only just feeling like I could be getting near the end of the main story, and still have several vast areas left to explore.
In DA:I you take the role of your player created character who has awoken with the power to close fade rifts (big green glow-y holes that nasty things come out of). In fact, you're the only person that has this power so you are really the world's only hope to stop the big bad. Soon you're recruiting new characters to your cause and bringing in old faces from your previous two adventures and setting out on a quest to save the world. As usual with Bioware, the beauty is in their writing, with each character having detailed backgrounds, personal quests to gain favour and you can romance your chosen companion. Bioware have allowed you to import your old saves via http://dragonagekeep.com - a website that you can tweak your new game state and thus world that DA:I is set in or, if you are new to the series, create a brand new one with the decisions from previous games decided via some multiple choice story accompanied by beautiful minimalistic animation.
The game is very much rpg first, strategic combat second. Whilst Bioware have included a tactical combat camera/pausing/turn-by-turn system it is no-where near as good as DA:Origins or Baldur’s gate's. I still got a kick from playing it DA2-(console)-action camera style, and yes a lot of the combat is repeatedly mashing a skill over and over so not very strategic or tactical so if that is what you are looking for in this game then perhaps look elsewhere - maybe Divinity:Original Sin or Wasteland 2. Some players even recommend turning the difficulty to easy and just playing the game for the story and the writing. That being said, the combat is still functional, it just feels a bit over the top visually compared to what the effects of your spells and moves are doing. You chosen warrior/rogue/mage can specialise their abilities as per previous games down a choice of 3 further paths, so you can really adapt them to your preferred play-style. Your companions also have one of these specialisations each so you can experiment with which path you prefer before deciding which one you want your character to utilise.
In Inquisition you are raising an army (The Inquisition) to fight the bad guys, thus a new mini-game involves speaking to your advisers at the war table and deciding which of the three - connections, secrets or forces to dedicate to accomplishing the mini quest.
I occasionally experienced a crash to desktop and also a strange stuttering/freezing issue which, after some research, seemed to be a reasonably widespread issue with Nvidia cards. I remedied the stuttering issue by changing a setting in my Nvidia control panel. Changing 'Maximum pre-rendered frames' to '1' and changing 'Power management mode' to 'Prefer maximum performance' for dragonageinquisition.exe. It would be nice if EA/Bioware or Nvidia could provide a proper fix to these issues as they can be extremely annoying, and it spoils what is otherwise a fantastic game that has had a lot of love and care put into it - the complete opposite feeling to DA2.
Overall, I am really enjoying Dragon Age: Inquisition, I still am yet to finish the beast despite many hours of my Christmas holidays being spent enjoying the adventures of my Inquisitor and his party of interesting companions. Despite its flaws, I would thoroughly recommend this game to fans of the series, with perhaps a caution to action rpgers, this is a very conversation heavy game. This will be updated once I have completed this epic game, but until then enjoy!
And don't worry, there are loads of dragons to fight this time!