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There is something to be said about a long, deep single player role playing game, a rare breed these days, particularly quality ones. With Dragon Age Inquisition, Bioware has again exhibited their mastery of the craft, producing one of the best RPGs in years and a contender for Game of the Year. Just how good is it, though?

The answer is, really damn good. The first thing that will stand out is the character development – a Bioware staple – which is as good here as any I’ve seen. The various NPCs you encounter, including your various party members are well written, well voices, and have interesting, often contrasting and clashing personalities. When your party engages one another in random banter during your adventures, it both reveals interesting personality quirks and shows the various relationships they have with each other.

Dragon Age Inquisition

My favorite party includes Varrick (the charismatic dwarven rogue from Dragon Age 2), The Iron Bull (a brash Qunari warrior) and Dorian (a flashy, smarmy human mage), but the three NPC party limit means that I have to leave the likes of Sera (a humorous elf rogue) and Cassandra (Varrick’s interrogator from Dragon Age 2 and a human warrior) behind, which is sad. I want to bring everybody, and not just because they’re all so much fun to have around but also because they all have various benefits and can be specialized in different skills. The biggest problem is that you really need at least one rogue, warrior and mage in your party at any given time, which puts restrictions on your party composition.

The three classes available are warriors, mages and rogues. They all play very differently, and even subtle differences like the two-handed skilled warrior (which I chose for my main character) and sword and shield warrior feel unique. Mages are the most versatile classes with different skill trees dedicated to fire, frost, arcane and healing, but learning advanced skills for any class requires investing deeply into one of the skill trees. This necessitates specializing your party members in individual skills, making them valuable in different situations, but you can only change your party in camps and when first entering a zone, so you cannot easily adapt and take advantage of those specializations.

Dragon Age Inquisition

The story itself is somewhat rote, and the villain is not really that interesting of a foe, but Dragon Age Inquisition is largely about the world and the myriad of quests that it holds. There are almost too many quests to undertake, and often I had so many in my log just from exploring the wild that it became hard to track them all, but thankfully they pop up onscreen whenever you make progress towards completing one of them. The quests themselves are often of an MMO slant, with find-10-of-these and kill-5-of-those quests occupying the majority of your time. This, combined with the combat, which itself feels MMO-ish with its hotkeyed skills and flashy, war of attrition fights, gave me some odd flashbacks to – of all things – Elder Scrolls Online, but while I wasn’t impressed with ESO, I always enjoyed Dragon Age Inquisition’s take.

The game world is big, varied, beautiful and open to explore. It doesn’t take long to unlock a bunch of destinations that all beg for you to wander through them and take in all of the sights and sounds. I was worried that the “open world” of DAI would be more Fable than Skyrim, but the worlds is surprisingly large and open, and while not on par with a Bethesda game, they are still big enough to lose yourself in, and packed with things to see and do. Some of favorite locations were the Forbidden Oasis, the Storm Coast, and the Hinterlands. Some places reminded me similar, familiar locations I enjoyed in other games, such as Fallow Mire, which struck me as a combination of Duskwood from World of WarCraft and Witchwood from Fable.

Dragon Age Inquisition

If I had to point to something that I really don’t enjoy, it would be my long-time nemesis, the loading screen. There are quite a few, and they can be pretty lengthy at times. There are also a number of bugs, ranging from audio loops and interface hiccups to broken dialog sequences and instances of geometry clipping. Rarely are these game-breaking, but they are all immersion breaking, and since immersion in the story and its world is such a big part of Dragon Age Inquisition, that’s a problem.

I’m impressed how much fun I have had playing Dragon Age Inquisition. I enjoyed Dragon Age Origins and loved Dragon Age 2 – flaws and all – but DAI is the best game of the series to date. The world, characters, and gameplay are all expertly done, and despite the repetitive quests I am compelled to keep playing. Dragon Age Inquisition is one of the best games of the year, and one that every gamer should experience.

Final Score

9.5

Pluses:

Minuses:

+ Large, interesting world

+ Great character development

+ Strong writing

+ Flexible character skills

+ Lengthy main quest

– Tedious fetch quests

– Long loading screens

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