Dragon Age Game Analysis: From Origins to Inquisition | Fanboys Anonymous

Dragon Age Game Analysis: From Origins to Inquisition

Posted by Kym Pressley Tuesday, July 22, 2014
RPG Dragon Age font textDragon Age is a series of RPGs set in a dystopian age plagued by the blight.

In the series, you fight against incredible odds including freaky demons from a parallel world (the Fade), mages which can conjure devastating magic or even control your blood, and worse yet, a horde of zombies controlled by dragons that make Smaug look like a gecko. Outside of battle, you have to carefully navigate heavy social and political scenarios such as corrupt officials, the discrimination and enslavement of the Dalish (elvish) people, and the threat of the Qunari - a race of large, horned humanoids. There is also the volatile friction between the Templar Order (knights who watch over legal mages and hunt all others) and the mages they hunt.

On October 7th, 2014 (for North America and October 10th, 2014 for Europe), developer BioWare via publisher Electronic Arts will be releasing Dragon Age: Inquisition, the third full console installment of the Dragon Age series. The previous console releases, Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II (I'm not including any DLC in this article), had a mixed bag of game elements that were found both great and lacking  at times. This begs the question of "How does this new addition stand up?" Let's take a look at the previous releases and their inner workings to reveal what worked and what didn't in the development of the anticipated Inquisition.

Wallpaper Morrigan Dragon Age Origins poster
The series had a solid start with Dragon Age: Origins. The story for this game revolved around the coming of the fifth blight in which the darkspawn zombies invade. It features many choices that not only impact what ending you see, but also the continuous game play. Some choices will determine who you can have in your party and what events will be available to you in future events and games.

Choices also impact your romantic interests. In Dragon Age, you are able to build relationships with your party members which can ultimately turn into romance. The progression of the relationship is based on an affection system. Once it's high enough, your allies will tell you personal information and you can eventually flirt with them and even bed them (which include some heated, yet sometimes awkward cut scenes). Bethesda included heterosexual and homosexual relationships giving players more freedom over their avatar.

The controversial aspects for the game are in the setting and combat aspects. The settings are lush, detailed, and well designed. However, the environment wasn't large enough to embody the epic story that the game has. Though it wasn't a major strike against the game, such an epic story seemed to need more open movement. In combat, the skill trees were well defined and plotted out, but it wasn't exciting to play as an offline game. Combat was similar to most MMOs where you pick an enemy and auto-attacks begin while you click skills and wait for cool downs. Impact animations and their sound effects didn't add much to create an immersive, visceral feel.

video game poster Dragon Age II images
The second release, Dragon Age II, is a direct sequel with a completely different premise. While Origins focused on surviving and triumphing over the blight, this game focuses on the social and political aspects of the world. This is a nice twist and grants a new perspective of the Dragon Age universe. It also incorporates choices that you made in the first game which impacts several aspects of the story. While this game vastly improved the ailing of the first game, Dragon Age II has its own shortcomings as well as making some already negative aspects worse.

Graphically, all aspects were improved. Models are more detailed, textures are more robust, colors are more saturated and there are less anti aliasing issues. Combat also improves greatly. What used to be press and wait system becomes action packed, meaningful button presses. Even mages, which are usually known in games for cast times, have combos to perform. Detailed skill trees are maintained and re-balanced so that there are more viable combinations. Combat becomes fun and intense!

The social interactions of the game remained an integral part of the game. The new cast is a motley crew from different backgrounds which leads to juicy drama, hilariously awkward situations and devastating consequences. Some of your allies distrust each other to the point in which you may have choose between them.

The main shortcoming of this Dragon Age II was the scope of the setting. The majority of the game takes place within a few areas of the town in which you start. This works for some games but feels too small here. Though locations change as years pass in the game, you begin to feel a bit caged as you visit the same locations over and over again. Many of the areas are larger than in Origins, but that doesn't save it from a claustrophobic feeling.

The story is a surprising shortcoming. The premise was grand and sets the stage for the third game where the friction between the mages and the templars, the social status of the Dalish, and the arrival of the Qunari warships finally comes to ahead. However, it gets mixed up in minor quarrels and tasks and is further diminished by awkward pacing. You don't feel the weight of the quickly deteriorating world.. The story sometimes focuses too much on deeds that help you rise in social and political power, personal scenarios, and minor things that are barely tied to the premise. Though it is a good game, at times, it starts to feel like a really long DLC than a stand-alone game.

artwork Dragon Age Inquisition concept art
As Dragon Age: Inquisition draws near, there are things I hope return and others I hope are introduced.  One thing I hope returns is the long lasting sense of urgency, hopelessness, and desperate to survive feeling from Origins. The story is much too epic for that feeling to be missing or even present in the back of your mind. Strong social interactions have been done very well should be tied closer to the story. The setting allows for interactions that can be emotional, funny or fearsome. Dragon Age II had a degree of personal development of the players avatar and there is a lot of room for development of the allies. However, the main character's development feels more like a reference for others rather than a focal point of the game.

The development team at BioWare has already been releasing media on the new addition. From videos released so far, it looks like that action filled combat is back in a big way along with beautiful graphics featuring improved shades and textures. Though it's not open-world, they promote that this world is much more expansive. I'm looking forward to more news and videos on the game to form a better opinion. Here's hoping it'll soar leagues above its predecessors.

How did you feel about the previous releases? What are you looking forward to in Dragon Age: Inquisition? Let me know in the comments below.
THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY A GUEST WRITER

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