First Impressions: “Dragon Age: Inquisition” (Part I)

on November 25, 2014 in Dragon Age: Inquisition, First Impressions, Reviews, Uncategorized

Remembering that last time that I purchased a newly released Bioware game and the botched abortion of an ending experience that it provided, I’m going to take the same “First Impressions” approach to Dragon Age: Inquisition and just reel it off as I get to it. Don’t be expecting finely crafted wordsmithing. But I’ll try to be as thorough and open about it as I can be. After all, I’m still of the opinion that Mass Effect 3 was (is?) an excellent game. Just whack off the last 10 or 15 minutes, boil them in acid, bury them in the jungle for a few centuries, then dig ‘em up and shoot whatever survived into the sun. Maybe in a different solar system, though. Wouldn’t want to wipe out life on Earth in an accidental case of solar indigestion.

Prior to playing, I took advantage of the World State generator at Dragon Age Keep. Since I did not save any of my DAO, Awakening or DA2 characters and did not feel like doing a complete playthrough prior to launching Inquisition, I went through each panel of the tapestry and set each story point as best as I could remember them. Short version is that my first playthrough on all three games was a “bunnies and rainbows” kind where I tried to give everyone a happy ending, or as happy as possible given the choices. About the only oddity was that my first DAO character was female and I wanted to import her into Awakening, so I let Alistair make the ultimate sacrifice. In keeping with that, my Inquisition character is a female Dalish mage (which was not an option in the earlier games).

SPOILER WARNING

Since I’m talking about a game as I go through it, there will undoubtedly be some story points included. I am not trying to do anything remotely resembling a walkthrough, so I will try to leave plot events and decisions off of the page, but something might slip through. Be warned.

END SPOILER WARNING

From the get-go, I am not getting great framerates out of Inquisition. Low 40s is about average and it drops into the low 30s when there are lots of NPCs in the area. I suspect that it’s time to rebuild this creaking rig. Perhaps Santa will be nice, but I’m not holding my breath on it, so I’ll make do with what I have.

Graphically, I’m reasonably impressed. At 1920 x 1080 and a mix of High and Ultra settings (full-blown Ultra would undoubtedly drop my framerates down into the 20s and 30s), the game is gorgeous. Textures are crisp and sharp. Underlying meshes are very clean. I noted that my character changed costumes three or four times in the space of a few seconds worth of cut-scenes, so there’s some sloppy CGI going on in there somewhere. I also note that once I was able to access inventory, what my character was wearing on the inventory screen bore little resemblance to what she was wearing in-game.

The game threw a couple of DirectX errors and crashed shortly after the first boss battle and again shortly after regaining control of my character after the forming of the Inquisition. Both happened during conversations. I don’t know if they are related, but my initial impression is that they are. Thanks, Bioware.

Camera controls are very similar to DAO, so not a huge learning curve on that end. Wearing a smooth spot on my RMB, though. Combat controls are definitely different from DAO (haven’t messed with DA2 in a long time, so won’t trust my memory on this one). On the whole, I’m finding them to be a mixed bag. Some parts are a bit smoother, but the party micromanagement end of things is exceptionally clunky. Clunky to the point of dying several times during the first boss battle (on Normal difficulty yet). Lost control of the camera a few times at critical points during the battle, so people who needed aid weren’t able to get it in time.

Controls function somewhat differently. For those who are used to the DAO keymappings, I’d recommend immediately remapping Pause to the spacebar and jump to the CTRL key. Object activation happens with the F key rather than the normal LMB, so several instances of trying to help someone or open a container ended up firing off attacks instead. Not pretty.

Character animations are much nicer than DAO (and DA2, if memory serves). More lifelike and smooth. Facial expressions are also much better. Had a few instances of Varric’s right foot dropping through the ground during conversations, so he was constantly straightening himself back out again, but it’s all pretty minor stuff thus far.

On the whole, it’s pretty decent and I’m not feeling like I wasted the $70 (Digital Deluxe Edition). More to come as I get to it. Happy gaming.

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