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

on November 27, 2014 in Dragon Age: Inquisition, First Impressions, Reviews

Back into the wilds of Thedas we go.

One of the first things that I’m noticing on this session is that loading times when traveling between areas are exceptionally long. Considering that the complete game was something on the order of 23GB or 24GB, long loads shouldn’t be horribly surprising, but when those load times run to several minutes, it’s excessive. I’m doubtful that this is my system, even though I am using HDDs rather than SSDs. Instead, the world map seems to have problems loading properly when I want to transition from one world area to another. Bioware’s record on fixing these kinds of things through patches is close to abysmal, but one can always hope, I suppose.

Loading screens have some nice game tips (three, typically). My only gripe is that they are a timed display (x-seconds or somesuch), after which they go to a black screen until the area finishes loading. I think I’d have left them up until the new area was completely loaded, especially since some are a bit longer than can be read in the time allotted. Much better than the single tip that a lot of games do, but not well implemented in this case. Maybe it will get picked up in a patch or something, but we’ll just have to see.

The world seems huge in comparison to Skyrim. In fact, the Hinterlands area by itself seems to be close to the same size as Skyrim. And no matter where you want to go, you can’t get there from here directly because there is a mountain or something in the way. So lots of running around, oftentimes in circles, it seems. But it’s all good and I’m enjoying it.

The creature spawning system strikes me as a bit borked. Most of the time it works the way it was intended, but occasionally it spawns something in the most illogical way. For example, we played smack-down on a few bandits and killed everything in the immediate area. AoE spells caused collateral damage on some wildlife that wasn’t particularly threatening, but still clear all around by the time we were done. After the fight, I’m looking for loot, find one, start to loot, and a bear spawned right next to me. Just POOF! And yes, I got mauled. And no, I was not a happy camper about it. That was the worst instance of the issue, but it’s not unusual for encounters to just pop in from nowhere. I seem to recall a similar issue with the “Honest Hearts” DLC for Fallout New Vegas and I don’t remember it getting fixed/patched. I guess that as long as they don’t spawn in my face very often, it’s something that I can live with, but it’s certainly an oddity.

The game controls seem a bit laggy at times. This is one that I’m not sure can be completely blamed on the game. My system is just borderline on the recommended specs, so it’s not like I can claim that I wasn’t warned ahead of time. I’m a bit better on RAM, VRAM and GPU than recommended, but am only running a quad-core rather than the recommended six-core for AMD, though my CPU clock speed is significantly better.  Nevertheless, there are occasional delays in command execution. Nothing critical up to this point, but still noticeable. And not noticeable in the sense of being annoying; just noticeable.

I’m catching several little collection/completion-type quests. These are ones where you’re supposed to find 20-odd bits of something that are scattered around the map or multiple locations of some type (camps and landmarks, for example). They’ve been running pretty smoothly, though they don’t seem to be adding much to the plot or story line. Since I’ve yet to complete any of them, I’m not sure whether they are there just for grinding or whether they serve some bigger purpose. I don’t suppose it’s any big deal either way; just a point of curiosity on my end. I’m not a big fan of that kind of stuff when it doesn’t serve any real purpose other than giving the player something else to do. As if my journal wasn’t already chock full of things that need doing.

Inquisition seems to have a system somewhat like Galactic Readiness in Mass Effect 3. Completion of quests, closing Fade Rifts, gathering supplies and that kind of thing generate support for the Inquisition in the form of Power points and Influence. These points can be expended in the Inquisition War Room to open new areas for play. Gathering influence also unlocks perks that can be applied to your character (perhaps “party” – I’m still unclear on that point). On the whole, it seems a more practical approach than ME3’s Galactic Readiness (which basically dictated how many side quests you could skip and still have some choices in the end game). In theory, the idea sounds decent. I’m just not in a position to be able to report on how well it was implemented, so we’ll just have to see.

As far as leveling goes, your party does not necessarily mirror your character’s level. At my last level-up (Level 6), I hit the new level a few hundred XPs before the rest of the party did. Each level gets you one perk point, which can be applied to any one of about four perk trees for each archetype (warrior, rogue, mage, etc.). The perk trees require some serious consideration on how you want to develop your character. But there is a “ring of respec” (for lack of a better name) that you can purchase in Haven. The vendor shows an infinite supply of these single-use thingies, so I’m guessing that the dev team decided that many players were going to want to say “oops! can I have a do-over on those perk choices?” at some point. I don’t know whether I’ll use it or not, but it’s nice to know that it’s there if I decide to.

Enough for another session. On the whole, I’m enjoying the game. There are several niggling little things that I’m noticing, but the only major one is the long loading times. Crashes have not repeated themselves, so perhaps that was a one-time issue that got resolved through a system restart. Restarting is a good idea after installing any new software and I just didn’t do it this time, so I’m going to give the devs a pass on that one. Not so much on the loading times, though.

Happy gaming.

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