A new Dragon Age is nearly upon us! If you are a fan of open world fantasy RPGs, Dragon Age: Inquisition is definitely one you will want to have on your radar. Personally, I found the previous Dragon Age games to be lacking certain aspects to really grab my attention, but the nearly 40 minute hands-off gameplay demonstration at E3 showed me that Dragon Age: Inquisition appears to be aiming for full marks when it releases later this year.
The first thing we were told as we entered the vast world was that you could go pretty much anywhere that you could see. That mountain in the distance? How about the forest to the east? There’s also a river far to the southwest of your position. You will be able to visit all of these places in the final game and more. They also let us know that the one area we were seeing was bigger than the entire game of Dragon Age: Origins, and that Inquisition will feature may more areas. The sheer enormity of the game may seem intimidating, but for fans of the genre, this is exactly what they crave.
Each area in the game is impacted by your presence there, and will be dynamically populated based on your decisions. Each decision you make will alter the way the world reacts to your presence, including missions that are given. It also means that killing animals and creatures in the area will affect the populations of those creatures. Choice has always been a part of Dragon Age, but Inquisition seems to be aiming to affect the world on a deeper level than we’ve seen in the previous two games. Things as small as which characters are in your party for certain story events will impact the flow of the story and the scenes that you see. There is also an individual story arc for every major character in the game, so there’s quite a bit of content to sift through here.
The battle system looks incredibly smooth and less mechanical than my experience with previous Dragon Age titles, though the big draw is the tactical combat system that allows you to play each encounter more strategically. You are able to freeze the action and assign orders to your team. You can then take direct control of any of the members in your party and continue to play the battle in real time. The AI for your party members seems to be a lot more intelligent as well, with ranged characters and healers naturally staying out of the fray, rather than charging into battle blindly when not under direct orders from you. This flow from tactical to real time all looked very natural and quick, adding a great strategic element.
Of course it wouldn’t be a proper RPG if there wasn’t a massive amount of character customization, whether it be in appearance and gear or in skills and abilities. From the glimpse that we were given of the gear and skill menus, it looks like you can spec your character to play exactly how you want them to, giving you even further control and flexibility within the strategic battle system that has been added to this Dragon Age entry.
As the party rode towards the climactic battle with a massive dragon, we were told that mounts will play a part in this game. While the characters were riding horses, it was hinted that other, more exotic mounts would be available in the final game, and the subject was left at that. Next thing we knew, it was a fiery and ferocious battle against a dragon that utilized all of the nuances of the battle system to their fullest. It was impressive to watch and left me wanting more as the demonstration faded to black. While impressive, Dragon Age: Inquisition may not be the best graphical masterpiece on the new generation of consoles, but the depth and scope is set to challenge many other games that we’ll see in the coming months.