by William Thompson
previewed on PC
A tale of two games
When Dragon Age: Inquisition was announced, there was certainly some conjecture amongst gamers. Dragon Age Origins was critically acclaimed, and as such was followed up by a sequel. In its own right, Dragon Age 2 was a more than decent game, but it wasnít exactly what fans of the first were looking for. It was more action oriented than the original and certainly divided gamers into those who liked the game and those who were disappointed in the change of style. Dragon Age: Inquisition would be a chance to redeem the series in the eyes of that last group, or it could further alienate them. We at Hooked Gamers were given the opportunity to see the upcoming title in an exclusive preview event at the perfectly themed Rutherglen house in Melbourne; an event that let us have three hours in Thedas, the world of Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Prior to starting the game, players get to choose from one of four races - Human, Elf, Dwarf or Qunari - and select the sex of their character. Players then proceed to the character customization phase. The character creation is quite detailed, allowing gamers to design a character to reflect any personal tastes. Every aspect of the character can be customized right down to the shade of lipstick. Once the character has been created, gamers then get to select one of five classes - Dual Wielding Rogue, Rogue Archer, Two-handed (weapon) Warrior, Weapon & Shield or Mage. Iíve always liked playing as the archer class as it allows me to direct the action from the rear, as well as keeping my character out of harmís way, so I went ahead and chose an Elven Rogue Archer.
Our created hero, after a shortcut-scene, begins shackled and being held responsible for giant rift portals that have opened up throughout the Dragon Age world. He (in my avatarís case, but it could well have been a she) was present at the initial rift causing explosion and has come away from that explosion with some sort of glowing mark on his hand, one that seems to have power, albeit a power that could be slowly killing him. We soon learn that this mark may hold the key to salvation, as it seems that the power to close the rifts has been granted to our hero.
But to close the rifts, he and his comrades will need to battle all sorts of creatures. With that regard, Dragon Age: Inquisition heads back more towards the tactical party style of combat, a move that will please fans of the original. Early on, the four player squad - Solas, Varris and Cassandra are your initial team-mates - doesnít need much help. But as you progress, more thought needs to be taken into organising the party. Their positions and their abilities need to be fine-tuned depending on the battle ahead. This can all be done with the game paused. The tactics set prior to the battle can often make or break the battle. Getting everything right will make winning the battle easier. The three other party members can be interchanged with other playable characters at camp sites. But as with other tactical squad games, players may feel that the levelled-up characters that they begin with may be more familiar to use than other characters who decide they want to join your party. This is a personal decision though and every gamer is different.
The combat feels a little like a console port due to the aim-assist, which may not suit all gamers. It does mean that close in combat works extremely well, enabling brawlers to hit on most occasions. But it didnít seem right with the ranged class, as hits are scored at will, rather than by skilful targeting. It also means that rocks, hedges or other obstacles can often be in the way, but this seems to be a further reason to make sure units are in appropriate positions on the battlefield.