Lifetap Volume 1, Issue 34 – No One Expects the Dragon Age: Inquisition
In today’s hysteria-inducing episode of Lifetap, Sardu ponders elven hair tattoos, Team Rocket, and more based for the first installment of his Dragon Age: Inquisition impressions.
1000 Shades of Ugly smacks you in the face for the first few minutes spent in the character creator for Dragon Age: Inquisition. On the surface level it might appear as though BioWare has taken a page out of the Bethesda playbook by attempting to insure that most characters in the game will be butt ugly. Case in point: you can give female characters Adam’s apples, among other oddities.
Thankfully there’s nothing quite as extreme as the include of five o’clock shadows on female characters in Fallout 3, or the overall “beat in the face with a wet chicken” look that all characters in Oblivion have without extensive modding.
If you’re willing to spend some extra time drilling down into the details, you’ll discover that the character creation tools are the most flexible and detailed of any BioWare game to date. The four playable races – Human, Dalish Elf, Dwarf, and Qunari – each have distinctive bone structure and can be morphed to both extremes of the “realistic fantasy” scale of beauty.
I ultimately spent a solid chunk of time creating my first character – an elven mage with dreams of eventually practicing necromancy – and ended up with something I knew I could live with for what has become quite the epic journey for the third installment of the Dragon Age series.
As a final note on character creation, I’ll offer up the following Pro Tip for future and current game developers:
Allow gamers to view characters in proper environments prior to finalizing the character creation process. The moody close up shots in extreme lighting conditions may help you see how expertly you’ve shifted eyebrow placement, but inevitably evokes a sense of bait-and-switch once you see your character scampering around in the open game world with proper lighting.
This is a minor nitpick, but one that does tend to drive me bonkers since you see it occur far too often for my liking. In the case of my elven mage, I expected that the facial tattoo I selected would be somewhat subtle. What I ended up with instead looks more like some collage pranksters took to its face with a sharpie while passed out after a particularly rough weekend of binge drinking. Nothing that couldn't be corrected by a trip back through character creation, but I guess my point here is that players should never have to double back to fix things.
Final, final side note: why are the tattoos showing on top of my character’s hair and sideburns? Then again...
“What kind of tattoo are you looking to have done today, Mr. Sardu?”
“I was thinking of getting some kick-ass lightning bolts done on my sideburns, thanks.”
“Hell yeah! Ride the Lightning! Give me a sec and I’ll shave your burns and we can get started.”
“No man, I want that crap ON TOP OF my sideburns!”
“Wicked! Let’s do this!”
Of course, now having said that, I’m totally going to see about getting it done. Or, you know, probably not.
Beyond character creation curiosities, I have nothing but positive things to say about my experiences in Dragon Age: Inquisition so far. While my reception of DA2 was somewhat lukewarm, BioWare has rebounded with one of the richest and most compelling RPG experiences in recent memory. They’ve certainly raised the bar on seamlessly integrating story, level design, and character progression all wrapped in a warm, fuzzy blanket of proper player choice.
The old BioWare formula had been getting somewhat predictable:
- Establish main antagonist by having them do bad person things, after which they pull a Team Rocket and blast off until the final confrontation 30-60 hours later
- Determine that you desperately have to get to Point B to stop Team Rocket
- Before you can get to Point B, you must first stop at Points X, Y, and Z in no particular order. Only then can you finally proceed to save the world and defeat Team Rocket.
That formula served as the backbone for many of BioWare’s earlier successes. It has also been highly influential in other RPGs, including the Witcher series, the Eye of the North expansion for Guild Wars, Alpha Protocol, and countless others.
Thankfully, Dragon Age: Inquisition scraps the bulk of that in favor of letting players pick and choose locations on the map in largely any order they desire. The heart of the formula does still lurk beneath the surface, but never devolves into feeling linear or as though you’re being not-so-subtly shoved in the direction of the bad guys at every fork in the road.
I’ll avoid any potential spoilers for now, but will continue my impressions of Dragon Age: Inquisition throughout the week. Before I go much further, I would like to state that I will be absolutely shocked if Dragon Age: Inquisition doesn’t end up at the top of many GOTY lists. I would absolutely recommend the purchase based on my time with the game so far, and consider it a one of the best entries into the fantasy RPG genre to date. Hair tattoos notwithstanding.
Be on the lookout for our Inquisition guides to begin hitting the mighty Ten Ton Hammer this week. In the meantime, if you have any questions about my experiences so far, drop a comment into the handy comment repository below – no postage necessary!