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Found 35 results

  1. Ok, so we don't have any major information or any sort of timeframe, but we do have quotes. "It's no secret that we're doing something with Dragon Age," said Mike Laidlaw aka the Senior Creative Director for Dragon Age during a podcast called The 1099. He continued on to say, "I can't talk about what, but we're certainly involved in something." Laidlaw was a guest on the podcast and the topics were creating "massive open worlds," his career and, of course, Dragon Age. "As I've jokingly said, I am the creative director for the Dragon Age franchise and they haven't fired me yet," said Laidlaw hinting at the viability of the next Dragon Age game. The last game in the Dragon Age franchise was Inquisition which released in November 2014. Its release received positive critical reception and apparently sold very well. When do you think we'll get a new Dragon Age game? Do you think Bioware is focusing on the series?
  2. Ok, so we don't have any major information or any sort of timeframe, but we do have quotes. "It's no secret that we're doing something with Dragon Age," said Mike Laidlaw aka the Senior Creative Director for Dragon Age during a podcast called The 1099. He continued on to say, "I can't talk about what, but we're certainly involved in something." Laidlaw was a guest on the podcast and the topics were creating "massive open worlds," his career and, of course, Dragon Age. "As I've jokingly said, I am the creative director for the Dragon Age franchise and they haven't fired me yet," said Laidlaw hinting at the viability of the next Dragon Age game. The last game in the Dragon Age franchise was Inquisition which released in November 2014. Its release received positive critical reception and apparently sold very well. When do you think we'll get a new Dragon Age game? Do you think Bioware is focusing on the series? View full article
  3. Showing some Dragon Age love at the boot

    From the album E3 2017

  4. BioWare, for the time being, is setting aside Dragon Age and Mass Effect in favor of a new franchise titled Anthem. BioWare debuted a new teaser trailer ahead of the full trailer scheduled to be unveiled during Microsoft’s E3 press event. The trailer features a mysterious planet full of lush jungles, terrifying beasts, and a suit of powered armor that looks like it could be the Doom marine’s cousin. Check out the trailer below for a full look at Anthem, and make sure to check back after Microsoft’s press conference for the full trailer. View full article
  5. BioWare, for the time being, is setting aside Dragon Age and Mass Effect in favor of a new franchise titled Anthem. BioWare debuted a new teaser trailer ahead of the full trailer scheduled to be unveiled during Microsoft’s E3 press event. The trailer features a mysterious planet full of lush jungles, terrifying beasts, and a suit of powered armor that looks like it could be the Doom marine’s cousin. Check out the trailer below for a full look at Anthem, and make sure to check back after Microsoft’s press conference for the full trailer.
  6. From now until September 28 at 6:59am GMT, Mass Effect fans can submit vocal performances to BioWare for a chance to have their voice contribute to the upcoming Mass Effect: Andromeda. Those who follow BioWare closely might be reminded of the time the prolific RPG developer put on a similar contest for Dragon Age: Inquisition. Those who wish to toss their hats into the voice acting ring can choose one of two scripts. The first places the voice actor in the role of a self-described "documentary vidmaker" talking through an interview while the other role represents a tough, business-like mercenary talking with their companion. The submission can be audio only or include video as well (though the most important part of the submission will necessarily be audio). When contestants have a take with which they feel happy, they can send a link to their uploaded work to explorers@bioware.com and are encouraged to share that work on social media with the hashtag #ExplorersWanted. Make sure to read the rules to ensure your submission falls within BioWare's contest guidelines. The winning entrant will be notified by November 30 and flown to a BioWare recording studio with paid hotel accommodation while their voice contributes to BioWare's next sci-fi space epic. You can read the full contest rules and download the scripts from BioWare's announcement. Mass Effect: Andromeda is expected to release March 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. View full article
  7. BioWare Looking for Your Mass Effect Voice

    From now until September 28 at 6:59am GMT, Mass Effect fans can submit vocal performances to BioWare for a chance to have their voice contribute to the upcoming Mass Effect: Andromeda. Those who follow BioWare closely might be reminded of the time the prolific RPG developer put on a similar contest for Dragon Age: Inquisition. Those who wish to toss their hats into the voice acting ring can choose one of two scripts. The first places the voice actor in the role of a self-described "documentary vidmaker" talking through an interview while the other role represents a tough, business-like mercenary talking with their companion. The submission can be audio only or include video as well (though the most important part of the submission will necessarily be audio). When contestants have a take with which they feel happy, they can send a link to their uploaded work to explorers@bioware.com and are encouraged to share that work on social media with the hashtag #ExplorersWanted. Make sure to read the rules to ensure your submission falls within BioWare's contest guidelines. The winning entrant will be notified by November 30 and flown to a BioWare recording studio with paid hotel accommodation while their voice contributes to BioWare's next sci-fi space epic. You can read the full contest rules and download the scripts from BioWare's announcement. Mass Effect: Andromeda is expected to release March 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
  8. Come Friday, the BioWare forums that have been in operation for the past six years will become read-only. After two months, the read-only period will end and the forums for the Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and legacy franchises like Jade Empire and Knights of the Old Republic will be no more. In their announcement of the forum closure, BioWare stated that the decision was difficult: Our players are important to us. Your feedback, stories, and love for our games drive and inspire us. In the past, our forums were the only way we could speak to you directly. They allowed our developers to talk with fans, and gave our players the opportunity to talk with each other about our games. But with the rise of social media and geek culture, there have never been more ways for us to connect. EA and BioWare figure that since there are other online communities on sites like Reddit or Tumblr where fans of their games have joined together that makes their forums obsolete (with the exception of the Old Republic forums, which will continue to operate normally for the foreseeable future). Being able to meet fans at events like PAX also factored into their decision, according to their statement. As a result, people working at BioWare or EA have been spending less time on the forums due to having to cover all the other avenues of information. Some private boards will be spared the forum purge for future betas and special projects. It's truly the end of an era for BioWare as it moves in a new direction. That direction might not be healthy for fans, especially those who made the BioWare forums their own community. "This is our home now, and while it may seem strange and confusing I believe we're going to settle in just fine," said BioWare forum user Kolomir back in 2010 when BioWare moved to the forums currently in use. The BioWare forums will be inaccessible after October 26 of this year. View full article
  9. The BioWare Forums Close This Week

    Come Friday, the BioWare forums that have been in operation for the past six years will become read-only. After two months, the read-only period will end and the forums for the Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and legacy franchises like Jade Empire and Knights of the Old Republic will be no more. In their announcement of the forum closure, BioWare stated that the decision was difficult: Our players are important to us. Your feedback, stories, and love for our games drive and inspire us. In the past, our forums were the only way we could speak to you directly. They allowed our developers to talk with fans, and gave our players the opportunity to talk with each other about our games. But with the rise of social media and geek culture, there have never been more ways for us to connect. EA and BioWare figure that since there are other online communities on sites like Reddit or Tumblr where fans of their games have joined together that makes their forums obsolete (with the exception of the Old Republic forums, which will continue to operate normally for the foreseeable future). Being able to meet fans at events like PAX also factored into their decision, according to their statement. As a result, people working at BioWare or EA have been spending less time on the forums due to having to cover all the other avenues of information. Some private boards will be spared the forum purge for future betas and special projects. It's truly the end of an era for BioWare as it moves in a new direction. That direction might not be healthy for fans, especially those who made the BioWare forums their own community. "This is our home now, and while it may seem strange and confusing I believe we're going to settle in just fine," said BioWare forum user Kolomir back in 2010 when BioWare moved to the forums currently in use. The BioWare forums will be inaccessible after October 26 of this year.
  10. BioWare's Dragon Age: Origins released for PC and console back in 2009, presenting a wholly original fantasy world with a highly refined strategic RPG system. It offered players complex moral dilemmas and a reactive, entertaining cast of characters on a quest to slay a dragon and save the world. In Dragon Age, BioWare solidified their title as master storytellers in the mainstream sense (PC RPG enthusiasts had already known for years). Does Dragon Age: Origins remain one of the highlights of the RPG genre or has age taken its toll? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening 'Have Ship, Will Travel' by Nostalvania (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03399) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  11. BioWare's Dragon Age: Origins released for PC and console back in 2009, presenting a wholly original fantasy world with a highly refined strategic RPG system. It offered players complex moral dilemmas and a reactive, entertaining cast of characters on a quest to slay a dragon and save the world. In Dragon Age, BioWare solidified their title as master storytellers in the mainstream sense (PC RPG enthusiasts had already known for years). Does Dragon Age: Origins remain one of the highlights of the RPG genre or has age taken its toll? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening 'Have Ship, Will Travel' by Nostalvania (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03399) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  12. In 2012, Oxybot, the producer of Appleseed and Vexille, released Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker, a CGI movie based on BioWare’s Dragon Age. The film follows Cassandra, a fierce and loyal member of the Seekers and a talented dragon hunter. The loss of her brother, who was killed by mages when she was a child, has made her bitter, angry, and prone to violence and recklessness. Her mentor, Byron, believes that her fury blinds her and will get her or someone else killed. Her behavior frequently endangers her and her companions. Contrary to his warnings, Cassandra demonstrates inhuman strength and an imperviousness to damage, leading one to wonder what she or her companions have to fear by her thoughtlessness. Indeed, her need for revenge for what happened to her as a child seems to fuel her uncanny strength more than it hinders her. The only attack in the movie that seriously damages Cassandra reveals her true weakness. Blind fury doesn’t make Cassandra vulnerable. Her unfortunate choice to not wear pants leaves her true vulnerability fully exposed: Her “Achilles heel,” her left thigh. Cassandra, born into a family of talented dragon hunters, serves the Chantry as a Seeker to avenge her older brother’s murder. As a member of the Seekers, the most loyal of the Templar knights, Cassandra maintains balance and order between knights and mages. When she catches her fellow Seeker Byron kidnapping Avexis, an elf girl with the power to control beasts, however, she begins to question her loyalties. Byron believes that the High Seeker is conspiring with mages and holding Avexis hostage as part of their plans. When Byron dies protecting her and Avexis, Cassandra continues his mission to discover the truth. To do this, she must disobey the Chantry and trust an allied mage named Galyan. Cassandra’s anger frequently puts herself and others into dangerous situations, which makes it easy to assume that she must learn to control it to achieve victory. Her uncontrolled temper shows from the first fight scene of the movie when Byron finds Cassandra hacking angrily away at the corpse of a mage in a fit of rage, leaving her unaware of her surroundings and open to attack. Byron demonstrates Cassandra’s weakness again when he defeats her in a sparring match by using his shield as a weapon. He explains that she has blinded herself with vengeance and can’t see all the possibilities available to her. The consequences of Cassandra’s behavior escalate when her recklessness kills Byron. During their escape from the Chantry with Avexis, a large group of mages ambush Cassandra and Byron. Byron recommends that they retreat, but Cassandra takes the opportunity to kill more mages. Fearing that they will kill her, Byron stays and fights, too. He dies while protecting her, and the mages recapture Avexis. Cassandra laments that this wouldn’t have happened if she had retreated. In the scope of the entire movie, however, Cassandra’s mindless rage never really puts her in danger, causes her grief, or proves to be an obstacle. She demonstrates superhuman strength and damage resistance, which suggests that nothing poses a threat to her even when rage consumes her. In the course of a few days, she murders dozens of people and monsters. She can kill dragons with a knife, fist fight armed and armored knights into unconsciousness, and swing a sword hard enough to cut through armor and chains. Among other damage she receives, she survives a massacre as a little girl, jumps off three cliffs, stands on top of a flaming monster and doesn’t burn, and smashes into walls and the ground multiple times. The characters around Cassandra also recognize her abilities as exceptional. The Clerics express amazement when they hear that she killed a dragon by herself. Byron says that he knows no man better with a sword than her. Galyan sees her as the bravest person he’s ever met. The leader of the enemy mages retreats only when he recognizes Cassandra among the knights surrounding him at the end of the first fight scene. Cassandra and others refer to her as a member of a legendary dragon hunting family. Byron’s death, the most devastating consequence of Cassandra’s blind fury and the most likely to convince her to change, ultimately doesn’t affect her. She even stops believing that she caused it. Less than thirty seconds after Byron passes away, Cassandra attempts to kill his friend Galyan, and her thoughtlessness continues for the rest of the movie. As soon as she discovers the person truly behind the conspiracy within the Chantry, she blames him for killing Byron instead of herself. After she defeats the conspirator, she briefly takes Byron’s last words to heart: “Hate can only breed more hate.” In Byron’s memory, she shows the traitor mercy by allowing him to live… but then beheads him anyway. Despite Byron’s and Galyan’s insistence that Cassandra’s anger impedes her, Cassandra uses her pent up rage and impulsiveness to their advantage at every opportunity. She kills dragons and monsters at least fifty times her size and dozens of mages who would have killed her or members of the Chantry if she hadn’t. She intimidates an elf to gain valuable information. She saves herself and Galyan when she decides to jump off a cliff to escape the Templar knights. Despite everyone except Cassandra thinking that her rash decision would kill them, she and Galyan survive the fall. Instead of learning to control herself throughout the story, she instead convinces Galyan that her fury helps rather than hinders her. Originally a pacifist who dislikes Cassandra’s foolishness and need for revenge, Galyan tosses Cassandra the sword that she uses to execute the conspirator and admits that he should have let her kill him sooner. He also seems to reinterpret her recklessness as bravery. Perhaps if Byron had more trust that she could protect herself while he escaped with Avexis, he would have survived. Cassandra does have a weakness, however. This can be observed when Cassandra receives an attack that damages her left thigh. During a fight with 100 giant monsters, one of the beasts backhands Cassandra, which knocks her unconscious and cuts open her leg. This deep but small cut leaves her debilitated and vulnerable for two days. She can’t even defeat a single person when before she could cut down fifteen in minutes. Her reaction to this injury can’t be explained by the fact that a monster brutally smashed her out of the air. A similar attack later in the movie, where a large creature swats Cassandra into a brick wall, doesn’t damage Cassandra’s leg or incapacitate her. If Cassandra has a character flaw, her apparent preference for running around without pants on would be a better candidate. This choice leaves her thighs, and thus her weak point, fully exposed. Byron and Cassandra escape the Chantry with Avexis late at night when both of them wear light armor as opposed to full armored suits. Cassandra happens to not be wearing pants and must continue without them for the rest of the film. Sure, she and Byron had to make a quick escape, but why would she casually wear light armor with no pants in the first place? While Cassandra stubbornly refuses to change her personality, she does more than put clothes on to conceal her Achilles heel at the end of the movie. In the first fight scene, Cassandra wears a suit of armor that defends Cassandra so well that even magic bounces off of it throughout the battle. When she returns to the Chantry as a hero for exposing the conspiracy, she wears that miraculous suit of armor once again. Perhaps if she wore it through the whole adventure, she would be invincible and have nothing to worry about regardless of who or what she decided to swing a sword at. Dawn of the Seeker leads the audience to believe that in order to fulfill her goals, Cassandra must learn to solve problems with means other than recklessness and violence. The hopes that Byron and Galyan had for her becoming a more tactful and forgiving person, however, go mostly unfulfilled. Aside from befriending a mage, Galyan, Cassandra shamelessly chooses the path of rage and revenge from the beginning of the movie to the end. She not only survives, but also shows that her personality doesn’t make her weak. Her childhood trauma haunts her, but it has also made her strong. She doesn’t need to change her temperament to protect herself. When an attack to her left thigh can nearly kill her while everything else has no effect, putting on pants appears to be the more reasonable course of action. --- Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read about how to become a community contributor and start submitting today! View full article
  13. The Seeker’s Greatest Weakness

    In 2012, Oxybot, the producer of Appleseed and Vexille, released Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker, a CGI movie based on BioWare’s Dragon Age. The film follows Cassandra, a fierce and loyal member of the Seekers and a talented dragon hunter. The loss of her brother, who was killed by mages when she was a child, has made her bitter, angry, and prone to violence and recklessness. Her mentor, Byron, believes that her fury blinds her and will get her or someone else killed. Her behavior frequently endangers her and her companions. Contrary to his warnings, Cassandra demonstrates inhuman strength and an imperviousness to damage, leading one to wonder what she or her companions have to fear by her thoughtlessness. Indeed, her need for revenge for what happened to her as a child seems to fuel her uncanny strength more than it hinders her. The only attack in the movie that seriously damages Cassandra reveals her true weakness. Blind fury doesn’t make Cassandra vulnerable. Her unfortunate choice to not wear pants leaves her true vulnerability fully exposed: Her “Achilles heel,” her left thigh. Cassandra, born into a family of talented dragon hunters, serves the Chantry as a Seeker to avenge her older brother’s murder. As a member of the Seekers, the most loyal of the Templar knights, Cassandra maintains balance and order between knights and mages. When she catches her fellow Seeker Byron kidnapping Avexis, an elf girl with the power to control beasts, however, she begins to question her loyalties. Byron believes that the High Seeker is conspiring with mages and holding Avexis hostage as part of their plans. When Byron dies protecting her and Avexis, Cassandra continues his mission to discover the truth. To do this, she must disobey the Chantry and trust an allied mage named Galyan. Cassandra’s anger frequently puts herself and others into dangerous situations, which makes it easy to assume that she must learn to control it to achieve victory. Her uncontrolled temper shows from the first fight scene of the movie when Byron finds Cassandra hacking angrily away at the corpse of a mage in a fit of rage, leaving her unaware of her surroundings and open to attack. Byron demonstrates Cassandra’s weakness again when he defeats her in a sparring match by using his shield as a weapon. He explains that she has blinded herself with vengeance and can’t see all the possibilities available to her. The consequences of Cassandra’s behavior escalate when her recklessness kills Byron. During their escape from the Chantry with Avexis, a large group of mages ambush Cassandra and Byron. Byron recommends that they retreat, but Cassandra takes the opportunity to kill more mages. Fearing that they will kill her, Byron stays and fights, too. He dies while protecting her, and the mages recapture Avexis. Cassandra laments that this wouldn’t have happened if she had retreated. In the scope of the entire movie, however, Cassandra’s mindless rage never really puts her in danger, causes her grief, or proves to be an obstacle. She demonstrates superhuman strength and damage resistance, which suggests that nothing poses a threat to her even when rage consumes her. In the course of a few days, she murders dozens of people and monsters. She can kill dragons with a knife, fist fight armed and armored knights into unconsciousness, and swing a sword hard enough to cut through armor and chains. Among other damage she receives, she survives a massacre as a little girl, jumps off three cliffs, stands on top of a flaming monster and doesn’t burn, and smashes into walls and the ground multiple times. The characters around Cassandra also recognize her abilities as exceptional. The Clerics express amazement when they hear that she killed a dragon by herself. Byron says that he knows no man better with a sword than her. Galyan sees her as the bravest person he’s ever met. The leader of the enemy mages retreats only when he recognizes Cassandra among the knights surrounding him at the end of the first fight scene. Cassandra and others refer to her as a member of a legendary dragon hunting family. Byron’s death, the most devastating consequence of Cassandra’s blind fury and the most likely to convince her to change, ultimately doesn’t affect her. She even stops believing that she caused it. Less than thirty seconds after Byron passes away, Cassandra attempts to kill his friend Galyan, and her thoughtlessness continues for the rest of the movie. As soon as she discovers the person truly behind the conspiracy within the Chantry, she blames him for killing Byron instead of herself. After she defeats the conspirator, she briefly takes Byron’s last words to heart: “Hate can only breed more hate.” In Byron’s memory, she shows the traitor mercy by allowing him to live… but then beheads him anyway. Despite Byron’s and Galyan’s insistence that Cassandra’s anger impedes her, Cassandra uses her pent up rage and impulsiveness to their advantage at every opportunity. She kills dragons and monsters at least fifty times her size and dozens of mages who would have killed her or members of the Chantry if she hadn’t. She intimidates an elf to gain valuable information. She saves herself and Galyan when she decides to jump off a cliff to escape the Templar knights. Despite everyone except Cassandra thinking that her rash decision would kill them, she and Galyan survive the fall. Instead of learning to control herself throughout the story, she instead convinces Galyan that her fury helps rather than hinders her. Originally a pacifist who dislikes Cassandra’s foolishness and need for revenge, Galyan tosses Cassandra the sword that she uses to execute the conspirator and admits that he should have let her kill him sooner. He also seems to reinterpret her recklessness as bravery. Perhaps if Byron had more trust that she could protect herself while he escaped with Avexis, he would have survived. Cassandra does have a weakness, however. This can be observed when Cassandra receives an attack that damages her left thigh. During a fight with 100 giant monsters, one of the beasts backhands Cassandra, which knocks her unconscious and cuts open her leg. This deep but small cut leaves her debilitated and vulnerable for two days. She can’t even defeat a single person when before she could cut down fifteen in minutes. Her reaction to this injury can’t be explained by the fact that a monster brutally smashed her out of the air. A similar attack later in the movie, where a large creature swats Cassandra into a brick wall, doesn’t damage Cassandra’s leg or incapacitate her. If Cassandra has a character flaw, her apparent preference for running around without pants on would be a better candidate. This choice leaves her thighs, and thus her weak point, fully exposed. Byron and Cassandra escape the Chantry with Avexis late at night when both of them wear light armor as opposed to full armored suits. Cassandra happens to not be wearing pants and must continue without them for the rest of the film. Sure, she and Byron had to make a quick escape, but why would she casually wear light armor with no pants in the first place? While Cassandra stubbornly refuses to change her personality, she does more than put clothes on to conceal her Achilles heel at the end of the movie. In the first fight scene, Cassandra wears a suit of armor that defends Cassandra so well that even magic bounces off of it throughout the battle. When she returns to the Chantry as a hero for exposing the conspiracy, she wears that miraculous suit of armor once again. Perhaps if she wore it through the whole adventure, she would be invincible and have nothing to worry about regardless of who or what she decided to swing a sword at. Dawn of the Seeker leads the audience to believe that in order to fulfill her goals, Cassandra must learn to solve problems with means other than recklessness and violence. The hopes that Byron and Galyan had for her becoming a more tactful and forgiving person, however, go mostly unfulfilled. Aside from befriending a mage, Galyan, Cassandra shamelessly chooses the path of rage and revenge from the beginning of the movie to the end. She not only survives, but also shows that her personality doesn’t make her weak. Her childhood trauma haunts her, but it has also made her strong. She doesn’t need to change her temperament to protect herself. When an attack to her left thigh can nearly kill her while everything else has no effect, putting on pants appears to be the more reasonable course of action. --- Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read about how to become a community contributor and start submitting today!
  14. One thing that people should know about me by now is that I freaking love BioWare. Every game they release is an attempt to craft something better than what they’ve created before. Even their less well received titles like Dragon Age 2 innovate in bold directions. What other collective of creative people could successfully make the leap from the real time/turn-based combat system (fun fact: that style of gameplay is called a round-based system) from Knights of the Old Republic to a third-person shooter-RPG hybrid? That an RPG-oriented developer eventually refined their third-person shooting to a point where they could build a successful multiplayer mode around it is incredible. I believe that this skill also extends to the way they’ve learned to expand their adventures through DLC. BioWare’s first foray into downloadable content, Mass Effect’s Bring Down the Sky, went relatively well and since that decent start they’ve slowly improved from there. A few duds like Pinnacle Station or Firewalker come to mind, but for the most part BioWare delivers some pretty satisfying additions to their games that really build out their worlds in significant ways. Whether it is character building, setting up sequels, or elaborating on murkier aspects of their game worlds, they’ve learned to deliver entertaining content while eliminating a lot of fluff from their DLC offerings. This brings me to The Descent, Dragon Age: Inquisition’s latest bit of DLC. To my mind, The Descent represents a great use of DLC. It delivers more of Inquisition’s streamlined gameplay, visits an interesting part of the larger setting, and offers some development of the game world that hasn’t ever been directly hinted at before. Some have complained that The Descent is a rather linear adventure, and it certainly is, though I don’t see that as a negative. Instead, I see it as the developers taking an opportunity to deliver a focused experience. It’s a design choice that tells us, “Hey, the stuff that’s happening is important.” It may even hint at where the Dragon Age series might be going in the future, which is a really exciting prospect. Plus, I’ll take a finely crafted linear portion of gameplay over an open area most of the time, especially when it comes to DLC. Running back and forth over the same ground for an hour or two begins to smack a little too much of padding in some downloadable add-ons. For Dragon Age fans, there is a lot to love in The Descent. David Hayter voices one of the prominent supporting characters players encounter early in the DLC. He might not be the voice of Snake in the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V, but it is always nice to hear his grizzled growl in action. A somewhat hidden portion of the DLC includes an amazing tribute to the humble nug, the benign, rabbit-like creatures that permeate Thedas. Beyond that, The Descent tickles the lore-hound in me that has wanted to know more about the Dwarven Deep Roads since they were briefly visited in Dragon Age: Origins. There is a lot of mystery in the fallen empire of the Dwarves and a lot that remains to be discovered if BioWare decides to pursue the elements of the world introduced in The Descent. The one complaint I have regarding the DLC is the enemy scaling. In an attempt to make the fights more difficult, BioWare decided to give all the enemies ridiculous amounts of health. Even with a team tricked out in the best possible weapons available from the previous expansion, Jaws of Hakkon it took a long time to hack down grunt enemies. It renders some of the larger encounters more tedious instead of interesting or challenging. While returning to Inquisition is enjoyable, it really becomes a slog despite the exciting highlights of the narrative. All of this to say that I enjoyed my time with The Descent. I think it is exactly what downloadable content should be: An addition that presents unique opportunities for elaboration when it comes to world building and narrative without overstaying its welcome. It isn’t perfect, but it provides an enjoyable and informative ride for Dragon Age fans. At $15, the price might be a bit steep, but if you're interested in the turnings of Thedas and can't get enough of Inquisition's combat, it is worth the cost of admission. If you don't fall into either of those categories, wait for a sale. View full article
  15. One thing that people should know about me by now is that I freaking love BioWare. Every game they release is an attempt to craft something better than what they’ve created before. Even their less well received titles like Dragon Age 2 innovate in bold directions. What other collective of creative people could successfully make the leap from the real time/turn-based combat system (fun fact: that style of gameplay is called a round-based system) from Knights of the Old Republic to a third-person shooter-RPG hybrid? That an RPG-oriented developer eventually refined their third-person shooting to a point where they could build a successful multiplayer mode around it is incredible. I believe that this skill also extends to the way they’ve learned to expand their adventures through DLC. BioWare’s first foray into downloadable content, Mass Effect’s Bring Down the Sky, went relatively well and since that decent start they’ve slowly improved from there. A few duds like Pinnacle Station or Firewalker come to mind, but for the most part BioWare delivers some pretty satisfying additions to their games that really build out their worlds in significant ways. Whether it is character building, setting up sequels, or elaborating on murkier aspects of their game worlds, they’ve learned to deliver entertaining content while eliminating a lot of fluff from their DLC offerings. This brings me to The Descent, Dragon Age: Inquisition’s latest bit of DLC. To my mind, The Descent represents a great use of DLC. It delivers more of Inquisition’s streamlined gameplay, visits an interesting part of the larger setting, and offers some development of the game world that hasn’t ever been directly hinted at before. Some have complained that The Descent is a rather linear adventure, and it certainly is, though I don’t see that as a negative. Instead, I see it as the developers taking an opportunity to deliver a focused experience. It’s a design choice that tells us, “Hey, the stuff that’s happening is important.” It may even hint at where the Dragon Age series might be going in the future, which is a really exciting prospect. Plus, I’ll take a finely crafted linear portion of gameplay over an open area most of the time, especially when it comes to DLC. Running back and forth over the same ground for an hour or two begins to smack a little too much of padding in some downloadable add-ons. For Dragon Age fans, there is a lot to love in The Descent. David Hayter voices one of the prominent supporting characters players encounter early in the DLC. He might not be the voice of Snake in the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V, but it is always nice to hear his grizzled growl in action. A somewhat hidden portion of the DLC includes an amazing tribute to the humble nug, the benign, rabbit-like creatures that permeate Thedas. Beyond that, The Descent tickles the lore-hound in me that has wanted to know more about the Dwarven Deep Roads since they were briefly visited in Dragon Age: Origins. There is a lot of mystery in the fallen empire of the Dwarves and a lot that remains to be discovered if BioWare decides to pursue the elements of the world introduced in The Descent. The one complaint I have regarding the DLC is the enemy scaling. In an attempt to make the fights more difficult, BioWare decided to give all the enemies ridiculous amounts of health. Even with a team tricked out in the best possible weapons available from the previous expansion, Jaws of Hakkon it took a long time to hack down grunt enemies. It renders some of the larger encounters more tedious instead of interesting or challenging. While returning to Inquisition is enjoyable, it really becomes a slog despite the exciting highlights of the narrative. All of this to say that I enjoyed my time with The Descent. I think it is exactly what downloadable content should be: An addition that presents unique opportunities for elaboration when it comes to world building and narrative without overstaying its welcome. It isn’t perfect, but it provides an enjoyable and informative ride for Dragon Age fans. At $15, the price might be a bit steep, but if you're interested in the turnings of Thedas and can't get enough of Inquisition's combat, it is worth the cost of admission. If you don't fall into either of those categories, wait for a sale.
  16. I’ll be more upfront than usual; Dragon Age: Inquisition is a fantastic game. The staggeringly large scope, excellent score, eye-popping visuals, and engaging gameplay, BioWare executed everything almost flawlessly. I’d recommend it to almost anyone, even people who aren’t typically drawn toward RPGs. Inquisition has issues, certainly, but none that would prevent me from endorsing it. If you are just looking for my recommendation, there you have it. If, on the other hand, you’re interested in a deeper dive into Inquisition, taking a look at the seemingly minor issues that keep Inquisition from rising into the stuff of video game legend, read on. I think it fitting to begin a discussion of Inquisition by addressing the glitches that plagued my opening hour of gameplay. I spent around three hours attempting to satisfactorily begin the game. Character creation proved to be particularly difficult. No joke, all of the facial hair floated a good six inches off of my protagonist’s face, dissuading me from touching any of the glorious beards on display. Perhaps more importantly, the lighting in character creation looks nothing close to the lighting elsewhere in the game. Meaning that my first character, who I intended to look Middle Eastern, ended up looking like he had a fake spray tan that would never, ever come off. Though I initially thought I’d try to live with the abysmal results, I quickly ditched him because Dragon Age decided that he was going to be regarded as a lady by all other characters in the game, a rather significant glitch for which there was no fix. My second time through the creation process went much better, though depending on camera angles and lighting my protagonist could either look really awesome or like the world’s biggest simpleton. I thought I was in the clear. However, Dragon Age kept switching him from a mage to a rogue midway through the tutorial. It took over a dozen reloads before I was able to successfully make it through the introduction and progress into the game proper. With those initial glitchy hurdles cleared, my experience was nearly error free, excepting the occasional giant falling out of the sky. I only encountered one major glitch after the opening ordeal. About halfway through Inquisition, the game introduces a new character who can be customized. If players choose to customize that particular character, there seems to be a 50% chance that their main protagonist’s voice could change to the default option if they had opted for the non-default voice during character creation. This happened to me with no way to reverse it. There are few things as grating as spending 40 hours with a character sounding one way only for them to suddenly begin sounding completely, irritatingly different. Glitches aside, people interested in the PC version should know that Inquisition’s mouse and keyboard controls handle terribly. I could only handle about two or three minutes of gameplay before I decided to plug in a wired 360 controller, which proved to be a far superior experience. A tactical RPG originally made for the PC, Dragon Age: Origins required strategic thinking and micromanaging that lent itself very well to a mouse and keyboard. To a lesser extent, that was also true of Dragon Age 2. However, I found Dragon Age: Inquisition to be more of an action game with RPG elements, which lends itself better to a controller than a keyboard. A tactical camera and customizable companion tactics allow players to fine tune strategies, but I literally never used either of those functions, never even touched them. Granted, I played through on Normal difficulty, so perhaps higher difficulty levels require a more tactical approach to combat. The fact remains that I approached combat almost like I would a button masher and had a great time. The change isn’t a bad thing for the Dragon Age franchise, but prospective players should be aware that Inquisition’s gameplay differs significantly from that of its ancestors. The strength of BioWare’s writing team remains unchanged. To summarize the initial plot: The Chantry, the leading religious power in Thedas, convenes a special council to begin peace talks between rebellious mages and their former Templar handlers, an attempt to halt a disastrous war. Something goes horribly wrong and the entire council is obliterated in a magical cataclysm that creates The Breach, a massive portal to the Fade, a realm of spirits and demons. In all the commotion, a single individual emerges from The Breach, the bearer of a strange magical mark on their right hand. As that person, players make choices that shape the world of Thedas for better or worse. It is a great set up raising numerous questions for players to explore. What is the role of faith in times of peril? Is the protagonist divine? Can the current events all be rationally explained? Is there a god looking out for the people of Thedas? Unfortunately, none of these questions are really explored to much meaningful depth. It was a bit of a disappointment, especially given where the series might be going in the future. If anything makes up for my minor grumbles with how adequately Inquisition explores its own themes it is how well BioWare succeeds in characterization. Far and away, I found the dialogue to be the strongest part of Inquisition. BioWare really isn’t afraid to explore waters that most other video games still aren’t ready to touch quite yet. One of the most compelling companion characters, Dorian, is a mage that prefers the company of other men. He’s not treated as a stereotype or a token character. He’s a fully formed individual, which is rare to see in most Western games. A more succinct way of putting it is that Dorian’s sexual orientation isn’t something that defines him as a character, rather he’s written as a person who happens to be gay. He’s also bold, brimming with clever quips, and can occasionally put aside his façade of bravado to try and be a good friend. BioWare isn’t content to rest on its laurels after crafting a character that most studios wouldn’t have bother with either. Krem, the second in command of the Bull’s Chargers mercenary company, breaks new ground as the first transgender character in the Western AAA game space. Despite not being one of the core companion characters, Krem stands out in the land of big budget games as a minority character written in a humane way. Much like Dorian, Krem’s gender identity isn’t the thing that defines him, he’s a person before anything else. I only mentioned two out of a cast of dozens. Who could forget Cassandra, the hard case Seeker with a hidden love for trashy romance novels? Or Sera, the kooky-yet-practical city elf that seems more than a little unhinged? Or what about… I could keep listing names for paragraphs, but I think you’ve probably understood my meaning. Lesser writers would stop short. Cassandra would just be a stuffy warrior, Sera would just be crazy, Dorian would just be another gay stereotype. Heck, Krem would be a one line anomaly in a typical game. But BioWare adds just enough to make each one seem fleshed out and real. Each have their own motivations, goals, and desires. They have needs and wants that are directly communicated to the player and others that are only hinted at and suggest greater depth. Despite the fantasy setting and the supernatural threats that close in on every side, Dragon Age: Inquisition manages to paint more realistic people than many games that strive to be more grounded in reality. As I played Inquisition, I slowly began to feel an absence. I tried to shake it off, but it continued to grow as I progressed. Then, somewhere in the midst of court intrigue, large scale warfare, and demons raining from the sky, it suddenly stuck me how disconnected I felt from it all. It wasn’t that the characters are written badly, several of them are easily the most brilliantly written video game characters I’ve had the pleasure to come across. It also wasn’t that Dragon Age: Inquisition is boring; there are plenty of things to do and the game aims to be visually stunning at all times. It didn’t even seem like the problem was on a narrative level, an issue usually found in even the biggest AAA games. I really struggled to pin down exactly why Inquisition felt so impersonal, and it wasn’t until after the credits rolled and I had an opportunity to reflect on the game and BioWare’s previous accomplishments that the answer hit me. One of the most positively received video games to come out of BioWare is Mass Effect 2. The wild, incredible narrative ride ratchets up over time to climax in a suicide mission made all the more satisfying by the time devoted to interacting with and learning about the team that risk their lives alongside the player. In other words, Mass Effect 2’s effectiveness stems from how the narrative and game design choices all revolve around each other, intertwined and inseparable. Practically every mission either links with a certain character, advancing the player’s relationship with them, or propels the plot forward. Almost no missions in Mass Effect 2 consist of dead air (except, of course, the planet scanning), every moment crackles with purpose to one end or another. To invest players and keep up the narrative momentum, BioWare kept every mission carefully directed and allowed for little in the way of exploration. BioWare seems to have taken a different approach that centers on the vastness of the areas they’ve created. It is easy to see why; clearly a lot of time went into the awe-inspiring environments. However, the mission structures applied to these huge spaces feel very similar to what you’d find in an MMO. For many people that might not be a problem, but it leads to a relatively inert game both in terms of player engagement and game narrative. That’s why I had trouble pinpointing the problem at first; the disconnect isn’t on a traditional narrative level. Instead it is the result of a uniquely game-related design choice. Unlike Mass Effect 2, many of the missions, even some that involve companions, require backtracking through previously explored areas to kill bad guys/collect items/destroy things A, B, and C. They aren’t engaging tasks. You’ve probably done them thousands of times in other games. None of those things are as memorable or meaningful as the time Garrus tried to assassinate his ex-squad member, Sidonis, and was either talked into or out of it through conversation. I spent almost 100 hours in Thedas, and there were still areas I hadn’t fully explored. I completed the game at level 24, even though the game recommends the final mission for character levels 15-19. The world BioWare created was so big that the side stuff overtakes the main narrative, despite it being the least interesting part of the experience. It seems telling to me that “Leave the Hinterlands” has become a piece of advice repeated again and again. Players are getting wrapped up in checking all the boxes, going into every nook and cranny, and engaging less with the characters and narrative. That’s a shame, because the main quest missions are easily the most interesting parts of Dragon Age: Inquisition. I just wish that there were more of them and less uninspired open world quest design. Herb gathering exemplifies the issue perfectly. The game begins and it is exciting to stumble across herbs and harvest them, so you tap buttons to go through the gathering animations again and again. They’re all over the place. Then you discover that it takes herbs to replenish your supply of health potions. Gathering herbs stops being a cool diversion and becomes a necessity. Later you learn that it takes herbs to upgrade your potions, too. At this point, you will be willing to commit murder to not gather any more herbs. What started as a fun diversion becomes a mind-numbingly boring task. Sure, you can send soldiers to do it, but they’ll only bring six or seven plants back at a time, but you could collect double that in the time it takes them to bring more back. Even by the end of the game, I was scrabbling for more herbs, more crafting materials. It took me out of the world and diverted my attention from narratively important tasks. With the writing talent at their disposal, BioWare’s decision to focus away from the dialogues is perplexing. I don’t mean that Inquisition lacks in the dialogue department at all, but rather there was a slight design choice that clearly emphasizes the open world gameplay over the conversations. One of the things that I loved about both the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series was that practically all conversations with significant NPCs that had more than one sentence to say were done from multiple fixed camera angles that created more engaging visuals than the player controlled camera was capable of providing. It made conversations feel more immediate and exciting. While that is certainly still present in Dragon Age: Inquisition, more often than not players will be kept in the broad player controlled camera during conversations. The design choice encourages players to leave the conversation with the NPC whenever they’d like. On paper, that seems like something a lot of players would want, but in practice I think it creates a lot of distance between the player and the sidequests or extra dialogue players might want to have with their companions. I understand that it is a large game and players have a lot to do, but are we really too busy to want personal conversations with important characters? I don’t think so, and I can’t help but feel we lost something rather important. Ultimately, the estrangement from Dragon Age: Inquisition hurt my perception of its narrative. Perhaps I spent too much time pursuing side content and not enough on finishing the core missions, but by the end of the game everything felt stacked in my protagonist’s favor and the climactic finale seemed like little more than a formality. This could be an indication that the narrative itself is a bit flawed on how it approaches the overarching conflict in Dragon Age: Inquisition, but that’s probably a spoiler-filled topic for another day. Conclusion: Despite the glitches, the feeling of disconnection, and the wall of text that might indicate otherwise, I very much enjoyed my time in Thedas. The criticisms I had were small, but they’ll be the reason Dragon Age: Inquisition isn’t remembered quite as fondly as Origins or the Mass Effect series. Dragon Age: Inquisition left me wanting more, curious as to where the franchise might be headed next. Color me doubly curious since many loose ends from both Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2 are resolved by the time the credits roll in Inquisition. I opened this review with a recommendation and I’m ending it with another. Do yourself a favor and play Dragon Age: Inquisition. Any missteps it makes pale in comparison to the enjoyable experience it can offer. Dragon Age: Inquisition was reviewed PC and is now available for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 View full article
  17. Review: Dragon Age: Inquisition

    I’ll be more upfront than usual; Dragon Age: Inquisition is a fantastic game. The staggeringly large scope, excellent score, eye-popping visuals, and engaging gameplay, BioWare executed everything almost flawlessly. I’d recommend it to almost anyone, even people who aren’t typically drawn toward RPGs. Inquisition has issues, certainly, but none that would prevent me from endorsing it. If you are just looking for my recommendation, there you have it. If, on the other hand, you’re interested in a deeper dive into Inquisition, taking a look at the seemingly minor issues that keep Inquisition from rising into the stuff of video game legend, read on. I think it fitting to begin a discussion of Inquisition by addressing the glitches that plagued my opening hour of gameplay. I spent around three hours attempting to satisfactorily begin the game. Character creation proved to be particularly difficult. No joke, all of the facial hair floated a good six inches off of my protagonist’s face, dissuading me from touching any of the glorious beards on display. Perhaps more importantly, the lighting in character creation looks nothing close to the lighting elsewhere in the game. Meaning that my first character, who I intended to look Middle Eastern, ended up looking like he had a fake spray tan that would never, ever come off. Though I initially thought I’d try to live with the abysmal results, I quickly ditched him because Dragon Age decided that he was going to be regarded as a lady by all other characters in the game, a rather significant glitch for which there was no fix. My second time through the creation process went much better, though depending on camera angles and lighting my protagonist could either look really awesome or like the world’s biggest simpleton. I thought I was in the clear. However, Dragon Age kept switching him from a mage to a rogue midway through the tutorial. It took over a dozen reloads before I was able to successfully make it through the introduction and progress into the game proper. With those initial glitchy hurdles cleared, my experience was nearly error free, excepting the occasional giant falling out of the sky. I only encountered one major glitch after the opening ordeal. About halfway through Inquisition, the game introduces a new character who can be customized. If players choose to customize that particular character, there seems to be a 50% chance that their main protagonist’s voice could change to the default option if they had opted for the non-default voice during character creation. This happened to me with no way to reverse it. There are few things as grating as spending 40 hours with a character sounding one way only for them to suddenly begin sounding completely, irritatingly different. Glitches aside, people interested in the PC version should know that Inquisition’s mouse and keyboard controls handle terribly. I could only handle about two or three minutes of gameplay before I decided to plug in a wired 360 controller, which proved to be a far superior experience. A tactical RPG originally made for the PC, Dragon Age: Origins required strategic thinking and micromanaging that lent itself very well to a mouse and keyboard. To a lesser extent, that was also true of Dragon Age 2. However, I found Dragon Age: Inquisition to be more of an action game with RPG elements, which lends itself better to a controller than a keyboard. A tactical camera and customizable companion tactics allow players to fine tune strategies, but I literally never used either of those functions, never even touched them. Granted, I played through on Normal difficulty, so perhaps higher difficulty levels require a more tactical approach to combat. The fact remains that I approached combat almost like I would a button masher and had a great time. The change isn’t a bad thing for the Dragon Age franchise, but prospective players should be aware that Inquisition’s gameplay differs significantly from that of its ancestors. The strength of BioWare’s writing team remains unchanged. To summarize the initial plot: The Chantry, the leading religious power in Thedas, convenes a special council to begin peace talks between rebellious mages and their former Templar handlers, an attempt to halt a disastrous war. Something goes horribly wrong and the entire council is obliterated in a magical cataclysm that creates The Breach, a massive portal to the Fade, a realm of spirits and demons. In all the commotion, a single individual emerges from The Breach, the bearer of a strange magical mark on their right hand. As that person, players make choices that shape the world of Thedas for better or worse. It is a great set up raising numerous questions for players to explore. What is the role of faith in times of peril? Is the protagonist divine? Can the current events all be rationally explained? Is there a god looking out for the people of Thedas? Unfortunately, none of these questions are really explored to much meaningful depth. It was a bit of a disappointment, especially given where the series might be going in the future. If anything makes up for my minor grumbles with how adequately Inquisition explores its own themes it is how well BioWare succeeds in characterization. Far and away, I found the dialogue to be the strongest part of Inquisition. BioWare really isn’t afraid to explore waters that most other video games still aren’t ready to touch quite yet. One of the most compelling companion characters, Dorian, is a mage that prefers the company of other men. He’s not treated as a stereotype or a token character. He’s a fully formed individual, which is rare to see in most Western games. A more succinct way of putting it is that Dorian’s sexual orientation isn’t something that defines him as a character, rather he’s written as a person who happens to be gay. He’s also bold, brimming with clever quips, and can occasionally put aside his façade of bravado to try and be a good friend. BioWare isn’t content to rest on its laurels after crafting a character that most studios wouldn’t have bother with either. Krem, the second in command of the Bull’s Chargers mercenary company, breaks new ground as the first transgender character in the Western AAA game space. Despite not being one of the core companion characters, Krem stands out in the land of big budget games as a minority character written in a humane way. Much like Dorian, Krem’s gender identity isn’t the thing that defines him, he’s a person before anything else. I only mentioned two out of a cast of dozens. Who could forget Cassandra, the hard case Seeker with a hidden love for trashy romance novels? Or Sera, the kooky-yet-practical city elf that seems more than a little unhinged? Or what about… I could keep listing names for paragraphs, but I think you’ve probably understood my meaning. Lesser writers would stop short. Cassandra would just be a stuffy warrior, Sera would just be crazy, Dorian would just be another gay stereotype. Heck, Krem would be a one line anomaly in a typical game. But BioWare adds just enough to make each one seem fleshed out and real. Each have their own motivations, goals, and desires. They have needs and wants that are directly communicated to the player and others that are only hinted at and suggest greater depth. Despite the fantasy setting and the supernatural threats that close in on every side, Dragon Age: Inquisition manages to paint more realistic people than many games that strive to be more grounded in reality. As I played Inquisition, I slowly began to feel an absence. I tried to shake it off, but it continued to grow as I progressed. Then, somewhere in the midst of court intrigue, large scale warfare, and demons raining from the sky, it suddenly stuck me how disconnected I felt from it all. It wasn’t that the characters are written badly, several of them are easily the most brilliantly written video game characters I’ve had the pleasure to come across. It also wasn’t that Dragon Age: Inquisition is boring; there are plenty of things to do and the game aims to be visually stunning at all times. It didn’t even seem like the problem was on a narrative level, an issue usually found in even the biggest AAA games. I really struggled to pin down exactly why Inquisition felt so impersonal, and it wasn’t until after the credits rolled and I had an opportunity to reflect on the game and BioWare’s previous accomplishments that the answer hit me. One of the most positively received video games to come out of BioWare is Mass Effect 2. The wild, incredible narrative ride ratchets up over time to climax in a suicide mission made all the more satisfying by the time devoted to interacting with and learning about the team that risk their lives alongside the player. In other words, Mass Effect 2’s effectiveness stems from how the narrative and game design choices all revolve around each other, intertwined and inseparable. Practically every mission either links with a certain character, advancing the player’s relationship with them, or propels the plot forward. Almost no missions in Mass Effect 2 consist of dead air (except, of course, the planet scanning), every moment crackles with purpose to one end or another. To invest players and keep up the narrative momentum, BioWare kept every mission carefully directed and allowed for little in the way of exploration. BioWare seems to have taken a different approach that centers on the vastness of the areas they’ve created. It is easy to see why; clearly a lot of time went into the awe-inspiring environments. However, the mission structures applied to these huge spaces feel very similar to what you’d find in an MMO. For many people that might not be a problem, but it leads to a relatively inert game both in terms of player engagement and game narrative. That’s why I had trouble pinpointing the problem at first; the disconnect isn’t on a traditional narrative level. Instead it is the result of a uniquely game-related design choice. Unlike Mass Effect 2, many of the missions, even some that involve companions, require backtracking through previously explored areas to kill bad guys/collect items/destroy things A, B, and C. They aren’t engaging tasks. You’ve probably done them thousands of times in other games. None of those things are as memorable or meaningful as the time Garrus tried to assassinate his ex-squad member, Sidonis, and was either talked into or out of it through conversation. I spent almost 100 hours in Thedas, and there were still areas I hadn’t fully explored. I completed the game at level 24, even though the game recommends the final mission for character levels 15-19. The world BioWare created was so big that the side stuff overtakes the main narrative, despite it being the least interesting part of the experience. It seems telling to me that “Leave the Hinterlands” has become a piece of advice repeated again and again. Players are getting wrapped up in checking all the boxes, going into every nook and cranny, and engaging less with the characters and narrative. That’s a shame, because the main quest missions are easily the most interesting parts of Dragon Age: Inquisition. I just wish that there were more of them and less uninspired open world quest design. Herb gathering exemplifies the issue perfectly. The game begins and it is exciting to stumble across herbs and harvest them, so you tap buttons to go through the gathering animations again and again. They’re all over the place. Then you discover that it takes herbs to replenish your supply of health potions. Gathering herbs stops being a cool diversion and becomes a necessity. Later you learn that it takes herbs to upgrade your potions, too. At this point, you will be willing to commit murder to not gather any more herbs. What started as a fun diversion becomes a mind-numbingly boring task. Sure, you can send soldiers to do it, but they’ll only bring six or seven plants back at a time, but you could collect double that in the time it takes them to bring more back. Even by the end of the game, I was scrabbling for more herbs, more crafting materials. It took me out of the world and diverted my attention from narratively important tasks. With the writing talent at their disposal, BioWare’s decision to focus away from the dialogues is perplexing. I don’t mean that Inquisition lacks in the dialogue department at all, but rather there was a slight design choice that clearly emphasizes the open world gameplay over the conversations. One of the things that I loved about both the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series was that practically all conversations with significant NPCs that had more than one sentence to say were done from multiple fixed camera angles that created more engaging visuals than the player controlled camera was capable of providing. It made conversations feel more immediate and exciting. While that is certainly still present in Dragon Age: Inquisition, more often than not players will be kept in the broad player controlled camera during conversations. The design choice encourages players to leave the conversation with the NPC whenever they’d like. On paper, that seems like something a lot of players would want, but in practice I think it creates a lot of distance between the player and the sidequests or extra dialogue players might want to have with their companions. I understand that it is a large game and players have a lot to do, but are we really too busy to want personal conversations with important characters? I don’t think so, and I can’t help but feel we lost something rather important. Ultimately, the estrangement from Dragon Age: Inquisition hurt my perception of its narrative. Perhaps I spent too much time pursuing side content and not enough on finishing the core missions, but by the end of the game everything felt stacked in my protagonist’s favor and the climactic finale seemed like little more than a formality. This could be an indication that the narrative itself is a bit flawed on how it approaches the overarching conflict in Dragon Age: Inquisition, but that’s probably a spoiler-filled topic for another day. Conclusion: Despite the glitches, the feeling of disconnection, and the wall of text that might indicate otherwise, I very much enjoyed my time in Thedas. The criticisms I had were small, but they’ll be the reason Dragon Age: Inquisition isn’t remembered quite as fondly as Origins or the Mass Effect series. Dragon Age: Inquisition left me wanting more, curious as to where the franchise might be headed next. Color me doubly curious since many loose ends from both Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2 are resolved by the time the credits roll in Inquisition. I opened this review with a recommendation and I’m ending it with another. Do yourself a favor and play Dragon Age: Inquisition. Any missteps it makes pale in comparison to the enjoyable experience it can offer. Dragon Age: Inquisition was reviewed PC and is now available for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360
  18. Haven't had your fill of explosions, dragons, demons, and eldritch horrors for the day? Dragon Age: Inquisition's latest trailer has all of those things and includes exciting trailer music. Dragon Age: Inquisition releases on November 18 and it will definitely be an unrelated coincidence if I mysteriously vanish for several days following that date. Definitely. View full article
  19. Haven't had your fill of explosions, dragons, demons, and eldritch horrors for the day? Dragon Age: Inquisition's latest trailer has all of those things and includes exciting trailer music. Dragon Age: Inquisition releases on November 18 and it will definitely be an unrelated coincidence if I mysteriously vanish for several days following that date. Definitely.
  20. Dragon Age: Inquisition comes out next month on November 18, but EA is already prepping by giving out the first Dragon Age RPG for less the staggering price of nothing. People looking to snag a copy of the fantastic Dragon Age: Origins will need an Origin account to download their free copy. While I know that not a ton of people are a fan of Origin, it is pretty hard to turn your nose up at a free copy of one of BioWare's best RPGs. The promotion will only be available for the next six days, so hop to it. View full article
  21. Dragon Age: Origins Free Until October 14

    Dragon Age: Inquisition comes out next month on November 18, but EA is already prepping by giving out the first Dragon Age RPG for less the staggering price of nothing. People looking to snag a copy of the fantastic Dragon Age: Origins will need an Origin account to download their free copy. While I know that not a ton of people are a fan of Origin, it is pretty hard to turn your nose up at a free copy of one of BioWare's best RPGs. The promotion will only be available for the next six days, so hop to it.
  22. BioWare has announced that Dragon Age: Inquisition will launch with a standalone multiplayer mode that will allow players to team up and tackle dungeons together. Multiplayer will consist of four player cooperative quests with plenty of difficult encounters, unique objectives, loot, crafting, and new characters. There will be twelve multiplayer characters available at launch, each with different roles to fill in combat. “For Dragon Age: Inquisition, a special team of veteran developers from the Dragon Age and Mass Effect franchises created fun, fast-paced multiplayer gameplay that requires strategic teamwork on top of Inquisition’s party-based combat and extensive loot and crafting system,” said Aaryn Flynn, BioWare's general manager. BioWare wants to assuage any fears that the multiplayer might be negatively affect their single player experience, so to be absolutely clear: The story and single player will be unaffected by the presence of multiplayer. Dragon Age fans will be able to get a sneak peak at the multiplayer at PAX Prime August 29-September 1 in Seattle, Washington.
  23. BioWare has announced that Dragon Age: Inquisition will launch with a standalone multiplayer mode that will allow players to team up and tackle dungeons together. Multiplayer will consist of four player cooperative quests with plenty of difficult encounters, unique objectives, loot, crafting, and new characters. There will be twelve multiplayer characters available at launch, each with different roles to fill in combat. “For Dragon Age: Inquisition, a special team of veteran developers from the Dragon Age and Mass Effect franchises created fun, fast-paced multiplayer gameplay that requires strategic teamwork on top of Inquisition’s party-based combat and extensive loot and crafting system,” said Aaryn Flynn, BioWare's general manager. BioWare wants to assuage any fears that the multiplayer might be negatively affect their single player experience, so to be absolutely clear: The story and single player will be unaffected by the presence of multiplayer. Dragon Age fans will be able to get a sneak peak at the multiplayer at PAX Prime August 29-September 1 in Seattle, Washington. View full article
  24. Taking a lesson from last year, when Sony publicly mocked their DRM restrictions and announced a console that was $100 cheaper, Microsoft’s press conference was one designed to be as safe as possible. I say safe because how much more secure can you get than by opening with the next installment in the one of the most successful video game franchises of all time? We saw a gameplay trailer for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, where guys with cool sci-fi gadgets do things that we’ve seen guys in first-person shooters do hundreds of times before. It probably won’t be the video game equivalent of Shakespeare, but I know I’m at the very least intrigued to see how multiplayer incorporates all of the cool near-future technology showcased in the trailers and demos. Again, all DLC for Advanced Warfare will be available on Microsoft consoles. Next up, Turn 10 Studios took the stage to announce that Xbox One exclusive Forza Horizon 2 will release on September 30. Also, the new Nürburgring track will be made available this month for owners of Forza Motorsport 5. The track has been recreated down to subcentimeter levels of fidelity. Evolve made its own appearance with a new gameplay trailer focusing on the classes and introducing a new type of monster. Xbox One owners will have first dibs on both the Evolve beta and Evolve’s DLC. Just behind Call of Duty, the next safest bet in the industry is a new Assassin’s Creed game. Which is just what Ubisoft showed off at Microsoft’s press conference with Assassin’s Creed Unity. The title will be exclusive to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and will feature 4-player co-op. If the idea of sneaking and assassinating in the midst of the French Revolution with three other friends gets you excited, this might be the perfect game for you. As someone who has little interest in the Call of Duties and Assassin’s Creeds of the world, I wasn’t feeling particularly compelled or excited about the games so far, but the newest trailer for Dragon Age: Inquisition made me do a double-take. I’m getting more excited than I probably should be for this game, but I can’t help having faith in BioWare and in the potential that the Dragon Age franchise has always shown. Once more, it seems that Xbox users will be getting some exclusive access to “premium content.” There are no details as of yet what will be contained in that DLC. Sunset Overdrive had a stellar appearance with many winks and knowing nods to the audience in a scripted sequence lampooning traditional shooters. This was followed by a live gameplay demonstration that was well-executed and impressive. Then there was a goofy teaser for a Dead Rising 3 DLC pack that I am not going to write out because it is long and purposefully obnoxious. Harmonix briefly took the stage to discuss how Disney Fantasia and Dance Central Spotlight are coming to consoles this fall and were then quickly ushered off the stage so that Microsoft could divulge some more information on Fable Legends. I haven’t played it, but my reaction to Fable Legends was one of complete and utter boredom. The game has a few interesting ideas (a group of players take on the role of heroes while another player becomes the villainous mastermind who attempts to thwart their progress), but those ideas seem to be piled under layers of uninspired fantasy. Then there was the obligatory, “Project Spark is still a thing, guys! Remember how cool that concept was!?” The trailer was fine; it looked great. However, I’ve played a bit of the game and it is hard to muster much enthusiasm for a great game creation kit that is mired in overpriced microtransactions. *Warning, what follows is riddled with sadness* Another trailer followed Project Spark, this one for a small indie game titled Ori and the Blind Forest. Will it be one of this year’s indie gems? Possibly. Will it make me cry if I play it? No …sniff… *muffled sob* One of the biggest announcements of the press conference was that on November 11, Halo: The Master Chief Collection will release. The collection contains Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4 on one disc with everything unlocked. Custom playlists will combine the great moments from all four games into one epic smorgasbord. Halo 2 is also receiving the full anniversary treatment that Halo: Combat Evolved received for Halo Anniversary Edition. The original version of Halo 2 will be included alongside the revamped version. In addition to all of that, the original multiplayer that fans fought so hard to protect will be brought back. For multiplayer, every map ever released will be available in 1080p and run at 60fps on dedicated servers. Over 100 maps. That’s a lot of maps. The collection will also include Halo Nightfall, a live action prelude to Halo 5: Guardians. Speaking of Halo 5, purchasing Halo: The Master Chief Collection also nets you access to the Halo 5 beta in December. All previous games Microsoft had talked about up until this point will be released by the end of the year. The second half of the show focused on games coming in 2015 and beyond. Most of the releases talked about were indies (and there is nothing wrong with that, just not a ton of information on the individual games). Then there was the surprise reveal of Rise of the Tomb Raider, a sequel to the Tomb Raider reboot. We see Lara getting some much needed therapy after the traumatic events of the previous game and then raiding some tombs. Ahhhh, nostalgia! There were a few other moments after that, like the announcement of the Phantom Dust reboot, some hilariously scripted gameplay from The Division, and the reveal of Crackdown 3, but what got me most excited was the Xbox One exclusive from Platinum Games titled Scalebound. It looks goofy, different, has giant monsters, and the ideas on display seem like they would be a lot of fun in the hands of the developer who brought us Vanquish and Bayonetta. Honorable indie mentions: That’s it from Microsoft. On the whole, this conference was much better than last year, which is a win for the company, but I can’t help but feel that this was one of the safest press conferences in the five years I’ve watched the show. What do you think? Awesome? Just right? Meh? View full article
  25. E3 2014 - Microsoft's Press Conference

    Taking a lesson from last year, when Sony publicly mocked their DRM restrictions and announced a console that was $100 cheaper, Microsoft’s press conference was one designed to be as safe as possible. I say safe because how much more secure can you get than by opening with the next installment in the one of the most successful video game franchises of all time? We saw a gameplay trailer for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, where guys with cool sci-fi gadgets do things that we’ve seen guys in first-person shooters do hundreds of times before. It probably won’t be the video game equivalent of Shakespeare, but I know I’m at the very least intrigued to see how multiplayer incorporates all of the cool near-future technology showcased in the trailers and demos. Again, all DLC for Advanced Warfare will be available on Microsoft consoles. Next up, Turn 10 Studios took the stage to announce that Xbox One exclusive Forza Horizon 2 will release on September 30. Also, the new Nürburgring track will be made available this month for owners of Forza Motorsport 5. The track has been recreated down to subcentimeter levels of fidelity. Evolve made its own appearance with a new gameplay trailer focusing on the classes and introducing a new type of monster. Xbox One owners will have first dibs on both the Evolve beta and Evolve’s DLC. Just behind Call of Duty, the next safest bet in the industry is a new Assassin’s Creed game. Which is just what Ubisoft showed off at Microsoft’s press conference with Assassin’s Creed Unity. The title will be exclusive to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and will feature 4-player co-op. If the idea of sneaking and assassinating in the midst of the French Revolution with three other friends gets you excited, this might be the perfect game for you. As someone who has little interest in the Call of Duties and Assassin’s Creeds of the world, I wasn’t feeling particularly compelled or excited about the games so far, but the newest trailer for Dragon Age: Inquisition made me do a double-take. I’m getting more excited than I probably should be for this game, but I can’t help having faith in BioWare and in the potential that the Dragon Age franchise has always shown. Once more, it seems that Xbox users will be getting some exclusive access to “premium content.” There are no details as of yet what will be contained in that DLC. Sunset Overdrive had a stellar appearance with many winks and knowing nods to the audience in a scripted sequence lampooning traditional shooters. This was followed by a live gameplay demonstration that was well-executed and impressive. Then there was a goofy teaser for a Dead Rising 3 DLC pack that I am not going to write out because it is long and purposefully obnoxious. Harmonix briefly took the stage to discuss how Disney Fantasia and Dance Central Spotlight are coming to consoles this fall and were then quickly ushered off the stage so that Microsoft could divulge some more information on Fable Legends. I haven’t played it, but my reaction to Fable Legends was one of complete and utter boredom. The game has a few interesting ideas (a group of players take on the role of heroes while another player becomes the villainous mastermind who attempts to thwart their progress), but those ideas seem to be piled under layers of uninspired fantasy. Then there was the obligatory, “Project Spark is still a thing, guys! Remember how cool that concept was!?” The trailer was fine; it looked great. However, I’ve played a bit of the game and it is hard to muster much enthusiasm for a great game creation kit that is mired in overpriced microtransactions. *Warning, what follows is riddled with sadness* Another trailer followed Project Spark, this one for a small indie game titled Ori and the Blind Forest. Will it be one of this year’s indie gems? Possibly. Will it make me cry if I play it? No …sniff… *muffled sob* One of the biggest announcements of the press conference was that on November 11, Halo: The Master Chief Collection will release. The collection contains Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4 on one disc with everything unlocked. Custom playlists will combine the great moments from all four games into one epic smorgasbord. Halo 2 is also receiving the full anniversary treatment that Halo: Combat Evolved received for Halo Anniversary Edition. The original version of Halo 2 will be included alongside the revamped version. In addition to all of that, the original multiplayer that fans fought so hard to protect will be brought back. For multiplayer, every map ever released will be available in 1080p and run at 60fps on dedicated servers. Over 100 maps. That’s a lot of maps. The collection will also include Halo Nightfall, a live action prelude to Halo 5: Guardians. Speaking of Halo 5, purchasing Halo: The Master Chief Collection also nets you access to the Halo 5 beta in December. All previous games Microsoft had talked about up until this point will be released by the end of the year. The second half of the show focused on games coming in 2015 and beyond. Most of the releases talked about were indies (and there is nothing wrong with that, just not a ton of information on the individual games). Then there was the surprise reveal of Rise of the Tomb Raider, a sequel to the Tomb Raider reboot. We see Lara getting some much needed therapy after the traumatic events of the previous game and then raiding some tombs. Ahhhh, nostalgia! There were a few other moments after that, like the announcement of the Phantom Dust reboot, some hilariously scripted gameplay from The Division, and the reveal of Crackdown 3, but what got me most excited was the Xbox One exclusive from Platinum Games titled Scalebound. It looks goofy, different, has giant monsters, and the ideas on display seem like they would be a lot of fun in the hands of the developer who brought us Vanquish and Bayonetta. Honorable indie mentions: That’s it from Microsoft. On the whole, this conference was much better than last year, which is a win for the company, but I can’t help but feel that this was one of the safest press conferences in the five years I’ve watched the show. What do you think? Awesome? Just right? Meh?