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Found 28 results

  1. For as long as I’ve known her, my mother has been deathly afraid of rats. Even the faintest squeak of the floor is enough to send her into hysterics, a trait my sibling and I have exploited to no end of our own sadistic joy. As a pediatric nurse, my mother regularly witnesses some of the scariest moments of thousands of people’s lives, but these tiny creatures still instill the darkest possible fear in her. A Plague Tale: Innocence is going to melt her gosh darn brain. The developers at Asobo Studio gave a hands-off demo exclusive to members of the media featuring the same locations from their E3 teaser trailer, showcasing Plague Tale’s dark Inquisition era and roving hordes of rodents. You play as a young, redheaded woman named Amicia, searching through the mucky streets of a 14th century French village for your younger brother Hugo and mother. It’s the middle of the night and the streets are deathly quiet. Amicia happened upon a group of Inquisition soldiers attempting to bust into a residence suspected of harboring criminals or the diseased; I’m not quite sure. What is sure is that these soldiers are definitely bad dudes (they also believe Amicia and her family are a clan of witches), as Amicia eventually comes upon a guarded carriage housing her captive brother. Two soldiers with lanterns are patrolling nearby as a few clusters of rats slink through the grass. Considering Amicia isn’t some hulking swordsman, she has to use her ingenuity and intellect to defeat obstacles. To that end, she’s able to use a sling to whip rocks at both guards, forcing them to drop their lanterns, which smash on impact. In the world of Plague Tale, strong light is able to ward off the rat hordes, as they’re infused with some magical, almost vampiric power that forces them to stick to the shadows; unfortunate for the guards now shrouded in darkness, as nearby rats immediately swarm them, leaping all over their bodies to tear their flesh apart. There’s little time to consider the wails of death, as Amicia grabs her brother and flees into a nearby cathedral. Plague Tale isn’t all rats and rock slinging, though. Amicia is able to order Hugo to slip into small spaces she’s too tall for, allowing him to retrieve light sources or other resources from unreachable locations and other basic puzzles. Amicia determines that they need to reach the back of the cathedral to find their missing mother, but it’s blocked by another large horde of rats guarding an oddly fleshy crack in the wall. After Hugo retrieves a lantern from behind a nearby gate, Amicia is able to disperse the rats by shooting a rock at a large fire pot hanging from the ceiling and knocking it to the ground. To the horror of Amicia and her brother, the resounding crash of metal on stone attracts more rats than she could account for. From every crack, hole and open wound in the stonework comes hundreds and hundreds of pissed off rodents. This is where Plague Tale’s technology shines through. After the demo, I asked how many rats the developers could fit on screen at once. Their answer: Roughly 3,000. The true beauty of these horrifying hordes isn’t just how many of them can be on screen, it’s how they flow like water, ebbing and gliding over architecture in a deliberate, yet chaotic nature. It’s eerily reminiscent of the zombies in World War Z, as they careened down a market street, flooding every inch from top to bottom with their collective rage. And while each rat beefs up the larger group, each one feels like a relatively independent creature when your light source is able to kill off a few stragglers. From there, Amicia proceeded to clutch Hugo close to her as they pushed forward through the avalanche of rats, directing the light towards any clusters that threatened to get too close. The tension continues to mount higher and higher until the pair make it to a gash in the wall, leading to a disturbingly dark and fleshy tunnel. Hugo, hearing the call of their mother, goes running off into the shadows as Amicia warns him that it can’t be her. A Plague Tale: Innocence definitely fits into publisher Focus Home Interactive’s mostly gothic repertoire and the hook of navigating a grim world beset by rodents is welcome. According to the developer, the entire game will take about 10 hours to complete, which begs the question of just how much this game will depend on rats, stealthing past soldiers, or basic puzzle solving with your brother. Plague Tale’s scope might end up getting a little too wide, but as long as the horrors of the rat horde stay fresh, I’ll be more than willing to bite. A Plague Tale: Innocence doesn't have a release date yet, but it is planned to hit PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
  2. For as long as I’ve known her, my mother has been deathly afraid of rats. Even the faintest squeak of the floor is enough to send her into hysterics, a trait my sibling and I have exploited to no end of our own sadistic joy. As a pediatric nurse, my mother regularly witnesses some of the scariest moments of thousands of people’s lives, but these tiny creatures still instill the darkest possible fear in her. A Plague Tale: Innocence is going to melt her gosh darn brain. The developers at Asobo Studio gave a hands-off demo exclusive to members of the media featuring the same locations from their E3 teaser trailer, showcasing Plague Tale’s dark Inquisition era and roving hordes of rodents. You play as a young, redheaded woman named Amicia, searching through the mucky streets of a 14th century French village for your younger brother Hugo and mother. It’s the middle of the night and the streets are deathly quiet. Amicia happened upon a group of Inquisition soldiers attempting to bust into a residence suspected of harboring criminals or the diseased; I’m not quite sure. What is sure is that these soldiers are definitely bad dudes (they also believe Amicia and her family are a clan of witches), as Amicia eventually comes upon a guarded carriage housing her captive brother. Two soldiers with lanterns are patrolling nearby as a few clusters of rats slink through the grass. Considering Amicia isn’t some hulking swordsman, she has to use her ingenuity and intellect to defeat obstacles. To that end, she’s able to use a sling to whip rocks at both guards, forcing them to drop their lanterns, which smash on impact. In the world of Plague Tale, strong light is able to ward off the rat hordes, as they’re infused with some magical, almost vampiric power that forces them to stick to the shadows; unfortunate for the guards now shrouded in darkness, as nearby rats immediately swarm them, leaping all over their bodies to tear their flesh apart. There’s little time to consider the wails of death, as Amicia grabs her brother and flees into a nearby cathedral. Plague Tale isn’t all rats and rock slinging, though. Amicia is able to order Hugo to slip into small spaces she’s too tall for, allowing him to retrieve light sources or other resources from unreachable locations and other basic puzzles. Amicia determines that they need to reach the back of the cathedral to find their missing mother, but it’s blocked by another large horde of rats guarding an oddly fleshy crack in the wall. After Hugo retrieves a lantern from behind a nearby gate, Amicia is able to disperse the rats by shooting a rock at a large fire pot hanging from the ceiling and knocking it to the ground. To the horror of Amicia and her brother, the resounding crash of metal on stone attracts more rats than she could account for. From every crack, hole and open wound in the stonework comes hundreds and hundreds of pissed off rodents. This is where Plague Tale’s technology shines through. After the demo, I asked how many rats the developers could fit on screen at once. Their answer: Roughly 3,000. The true beauty of these horrifying hordes isn’t just how many of them can be on screen, it’s how they flow like water, ebbing and gliding over architecture in a deliberate, yet chaotic nature. It’s eerily reminiscent of the zombies in World War Z, as they careened down a market street, flooding every inch from top to bottom with their collective rage. And while each rat beefs up the larger group, each one feels like a relatively independent creature when your light source is able to kill off a few stragglers. From there, Amicia proceeded to clutch Hugo close to her as they pushed forward through the avalanche of rats, directing the light towards any clusters that threatened to get too close. The tension continues to mount higher and higher until the pair make it to a gash in the wall, leading to a disturbingly dark and fleshy tunnel. Hugo, hearing the call of their mother, goes running off into the shadows as Amicia warns him that it can’t be her. A Plague Tale: Innocence definitely fits into publisher Focus Home Interactive’s mostly gothic repertoire and the hook of navigating a grim world beset by rodents is welcome. According to the developer, the entire game will take about 10 hours to complete, which begs the question of just how much this game will depend on rats, stealthing past soldiers, or basic puzzle solving with your brother. Plague Tale’s scope might end up getting a little too wide, but as long as the horrors of the rat horde stay fresh, I’ll be more than willing to bite. A Plague Tale: Innocence doesn't have a release date yet, but it is planned to hit PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. View full article
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. In addition to the trailer that came out today as per BioWare's tease, the developer has also released the DLC itself! Jaws of Hakkon tasks the player with following in the footsteps of the last person to be named Inquisitor, beginning a journey that delves into dark forces that threaten to overrun and destroy the entire nation of Orlais. The DLC is currently available for $14.99, but only for Xbox One and PC owners. No word on when PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, or Xbox 360 owners can expect to be able to get their hands on the Hakkon DLC. View full article
  6. In addition to the trailer that came out today as per BioWare's tease, the developer has also released the DLC itself! Jaws of Hakkon tasks the player with following in the footsteps of the last person to be named Inquisitor, beginning a journey that delves into dark forces that threaten to overrun and destroy the entire nation of Orlais. The DLC is currently available for $14.99, but only for Xbox One and PC owners. No word on when PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, or Xbox 360 owners can expect to be able to get their hands on the Hakkon DLC.
  7. While details are currently scarce, BioWare tweeted confirmation today that the new DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition will be titled Jaws of Hakkon. More information will be available tomorrow when the trailer for Hakkon is released. Until then, Xbox Achievements managed to uncover four screenshots with accompanying achievements. These do contain some slight spoilers, so consider this your SPOILER WARNING. Firestarter - 15G Destroy all the Winter Shards and light all the fires in the Old Temple. Legend-Marked - 30G Impress the Avvar of Stone-Bear Hold and gain their friendship. Historian - 30G Uncover the secrets of a legendary figure. Winter's End - 90G Dispel a myth of ancient days. If you are interested in learning what Dragon Age: Inquisition is all about, check out our review.
  8. While details are currently scarce, BioWare tweeted confirmation today that the new DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition will be titled Jaws of Hakkon. More information will be available tomorrow when the trailer for Hakkon is released. Until then, Xbox Achievements managed to uncover four screenshots with accompanying achievements. These do contain some slight spoilers, so consider this your SPOILER WARNING. Firestarter - 15G Destroy all the Winter Shards and light all the fires in the Old Temple. Legend-Marked - 30G Impress the Avvar of Stone-Bear Hold and gain their friendship. Historian - 30G Uncover the secrets of a legendary figure. Winter's End - 90G Dispel a myth of ancient days. If you are interested in learning what Dragon Age: Inquisition is all about, check out our review. View full article
  9. Mike Laidlaw, creative director of the Dragon Age series, took to Twitter today to announce that the songs sung by the tavern bard in Dragon Age: Inquisition will be free to download from now until February 9. The release of the tavern songs comes after portions of the Dragon Age community called foul when they weren't included on the game's official soundtrack. Downloading before February 9, will net all ten tavern songs accompanied by their sheet music. Following February 9, the songs will be made available on digital platforms. You can find additional information and download the song bundle here. Update: BioWare has removed the songs from their website as free downloads. The pages now read "404 Not Found - The page you requested could not be found; it's been burnt to ashes by a dragon."
  10. Mike Laidlaw, creative director of the Dragon Age series, took to Twitter today to announce that the songs sung by the tavern bard in Dragon Age: Inquisition will be free to download from now until February 9. The release of the tavern songs comes after portions of the Dragon Age community called foul when they weren't included on the game's official soundtrack. Downloading before February 9, will net all ten tavern songs accompanied by their sheet music. Following February 9, the songs will be made available on digital platforms. You can find additional information and download the song bundle here. Update: BioWare has removed the songs from their website as free downloads. The pages now read "404 Not Found - The page you requested could not be found; it's been burnt to ashes by a dragon." View full article
  11. 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
  12. Jack Gardner

    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
  13. 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
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. Jack Gardner

    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?
  19. Yesterday, Nick Thornborrow, a concept artist working at BioWare, announced on his tumblr that a 184 page volume titled The Art of Dragon Age: Inquisition will be releasing on the same day as the game. The hardcover book will contain hundreds of never before seen pieces of artwork that went into the design of Inquisition. Expect to see early renderings of heroes, creatures, villains, and the world of Thedas."It throws back the curtain to show you the work that has gone into shaping Inquisition by many talented artists," said Thornborrow. The book will retail at $39.99, but the pre-order price is $30.39, so the best time to purchase the art book might be before October 7. View full article
  20. Yesterday, Nick Thornborrow, a concept artist working at BioWare, announced on his tumblr that a 184 page volume titled The Art of Dragon Age: Inquisition will be releasing on the same day as the game. The hardcover book will contain hundreds of never before seen pieces of artwork that went into the design of Inquisition. Expect to see early renderings of heroes, creatures, villains, and the world of Thedas."It throws back the curtain to show you the work that has gone into shaping Inquisition by many talented artists," said Thornborrow. The book will retail at $39.99, but the pre-order price is $30.39, so the best time to purchase the art book might be before October 7.
  21. BioWare today revealed the impending release date along with a new gameplay trailer to get fans excited to play as the mysterious Inquisitor. The new trailer shows off a bit of the overarching Inquisition story as well as some brief snippets of combat, enemies, and shows off the gorgeous environments. Be sure to check out the screenshots released last month that showcased the new creatures, environments, and characters. Dragon Age: Inquisition is slated for release on October 7 on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC via Origin. View full article
  22. Jack Gardner

    Dragon Age: Inquisition Dated

    BioWare today revealed the impending release date along with a new gameplay trailer to get fans excited to play as the mysterious Inquisitor. The new trailer shows off a bit of the overarching Inquisition story as well as some brief snippets of combat, enemies, and shows off the gorgeous environments. Be sure to check out the screenshots released last month that showcased the new creatures, environments, and characters. Dragon Age: Inquisition is slated for release on October 7 on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC via Origin.
  23. A bevy of bodacious and beautiful images have made their way onto the internet and it would appear that Dragon Age: Inquisition is intent on living up to its predecessors. From the fantastical creatures dramatically presented by the awesome lighting effects to the serene calm of a swamp at sunset, these screens show off the amazing world BioWare has crafted lovingly in the Frostbite engine. Along with the visual smorgasbord, there are a number of noteworthy things in this pack of screens. Besides a very big and intimidating dragon, the screenshots show off what looks like an ogre (or possibly a rave troll?) and a pack of zombies. The familiar face of Varric Tethras, the swashbuckling dwarf from Dragon Age II, makes an appearance. There is also an elven mage that looks suspiciously like Nicholas Cage. Those who love Dragon Age can still audition for a role voice acting a character in Inquisition! You can view these screenshots on the Extra Life Facebook page (and while you're there why not give us a like? *wink wink nudge nudge*).
  24. A bevy of bodacious and beautiful images have made their way onto the internet and it would appear that Dragon Age: Inquisition is intent on living up to its predecessors. From the fantastical creatures dramatically presented by the awesome lighting effects to the serene calm of a swamp at sunset, these screens show off the amazing world BioWare has crafted lovingly in the Frostbite engine. Along with the visual smorgasbord, there are a number of noteworthy things in this pack of screens. Besides a very big and intimidating dragon, the screenshots show off what looks like an ogre (or possibly a rave troll?) and a pack of zombies. The familiar face of Varric Tethras, the swashbuckling dwarf from Dragon Age II, makes an appearance. There is also an elven mage that looks suspiciously like Nicholas Cage. Those who love Dragon Age can still audition for a role voice acting a character in Inquisition! You can view these screenshots on the Extra Life Facebook page (and while you're there why not give us a like? *wink wink nudge nudge*). View full article
  25. For the release of Dragon Age: Inquisition later this year, developer BioWare has decided to give the vocally-talented (and the not-so-talented) the opportunity to voice a minor character in the world of Thedas. From now until 12:01 a.m. on March 24, Dragon Age and BioWare fans will be able to submit a recording of themselves reading one of two scripts for bit parts in Inquisition. Prospective voice actors and actresses will have the option of reading the lines of an unnamed villager or seneschal to demonstrate your vocal talents. A panel of judges from within BioWare will then review submissions and decide the winner. Keep in mind if you decide to enter that the panel will be judging based on the following criteria: 40% voice quality, 40% performance quality, and 20% vocally fitting with the Dragon Age style. The winner of this contest will be announced on April 14 and be flown out to a recording studio to contribute their mouth-words to the Inquisition. If this sounds pretty cool or interesting, just record yourself and email it to takeyourplace@BioWare.com. Interested in throwing your hat into the ring, but feeling a bit self-conscious or nervous? If I can do it, so can you! You've got nothing to lose, so just have fun! Who knows, you might be the next Troy Baker.
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