Dragon Age Inquisition Hands-On: All is As it Needs to Be (Which Means You’ll Be Very Busy Soon)…

A half hour may be a long time if you’re sitting through a really bad TV show, being tortured, have a terrible toothache or are waiting for some test results, but it’s clearly not a good deal of time to sit down with a build of Dragon Age Inquisition. For me ( a fan of the series and BioWare’s RPGs in general for quite some time), the game is one that doesn’t need a huge amount of hyperbolic posts from editor-types or even PR gurus because it’s a series that’s pretty much sold itself to a fan base who wanted to see a western-developers RPG do more with the genre (and it’s succeeded for the most part despite a few bumps along the road it’s traveled). My half hour at EA’s media event a few days back was spent ogling the beautiful visuals, running around with my party picking plants for crafting and looting assorted caches while getting the hang of the deeper combat system that now adds some very welcome tweaks to the mix of real-time and “turn-based” format.

The more open world and much larger map to explore in the build meant those of us playing the demo could choose to follow a path straight to the big boss encounter waiting for us, or to just run off and see what sort of trouble we could get into by simply exploring off the beaten path. I chose a half and half approach simply because the sheer size of the demo map combined with those excellent visuals and solid combat system made me want to see as much as I could in the short time allotted. A BioWare rep kept me updated on a few important things such as staying out of the water in the swamp surrounding the area, as undead spawned there incessantly, slowing my party’s progress. I did stop to activate some mystical shrines with my mage, which led to some wisdom gained in deciphering runes and some experience, items and gold gained from the resulting battles that came from lighting those braziers with a magical torch.

Pretty much everything has come along as I’d expected, from the much more massive world to explore, the rich visuals, tons of customization and what’s looking like the biggest story in the series to date are all going to steal many, many hours away from your daily life. New to the game is a separate four-player co-op experience that should give those gamers who like to team up with friends quite a bit to do outside the main game’s single player focus. As I’m a dedicated solo player in these BioWare games, I’ll probably skip this mode unless I’m bored with the story in the main game (not bloody likely, mind you) and need to shake things up. Oh, I’ll try it for the purposes of my review for sure. I’m just pleased as punch that’s it’s not a mandated part of the Dragon Age experience (and hope it never becomes one).

I’m actually one of the few people on the editorial side of things that wants the “last-gen” version of the game for a few reasons. The main one being I know focus has shifted to PS4 and Xbox One coverage on many sites, but the fact is MORE people still own those older consoles and those people will be the ones very interested in reading how the game performs on the hardware they still own. While the push to upgrade is even more powerful of late, you can’t force someone to update if that can’t at the moment or doesn’t want to because they’re still getting the most of that previous investment in that old system. Anyway, Dragon Age Inquisition hits retail for the PS3/PS4, Xbox 360/Xbox One and PC (via EA’s Origin service) on November 17, 2014.

Hmmm. Now that I think about it, I really didn’t need to do a preview at all. This is just the sort of game that will sell itself and the sort of game where everyone who plays will carve out their own path thanks to BioWare Edmonton’s supreme dedication to making this the best and most expansive Dragon Age game to date.

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