Gamescom 2014: Dragon Age: Inquisition is The Future of RPGs

Bioware has had a stellar track record in creating some of the biggest and most interactive RPGs on the planet. They’re known for both space and fantasy dramas, putting the player in the shoes of heroes who have to maintain politics, relationships and combat scenarios. Unfortunately, the last Dragon Age game to be released left many fans a little disappointed. While the story and characters were compelling, environmental assets were reused uncomfortably and customization wasn’t as strong as what we’ve come to expect. Suffice to say, Bioware is in the position where they have to prove that Dragon Age is still a meaningful and compelling universe to explore. Thankfully, what the Canadian-based company showed at Gamescom with Inquisition has left us with little doubt that they can fulfill their expectations in bringing the biggest and most gratifying RPG epic yet.

As the hero, players will be able to recruit up to nine unique companions, three of which will be available to bring into battle at a given time. The world of Dragon Age is made up of various races and classes, so there’s a strong emphasis on character development. Dragon Age II’s Varric and Cassandra will be tagging along on the journey, bringing their strong charismatic identities to the story. The rest of the main cast is made up of new faces, including the Grey Warden Blackwall, the Elven beauty Sera, the mysterious Cole, the charming Dorian, the giant Iron Bull, the Enchanting Vivienne and the logical Solas. There’s a strong variety of characters to choose from, both in personality and in combat. It’s up to the player to pick and choose their team carefully, and manage them both in battle and in conversation. As a sequel, various familiar individuals will also make appearances in the story, such as Origin’s Morgan and Leliana, and even the protagonist of Dragon Age II. This is the all-star Dragon Age experience.

Character customization is also a strong component that was missing from the last iteration. This time around, you are given an incredibly powerful toolset to craft the most ideal protagonist. This includes picking a specific preset model, and then modifying all the features, including the eyes, nose, mouth, head, tattoos and so forth. These are handled through various sliders and selections, ensuring no two characters will look alike with millions of combinations to cycle through. It doesn’t stop strictly at character customization but weapon and combat adjustments, as well. There’s an exceeding number of weapons to be found in the world and customized with runes, but best of yet, players will be able to name their weapons, giving them supreme control over their equipment. Additionally, there are over 200 different abilities to choose from when leveling up, so there will be hundreds of ways to play Inquisition.

Combat has changed somewhat drastically from the last couple of iterations, but not too much that it’s a different game. We saw Dragon Age II aim more towards action rather than strategy, but while Inquisition even furthers this, it does add more tactical abilities. Switching between characters is almost vital, but for those who want to play as the protagonist exclusively, they can stop combat and instruct teammates to do specific actions. This includes moving to a certain location and holding the fort, staying in the back and casting magic or shooting arrows, or performing special abilities at a given time. While this may look like a traditional Character Action RPG, it’s far more than that. It’s a much faster pace of combat, even including an ability to fling yourself towards the enemies, and will make you feel like a complete bad-ass whenever you engage.

It’s also something to mention that this game looks absolutely beautiful. There’s a strong variety of environments in Inquisition, all realized by different weather effects. Stalking through a forest at night when lightning strikes around you has never been as moody or atmospheric as this. The traversal across the vast land is all handled through the Sky Hold, a customizable fortress that acts are the player’s hub world. Here traversal to both Orlais and Ferelden is possible, along with expanding your quest log and helping strengthen the Inquisition’s power. The Dragon Age world has never been this compelling, offering the most interactive and diversified setting possible.

It’s disappointing that Dragon Age: Inquisition was delayed into November, but just from what we’ve seen from Gamescom, we want Bioware to get this right. The second game had a lot of potential but it was weighed down by repetitive design and a lack of variety. Inquisition looks to change that with a massive, sprawling open-world to explore and enhanced tactical action combat that should please both old school fans and new. Dragon Age Inquisition looks bloody amazing and will be the biggest RPG of 2014 when it becomes available November 18 for PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC.