Story spoilers follow!
After 131 hours, I finally completed my first round of Dragon Age Inquisition (DAI). Darrius Trevelyan had risen from that lowly southern mage to the mighty Herald of Andraste. Along the way, he butchered a few hundred demons, Red templars and innocent wildlife. He sided with the mages and Celene, allowed Morrigan to drink from the well, made Vivienne the new Divine (pissing off the chantry in the process) and killed the Big Bad Baddy. He had vanquished all 10 dragons, did most of the side quests and decided to call it a day. It was time to retire, with the seeker Cassandra at his side.
And that Ladies and Gentleman, is the story of my first inquisitor. I thoroughly enjoyed my 100+ hours in Thedas and intend to play a few more rounds but something feels...missing in this latest installment of the Dragon Age Series. I mean it's pretty and the areas are ginormous but let me rant. In no particular order, here are the 5 things i didn't like.
You've killed the bad guy! Yay! Wait, WHATT....!!? That was my reaction at the epilogue scene. I was not alone, apparently. Kotaku's Patricia has written an excellent piece on that head scratching scene. As a long time fan of the series, I understood what Solas was but what were the bigger implications? Is Morrigan now bound to Solas? Or if I had drunk from the well, was I now bound to Solas? What exactly is the Dread Wolf? What did he do to Flemeth? So many unanswered questions. It's nowhere near the level of ME3's ending debacle but the cynic in me yells, SEQUEL/DLC BAIT!
GINORMOUS AREAS FILLED WITH...FETCH QUESTS
It seems Bioware went over the top with their Skyrim inspiration. Quantity over Quality. I'm sure everyone feels the same way. Well, maybe not everyone. 'Please help me in this matter. Please go to X and do this.' cries NPC character #1673. Yes, Yes i will. You trudge halfway across the map or the continent to do some task and that's it. Quest completed. A huge chunk of the side missions involved mundane 'kill this and get that' or 'go here and do this'. Very few sides actually stood out. My personal favorite was Chateau d'Onterre. You trigger this mission upon entering the self titled area in the Emerald Graves. This creepy ass Chateau hides strange secrets and as you explore the area, you slowly uncover its dark past.
Such memorable quests are few and far between. Compare this to Dragon Age Origins (DA:O) side quests. I actually enjoyed DA:O side quests. They were interesting, had character and some even impacted your main story line. It's a real shame that the sides in DAI were so tedious and yawn inducing.
THE MAIN CAMPAIGN
To say the main campaign is short is an understatement. There are only 9 main missions. NINE, in a Dragon Age game. I enjoyed the main missions, especially the the Orlesian Ball. Hearing Cassandra's full name, watching everyone hit on Cullen and meeting Josephine sister, Yvette were terribly amusing but I spent more of my time collect power and closing rifts then actually completing story missions. Like what many have said, it seems Inquisition has a filler problem. A friend picked up Inquisition on release day and by the third day, was done with her first playthrough. 50 hours was all she took. Her subsequent playthroughs started to grow shorter and shorter. There is so much filler, especially the hinterlands, that people are actually forgoing a second playthrough. It doesn't help that the game only really opens up after you obtain Skyhold as your base of power. Everything before that just seems like the Prologue to the game.
Oh the bugs. I had some bugs but 2 got my goat. I had the banter bug and was absolutely pissed with it. The banter is one of the game's most prized trademarks and it got bugged. Way to go, Bioware. To their credit, they did patch it and that screwed with the faces instead. So now my companions are chattering away but my face is as smooth as a baby's bum. Also, unlucky me encountered the gender bug. I'm unsure how widespread of a problem this is but it certainly was a bummer for me. Darrius was constantly referred to as 'She' and 'My Lady'. I'm a man, goddammit! Afraid that the bug would screw up my relationship prospects (because i really wanted to go with Cassandra), I restarted my game. 30 hours flushed down the toilet. Another round of grinding at the hinterlands.
CHOICES, DID IT REALLY MATTER?
Mages or Templars? Celene, Gaspard or Briala? To drink or not to drink? The Divine, judgements on my throne. Did it really matter? Sure, my companions made their feelings known but it really, really matter? The choices in DAI felt as arbitrary as the ones in the second installment (Dragon Age 2). Maybe a difference in dialogue, cutscenes and missions but nothing as hard hitting as the choices I made in DA:O. Ok, Celene has cemented her power and outlawed Gaspard. Then what? I sided with the mages and POOF, the templars disappeared with nary a word. It felt like your choices made little difference to the story and the state of the world. In my first playthrough of DA:O i struggled with decisions at the Landsmeet. Did Loghain deserve to die? I didn't even realise i had hardened Leliana. I just clicked the option that seemed best. The decisions in DA:O felt impactful. It changed the state of Ferelden. It changed the state of your companions and where they ended up. It changed everything. In comparison, the decisions and impact made in Inquisition felt so...minuscule. Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way. Maybe I'm weird.
Despite all my ranting, I'm still gonna start on my second run. This gaming year has been full of disappointments. So thank the Maker for Dragon Age Inquisition, as flawed as it may be.