Sinquistion: Things I hated about #DAI

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None of these sins are enough for me to denounce Dragon Age: Inquisition altogether, but they still should be pointed out and discussed.

Jump button and Interact button are the same.

This is never a good thing, Bioware. It’s not like modern keyboards or controllers are lacking buttons! There were at least two instances where I was trying to jump near an NPC but instead fell into an inescapable cycle of “Hey boss, how’s the weather?” “I dunno, gotta go!” “Erm, how about that weather?” “Dunno, still leaving!” For as competent as my companions say I am at being all leader-like, they sure do excuse a lot of jumping shenanigans …

MMO-style gathering.

We won’t argue how MMOs have negatively influenced Inquisition’s zone design by unnecessarily padding it with some of the shortest, dumbest, and blandest quests ever, but we will argue about this. Who in their right mind looks at MMORPGs and says, “Yeah, let me emulate the part where your character bends over every three seconds to pick up flowers!”

One, my character is the leader of a large organization and my party are some of its most important people. Furthermore, my human is Noble-born; I think he would try and find someone else to be preoccupied with where the hell to find Obsidian for stupid requisitions. I mean, just let me recruit commoners to do this nonsense or enslave elves like everyone else.

No “shared” looting, no walk-over looting.

I like how you pick and choose your influences from MMOs, Bioware. Take the absolute worst, but leave out the part where looting one corpse loots all in an area! No, you’re totally right – I love picking up one weapon at a time from that horde of bandits I just demolished. I would love a RPG that says, “You know what, your party will help you loot things too!”

I can’t be the only one who enjoys raiding some farmer’s pantry!

The search button …

Similar to the last problem, finding what you are looting can be a real pain in the ass. Thankfully, they included … NO I CAN’T LIE TO YOU – IT IS HORRIBLE. My hero runs around pinging off of interactive elements like a submarine. Half the time, it picks up a bunch of crafting nodes which my “must pick-up” lizard brain has a hard time ignoring, so I spend a lot of my adventuring time picking up stuff that I never used (I didn’t bother with crafting; I hate crafting).

I suppose they didn’t want the world to be littered with shiny things to pick up, but if they had cut the gathering bullshit and made looting easier to do, then the search button has no point outside of the stupid gimmick where it reveals an item you are looking for. Again, I am a submarine.

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Shards.

I assume shards lead to some fantastic or amazing rewards, but no, just no, never ever, ever. First, there are way too many in most levels. Second, having to spot them with a randomly placed crystal skull viewfinder is annoying and ridiculous.

I get it: you wanted some platforming and exploration elements. Instead, you just gave me even more crap to pick up off the ground for vaguely interesting reasons. Awesome, I am a submarine and a trash collector.

Real time questing!

I think two makes for a trend, so now that both World of Warcraft and Dragon Age: Inquisition – two major, non-Facebook games – are including the ‘real time’ elements, we can safely say that RPGs have jumped the shark.

No, I don’t want to turn on your game multiple times a day just to make sure my Advisors aren’t slacking off. Video games should offer an escape, not an added job. Doing anything in real time adds absolutely ZERO gameplay and ACTIVELY detracts from the experience. At least with Facebook games, I know they are trying to rob me of money. Bioware, you’re doing it because you think it is clever or hip or trendy. It is none of those things; it is evil.

Lengthy loading screen text.

Load Screen Design 101: don’t put a fucking book on a screen that loads in ~30 seconds. This isn’t the Playstation 1 era, guys! I don’t have 15 minutes to bio, actually speak to my family, remember to eat something, or read your way too fucking long loading screens. Shorten that shit to one sentence and it better be funny!

For example, “What do you call a Dwarf’s kidney stone? A kidney diamond!” You know, cause they are made of/created from/strongly related to stone already, so their kidney stones would have to be even harde … FUCK IT WE WILL DO IT LIVE.

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I want to bang everyone.

Bioware, if most of your focus is on who I can bang and you feel the need to include the clearly marked “leads to banging” dialogue button then we need to go full on soap opera. I want my companions to bang, I want to bang more than one person, I want people cheating on other people, etc. Half the time, saving the world feels secondary to banging someone anyway, so let’s just make ‘Inquisition of Our Lives’ and be done with it.

In the sequel, if I can’t get a game over because I pissed off too many of my companions or knocked up too many of them at once, then you have failed the entire human race Bioware. You’re the closest thing our horrible Western sensibilities will allow to a main stream, well-received dating simulator. Remember that.

Let me be the Companion, for a change, Bioware! #DAI

Dragon Age™: Inquisition_20150110023853Bioware did it again. They made me the one-true-hero and they did it without hesitation. Considering that Dragon Age: Inquisition is about a small group looking to create an organization capable of handling the world’s problems (namely, a giant hole in the sky), I was hoping for something a bit more subdued on the fated hero shtick.

Instead, I’m a stranger with an even stranger deus ex machina on hand. With little plot, I somehow convince a giant list of new or more established characters to accept me wholeheartedly as their leader. Why? Mostly because someone has to be in charge of assigning useless operations which all play out in Earth time.

The theme of the Inquisition itself as the hero exists within the game, but ultimately felt lost to me. Absolutely everything revolves around my character and every decision is up to me. Sure, I can listen to others protest against this or suggest that, but, without fail, it always boils down to my decision and I can go any way I please despite their concerns. In fact, I think I would have to actively try to really piss anyone off in my party.

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Just for one game, I would love to be the person behind the scenes. I realize that my character will always be out in the field because a major videogame release without action/combat sequences would be a bust – even if that is consistently Bioware’s weakest area – but why does he/she have to be the center of destiny? Why can’t I play as the companion and through my machinations, the true hero of the plot it is revealed as one of the many members of my party?

Especially with Dragon Age, the game is all about politics. You are attempting to gain power and favor to overcome a major obstacle. I loved that aspect of the game, despite Bioware’s obsession with only having a few major ‘this or that’ choices or how minor siding with certain groups felt outside of cutscenes and dialogue.

At the same time, my entire backstory is told in such a way as to highlight the truly fantastical nature of my character (an unknown quickly become the leader of a major faction), plus I am empowered to be the heroic figure of the story by my complete unique mark. I don’t want that. I want to be the one pulling the strings with themes of whether my goals are on the behalf of The Maker, my own inclinations, or an agnostic hope for a better Thedas. Those themes exist within the game, but the necessity of my uniqueness undercuts that I too am an fallible member of a fraught, dangerous, and very broken world. I have the moral authority to be in charge because I am the only one who can bring about success.

My view isn’t too alien to the overall themes and plot of Dragon Age: Inquisition. Without spoiling it, I think it is safe to say that the overall story is hardly what it seems and that my role in it is actually quite minor. I don’t think it would have been much of a stretch to dial back on a horrible overused meme in gaming and instead refocus this one RPG on playing a role that is just as prone to in-fighting, betrayal, and mistakes as those companions I so love to learn more about.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition (PS4, 2014)

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Bioware’s latest epic RPG sat on my shelf or in my PS4 for a couple months before any of it clicked with me. I had no hype for the game coming into its launch since my last three games from Bioware haven’t really won me over (Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect). The idea of an open world Bioware game, however, tricked me into thinking that this would be the game where I fell in love with Bioware again.

Only, trying to fall back in love with an ex is almost always a disaster.

From the get go, I hated the lead into Inquisition. I never played the second game and I barely remember the first. Many of the terms and concepts being thrown at me were familiar enough, but it felt a bit like a bad fantasy novel. There wasn’t really any lead into the actions. If Dragon Age: Origins had anything worth emulating, it would be the games unique background beginnings for different characters. I loved that as it gave me time to feel invested in the world, but also to understand where my character was coming from. Outside of a paragraph during character creation, Inquisition doesn’t have anything close to a starting point, and I feel the game suffers greatly for it. My character felt too much like a blank slate with zero history, motivation, etc., and his expedient rise to importance within the story felt even more cliched and dull than some of the cheesiest fantasy novels I have read.

I persevered, and though the Hinterlands offered its own additional anguish to the game’s early goings, I am glad I did. By no means is Dragon Age: Inquisition a bad game. There’s a lot to love – characters, lore, class design – and a lot to do. It is one of the most content rich games I have played in a long time. Though I avoided getting into the combat at all costs, the abilities were much improved from those in Dragon Age: Origins. It wouldn’t be for me, but I can see why someone might fall in love with this game just to explore the deeper nuances of its combat systems on a harder difficulty with an inkling to slaughter dragons.

There was also a lot for me to hate. I won’t go into heavy spoilers, but the story’s villain and the overall plot was a letdown for me. There are some background things going on that come to full light after the credits have rolled, but that just makes me feel like Bioware wanted to play it safe and be as generic as possible while also having the cool lore bits in their pocket for later.

It can be very hard for me to define the amount of fun I had with a game like Dragon Age: Inquisition. I get why the series (and Bioware) continue to have huge fans who put hundreds of hours into their games. I was fine with my 30+ and no replay though. When I play a Bioware game, I expect it to be so much more and I want it to be as revolutionary as so many reviewers, bloggers, and friends say it is, but that’s never the case for me. Their games feel formulaic and its a formula I have gone through enough times already. They continue to make interesting new worlds and put amazing characters in them, but I feel pretty done with making a series of “this or that” major decisions and deciding which NPC I want to fuck this go-round. The “open world” aspects of Dragon Age: Inquisition added absolutely nothing of interest to the formula and in many ways detracted (don’t ask me to do MMO-style gathering, dammit) from the experience.

You’ll likely enjoy Dragon Age: Inquisition, but one speedy run through was more than enough for me!

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