The lights are on
gave us a considerable amount of new information about Dragon Age:
Inquisition for our September cover story, so the last thing we
expected to encounter at PAX Prime was a brand new demo. BioWare
exceeded our expectations with a 40-minute presentation packed with
One of the
things BioWare wanted to bring back to the series with Inquisition is
the sense of dilemma when facing decisions. When each of the options
presents difficult consequences, what do you do? For instance, would
you help someone gain control of the crown if they pledged to further
your cause, even if that decision would cost the current ruler his
life? This is the sort of situation your Inquisitor will face in this
world of ever-growing chaos.
To show these
concepts in action, we jump into the game as he Inquisitor and his
party of Varric, Vivienne, and Cassandra are on the outskirts of a
Ferelden town called Crestwood. The party has to return to the region
because another rift has opened right off the coast of the town. A
splinter faction known as the Red Templars, who are essentially
Templars who have taken to using Red Lyrium, is threatening the town
for unknown reasons. The player could abandon the town altogether,
but doing so wouldn't help aid the cause of the Inquisition. Should
you choose to participate in the counterattack, you still need to
make several tough decisions.
A group of
wounded soldiers are gathered nearby with a small force of capable
fighters. They report that the town is under attack, and that the Red
Templars are close to breaking into the keep as well. As the
commanding officer, you need to decide the best course of action. You
could have these fighters stay to protect the wounded, which would
boost morale but require you to move hastily to repel the invading
forces in both the town and the keep. Doing both is very challenging,
so odds are you would lose one or the other. You could instruct the
soldiers to fortify the keep, and deal with the town assault
yourself. This approach would leave the wounded to parish. Another
option would be to send the troops to the town and deal with the keep
yourself. The fifth and sixth choices would be to concentrate all of
your forces into either saving the down or protecting the keep. If
you lose the town, you lose all of the missions available in the
town. If you lose the keep, you lose a valuable asset in your quest
to repel the demons entering the world through the breach in the
rep playing the game goes all in to save the keep, much to Varric's
chagrin. Your choices in these deciding moments will either test or
strengthen your relationship with your companions; don't expect
everyone to agree with you at all times.
Moving up the
hill to the keep, lead designer Mike Laidlaw points out the
implementation of the ANT animation system borrowed from the EA
Sports label and DICE. As the Inquisitor moves up the hill you see
him lean into it, and trudging through the mud near the shore his
movement is visibly hindered.
reaching the keep the party passes the several Red Templar boats
parked on the shore. The player could choose to ignore them, but the
BioWare rep decides to torch them with Antivan Fire, which cuts off
their escape. Mages could also burn them with a flame spell.
cave underneath the keep, the player lights a torch with an enchanted
flame called veilfire, which burns eternally. This magical light also
has the ability to reveal ancient markings on cave walls, but the
party doesn't have time for archeological investigations. They catch
up to the Red Templars attempting to breach the keep, and combat
The action is
fast and furious, as the Inquisitor uses a Scorpion-like hookshot to
drag enemies into his sword's radius, and then finishes them with
brutal swings. The combat doesn't scale in Dragon Age Inquisition, so
if you return to an area at a much higher level than you were before
you can make quick work of the region's enemies. On the flip side of
that coin, every area has more difficult threats that you won't be
able to defeat your first go around, so tread lightly.
are accompanied by a towering pet behemoth with a thick layer of
armor that prevents the party from taking him down. Cassandra uses
her shatter armor skill to expose the demon and blows her war horn to
keep its attention, which gives the rest of the party a window to
focus its attacks on the chink in the armor.
fight the party's health doesn't immediately recover as it did in
previous games, so the Inquisitor drinks a health potion. BioWare
says players will have a finite number of potions, so you need to use
them judiciously during the course of an adventure.
onslaught repelled, the party heads to the town, but it's too late.
Charred corpses litter the ground; it appears there are no survivors.
Dejectedly, Varric kneels down over the slaughtered innocent - it's
clear he thinks the player made the wrong decision.
From here the
demo jumps to a desert region in western Orlais. During the Second
Blight, the Wardens built large keeps to repel the demons in this
area, and it was once a research hotbed for the Tevinter Imperium.
The party has traveled here to drive out a cult known as the
Venatori, which opposes the power of the Inquisition. To make the
final assault easier, they have poisoned their wells and picked off
venturing parties to weaken their numbers.
the horizon, Varric mentions that he sees something worth
investigating in the distance. Party members will occasionally point
out areas of interest to you, but Laidlaw says not everything will be
blatantly told to you. Exploring these regions will allow you to
uncover many secrets. If you stumble upon a cave, don't worry about
long load times. BioWare hasn't separated these areas from the rest
of the world, so you can seamlessly walk in and out of them at any
soldiers are patrolling the area outside the keep gates, and they
don't immediately engage the Inquisitor once they spot his or her
party. This allows players to quickly gear up before rushing into a
combat scenario. For this fight, the player selects an enchanted
the enemies, suddenly the action pauses and camera pulls away into an
overhead view. Yes, the pause and play tactics are returning, and
this time it's coming to all platforms. While in this view you can
queue up commands for your party members, watch them play out, and
re-pause the game at any time to alter your strategy.
welcoming party taken care of, the group walks up to a hulking
wrought iron gate. To infiltrate the keep, the party could circumvent
its walls to find a vulnerable area to climb, discover a series of
ancient tunnels that leads right to the keep, or, as in this case,
use Cassandra's shatter armor ability to break down the door.
keep, a large number of cult members are waiting to repel the attack.
Vivienne freezes the ground level enemies, which gives the Inquisitor
a small window to run past them and strike the support beam holding
up the bridge where the archers are positioned. With the beam
severed, the archers are buried in a heap of rubble.
Not all these
Venatori grunts are so weak. The next group of foes is led by a
shielded enemy, who is invulnerable to spells, arrows, and head-on
attacks. To take this guy down, Cassandra blows her war horn to keep
his focus on her while the others flank his position to take him out.
The last group
of enemies features a Venatori Conjuror, who immediately enchants the
weapons of his legion. Vivienne creates a wall of ice to stymie their
attacks, which buys them time to dispel the conjurer's spells. The
player notices that most of the enemies are grouped closely together,
so he uses the powerful Fire Storm spell to call down a strike from
the heavens. This area attack makes short work of the Venatori. The
Inquisitor walks over to raise his flag, and the keep is theirs.
Once you are
in control of a keep, it unlocks several mission types. You could
choose to concentrate the keep on espionage or commerce, or just
redouble your military efforts. Each unlocks new opportunities to
deploy your agents, which are your primary activists in the
Inquisition. For this keep, some of the options BioWare mentions are
rebuilding a nearby Steel Colossus, opening up the West Gate, or
searching for alchemical artifacts. You have a limited number of
agents, so you much choose carefully.
concludes with the game's namesake. While the party is crossing the
desert, a fearsome dragon circles overhead. After scorching the earth
with a blaze of fire, it violently lands on the ground, turning a few
pillars into rubble in the process. BioWare says each dragon is hand
crafted to offer a unique challenge, and these battles should not be
To read more
about Dragon Age: Inquisition, visit our cover story hub.
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