When it comes to big fantasy RPGs, players expect certain elements to be present. A powerful story, interesting characters, and satisfying progression are just a few of the pillars of the genre. Multiplayer is not high on that list of expectations, but maybe that’s because players haven’t seen it done well enough to want more. Dragon Age: Inquisition could change that.

Multiplayer is new to the Dragon Age franchise, and some people may be tempted to dismiss it as a half-baked or tacked-on attempt to expand an audience. Not only is that a misconception, but it also opens the door to other faulty assumptions about multiplayer and its role in Inquisition. If you have doubts about BioWare’s intent for this mode, these refutations of potential complaints should put your mind at ease.

“No one wants multiplayer in an RPG.”
The success of Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer clearly demonstrates that some people do want modes like this from RPGs. However, if you’re not one of those people, that’s okay; the two parts of the game exist independently from each other. Unlike the concept of galactic readiness in Mass Effect 3, your single-player experience is not significantly impacted by your performance in the co-op operations. On the other hand, if you do play multiplayer, you may be treated to seeing some characters from the mode wandering around the Inquisition’s captured keeps. Apart from nods like that, the economies and progress between the two modes are separate.

“Multiplayer doesn’t make sense in the Dragon Age universe.”
Dragon Age: Inquisition is primarily the story of one hero who leads the Inquisition and establishes its power. While that hero’s tale is the focus of the single-player adventure, the Inquisition is far more than a one-person operation. It has agents all over the world, and since the Inquisitor can’t be everywhere at once, these agents need to act themselves to confront threats. If you think of your co-op exploits as a small front in a much larger war, the idea of multiplayer in Dragon Age doesn’t seem far-fetched at all.

“It’s stealing valuable resources from the single-player campaign.”
The idea that Inquisition’s single-player campaign is suffering seems a bit ridiculous when you get a sense of the size of the game. The zones are huge, they are packed with sidequests, and players are able to unlock even more optional areas via the war room. Even at this pre-release phase, exploration, combat, and crafting all feel like complete systems with plenty of depth. We won’t see the final level of polish until the game releases, but if anything is being shortchanged by the inclusion of a multiplayer mode, I sure couldn’t tell during my hands-on time.

“It’s Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, but with swords.”
Inquisition’s multiplayer is definitely taking some cues from Mass Effect 3, but it builds on that foundation to create an even deeper and more customizable experience. First of all, you aren’t just fighting off waves of enemies in the same location. You progress through an area, like a dungeon-crawl, encountering groups of enemies along the way. The paths you take are randomized, so the geography of each operation is a bit different. You also have more options between matches, since Inquisition has a crafting system that lets you salvage unwanted gear to create something you can use. For instance, if you are only interested in playing the Elementalist (a damage-focused mage), you don’t need bows or swords that you may get in your randomized loot. Instead of just sitting there useless, you can break these weapons down into crafting components, which you can then assemble into a new staff that you can actually use. This way, nothing is wasted, and you have greater control over how you outfit your characters. Of course, the whole thing doesn't stray so far from the Mass Effect 3 formula as to lose what made it successful; for a full breakdown of how multiplayer functions, read my step-by-step guide.

“It’s just a way to nickel-and-dime players.”
This implies some sort of steady drip of classes, maps, and weapons for players to purchase – which is only half true. Yes, BioWare will continue to support Inquisition’s multiplayer with new DLC, but it will all be free. New classes, gear, enemies, and operations are all possibilities, along with weekend challenge events that also carry special rewards for those who finish them. BioWare plans to provide this kind of support over the long term – even longer than Mass Effect 3, which was receiving free updates for nearly a year after release. Players can download this content without paying, but unlocking it means playing a lot of the game and building up enough in-game currency to buy chests (which contain random assortments of armor, weapons, potions, etc). If you want to speed up your progression, that’s where the option to pay real money comes in, but everything is accessible if you would rather invest time instead of money.

Are you planning to play Dragon Age: Inquisition multiplayer with your friends? Share your hopes and expectations for the mode in the comments below.