Bioware’s level of quality has been in question ever since their merger with EA in 2005. Mass Effect 2 was every bit as epic as the first game was, however, the changes being made were apparent in the gameplay. It was clear that they were going in more of an action/shooter direction with less hardcore RPG elements than in the original Mass Effect.
Dragon Age: Origins was also published under EA, and in my personal opinion it is hands down Bioware’s best RPG last generation. Many fell in love with the world of Thedas, its characters and the deep lore. Then in 2011 the sequel released and this was when most people started to lose faith in the Bioware brand.
Dragon Age 2 gave gamers less control over their party member’s equipment, and it dumbed down the combat elements significantly to make the game more accessible. Not only that, but the re-used environments along with the fact that the game pretty much takes place in one city was seen as a very lazy approach.
Further complaints were made about the story’s diversion from the original games themes and characters. I personally feel as though the story was Dragon Age 2‘s strongest point. Both the Dragon Age games and the books have made me a strong supporter of lead writer David Gaider‘s work, and I feel like his (along with the other writers) efforts are what saved Dragon Age 2 from being a complete atrocity.
Fast forward to 2012 and we finally get the long anticipated Mass Effect 3. Though the game gave us one hell of a ride, most players couldn’t help but feel cheated at the end of the experience. It felt like all those choices that were made to seem so crucial were actually baseless in the end. On top of that, someone could have easily mistook the game to be Gears of War.
With Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3 both heavily criticized, it became cool to knock Bioware. Many even blame EA as the reason for the dip in quality from the studio.
Fast forward to now. Dragon Age Inquisition is three weeks away, and I may be jumping the gun, but from everything I’ve seen I believe that this will be the game to redeem Bioware’s reputation. Here are some of the reasons why I believe this.
Origins allowed players to pick from different races and classes, and this stuff actually altered the experience significantly, making new play-through’s exciting due to it being a completely different experience. Your race affected how people responded to your character in the world, and at the time it was amazing to get such a dynamic experience.
Dragon Age 2 was completely stripped of this element. Players were forced to play as Human Hawke, and they were only able to customize his appearance and class.
Dragon Age Inquisition will again be offering the chance for players to pick from different races, and this time around there’s even a race we’ve never been able to select before, the Qunari. The fact that they’ve brought this stuff back means they’re once again going to give us a dynamic experience that shapes around the player’s choices.
Commanding the Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inqusition will allow you to command the entire Inquisition. Meaning while you’re out handling business, your other team members will be handling tasks that you’ve set for them. This goes to show that the game will bring back a huge element of strategy, which was missing from previous Bioware titles.
Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3 were pretty much instant gratification games. Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect were all about building your character and team for long term gains. We want to be able to think about our approach to situations even 20 hours into the game, instead of just slashing through everything without much control over our approach.
With a lot of emphasis being put on controlling the Inquisition and defending The Keep, it seems the strategy elements will keep us on our toes once again.
Intricate combat system
One of the biggest criticisms for Dragon Age 2 was the simplified battle system that consisted of spamming attacks and waiting for them to cool down. There was also a lack of tactical mode, which is pretty much what makes the game a joy to play.
Previously, tactical mode was something more optimized for PC because it allowed you to pause and zoom in and out. But Inquisition will be bringing the mode in all its glory to the consoles. The mode allows you to pause during combat, zoom out to see enemy positions and plan attacks accordingly.
They’re not just slapping the mode back in either, they’ve made updates to it. This time you can do things such as alter the direction of your attacks to damage multiple enemies. This just goes to show Bioware’s willingness to evolve and adapt to all levels of hardware.
Dragon Age: Keep
Dragon Age: Keep will be a app you can get on mobiles, computers and tablets. It will allow you to relive moments from the previous games (with voice work included) and rebuild your choices. You’ll then be able to import these decisions into Inquisition no matter which platform you intend to play the game on.
When you’re playing a Bioware title these days, being able to import your previous gameplay choices is important. Now they’ve found a way to take away the headaches that come from moving to new platforms. I’m sure we’ll see this same method used for the future Mass Effect game.
40 Major endings
Your decisions mattered very little to the outcome of the game in both Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3. Of course Mass Effect 3 was worse considering it was supposed to wrap up three games worth of decision making. But even Dragon Age 2‘s lacking conclusion was enough to disappoint the fan base. Even if it did set up the Inquisition nicely.
Bioware are now boasting the possibility of witnessing 40 different major endings in Dragon Age Inquisition. These endings are all dependent on the choices you make.
To emphasize how big a deal this is, I would like to quote none other than Albus Dumbledore. “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
With everything I have highlighted above, I feel like Bioware are dead-set on redeeming themselves to fans. They know how much fans have been displeased with their previous games, but it’s impossible for them to go back and fix it. Instead they’ve worked long and hard at creating a new masterpiece that’s offering everything fans have been asking for and more.
Whether you’re into the Dragon Age world or not, this will be the experience that shows Bioware are still in the game (I promise that wasn’t an EA pun).