Dragon Age Returns!!
My final Top Five Best of Show game is one I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while: Dragon Age: Inquisition. It’s the third installment of the amazing Dragon Age franchise from Bioware, the studio that brought us Baldurs Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic, and of course Mass Effect.
I spent a good chunk of the first half of 2012 playing the first game, Dragon Age: Origins, its many DLC packs, its expansion Awakening, and the sequel. I fell in love with the world, the stories, the characters.
In creating the world of Dragon Age, Bioware managed to come up with a fresh take on the well-trodden high fantasy RPG world: Elves were destitute, broken, practically serfs; dwarves had two very distinct factions; mages were highly; disreputable and were controlled and hunted by authoritarian Templars. It’s a fascinating world rich in politics, betrayal, and hopes of rebirth.
The tensions between the mages and the Templars comes to a head in the new game.
This time around, the player can choose from four races, two genders and three classes.
It’s also Bioware’s largest game ever. The region they showed us in the demo was larger than the entire world of the first game. It also appears to be a much more “open” world than the very controlled environments of the first two games.
Your character, an Inquisitor, will be in charge of a party, and the game is very concerned with issues of leadership and influence. Your prowess at both will, in fact, change your experience in the game in significant ways.
Like the first two games, you can let the AI control your party members, or you can stop the action and micromanage them at will.
The game will also feature, for the first time in the series, mounts!
Another way you’ll be able to affect the world is by establishing strongholds throughout the game environment.
There’s a cool mechanic called The War Table – slightly reminiscent of a feature developed in Mass Effect—in which you’ll be able to strategize, send out agents and war parties and guide the story.
As per usual in a Bioware game, all of your possible party member characters have their own rich, involved story.
The environments we saw in the demo were rich, beautiful, lush and inviting. The demo also featured an epic battle with a huge dragon, in which the player and his party targeted specific limbs of the dragon in attempts to defeat it.
One of the highlights of the Dragon Age series is the fact that the game remembers choices you’ve made from game to game (Bioware’s Mass Effect trilogy did this as well). When you started Dragon Age 2, if you had a saved game file from the first game, you could choose to import it, and important decisions you made in the first game would carry over to the sequel.
Bioware wanted to have that option for Inquisition, but the fact that many players would be experiencing the game on a new console presented a challenge. To solve that, Bioware will be providing a web-based solution where players can go and “re-create” the choices they made in the first two games. This information made me VERY happy, because I care about who I made king near the end of the first game, and other choices as well.
I was also happy to learn that two of my favorite characters, Morrigan and Alistair, will definitely be returning in Inquisition.
This is one of those games I’ll want to buy the first day it comes out.
Los Angeles Times Wins the Show
On the final day of E3, the Los Angeles Times published an article with the following fantastic headline: NINTENDO’S WHITE PLAYSTATION 4 DEBUTS. When I came upon the headline, I simply stared at it stupidly for a few minutes. I mean, I had only been awake a few minutes. Was I reading this correctly? Then I wondered…”Uh.. did I miss a meeting? Did Nintendo purchase Sony?”
Then I realized with glee that it was simply a catastrophically hilarious borked headline. I immediately emailed the author of the article. I’m afraid I was a touch catty: “Have you ever even played a video game?” He assured me the mistake had already been corrected in the digital edition of the paper.
That day when I got to the show at least one booth (Gaijin) was displaying the headline and declaring it “Best in Show.”
So will the games that thrilled at E3 live up to their promise? Only time can tell. We’ll certainly let you know as we have the opportunity to play the full games over the next year.
And in the meantime, here are a few silly pictures I had made at the show.