Listmas 2017: Five “New” Discoveries I’ve Made While Replaying Dragon Age: Inquisition

In early 2015, I ran through Dragon Age: Inquisition — quite literally, I mean, at about fifty hours of play. I sped around Thedas, did away with all the enemies, and saved the day. That was that, and I moved on. I didn’t give the game much thought again until recently when I replayed Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II. Both replays proved to be much richer than my initial playthroughs, so I wanted to see if the same might happen with DA:I. So for my second time with Dragon Age: Inquisition (which will, this time, include all the DLC) I’m doing a far more thorough playthrough. As such, I’m discovering all sorts of small surprises that I had overlooking, ignored, or otherwise missed. The game remains an unfortunate slog at points, but uncovering new bits and pieces of its world has helped the slog become…well, less sloggy. Because now, rather than anguish over one…more…stupid…shard, I consider that traveling to find said shard might lead to finding a new cave or opening up new dialogue between companions. In honor of this, here’s my first Listmas 2017 list of five new (to me) discoveries that I’ve made so far in my second playthrough of Dragon Age: Inquisition.


1) Casual (and not so casual) companion moments

When I first played DA:I, I felt overwhelmed by the number of companions the game offered. As such, I only ended up really conversing with a couple folks, and I think that my lack of wanting to engage with my companions led to a poorly seasoned playthrough. This time, however, I’m working to fix that by talking with my companions as much as I can. And while the conversations are interesting, I enjoy more watching their slight reactions and facial expressions. From partaking in Iron Bull’s cheerful/sullen laughs while drinking to watching Cassandra’s angst-ridden eyes light up as she grapples with her faith. Going beyond facial expressions, one scene featured a private moment between my Inquisitor and Blackwall. As she was pacing around her room, she turned suddenly to find Blackwall casually leaning against the doorway. His stance was so perfectly naturally that it belied his nervousness. The moment was gone in a split-second, but it was significantly heart-lifting nonetheless.

Sharing a word, or seven, with the Iron Bull.

2) The quiet atmosphere while exploring

DA:I has an incredible soundtrack, though you probably wouldn’t know it from the game. I didn’t catch much from the music when I first played the game, and now I’m remembering why. While music plays key roles in a handful of scenes, the game is remarkably quiet. And…I don’t mind it. Some games, RPGs in particular, will offer up various themes that play in the background that change as you explore different regions. But other games, like DA:I, take an even quieter approach. When I’m out in the wilds of Thedas, sometimes a quiet, atmospheric theme will hug the background. Other times, it’s totally silent – just me and the environmental sounds. It’s the perfect a session of easy-going exploring, as I focus on where I’m going and what I’m doing rather than any background tunes. I enjoy ambient music as much as anything, but sometimes in games it can get in the way of hearing something important, like a gathering of enemies or a dragon call. However, I suppose that the flip side of this is that if you’re not listening to music, then the world’s sounds should probably be pretty interesting, and that’s not always the case in DA:I. Alas, you can’t win ‘em all.

Taking a moment to enjoy the moonlight.

3) Your own personal wardrobe

Given how much I enjoy character customization, I cannot believe that I completely missed two major instances of it in DA:I the first time around. One is that there’s a spot in the Undercroft in Skyhold that allows you to tint armor! Oh, you had best believe that I now use and abuse this feature every time I get bored with the colors of my Inquisitor’s outfit. (It stinks that tinting uses up resources, if scantly, but that’s the price I’ll pay for wanting ALL THE DYES!) The other is the Inquisitor’s closet…err, armoire? Set of drawers? Whatever it is, it’s a spot in the Inquisitor’s quarters, again in Skyhold, that allows you to change regular clothes. Shame on me, but I was totally floored when I found this, because it didn’t even know that the Inquisitor had personal quarters until this second playthrough! I can’t believe that I spent that entire first playthrough in boring beige when I could be gotten all fancied up in regal wear or spangly armor! Now, I can have my Inquisitor change clothes every day like a normal person! Um, not that I’m going that far…yet.

Teal and tan looks alright, but how about…
…green and gray? I like it, yet…
…lavender and white looks super sleek, however…
…orange and silver is all good now. The halla gets it.

4) Those changing character cards

Once again falling into the “I didn’t pay attention the first time” bucket is noticing that your companion’s cards on the character selection screen (the spot where you choose the three folks who will accompany you on any given mission) change depending on what personal quests you’ve undertaken with them. It’s a small but cool feature that just adds a little bit more depth to the status of your companions and the relationships you’ve forged with them. Whether they’ve grown in some manner or been affected by one or more of the game’s events, it’s displayed in the cards. It’s a subtle for effective ploy that again makes the companions less static and more realistic.

I forgot to get a screenshot of the cards. Concerned Blackwall is concerned.

5) Nods to Dragon Age: Origins

According to the basic premise of DA:I, the events of Dragon Age: Origins – namely, the Bight — occurred ten years prior. And it’s been interesting discovering the ways in which people remember it, or don’t. When I first played DA:I, DA:O was a distant memory. DAII was fresher in mind. So when Hawke came along in DA:I, my primary focus was on connecting her fate to the events of the Inquisition. Having now replayed DA:O, I’m noticing that there are far stronger connections/memories in the game concerning the Blight and the Grey Wardens. What’s even more interesting is how your companions remember what happened in DA:O, from Sera writing it off as ancient history to Blackwall “feeling” as it if it only happened yesterday. (His Grey Warden-ship may be suspect…) Hawke may briefly become the center of attention in the game, but the phrase “hero of Fereldan” has come up in more conversations than I can recall.

Why, hello Mr. Alistair, how nice to see you again.

What are some of your favorite moments from Dragon Age: Inquisition?

All images (© EA, BioWare) were taken by cary using GeForce Experience.

13 Comments Add yours

  1. simpleek says:

    I love that you’re discovering all of this now! This is why games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect are the ones I won’t speed run my way through. I’ve got to turn over every stone until I’m fully satisfied knowing I’ve seen and done everything this game has to offer.

    The character cards changing in the codex is a really nice touch and the art itself is beautiful. It also looks like the pretty illustrations of a tarot card, and admittedly, I would love a deck of cards that had these specific illustrations on them. DA:I is high up there on my list of favorite games for much of the reasons you’ve described. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Despite having played the game before this, I’m really blown away by DA:I’s artistic style. Maybe it’s become I’m playing it on a small screen up close (before, it was on a big TV) that I’m just noticing it more. Everything is so detailed and so pretty, and it’s obvious that BioWare sought to give the game a style of its own while maintaining links to past DA games. And I agree that a desk of cards with the various character card illustrations would be awesome! That would be a nice collectors item, for sure.

      You’d think I’d know by now that big games take time, haha. But in the past, I think I caved all too often to that feeling of “must play ALL the games!” So games like DA:I took a hit. Now that I’m more in the mode of “I’ll play what I want when I want, and for however long I want!” gaming is becoming truly fun again. Doesn’t matter if a game takes three weeks or three month to complete — enjoying your time with it is what’s key.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I did pay a bit more attention than you the first time I played DA:I but even so playing it again there’s so much left to discover and every time I play it I find something new, I love how much detail and thought they put into the companions’ stories and personalities and that makes it so hard to make decisions sometimes (I’m mainly thinking of a decision in Iron Bull’s quest but I don’t know if you’ve done that so won’t spoil it)!
    I actually really acting as a judge in Skyhold and sentencing people, some of those can be really hard and others can be kind of fun (like the goat one). I’m so glad you’ve been discovering all of these things now! It’s always great when you find a game has more to give than you thought it did.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. cary says:

    Hmm, I don’t think that I’ve undertaken Iron Bull’s quest yet, but I’ll have to look back into my journal and see. I know that I finished missions for Varric and Cole, both of which required some heavy thinking. (The one with Cole involved Solas, and once again, he got mad at me. No matter what I do, Solas and I just can’t get along!) I’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how different characters react to different situations and act during different conversations. Not a single person is a one-note trope. It’s brilliant!

    I did preside over that guy with the goat, and I couldn’t stop laughing! DA:I is nothing if not full of surprises. 🙂

    Like

  4. Posts like this detail the beauty of games like Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and the Elder Scrolls series. There’s just so much to digest that things are bound to go unnoticed on their initial playthroughs. My favorite part of Inquisition is the party banter while exploring the open world. There are some really great conversations and quips that really build the characters and forge these virtual relationships that would largely go unmentioned if you didn’t diversify your party. On my first playthrough I mostly used Dorian and Sera, which had great banter — but they became the only two companions I grew to know on a deeper level. I made it a point to pair everyone together with everyone else, even if it was just to go farm crafting materials and listen to the converse with one another.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      I loved having Sera and Dorian together! Then again, I think Sera is fun to pair with most of the companions, especially Iron Bull and Vivienne. This time around, I’m also mixing up my companions more, especially during routine missions. (I had no idea that Cassandra and Iron Bull were so…flirty!) Getting to know my companions better has lent so much more to the game. It’s definitely making DA:I feel like much more fulfilling experience. I am still focusing in on a few key folks generally (someday I will get Solas to like me!) but taking the time to check it with everyone more frequently than not has ultimately been a good thing.

      Like

      1. I felt the same way playing Mass Effect Andromeda. Some of the best dialogue is in the banter while driving around and exploring planets together, not in the main story.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. cary says:

        Total thumbs up there. I loved hanging out with my crew in the Nomad. They were all so opinionated and engaging. Good stuff!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Peebee faking an orgasm just to prove that Jaal was pretending to be asleep had me laughing pretty hard. Peebee paired with just about everyone made for good conversations, especially Cora. Cora and Jaal were a nice pair too.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. cary says:

        Hahahaha…oh, Peebee. She was definitely my favorite to have around. My personal fav trio was Jaal, Peebee, and Vetra, who was far too dry for her own good.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I loved Jaal and Peebee (*stares at Funko Pops*) and grew to like Cora and Liam after their loyalty missions and bringing them around for side-questing. Definitely used Drack the least and felt he was severely under utilized.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. cary says:

        Agreed. I enjoyed hanging around with Drack (he was my unofficial fourth). But his story turned out to be very lackluster, unfortunately.

        Like

  5. cary says:

    Reblogged this on Recollections of Play and commented:

    It’s Listmas, y’all! Yes, it’s that fanciful time of year where we take a break from our regularly scheduled programing into order to have fun with lists! Over on Virtual Bastion, we kicked off #Listmas2017 with some great stuff, and here’s my first entry for the month. As I’m quite thoroughly replaying Dragon Age: Inquisition, here’s my list of some of the “new” things I’ve discovered while revisiting Thedas.

    Like

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