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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What are some of your favorite moments from Dragon Age: Inquisition?
All images (© EA, BioWare) were taken by cary using GeForce Experience.