Late to the party, I know, but I got the GOTY edition of this a couple months ago and have been playing through. I'm not sure how far I am... probably 1/2-2/3 of the way through, at least trying to play pretty completeist. (I'm sure I'll miss a ton nevertheless.) And overall, it's a blast; I'm loving it. Some thoughts below, with unmarked ultra-minor, either revealed very very early or pretty much meaningless spoilers (like the name of an enemy you have a brief interaction with):
And just for reference, here's where I am:
I'm going to start out by ranting though.
The main negative is the controls. I feel like they somehow made it mostly worse than DA2, which maybe given the number of times that Bioware took something that worked well in one game and then made it much worse in later games (e.g. inventory in KOTOR vs ME1) should stop surprising me, but whatever. Tactical camera is terrible
. Even in the best case you can't zoom out nearly enough to get a good overview of the battlefield, which pretty much prevents using it outside of a pause-unpause gameplay style IMO. In my fight with Imshael the tactical camera was going absolutely wild sometimes and was completely uncontrollable; my suspicion was that when I was trying to move the camera view from the main arena to the walkway around it, it discovered that fact and tried to re-adjust the view in a way that made the control I was inputting move the view back down to the main arena. And there's often trees and other crap that completely obscures anything that's going on. I wish that they had gone back to DA:O and actually played
that instead of just saying "huh apparently people are complaining about DA2's controls being worse than DA:O, let's say
we're implementing a more DA:O-like system" but not actually figure out what made DA:O work so well. The one thing it does right over DA:O is the info about your foes that pop up if you hover over them; that's nice. And the game is
better for having it compared to if it just wasn't there... but only by a tiny bit.
The other super-duper obnoxious control thing they did (which is why I say it's worse than DA2) is remove the ability to click on ground to move there outside of tactical view, or even to click on a chest or something that you're more than six inches from (which in DA:O and DA2 would make your character.. walk over to it!). Maybe they removed that because of all of the jumping you need to do to access certain places, but I feel like there's some middle ground. And speaking of jumping, whoever designed this
jumping puzzle should be sentenced to an eternity of repeating it over and over, because they're both terrible. The second is extremely fiddly with the controls because it's very very difficult to, say, turn without walking off. The former is technically easy to do, but the problem is that the hinting is very poor of where you can actually jump. If you don't get it pretty close to just
right, you'll slide down and think that isn't the right place to try to get up. Meanwhile, the nice stair-case looking thing of broken bricks 2 feet to the right also just doesn't work.
Now, onto (mostly) good stuff.
I remember hearing a long time ago that there was no heal spell, and was reminded of that when I went to play. For a while I was really
nervous about this, especially seeing that your health doesn't recharge between fights. But I've actually come to really really like it. Barriers and guard compensate a lot for it, without being just a straight replacement for heal. And what comes out is something that I think encourages a more careful play then I had in DA:O or DA2. In those games I'd just spam heal heal heal, but you can't quite do that with DA:I. It also reminds me a bit of one of my opinions on fast-recharge health systems like are present in most FPSs now. (The one I'm most familiar with is Mass Effect 2, but the examples are countless.) What I don't like about that is, while they can add a bit of excitement (and in the case of ME2 I think make vanguard a lot more fun which almost makes me forgive it), they do it by removing a lot of tension
. If you make a mistake in ME2 or another game with fast-recharge health, one of two things happen within the next few seconds: either you die, or you duck into cover and your health recharges. In the latter case, it's like you never made the mistake in the first place. If you contrast with something like Half Life 2, if you get shot up and are at 2hp, you're at
2hp until you can find some place with a medkit, and you have to deal with that. It adds an element of "I need to not screw up here." Low-hp situations almost remind me of the older Rainbow Six games, where you had three health levels (good, injured, and dead) and if you were lucky, getting shot only dropped you one level, and that's a good
comparison. Now, back to DA. DA:O and DA2 had that tension within
a fight but not between
them; if you had a particularly brutal fight, that's OK because everything was restored when you were done. (You were still down potions I guess, which cuts into this argument some.) But in Inquisition, that's not true... if you have a bad fight, you will go into the next
fight hurting. And that means you have to be more careful and play more tactically, both in this fight and the next, and I really like that aspect. (One of the things that I really like'd about DA:O is that if you zoom out to an overheadish view, it almost feels like you're playing a real-time chess.)
And that leads me to the fight against Imshael. As I was semi-aimlessly making my way toward his location, I was being a bit careless and took some damage, and used up four of my eight health potions. (Also, I'm not very good, and this was the first time of facing encounter after encounter of enemies that I wasn't severely over-leveled for, probably because I misplayed an aspect earlier.) Then I got to the keep, where you have to fight a couple of those
strong enemies, and those further depleted my supply. I got to I------ with either 0 or 1 health potions left, and most of my regeneration potions gone. And that fight was amazing
. It was really tense, and really close. I felt like I had to pull a bunch of tricks, like a couple times have my characters stand in range of each other's regen potion uses to regain hp, and I used all four characters' focus abilities at the same time. And I got him down to about 10% health, and then his full bar of guard popped up, and I thought I was screwed... until I checked my characters and saw that Varric had three jars of bees (and, probably, some wasps), which I proceeded to chuck at him. When the fight finished, I had no health potions, no lyrum potions, no regen potions, no bees, and my inquisitor had 0hp thanks to the "don't die and toss up a barrier" ability. Close calls can happen with any health system of course, but that never would have been anywhere as tense if DA:I had either a free heal spell or the between-fights recharge thing of DA:O and DA2.
I will say a couple negative things about the spells. First, there are some spells I miss from the earlier games, in particular, crushing prison, sleep, and walking nightmare. (Also mana clash from DA:O was always fun, if removed for good reason and not in DA2.) Second, you get what feels like a really limited number of spell slots -- just 9. It's really easy to wind up with more than that, and you can't use the excess (without swapping around your quickbar only between encounters). So I've found myself picking up some extra abilities that I don't care about and will probably never use just because I'm making my way to a passive ability in the skill tree. Earlier games had this, but I felt like to a lesser extent. The other thing is I feel like your mana/stamina pool is too small. If the earlier games had a large pool with a slow recharge, this has a small pool with a fast recharge. But I don't like this, and I again make an analogy to something I don't like about ME2. In Mass Effect 1, each ability was on a separate cooldown. (It's like DA but with no/infinite mana pool and longer cooldowns.) In ME2 and ME3, all your abilities share a cooldown. But at least when I'm playing, the main thing this accomplishes is makes me use just the same one or two powers over and over. In ME1 as adept, I'd throw that enemy, lift this other enemy, singularity that group there, stasis that one in the corner, etc, and there were interesting interplays between do I use this ability that's ready now or wait for another one to become available. But in ME2, because the battlefield isn't likely to change too
much from now to three seconds from now, the same power that's useful now
is also pretty likely to be useful three seconds from now. So it gets used again and again. In Inquisition, a similar effect happens: you can't go and cast five spells in a row because your mana pool isn't big enough; but if you cast two, by the time you have enough mana for a third, your first two will be off cooldown again and quite likely are the things you'll go to. It still has more variety than ME2; there are four or five spells that I use frequently instead of just one or two. But DA:O and DA2 probably had twice that. (In some ways this mitigates the first problem because if you only use 5 spells plus a focus ability or two there's room on the quickbar for that and more, but you can't even have the excess spells available
Anyway, I haven't even started talking about the story, but I'm much more invested in it than I was in DA2. I feel like it's actually going somewhere. It's a tossup between Origins and Inquisition for which I like better, so far. Inquisition has a much bigger sense of foreboding, which I'm really liking; you don't really know what's going on as you're going (e.g. where'd all this red lyrium come from? -- I still don't know anything about this). DA:O had a solid story, but after Ostagar, you pretty much know the broad arc -- get allies using Warden treaties, confront archdemon. But with Inquisition, I "know" we'll be confronting Mr. Evil at some
point, but the threads of how we'll get there are a lot more obscure. I'm also more invested in the characters in Inquisition than in DA2; Cassandra in particular really surprised me with how well-written she is. I don't know if she's fleshed out more in the DA2 DLC, but when I heard she was going to be in it as an NPC on your side, I was like "uh, okay...", but she's great and the interplay between her and Varric is also great. I'm also surprised by how smoothly, to a large extent, the side quests fit into the story, even the "go put flowers on my wife's grave" style quests. The guy asking is prevented by the world's events, not just because he's lazy or something. (Disclaimer: this is probably the first really-open-world game of this style I've played, so maybe this is pretty typical; I'm sort of going by some of the complaints.) One thing I don't like about the quest thing is that I wish more of the info in the journal steps was conveyed in-game. Sometimes I know what to do because the journal tells me what to do, but I don't think there's any reason that the Inquisitor
would know what to do; it breaks RP a little bit for me. Just a couple lines from one of the companions suggesting something would be appreciated. (Sometimes there is one, but it is said after
the journal entry appears on screen, and that should be delayed until after the dialogue line.) I also really dislike the ever-on-screen journal thing; I have to keep going into the journal and setting the current quest as inactive. The operations mechanic is pretty neat; it makes me feel like I'm actually in charge of something big rather than having to do everything myself. I seem to be straying from the story... it's good, but I guess I don't have a lot to say at this point, not having gotten super far into it.
I am also now disappointed that I didn't play the DA2 Legacy DLC before this, though maybe less disappointed then if I had seen a "definitely play Legacy before Inquisition" warning as that might have made things too obvious.
Anyway, I've said most of what I can think of, so I'll stop rambling now.