I was under the weather yesterday and so I took a very long, deep dive into Dragon Age Inquisition. I’m just about to hit level 12, and I think I’ve finished what I’d gather is Act 1; I won’t spoil anything other than to say that I’m in a new base of operations, which I’m very much looking forward to customizing.
I still think the game is pretty terrific, but after 20+ hours I’ve also accumulated some nits that need picking.
1. Wildly Uneven Difficulty Spikes. With the notable exception of important main storyline missions that explicitly say what level you should be before taking on, there is absolutely no way of knowing if you’re properly equipped to be in a certain area of exploration. Indeed, there are even places in the Hinterlands, the opening area of the game, that I’m still having trouble with. There’s simply no way of knowing how tough a group of enemies are until they start kicking your ass. I’ll give the game credit – it creates checkpoints quite frequently, so you don’t lose too much time/effort if your party gets wiped, and it almost always respawns you in a place where, if you decide you’ve had enough, you can fast travel the hell out of there. But I’d prefer to know what I’m getting into before I get there.
2. Crafting. Now that I’ve done it a number of times and have gotten the hang of it, I quite enjoy the crafting system – especially now that I’ve got an Arcanist in my employ who can enchant my weapons and armor. More often than not, I craft stuff that’s far better than what I pick up in the field. But I do wish that I could compare what I’m about to craft with what I’m currently using, because I’ve already ended up wasting a bunch of precious materials on crafted items that didn’t necessarily make huge improvements over what I’d already had. I can at least pawn this stuff off on the members of my party that I don’t roll with all the time, so that if I suddenly end up taking them along they’re not underpowered, but it’s still a needless inconvenience.
3. Inventory Management. For the first dozen hours or so, I almost never ran into trouble with my inventory; 60 slots may not seem like much, but considering that herbs and minerals stack, I still had plenty of room for looting and pillaging. But now that I’ve gone exploring in lots of different places and have acquired a much wider variety of stuff, I’ve got a ton of crafting materials in my inventory that I can’t really get rid of until I use them (since I don’t want to sell them), and I can only use them in between missions. I’d much prefer it if I could drop off this stuff at any camp that I’ve set up, which could then be ferried off to my home base. Alternately, I’d like to be able to hold more stuff; it’s possible that this is an Inquisition Perk that I’ve yet to unlock, but right now I’m hoarding my perks together so that I can get my rogues to unlock all the impossible locked doors. (When it comes to RPGs, locked doors are my undoing, and I’m always determined to get them open somehow, even though I almost never create a rogue.)
None of these are necessarily game-breaking problems. #1 is the most problematic, and it’s the issue I’ve found myself repeatedly getting the most frustrated with, but as I noted the game does give you a few outs, and at the very least there are always other things to do, and even if I end up grinding for XP for a few hours, it never feels laborious or tedious – mostly because those missions (even the fetch quests) are well-written, and they take me to new areas that I might not have found on my own.
It’s December, which means that it’s officially time to start gearing up for GOTY posts. The games post will obviously be the biggest one; given the current state of gaming, it’s also going to be the most difficult to write. That said, I’m also going to curate a What I Read This Year post, and I’ll most likely publish a Spotify playlist of my favorite songs of 2014. So there’s that to look forward to, if you’re into that sort of thing.