Why Dragon Age: Inquisition’s Multiplayer Is Growing On Me 2


While I plowed through Dragon Age: Inquisition’s sin­gle play­er cam­paign short­ly after release, its mul­ti­play­er seg­ment left me rel­a­tive­ly cold. I dal­lied with it briefly the first few weeks, but decid­ed I’d rather keep on play­ing as Hedda, my trusty Qunari — okay, tech­ni­cal­ly Tal-Vashoth — cham­pi­on. What a dif­fer­ence with Mass Effect 3, the cam­paign of which I prac­ti­cal­ly put on hold because I kept dip­ping into the mul­ti­play­er for ‘just one more game’.

Perhaps my ini­tial mis­giv­ings about Inquisition mul­ti­play­er were due to that com­par­i­son being fun­da­men­tal­ly unfair. When I began the ME3 mul­ti­play­er, the game had already been out for about a year, and all expan­sions were in place: new maps, every­thing bal­anced out; the game was already the well-oiled machine it still is today. Not so with Inquisition. The mul­ti­play­er there had a quite a few bugs when it came out, the move­ment was slug­gish and jit­tery here and there, much less seam­less and imme­di­ate than the tense flow of a mul­ti­play­er match in ME3.

The biggest dif­fer­ence, at least at first, lies in the maps. ME3’s mul­ti­play­er maps are essen­tial­ly boxes: small con­tained spaces, with a bunch paths and cor­ri­dors that all loop back into each other. Enemies can come from any direc­tion, and you’re con­stant­ly on your toes. Inquisition, how­ev­er, has paths. The maps are cut up into five zones and you can’t back­track; each mis­sion is a jour­ney for­ward that essen­tial­ly leads nowhere, unlike what the notion of a path sug­gests. The scenery, like that in the game as a whole, is beau­ti­ful, but in this case it sig­ni­fies noth­ing. Not that ME3’s maps are par­tic­u­lar­ly rich in sig­nif­i­cance, real­ly. However, their space and use makes that we don’t pay atten­tion to those sur­round­ings all that much. The team is under pres­sure to per­form a few tasks quick­ly, and then brace for an extrac­tion: a clear arc of get-in-and-get-out that to me feels absent in Inquisition.

Avvar

My Avvar and his stormy axe.

The Dragonslayer expan­sion to Inquisition’s mul­ti­play­er that came out ear­li­er this week does a lot to alle­vi­ate these prob­lems, how­ev­er. The three new char­ac­ters (an Avvar war­rior, the bard-like Virtuoso, and hey if it isn’t dear old Isabela!) add some nice and pow­er­ful vari­a­tion to the exist­ing mix, but it’s par­tic­u­lar­ly the new map that impressed me. In addi­tion to the three orig­i­nal areas, which were pleas­ant­ly over­hauled in the pre­vi­ous update, there is now the Fereldan Castle as a new map, an area that cul­mi­nates — as the update title sug­gests — in a bat­tle with a high drag­on.

Yep, they're still pretty big… But the bigger they are, the harder you hit.

Yep, they’re still pret­ty big… But the big­ger they are, the hard­er you hit.

The map itself feels more coher­ent than the oth­ers as well. Gone are the seem­ing­ly ran­dom branch­ing paths; we now have a con­tin­u­ous ascent, from the beach, up through the cas­tle, and final­ly to the top of a huge tower where the final bat­tle takes place. The drag­on — either a fiery, chilly, or stormy vari­ant — is always flut­ter­ing around, lob­bing balls of death at your band of adven­tur­ers when you real­ly, real­ly don’t want it to. To be able to fight and defeat it, though, some­one has to ring an ancient gong in the third zone of the map, an item which has to be craft­ed before­hand and can only be used once. Even when the mis­sion does­n’t cul­mi­nate in a drag­on bat­tle, though, the map still feels like a much more nat­ur­al jour­ney than the oth­ers.

Having spent some hours again in the Inquisition mul­ti­play­er the past few days, I feel like the game is final­ly com­ing into its own. It still feels dif­fer­ent from ME3 mul­ti­play­er, and that’s actu­al­ly a good thing. The mul­ti­play­er seg­ments of both games match the gen­er­al tone of their respec­tive host set­tings: cramped and in ME3, journey-based, open, and pro­gres­sive in Inquisition.


Odile Strik

About Odile Strik

Odile A. O. Strik is editor-in-chief of The Ontological Geek. She is also a linguist from the Netherlands. She occasionally writes in other places, such as her own blog Sub Specie. You can read her innermost secrets on Twitter @oaostrik.


2 thoughts on “Why Dragon Age: Inquisition’s Multiplayer Is Growing On Me

  • Bill Coberly

    I keep mean­ing to get more into the mul­ti­play­er and for­get­ting to. I have to say, get­ting the chance to play Isabela makes me more like­ly to give it anoth­er shot!

    • Oscar Strik

      I should warn you about the fol­low­ing then: You get one free ‘Dragonslayer chest’ which con­tains one of the three new class­es at ran­dom — I got the Avvar, as you can see. The other two, how­ev­er, cost loads of resources to craft, much more than the reg­u­lar class­es. In other words, you’ll most like­ly be stuck with the one new class you get for a while. On the upside: all three seem very inter­est­ing. The Avvar has an ele­men­tal war­rior thing going on, the Virtuoso is a mage–bard with a vari­ety of area of effect buffs and spells, and Isabela is prop­er­ly piratey, with, if I’m not mis­tak­en, pis­tol and cross­bow pow­ers and loads of poi­son. That’s what struck me when see­ing oth­ers play her.

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