All games begin with a promise.
Sometimes, it will be a promise made by the developer. “A truly living, breathing open world experience” is a promise that has been trotted out multiple times at every E3 since Grand Theft Auto 3 defined what an open world videogame really was.
Sometimes, that promise will be made between the player and the game.
In Gran Turismo it is, “One day, you will be able to own and drive a ’69 Ford GT40 Racecar” or, “One day, you will set the fastest lap on Laguna Seca.”
It is in the RPG that the promises made are the most far reaching and grandiose.
In Dark Souls it is, “You will someday slay the Dragon that has killed you a dozen times,” or “One day it will be you invading another player’s world and stabbing them in the back.” With Dark Souls, the other promise the game and developer made was that, “You will die.” Sometimes, promises made by games are understated, though this does not happen often.
In Skyrim the promise is that you can go anywhere and do anything. In the opening moments of the game, as you see a deer trundle down a forest path and disappear into rolling hills, all under the shadow of a mountain, the promise is, “You can climb that mountain.”
That Skyrim more or less meets every promise that Bethesda made belies the story of its success – in a game in which players will want to do almost anything, you almost can.
With Dragon Age Inquisition, the promises come thick and fast.
“Long-term, we wanna get the studio back to the point where we are doing the Baldur’s Gates, where you feel like there’s this openness, this freedom,” says creative director Mike Laidlaw on Kotaku.
There is a refined combat system which Polygon reports as being, “designed to strike a balance between Origins and Dragon Age 2, blending action with tactical strategy.”
Both Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2 were titles which were built on promises that were unfulfilled. The greatest promise of all was the simplest – Bioware are developing. This, by extension meant that the games would be modern classics in the mold of Knights Of the Old Republic or Baldur’s Gate.
Whilst fine examples of classic and modern RPGs respectively, both Origins and Dragon Age 2 suffered in the shadows of their predecessors.
For many fans, the promise made by Dragon Age: Inquisition is this – “We promise we will not screw this up.”
With the gaming press at large finally being given hands on time with the game the consensus is this – Dragon Age: Inquisition looks like it might finally deliver on the promise and potential of the previous games in the series.
And then some.
With a huge and varied open world that seeks to erase all memories of being trapped inside Kirkwall, Dragon Age: Inquisition looks to be the epic fantasy RPG we all hoped it would be. Playing as an Inquisitor hoping to stem an invasion of Darkspawn, the player will raise an army, capture and maintain keeps whilst attempting to restore order to a land heavy with civil war, infighting and the ever present threat of being overrun by demons.
The checklist of features in Inquisition amount to an effort by Bioware to win back fans that were disillusioned with the last game.
Multiple playable races, with previous antagonists Qunari joining humans, elves and dwarves as potential player characters.
The ability to pause combat at any time and command your party in a top down tactical view alongside being able to control any party member during combat.
A refined dialogue system that allows players to clearly see the results of any given dialogue choice – hopefully to limit the occurrence of players committing heinous acts due to poorly defined dialogue options.
Dragons that are “part of the world and… each is designed to be a unique encounter. They fly, breathe fire, smash through the terrain… they’re massive beasts.”
Then there are new additions such as limited environmental destruction that will no doubt enhance the chaos of reportedly huge battles and add to the meatier, more responsive looking combat. Players will now acquire agents ala Assassin’s Creed- specialized, non party units you recruit over the course of the game to dispatch on specific, off screen tasks which feed back into the main experience. The acquisition and maintenance of the aforementioned keeps, which will serve as vital strongholds during the conflict as well as centres of commerce or intelligence, depending on player customization.
With Dragon Age: Inquisition due for release Autumn 2014, it is early days yet but all signs point to Bioware delivering a game that will enthrall players new to the franchise as well as bringing those unhappy with Dragon Age 2 back into the fold.
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