I want to believe in Dragon Age: Inquisition

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Reviews went up pretty early for Dragon Age: Inquisition and the consensus appears to be that Bioware’s fantasy franchise is back on track. I want to believe the reviews. I want to believe the hype. I want to believe in Bioware again.

I reviewed Dragon Age II in 2011 and called it a great game with a solid story that was hampered by lazy level design and restrictive character progression. I scored that game an 8.5, a score I almost want to reconsider.

I actually took the chance and played a little bit of Dragon Age II last month. I never finished the final DLC package for the game, the Felicia Day starring Mark of the Assassin, and decided to fire the game up to clear some space. Boy was that a mess. Yeah the signature Bioware flare and conversations were all there, but without the sweeping overarching story, there was really nothing driving me forward to play the DLC chapter other than the goal of completion. What was left without that story was the mechanics of the game, naked in all its flaws.

I remember referencing the difference between Origins and II stating that the decision to streamline Dragon Age II’s skill progression and speeding up the combat both worked against the success of the game as a whole. This truth was even more evident in my brief playthrough as Tallis (the new companion in Mark of the Assassin) was a dual-wielding rogue, exactly like my Hawke. What resulted was an AI controlled character that constantly fought with me to keep spacing in fights and often found herself in trouble, leading to a couple ugly wipes against the harder fights in that game.

Any tactical advantage that would have been gained in Origins was negated by the decision to make Dragon Age II a frenetic, almost button-mashy, RPG. Complete with characters you are essentially locked into playing with.

So when review outlets are saying Dragon Age: Inquisition is a step in the right direction, I get the simultaneous sensations of excitement and dread. Because I want to believe that Bioware, some of the greatest storytellers in modern gaming, can remember how to actually craft a game.

EA Delays Dragon Age: Inquisition and Battlefield Hardline

Battlefield Hardline

One of the ongoing punchlines regarding Electronic Arts’ E3 press conference this year was that it would be a pretty solid one…for 2015. Maybe the conglomerate is taking that criticism a little too literally.

In the span of two days, Electronic Arts made statements that both Dragon Age: Inquisition and Battlefield Hardline would be delayed. While Dragon Age: Inquisition will still make the 2014 Fall lineup after being delayed six weeks to November 18, Battlefield Hardline is being pushed all the way back into 2015, with no timetable given beyond “early 2015.”

Dragon Age: Inquisition

This is a particularly big sting for Electronic Arts as Battlefield Hardline was one of their tentpole franchises they have used to stay competitive with Activision and UbiSoft. Without Hardline in its Fall lineup, EA really has no action games to rely on for the remainder of the year.

Battlefield Hardline had come under a bit of scrutiny following its pre-E3 leak and subsequent E3 showing. Perception was that despite the game’s new twist focusing on a cops & robbers dynamic, it looked no different from any other Battlefield game and that it lacked the sheer mass and scope that Battlefield has become known for. With the additional pressure that Battlefield Hardline was facing following both the disastrous launch of Battlefield 4 and the lukewarm performance of Titanfall, losing Hardline for 2014 has to be a blow to a Fall slate only lined with EA Sports titles, Dragon Age: Inquisition and The Sims 4.

Battlefield Hardline

Hopefully Visceral Games and DICE will be able to tighten up the game for its 2015 launch as they have made multiplayer the development priority. DICE Vice President Karl Magnus Troedsson wrote about the delay on the Battlefield blog, citing a desire to make the multiplayer experience more innovative, create story depth and ensure the stability of the game.

Battlefield Blog – Why Battlefield Hardline will launch in 2015
Dragon Age – Dragon Age Inquisition Update

My favorite BioWare moments

Gaming blog Screen Play, written by Jason Hill of The Sydney Morning Herald, featured a fan driven competition in search of gamer’s most memorable moments from BioWare’s many successful franchises. The contest, which ran in recognition of the release of BioWare’s Dragon Age II highlighted gamer’s memories every BioWare title from Baldur’s Gate to Mass Effect.

Popular choices included game shaking plot twists in Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect II, praises of gameplay elements in Jade Empire and Dragon Age: Origins and celebration of characters including everybody’s favorite blue alien Liara T’soni, the evil (and sarcastic) protocol droid HK-47 from Knights of the Old Republic and the incomparable ranger Minsc from Baldur’s Gate and his miniature giant space hamster Boo.

Sadly, I have not received my copy of Dragon Age II yet as finding affordable shipping to my island state is difficult to say the least. I am however, excited for the game (as mentioned in my impressions of the demo) and have had my share of experiences to BioWare’s many franchises. I’d have to say my favorite BioWare moments have to be: Continue reading