All That Matters is the Ending: Dragon Age Inquisition


When I wrote my breakdown of Mass Effect 3’s ending debacle, I took several days to properly organize my thoughts and make sure everything I was saying made sense. By contrast, when I wrote my critique of Dragon Age: Inquisition’s ending, it was a stream of consciousness straight from my raging, bitterly disappointed mind onto the vast wastes of the internet. So let me take a moment, now that I’ve calmed down, to reiterate the reasons I think Dragon Age: Inquisition failed in its ending. And why that halfhearted ending makes an otherwise remarkable game…less than the sum of its parts.

First of all I should say that I was exaggerating when I said this was a worse ending than Mass Effect 3. It clearly isn’t. Inquisition’s ending didn’t throw out the established rules, lore and setting of all the other Dragon Ages, or end with a stupid closing soliloquy from an omnipotent god caught in a feedback loop of stupid. It’s not even really a bad ending, it’s just so…underwhelming. It avoids all of the horrendous mistakes made by Mass Effect 3, but at the same time we get such a pitiful and anticlimactic ending that it renders all the awesome stuff we experienced along the way seem less special.

[The following is based on my 65-hour initial playthrough and the 15-hour 2nd playthrough (yes, you can plow through the main storyline in about 15-hours, probably less if you’re better at the combat than I am) to see if any of the major decisions changed the ending. Spoiler alert: They didn’t.]

1. Every Story is Isolated

Don't let the other people fool you. You're all alone here.
Don’t let the other people fool you. You’re all alone here.

Interactive storytelling is hard, I get that, but that’s also why it’s so amazing when it comes together beautifully. Dragon Age: Origins remains one of my favorite RPGs because of how well all the stories meshed together, regardless of which origin story you chose or which choices you made along the way. Dragon Age: Inquisition has some remarkably good stories and some of the best characters I’ve encountered since Mass Effect 2. Yet very few of those stories actually interact with any of the others. They all take place in their own isolated little corners of the main story, sometimes being peripherally mentioned but never really impacting anything.

For instance, at first glance, I felt the new War Table was a wonderful new method of storytelling. Not only did it make me feel like I was really running a kingdom, but it allowed the game to tell me stories that impacted the entire world of Thedas rather than just the isolated corner my character was inhabiting. When Darkspawn appeared in southern Orlais I felt dread, for surely this was a sign that Corypheus was somehow summoning these creatures to aid him. Fortunately I had just saved Empress Celene’s life and secured Orlesian support for the Inquisition and thanks to Josephine’s skillful diplomacy I was able to call upon my new Orlesian allies to aid me. I thought this would help limit the Inquisition’s casualties in battle, though I was conscious of the fact that since Empress Celene’s treacherous cousin had held the loyalty of Orlais’s Chevaliers, I might not be getting their best troops. Still any little bit would help, or so I thought. After all, I didn’t want to deplete my own army when Corypheus might appear with his own at any time.

It’s a fine story in and of itself, and it really makes you feel like larger things are happening all around you. Unfortunately this feeling is completely undermined by the fact that the story doesn’t affect, nor is it affected, by anything else happening in the game. For instance my siding with Celene didn’t affect Orlesian support, nor did my destroying the Darkspawn army in anyway weaken Corypheus, and any troops I lost to fighting the darkspawn didn’t affect my army’s performance when I finally attacked Corpyheus’s army in the Arbor wilds. It didn’t even affect my approval rating with Blackwall, and he was the one guy I thought would be pleased with my destroying a darkspawn army.

Though with a beard that magnificent, I can forgive him.
Though with a beard that magnificent, I can forgive him his nonchalance at the news of the Darkspawns defeat.

And speaking of character approval, I never once saw a character’s approval rating come into play. It was a thing that might as well never have existed. Nor did any of the character’s side quests ever come to affect the ending or even the characters themselves.

When I helped Sten find his lost sword in Dragon Age: Origins, it had a lasting impact on his character throughout the story. He was no longer the standoffish and hostile brute I met back in Lothering…well okay he was, but not to me. Sten began to address me as Kadan (a sign of respect) and even began smiling when I talked to him, which up to that point I thought was physiologically impossible for a Qunari. When I helped Morrigan obtain Flemeth’s Grimoire and then slay the old hag, she became more genuinely confident rather than hiding her fear and hate behind a thin veil of nonchalance and arrogance. I didn’t treat Zevran very well my first playthrough (in my defense, he did try to kill me) and as a result when the Antivan Crows sent a second assassin, Zevran was quick to betray me. These are instances of where the character’s stories had real meat to them, where my actions directly affected the characters and in turn their characters affected the story at large.

Compare that to Inquisition. When I helped Cassandra find the lost Seekers, nothing really changed for her or the story at large. She seemed conflicted and then angry during the mission itself, but once we slew the Head Seeker and left? Outside of a couple conversations you have directly after the mission, it was like the whole affair never even happened. Again, the story itself is fine, I liked seeing her confront a betrayal of her fundamental beliefs. And I was genuinely curious what would happen after she was confronted with the fact that the Rite of Tranquility could be reversed and that her Order had become less a peacekeeping force and more a kind of Secret Police of the worst kind. Unfortunately my curiosity was never sated, because nothing changes. Are there perhaps subtle changes to Morrigan’s narration if Cassandra becomes the Divine? Perhaps, but considering that could take dozens of hours to get to that ending depending on when you do her quest, and compared to the very full and engaging character storylines of DA:O, it still falls depressingly short of good.

Which is a shame, because all the characters are wonderful. They just don't end up affecting the story.
Which is a shame, because all the characters are wonderful. They just don’t end up affecting the story.

Even each individual zone in the game remains totally isolated from everything else. Completing the main storylines of the Western Approach doesn’t affect how the siege of Adamant plays out. I thought capturing the keep in the area would not only weaken Corypheus’s hold over the Grey Wardens, but provide my own forces with a forward base from which to launch an attack. Go through the game without doing a single sidequest though, and the siege of Adamant plays out just as it did before. Same with every other zone and every other story. They all play out as if in a vacuum, all the stories are within sight of each other but they never interact directly. The closest we get to any of the stories interacting is with the War Table and certain zones, such as building bridges across the sulfur vents or setting up watchtowers in the Hinterlands, but even then those interactions are minimal and don’t affect any other nearby story.

On the surface Dragon Age: Inquisition gives the player a false impression that they’re experiencing a vast tapestry of stories all woven together to form a coherent narrative, but once you dive beneath the surface you see its not a tapestry at all…it’s an anthology of stories. They all take place in the same universe, and maybe they even take place at the same time, but they can all be read independently of one another or ignored entirely. That’s not to say it’s a huge problem, anthologies can be fun too, but when you combine this with all of the game’s other major problems, things start to unravel.

2. Choices have no consequences

…Story and Choice as a Fundamental Pillar of the Game.

How you choose to lead is up to you, but remember, in Dragon Age: Inquisition choices have consequences. Making a new ally can also lead to the creation of a new enemy. – From Dragon Age Inquisition’s Promotional Material, emphasis mine.

That’s just a small section of the marketing campaign that preceded Dragon Age: Inquisition’s release, and yet in the game itself very few of the player’s choices have any real consequences. Let’s examine the very first choice we’re given in the game: your race. Go ahead and pick a Qunari. Now you’d think being a huge hulking beast from a strange land that has fought several bloody wars with her Chantry, Cassandra would be a little more suspicious of you than if you’d chosen human or elf for your race. Unfortunately aside from a few minor dialogue changes, Cassandra’s attitude towards you remains static. You’d think it would be harder to win her approval and trust, but she’ll happily thrust control of the most powerful organization in Thedas into your waiting hands, even if you make it perfectly clear you think the Chantry and everything Cassandra holds dear is a lie.

But okay, maybe its too much to ask to change the beginning of the story based on your race (even if that’s the exact thing that made Dragon Age: Origins stand out and started this whole franchise.) Let’s tackle some actual gameplay and see what kind of consequences the player experiences:

After being led by Cassandra to the Inquisition’s forward camp, you’re asked to make the decision on how to approach the Rift. Do you take the mountain path, and risk casualties among your soldiers. Or charge with your troops, but risk losing your scouts in the mountains? Or do you just flip a coin because there are no consequences for this choice?

I’m not asking for this early game decision to have butterfly effect ripples across the entire story. I didn’t expect the ending to shift because I lost some soldiers or scouts, but I did at least expect this to have some kind of change to the encounter with the Pride Demon at the Rift. I chose the scouts the first playthrough, and was gratified to see Archers (who I thought were the scouts) loose their arrows as the Pride Demon came through the rift. I thought, upon a second playthrough, that these archers would be replaced with more soldiers or different kinds of soldiers (two-hand wielders or something). Unfortunately there is no such change.

Nothing changes based on your choice apart from which road you take, a gameplay mechanic so simple that even Gears of War managed to integrate it on a regular basis.

Come on Bioware, you can do better than this can't you?
Choices in an RPG should have more significant consequences than a Gears of War game, don’t you think?

But okay, it’s early in the game, maybe they just didn’t have the time or inclination to make the beginning amazing. Fine. Let’s skip to halfway through the story.

The Inquisition attacks the Grey Warden stronghold of Adamant to free them from the corruption of Corypheus. Once you’ve succeeded, you’re given the option of allowing the Grey Wardens to join with the Inquisition or exiling them from Orlais. In theory this presents sweeping and potentially dire consequences for the player. On the one hand, Grey Wardens are Thedas’s only line of defense against another Blight as it’s their mastering of the Darkspawn’s corruption that allows them to kill an Archdemon. Yet on the other hand, it’s that same corruption that allowed them to be twisted to Corypheus’s will. Allowing the Grey Wardens to serve the inquisition might give you a powerful ally against Corypheus should he somehow summon Darkspawn armies to his side, but at the same time Corypheus might use those same Grey Wardens to undermine the inquisition from within. It was a choice that demanded careful consideration. So what affect does this choice have on the story?

None.

Okay yes, it does end up affecting which portrait you get in the closing epilogue and Morrigan’s narration, but that’s it. Don’t take that to mean I don’t like “slideshow” endings, I have no problem with having slideshow endings or narrations, in fact I think both can be incredibly effective storytelling techniques. Both Dragon Age: Origins and Fallout New Vegas had great endings, and they both heavily relied on slideshows. My main problem is that Inquisition’s slideshow is anemic and unsatisfying compared to most games that have used this technique, including Inquisition’s predecessor Dragon Age: Origins. Inquisition’s epilogue covered only a few of the decisions the player could make and only told us the story of which character became the new Divine, all of your other companions were left in the dust. The epilogue for Origins covered every major choice you made in the game and told you the fate of every character you met, which made it infinitely more rewarding than Inquisition’s.

"When fellow qunari asked if there were worthy people outside Par Vollen, Sten would answer that in all his travels he had only met  one.” - Sten's Ending
“When fellow Qunari asked if there were worthy people outside Par Vollen, Sten would answer that in all his travels he had only met one.” – Sten’s Ending Slide, after my Hero of Ferelden died slaying the Archdemon.

I will say this for the game, it was very good at making you think everything you were doing had a consequence, it’s why I was so happy with the game right up until the end when the illusion fell apart. However there was one choice given in the game that almost went out of its way to make sure you knew what you did was pointless, and that was the Templar mission. Early on in the game you’re given a choice to save the Templars or the Rebel Mages, with a specific warning that choosing one will deny you the other.

Now if you went for the Mages, you probably thought all the Red Templars you were running into throughout the game were the consequence of your choice, and you probably went through the game thinking that was the meaningful consequence of your actions. I, unfortunately, chose to side with the Templars in my first playthrough. So you can imagine my annoyance when, not only were there no rebel mages to fight outside of the attack on Haven, but even worse there were more Templars fighting for Corypheus than were fighting for me. I never once saw a Templar come to my aid in battle, or march along side my armies during the attack on Adamant. They didn’t show up to help me battle Corypheus at either the Well of Sorrows or in the final battle. Instead all I came across were legions of Red Templars? So what was the point of saving their order? They showed up at one brief cutscene when you seal the rift and that’s it. We might as well not even been given a choice in the matter (especially since the Templar mission is such a royal pain in the ass compared to the Mage mission.)

Yes I'm talking to you and your bullshit ground AoE attack!
Yes I’m talking to you and your bullshit ground AoE attack!

The only place I felt like I had any kind of impact on the story was at the Well of Sorrows. First you’re given a choice to either follow Corypheus’s followers down a crevasse to the well of Sorrows or undergo the Rites of Metel and pay homage to the Elven Gods. This does actually seem to affect how the Ancient Elves regard you and allying with the Elves allows you to bypass most of the combat by taking secret passages. Then you can choose whether the player character or Morrigan drinks from the Well of Sorrows. If Morrigan drank from the Well of Sorrows the she’s able to transform into a Dragon like her mother Flemeth once did and do battle with Corypheus’s corrupted dragon. If the player drank, you have to first subdue a dragon and bring it under your command using the power of the well. And that’s it. That’s the sum total of the impact it has.

And you know what, that’s actually fine, and had there been more small changes to the ending based on your choices I wouldn’t be writing this. Having small amounts of feedback throughout the course of a long game can be just as satisfying as having wildly divergent branching endings. Unfortunately Inquisition failed to deliver on either of those, because those consequences to the Well of Sorrows choices are the only real impact you’ll have on the story or ending. As much as I hate to keep comparing Inquisition to Origins, let’s look at how the choices my choices in Dragon Age: Origins affected the story.

My first character was an Elf from Denerim’s Alienage, and because the Arl’s son was a monstrous rapist, I gutted him like a pig in his own bedroom to save my cousin. Much later down the line I was trying to gather support for the Landsmeet, but because I had butchered the Arl’s son, I lost not only the support of that Arldom (which had fallen into Loghain’s hands) but I also was unable to convince the landsmeet that Loghain’s plot to sell the Elves into slavery was a bad idea, because now they all saw Elves as murderous psychopaths.

You butcher one castle's worth of people and suddenly your the bad guy. Go figure.
You butcher one castle’s worth of people and suddenly your the bad guy. Go figure.

A seemingly inconsequential choice at the beginning of the game had a profound impact on the story later down the road, now that’s a consequence. So when the Landsmeet turned against me and Arl Eamon, did the ending change drastically? No, you end up having to go mano a’ mano with Loghain no matter what you do. Yet seeing the consequences of my actions from the beginning of the game having an affect on the story so late in the game was incredibly gratifying. It made me feel like a part of the story, a part of the world I was in, rather than merely a spectator. That all important word, immersion. That’s what I felt playing Dragon Age: Origin.

Meanwhile, my choice to choose the mountain path? To exile the Wardens? To Save the Templar Order? To save Empress Celene? I got no feedback from the game. And these were huge choices that implied dire consequences no matter which choice you made. By comparison, the choice to kill the Arl of Denerim’s son seems downright trivial, and yet I got more feedback from that than I did any of the major decisions with Inquisition. So I guess it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that, when I finally did reach the ending that –

1. The Ending is the very definition of an Anticlimax

Perhaps all of these problems could have been forgiven if at least, at the end, I’d had seen a battle worthy of all the buildup. To battle a Godlike Corypheus in the depths of the fade, perhaps even in the center of the Black City itself, while in the normal world our two armies clashed in a bloody maelstrom of steel and magic. Unfortunately we didn’t get any of that. Instead we got Corypheus alone in the ruins of the Temple of Sacred Ashes giving us a cliched (and hilariously misguided, given his track record of failure) monologue about his imminent ascension to godhood. Then we fought him, and it was a boss fight so pitiful I almost felt sorry for him at that point. The dragons I had killed throughout Thedas had been more challenge then him. His Fear Demon ally in the Fade was tougher than him. Most Red Templar mobs were tougher than him. His half dead dragon was tougher than him.

Then we blast him into the ether of the fade, go home and have some drinks with the guys and roll credits.

The closest I got to feeling excited in that final battle was when Morrigan grappled with Corypheus’s Dragon. Watching those two colossal beasts having at each other was a spectacular sight to behold, but every time I got close to feel some excitement it would cut away from the amazing aerial dragon battle to focus once again on the pitiful old man Corypheus. The last time I felt this apathetic towards a boss fight was when Ezio punched the pudgy old Pope to death in Assassin’s Creed 2.

And quite honestly, the Pope put up a better fight.
And quite honestly, the Pope put up a better fight.

As I wrote originally, it was such an anticlimax I thought it was Bioware trying to fake me out. This was all just a ploy to take me off guard when the real villain showed up, and the one thing convinced me that was the case right up until the end was Skyhold. Chekov’s Gun is an old literary axiom that basically says if you introduce something to the story, it better serve a purpose. The saying is from, of course, Anton Chekov:

Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there. – Anton Chekov

Skyhold is the gun hanging on the wall. Why did you give me a huge, epic keep and allow me to personalize it if we weren’t going to have an epic siege there? You don’t give the player a castle and then not attack it. Imagine Dragon Age: Awakenings if at the end of the game, the keep you spent so long rebuilding just… sits there, doing nothing. Or flying the SSV Normandy II into the Omega 6 Relay and then peacefully landing on the Collector Base without a single shot being fired. Or even better, imagine leading the counter attack on Earth at the end of Mass Effect 3 and finding no Reaper fleet or vicious ground battle being fought, and instead cutting to those last godawful 10 minutes immediately after landing.

Just imagine this.
Just imagine this.

Skyhold was the perfect setting for the climactic final battle with Corypheus. Defending the walls of the keep you’ve come to love, watching as Morrigan in Dragon form fights the Archdemon in the skies above the fortress, while great siege engines rain down fire and destruction. It would have been every definition of epic. There could have been so many amazing ways to make the Siege of Skyhold the epic ending we all needed. All of your characters would have been involved too, rather than just the 3 you chose to take with you.

It could have been a tense, bitter fight as the gates are shattered and Darkspawn come pouring into the courtyard where, without the help of the Grey Wardens, my soldiers are beaten back into the keep proper. Or if you kept the Grey Wardens perhaps the Darkspawn are scattered, leaving the Venatori and Red Templars to lead the vanguard of the assault.  Blackwall and Cullen could lead the defense of the courtyard. Sera and Varric could direct the archers on the walls and rain death upon the enemy ranks or take potshots at the dragon. Cole could assassinate priority targets and cause chaos in the enemy ranks.  Iron Bull and his Chargers could lead a vicious counterattack and buy the time necessary for Cullen to withdrawn his exhausted and wounded troops into the keep where the Inquisition would make its final stand.

A climax worthy of the term would have made Dragon Age Inquisition my new favorite RPG and I would have overlooked all the other problems with the game. Instead we got a pitiful whimpering boss who could barely put up a fight and made every other flaw in the game come through with glaring clarity. I don’t need a dozen amazing endings, I just need one good one.

Give a dragon and an army to fight, and I will give you my undying praise.
Give me a dragon and an army to fight, and I will give you my undying praise.

Marching on Denerim at the head of the army I had worked so hard to build is still one of my fondest gaming memories. Sending packs of Werewolves to shred the Genlock Archers harassing me while a newly crafted Golem took on an Ogre with help from the stalwart Legion of the Dead was incredibly satisfying, it was a final battle that really made me feel like everything I did in the game actually mattered. All of the alliances, all of the sacrifice, all of the death: it had all been building towards this moment, and it was a moment that did not disappoint.

Mass Effect 2’s Suicide Mission remains the epitome of the epic ending for me. A mission in which everyone can die, including you, and an explosive finale that sent a chill down your fucking spine.

Even Mass Effect 3 had a damn good conclusion until they fucked it up in the last 10 minutes. That final charge towards the Citadel Beam may have seemed stupid, but it was the stupidity of desperation. It was a desperation that said “we either do this now or we go extinct.” It was a desperation I felt right down to my bones.

Thanks, Harbinger, you did good son.
I like to pretend the game ended here and we all died. It’s less depressing.

Those are the endings that will stay with me for a long time. Not because I’ll remember the specifics of why or how or when, but because I’ll remember how I felt.

Dragon Age: Inquisition… well it’ll be just another game I’ll probably remember having played at some point, but I won’t remember what it was about or what happened in the end. And most importantly I won’t remember how I felt.

Because Dragon Age: Inquisition didn’t make me feel anything…

I wish these amazing characters had appeared in a story worth the telling.
I wish these amazing characters had appeared in a story worth the telling.

In Closing:

Dragon Age: Inquisition is a game filled with some amazing, unique and fine crafted stories. It has some incredible world building. And while the main plot is pretty mediocre, the underlying plot of the Dread Wolf and Flemeth and ancient magics awakening is really compelling. Yet good storytelling is about more than good characters, plot and world building.

It’s about bringing all those elements together to form a whole that’s more than the sum of its parts. It’s like cooking, you can have all the best ingredients but unless you mix them right and cook them properly, you don’t have a good meal. Dragon Age: Inquisition had the best ingredients, it just undercooked them.

A note to Mark Darrah:

Hi Mark,

First of all I appreciate your response, I really do, that’s not sarcasm or anything. While I can see where you’re coming from, citing the “lose texts” as alternate endings is a bit disingenuous don’t you think? By that train of thought any game that has any kind of text message when you die technically has multiple endings, which would make Sierra Adventure Games of the 1990’s king of the alternate ending. I remember playing Space Quest when I was a kid, I used to get all kind of hilarious messages when I died.

And I died so many times...
And I died so many times…

And while wanting to emulate Sierra Games circa 1995 is a laudable goal, perhaps releasing serious RPGs like Dragon Age: Inquisition aren’t the best way to go about achieving that. I’m totally on board for a Dragon Quest parody game though.

 

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More on Dragon Age Inquisition:

The Ending Isn’t The Only Problem

Why Corypheus is a Bad Villain

The Failure of the Inquisitor

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107 thoughts on “All That Matters is the Ending: Dragon Age Inquisition”

  1. Hi John,

    Cracking article as usual – I appreciate the follow up where you break things down. I agree with you that looking behind the curtain spoils the tapesty and shows all the threads, but from a story point, the illusion is a grand one.

    I do think they missed a trick with the castle and the final battle, but Bioware has never really done “end game” well. Even Denerim in DA: O had a nice cutscene that showed your choices, but none of you army makeup really influenced the final fight. They did make it feel epic by having you wade through a load of 1 hp darkspawn, making you feel like you truly were outclassing the horde with your skill en masse. That was a nice touch.

    But you still ended up fighting a dragon with three outcomes: You dead, Loghain / Alistair dead or god baby. Cut to ending slides after a celebration with some pithy one liners from people.

    ME3 didn’t even have the in depth world that DA: I had, just a linear load of missions around a couple of hub areas. Strong characters, yes, but major railroading all the way along. Solid mechanics but a weak payoff to the whole series. No real exploration and building up your war assets was rubbish.

    At least in the keep you get to see some of it, a small step at any rate: the fact that, yes, it isn’t used in a final battle is a stupid misstep. As is the wider strategic play; that said, you can apparently lose agents on the war table – it is possible to lose your Grey Wardens for example. This I beleive just means you can’t access certain missions, which is a shame.

    As for the characters, they were amazing and, apparently, they can leave you if you mismanage them, although it is MEGA tricky to actual have that happen.

    So, yes, a fair few missteps, but to be honest I never wanted to ping my controller through the screen, unlike with ME3 where I just began to despise the mary-sue ish writing, the crowbarred plot and the unending attempts at being “dramatic”. This one does get a fair few story beats right and actually allows you to dictate how your character feels, meaning it feels less schizophrenic in its interpretation of the MC.

    I love the fact that it has a wider world that does have impact: clear out the Templars and Apostates in the Hinterlands and suddenly the enemies stop spawning. On the Storm Coast, clear out that enclave of fanatics and lo and behold they either disappear from the region or ally with you, creating a load of friendly NPCs.

    So, there are elements the game does really well, but the grander vision does fall apart and it misses some fairly obvious chances at being really epic, in favour of linear story beats, where it clearly seemed “awesome” in the writers head, but didn’t wan those annoying players ruining the pacing.

    So, fairly on the money, but there are major major improvements over DA: O, ME3 and DA: II. The ending boss is, basically, fairly similar: a dragon, but at least this time you get an enemy as well. Whether that enemy could have been buffed, or made more interesting with an interesting setting… well, maybe we need a post on why he doesn’t quite make it as a fully fledged villain?

    Interestingly, none of the Bioware games recently have had a compelling “villain”, often because they give us too much information about them – they lose their threat value, their mystery, their malevolence. The Reapers were scary as you never fought one directly and they were seemingly beyond our understanding. As soon as they got a health bar and a motive they became… dull.

    Cory should never have been directly combated, maybe just defeated and pushed back, or revealed as something more, maybe. Defeat his dragon, but do something interesting with him as a foe. THAT would’ve been a better pay off.

    Again, great article. Please keep them coming!

    1. Oh the illusion is a spectacular one, I just wish it wasn’t an illusion and that everything was as interconnected as it appears. I’m planning on doing another article about all the things I liked about DA:I, because I really did enjoy the game, I just think it could have been so much more.

      While its true that the final battle for Denerim never changed, in a strange way that was kind of my point. I was trying to head off the argument that I was demanding multiple divergent endings with wildly different ending scenarios. While nothing major changed in the final battle, it still succeeded in feeling both epic and that your choices had an impact. Same with Mass Effect 2, you have to go on the suicide mission regardless of your choices. My point was that DA:I could have had a great ending without the need for multiple unique endings.

      I do agree many of the more recent Bioware games haven’t had good villains, probably because most of their good writing staff left after ME2 and 3. I too was hoping Corypheus was something more than he appeared, unfortunately he wasn’t. I think another cool possibility would have been for the sphere to not have broken and allowed Solas to reveal himself as teh Dread Wolf. At least that would have felt like a proper cliff hanger rather than the after credits stinger which felt like an overblown advertisement for the future DLC that’s coming.

      Glad you enjoyed the article! There will be more forthcoming.

      1. Looking back at Denerim, it did have the mechanic that you could summon troops to assist you. So, the payoff was there in a small way.

        As for Inquisition, the ending is… well I think it goes on too long, weirdly. But look at the framing and the depth of the villain: he is not like the Reapers, or even the Archdemon. The archdemon was almost a force of nature: it turns up, then you have never ending horde of monsters.

        Mr magister is… well, he’s flawed, disillusioned by his lack of gods, has everything planned and then, over the course of the game his entire strategy is peeled away. By the end of the game you have utterly thwarted EVERYTHING he was trying to do.

        So, interestingly, while the game is trying to do something different by showing your side become a successful juggernaut in terms of politiking, marshal endeavour and helping to pacify the regions (Which is done brilliantly, when you clear an area, friendly soldiers crop up there – the Exalted Plains is an example) it doesn’t hit the story beats we’ve been trained into:

        We want the build up and then, finally, a boss fight. Because that’s how games work. But Bioware is in a stage where they’ve jumped into driving narrative as the main thing. Which is fine, if they match it with satisfying gameplay (Such as talking the monster to death, like the older bioware games)

        But instead you have narrative that then clashes occasionally with the gameplay, where you SHOULD be able to send your army in, or have an assassin do xyz.

        This is a problem beyond DA: I though: as games become more detailed and give you options, you begin to notice more and more things they FAIL to do or deliver.

        Frankly, if ME 3 had had a bit more of DA: I’s mechanics in it, it would have elevated the game for me. I know i’m going to play through DA: I again, play with different options, read the alternative map table missions that pop up depending on how you influence your party.

        So far, it’s the party members that have sold it for me. As well as the fact that the Inquisitor has not been built up as a messianic figure as Shepard was (Which always felt weird in ME3) – in DA: I, yes others see you as this big messiah, but you can play yourself as anything from a zealot, to a douche, to a humble person. And your party members also see you as a regular person, but also express their doubts.

        I would definitely agree there are areas for improvement, but I would not put this agem anywhere near ME3 in terms of disappointment. At least we didn’t get a glowing fade spirit telling us how the maker had it all planned and that, really, you are the Maker.

        We didn’t get an Architect moment.

        For once, I agree slightly more with people who say “it’s the journey, not the ending”, because in this game, it is about the HOW of your defeating your foes: piecemeal, on multiple fronts, undermining them and growing. In ME3 the whole point WAS the ending, the denoument.

        I’d contrast this with Xillia 2, which my wife played which only had 2 different endings, bith fairly grim. Minor choices influencing the ending and how many scenes you get with the characters. That is firmly a JRPG approach: the story is what matters, not the end. And, weirdly, also what many western RPGs used to be about.

        ME 3 poisoned the well though by having a lacklustre main game (Mechanic wise and level wise, it was great, but it didn’t feel… grand enough) and the fact that, ultimately, it rode roughshod over everything you decided in favour of what the writers wanted.

        DA: I doesn’t do that. It just makes you live with the choices throughout the game.

        And the fact you can lose the game. Not sure how, but there is a demons win piece 🙂

  2. Gonna have to disagree with you McStevie. In my experience, epically bad endings and plot points are usually due to writers trying too hard to be unique, or clever, or to blow your mind. Underwhelming endings are usually (again IMHO) writers saying, “Meh, yeah, this is good enough.”

    Jennifer Hepler at Bioware gave us the Broodmother/Branka plot in the dwarven quest which was quite awesome. She also gave us Anders in DA2 which was…not good, to put it kindly. But at no point did it ever seem like she was phoning it in. There seemed to be a lot of thought that had gone into both of those character/plots. I think the line between ingeniously good and mind blowingly crappy can actually be quite thin.

    To me, too many of these characters and plots in DAI were kinda meh. Writers knew they needed to get from point A to point B and did so, throwing some mcguffins in along the way to make us think there was more depth than there was. Even the companions, usually a Bioware staple, were kind of meh for me this time as well (with a few exceptions).

    I think that’s what cause the problems here-the writers didn’t seem to take enough chances and the result was an underwhelming main story.

  3. Also, Origin and New Vegas are both fantastic examples of great endings. New Vegas especially, since siding with either the Legion or NCR/Yes Man were incredibly varied but still built on the same thing, and your choices/alliances (Brotherhood, Boomers, Enclave) had an impact on the final battle as well (watching that bomber fly over was just amazing). Even from a gameplay standpoint and not a story standpoint the final battle with Corypheus was uninteresting, compared to fighting him in DA2.

  4. Well, I might as well migrate my thoughts from the last post here:

    1) No payoff for building up your Inquisition. Instead, when Cory is vulnerable, the game tells you that your army is marching back from the arborwoods, stopped to grab lunch, and got stuck in line at chipotle.

    2) The plot after adamant and the ball is about finding a McGuffin but the gameplay is about building an army. The McGuffin (dragon control) wins the game, not the thing you’ve been building towards.

    3) The McGuffin is a reason to shoehorn the writers favorite character. These characters then have an extended conversation about stuff not really important important to the player character. This stuff was interesting in the first game because it involved the main character. Here, it doesn’t and the little room for interaction means that you have paused your game to watch two people just talk about stuff the main character would have no clue about.

    4) The PC is a blank slate that goes un-colored. The player can say what they think about being the choosen one and what they think about certain things, but rarely let’s me define the main character. In Morrowind, at the end, I can tell dagoth that I am an imperial spy (meaning that this game reduces down to the empire tricking the dunmer), I’m Nerevar himself in service to Azura, or a self made hero. All these choices had no actual consequence but mattered because they made me a character in the world.

    I guess I’d say that I never felt like I was roleplaying in this game. I never could define myself or express myself, and that’s where I’d say the ending the the game went wrong.

  5. I agree with a lot of what you say – the ending did indeed feel anticlimactic, the final boss fight is very lacking. However, you are wrong on the lack of consequences, *especially* when it comes to the resolution of the Templar/Mage choice. The problem is that you don’t really see the consequences as they could have been unless you do a second playthrough choosing the other side. Playing the game a second time, I was pleasantly surprised.

    First of all, it’s a mistake to think that siding with the Templars eradicates all Red Templars and you’ll never see them again – you only manage to salvage about half the order. Many have at that point already been corrupted, and these are the Red Templars you face during the rest of the game. However, if you choose Mages, the entire order is corrupted, substantially increasing the number of Red Templar spawns everywhere. Choosing the Templars, for the record, increases the number of Venatori spawns.

    For example, when you side with the Templars, you’ll find no Red Templars in Crestwood, but instead a whole bunch of Venatori. If you side with the Mages, you’ll find Red Templars and red lyrium strongholds.

    Secondly, it leads to entirely different missions. Either Journey to the Center of the Mind with Cole, or Back to the Future with Dorian. Very, very different, and both extremely well-done missions. It’s worth to play twice just to see that.

    And lastly, it determines who becomes Corypheus’ Vessel, which again leads to two very different missions. If you side with the Templars, Leliana will give you a quest to investigate the Venatori’s leader. If you side with the Mages, instead you’ll get a quest from Cullen, who wants to investigate the leader of the Red Templars.

    Then, in the Temple of Mythal mission, you will confront either the Red Templar or the Venatori leader, and get different throne judgements if you choose to capture them.

    So…yeah. Quite substantial consequences actually.

    Another thing where choice actually matters is the Grey Warden mission – however, it suffers from the same problem of not seeing what the consequences of other choices *could* have been. The big, heartwrenching choice is not actually whether to exile the Wardens or to keep them – no, it’s the choice between Hawke or his Warden friend.

    Now, for many people this one would be a no-brainer. Some warden guy versus a previous player character? Obviously Stroud dies.

    Well, this is a choice that depends entirely on a choice in previous games.

    Because in my game, it was Alistair or Hawke.

    I, for one, had to step away from the game for a good 10 minutes, wailing and gnashing my teeth, cursing my life choices. Shoulda made him king.

    (Loghain can be the Warden-de-jour as well.)

    Hawke died, btw. No way am I killing Alistair.

    1. Yes I would agree with consequences, but I would argue that they aren’t substantial or particularly well done. Gameplay wise there isn’t really that much of a difference between fighting Red Templars or Venatori, but that is more of an issue with the combat system and encounter design. The basics of fighting a mob of enemies is usually constant at a certain level.

      I agree that having different missions was good, but again I don’t think this was substantial if you compare it to other rpgs, Wasteland 2, The Witcher, Fallout:NY as examples. Having a change in one or two missions is fine, but a really good consequence system would have more situations that changed based on more than a binary decision with binary consequences. Instead, there could be multiple ways of solving different quest, and that all culminated in points of the story where multiple things could happen based on the multitude of choices. The consequences doesn’t have to be huge, a good example of this is the Landsmeet in DAO, where there really are many ways things can turn out depending on many actions previously.

      The issue I had with DAI is that Adamant or who rules Orlais don’t really have any consequences at all. And although there are different ways to solve them, they are too self contained, nothing else from any quest effects any outcome in either quest. The people change, but the gameplay stays essentially the same. One suggestion to improve the Orlaisian ball would be to make the outcomes and your knowledge of the different players dependent on how you did other quest, instead of finding Halla statues. Such as if you sided with either the Mages or Templars, different nobles would treat you differently, hence leading to different information granted to you. Or depending on how you completed Adamant, instead of going away for the rest of the game, whoever survives could accompany you to the ball and help you in different ways. And this is just about the design of the main quest, I could go on about how lazy the side quest are.

      However I do mostly enjoy the game, I like the lore and the companions quite a lot, but I do feel that the game as a whole is overhyped and that it could be a lot better.

  6. Oh man. You can’t even imagine how hard I wanted to nod my head in fervent agreement as I read your article. And even though you retract your statement about this ending being worse than ME3’s, I actually think that’s not entirely wrong in that this game’s good ending was SO CLOSE that you could almost taste it – only to instead be replaced by Bioware’s possibly most boring villain encounter yet. I’m fairly certain that, verbatim, it went like this:

    Corypheus: “Bow before your new god!”
    You: “This ends here, Corypheus!”

    What is this?? My first junior high comic book? After a game that is almost singularly focused on moral and spiritual complexity? How?!

    I completed ME3 with a feeling of “…wut.” I completed DAI with a feeling of “please don’t tell me that’s the end. Please. My game must have bugged out, there’s no way Bioware, master RPG story tellers, would end a game like this. I mean, this is Narrative 101 – you don’t just go building your rising action and then end it with a fart like this…. Right??” And the worst part is that by having such a weak ass ending, the entire other part of the experience is cheapened. Now when I begin my second play through, I know I can run past every rift and not even bother closing any (despite the fact that it’s my character’s single unique ability and a major plot device). I can ignore every menial side quest and everyone will still hail me as the unifier of Thedas, bulwark of faith. In short, I can blast through the entire story in a couple hours and treat the rest of the content like an expansive but optional sandbox mode. And that depresses me. The fact that so much was building up to be so much more, the fact that I loved my companions and exploring the world (when I still believed doing so had purpose) makes it even more depressing. I thought at the very least, the ending would amount to an epic battle at Skyhold. I’d wager that this even was going to happen at some point in development, because there are too many empty battlements and balconies that otherwise serve no purpose. I also took it as a given that we would decide the fate of the Inquisition since, you know, everyone asks me about it all the time. How interesting that choice would be: will I create a new political force in Thedas, whether for ill or for good? Or, as Mother Giselle said, would we have the wisdom to put down our swords and solve our problems with existing foundations? Will I decide the fate of the mages and their circles, since the Inquisition is the only real neutral party between the Chantry and the mages? The more I think about how much good, compelling content has been laid out for such interesting scenarios, the more I agonize over the missed opportunities.

    It’s interesting to note that Origins was never meant to have any sequels, and perhaps that’s why it was created with so many significant, varying paths. It’s appropriate that you mention Chekhov’s gun, and it illuminates a sad truth: if we removed all the useless rifles in this game, there’d be no game left. Perhaps Bioware should wait until they create something where all of their rifles can be used, convincingly and meaningfully.

    1. Corypheus: “Bow before your new god!”
      You: “This ends here, Corypheus!”

      Yeah, that was the most cringeworthy part of the whole ending. I don’t know who wrote Corypheus’s dialogue, but whoever it was needs to stop watching saturday morning cartoons and read some real books to find out how to make a good villain.

      And yeah, I totally agree, if we took all the useless rifles from the game, there wouldn’t be much left.

  7. I’m one of the unusual people that actually thought the ending of ME3 was ok. I thought the ultimate sacrifice of the protagonist despite his decisions actually fit into the narrative of the ME3 franchise. Sure you have decisions, but you’re kind of boned regardless of what you do, and all you can do is get the job done, despite everything you might sacrifice along the way.

    However, it was a breath of fresh air to hear someone talking about how inconsequential DA:I was.

    My heart sinks to my stomach when I think that maybe people don’t realize it because they just didn’t actually experience any of the dynamic storytelling in DA:O; They just played it once through and took the games word for it that their decisions were meaningful. That would be a shame.

    I played through DA:O multiple times, but I’ve played through DA:I once and I cringe at the idea of doing alot of the really boring content over again. No thanks.

    PS: I sided with the mages on my playthrough, so I thought that decision was significant because of all the red templar. My head nearly exploded when you wrote that the enemies are always red templar. What the Hell?

  8. I wanted to leave this comment here because it better expresses my frustration with the game. It was in response to this article;
    http://armedgamer.com/2014/12/five-problems-dragon-age-inquisition/#comment-1731392987

    This game is definitely overrated, and that’s not a word I use lightly. However, this writer was way more annoyed about things that I would think were actually not that big of a deal.
    Why is it that DAII was rightly criticized for having no-consequence decisions whereas in Inquisition Bioware gets a free pass? You can make some major decisions but none of them actually do anything in the game.
    DA:O was fantastic because decisions about your origin, and how you’ve handled other story branches directly impacted not only the other branches, but also the ending of the game. DAII and DA:I both decided to wave the idea of dynamic stories in favor of “pseudo-decisions” that don’t actually do anything significant in the game.
    DA:I didn’t have “too much to do”, pretty much every side-quest just wasn’t interesting.
    Consider a side quest in Baldur’s Gate II: You overhear a preacher in the streets of the Temple District blaspheming the gods by proclaiming that there is only one true god. After investigating, you find out that the people are worshiping a blind monster called a “Beholder”, and the Beholder is looking for some artifact deep underground. What you do from there is up to you.
    Consider a side quest in DA:I : Go out scavenger hunting for “shards” that are revealed by a spooky skull thing for no apparent reason, and get rewarded by “much lootz” or whatever.
    Where is the interesting villain in DA:I? A deformed power-mad mage can be a FANTASTIC villain, look up Jon Irenicus. “The pain will only be passing, you should survive the process.” (That guy’s voice is forever embedded in my brain.)
    I can barely even remember the name of the villain in DA:I. Coripheus or something?
    The dude is pissed because of something he found out about the Black City. It was almost interesting, except you never actually learn much about him, his motivations, his history, or his objective. Just kind of vague exposition.
    No characters I cared much about. This is of course the most subjective complaint I have. I found myself still most interested in Morrigan and her few lines about my character in DA:O than I was with any of the conversations or side-quests, or Josephine romance, that I’d participated in.
    I was actively annoyed by Sera’s odd prevaricating and square-jaw’s (Whatever her name is) aggressive complaining.
    I’m glad Bioware went out of their way to fulfill my fantasy of feeding the Champion of Kirkwall to a giant spider though, thanks for that.
    LGBT pandering. I don’t mind any kind of sexual orientation you want to put into a game. Hell, you can even make every NPC you meet a gay male if you want to, but it should be part of your artistic vision, not something you’ve tacked on for political points or to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Deciding from the outset that you’re going to have 2 straight, 2 bisexual, and 2 homosexual romances and then filling those sexual preferences with an identity is actively repulsive to me.
    Constraining your artistic vision with sexual archetypes for political points is not ok. <- Period.
    Terrible ending! Why have so many people criticized ME:3 for it's ending, because it throws most of your decisions aside in order to fit the mold of a very restrictive ending, and yet not criticizing DA:I for doing pretty much the same thing!?
    Nothing you do for the 78 hours or so that you play has any significant impact on the ending whatsoever. That should have been a big part of every criticism of this game and yet pretty much every reviewer is mum on the issue.
    Why? Because of a pretty cool plot twist after the credits? Because the game wasn't as terrible as DA:II? Who knows.
    The game is OK. I'd give it a 7.5 or so, but this game is no masterpiece. It's visually impressive, the combat is engaging, the party banter is fun, and the story has some powerful moments.

    1. Honestly I was far more interested in the Fear Demon as the main villain, I mean a demon that feeds on fear (one of the most common and powerful emotions) would be immensely powerful. And the boss you fight in the fade is only a small manifestation of his power. There was some really interesting ways the story could have gone. Even Corypheus might have been interesting had they gone with any other tack than “I wanna be a god.”

      It is highly overrated. It won game of the year, but that only highlights how mediocre every other game released this year really was.

      1. Absolutely. Corypheus was an ancient mage that through sheer determination and intelligence pushed literally to the outer reaches of conventional knowledge. He and his comrades were pioneering and paid a horrible price to discover something that traumatically damaged him psychologically; That when he found the place of the gods, no one was there.

        Who Corypheus *was* is way more interesting that the wildly stupid, impotent, and disfigured person he became.

        It’s about the same as if Saving Private Ryan never had the flashback, and we just watched some old guy cry around some graves.

        The reason Bioshock Infinite’s villain was so memorable, for instance, was because the player was given an intimate connection with him. He wasn’t just some crazy guy you can hate without any reservation. Or look at GLaDOS; Someone I a actually liked, that had unique motivations, an honest-to-god personality, and intelligence.

        Bioware didn’t have to follow any kind of formula that’s been done before, but they didn’t do *anything* with Corypheus. He was just the bad-bad-baddy because reasons. Blech.

  9. I have to admit these are all great points. I love DA Inquisition and I think the characters are phenomenal, but I had been noticing the same thing. You just don’t see much consequence. The article hits it right on the nose about how these things could have impacted the game too. Also Cory…Cory is such a terrible villain, he reminds me of a very poorly done Irenicus (BG2). I hated Cory being the main bad guy, especially since all of the other bad guys are more convincing than he is. Also having turned away the Grey Wardens and sided with the Templar…yeah, that’s disappointing. Thank you for such a well written article.

      1. I find myself agreeing with most things, however there’s other thing it made me really disappointing and that’s a thing everyone comments in the game as your “path” as the Inquisitor: You’re powering the mark on your hand without understanding it and knowing the consequences of it.
        By what Solas and many, many others say in the very beginning of the game, the mark is killing you. As in Solas had to be next to you day and night to keep the mark stable, when you attempted for a second chance to close the breach you pass out and everyone comments how much your mark “stopped growing” or “Maybe it won’t be an idea letting it develop”. Even Dorian makes the remarks in the quest where you recruit him but yet… nothing happens?
        It could have been another DA:O ending, where your character could end up dying in the last battle -and what an ass of a battle – or at least have lasting consequences.
        Boring, I’m thinking of just replaying DA:O or even make more playthroughs of DA:II .
        I found this game to be pretty. And just that =/

        1. yeah that was definitely a huge plot hole and I should have brought it up in my review. Your ability to control the Mark is never really explained. It would have been an interesting twist if using the mark had some kind of penalty, making it progressively more difficult to close Rifts. Oh well.

          I like the idea of it coming into play at the final battle, and maybe instead of just using it to vaporize Corypheus the final battle is with the Mark. Maybe your choices throughout the game decide whether you free yourself of it or are wholly consumed by it like Coryphues.

          Yup, this game looked gorgeous and that was about the only good thing going for it. 😦

  10. So, I was playing Morrowind recently and that got me thinking:

    I just got to Dagoth Ur, and I have to really compliment this conversation. Now, what you say here has no real consequence to the outcome of the game, but the conversation choices are pretty damned meaningful, even if you skipped a number of dialogue options.

    Dagoth asks you a few questions:

    *My first question is: Are you really Nerevar reborn?

    a.) By the grace of gods and fate, I am Nerevar reborn.
    b.) I’m a loyal servant of the Emperor.
    c.) I am a self-willed hero, and I make my own fate.
    d.) I know no more than you do.

    The first question asks you what is, or maybe what you think is, the relationship between the protagonist and central myth of the game, that of Nerevar (an ancient Dunmer king and hero who was betrayed and yada yada yada). Now, while Azura says, yeah, you’re Nerevar, digging deeper reveals that she is not a reliable source of information (not that she is lying, either, but she’s serving her own goals with her dialogue). So, this choice, though it has no gameplay consequences, basically let’s you say if you believe this Nerevar stuff, if it is a clever ploy of the Empire to pursue their own goals, if you’re just a hero, or if you do not know.

    This choice actually had me thinking about the whole of the experience, much more than any of the choices in DA:O or DA:I (I never played the second one). I mean, this choice would define my character. It got me /roleplaying/, something that I rarely think the newer Bioware games really do.

    Dagoth’s responses are pretty interesting, actually. No matter what you respond he flat out believes you, after all, you are the one roleplaying.

    His second question is also pretty interesting:

    My second question is: if you win, what do you plan to do with the power from the Heart? Will you make yourself a god, and establish a thearchy? Or will you complete Akulakhan, and dispute control of Tamriel with the Septims? Or will you share the Heart with your followers, as I have, and breed a new race of divine immortals?

    The choices here are pretty easily inferred. You can also say you have your own secret plan for the heart. This gives the player the ability to define goals, motivations, values, with the last choice being a catch all for anything else the player might want to choose (ie: destroy the heart). Again, this is a chance to roleplay.

    The final choice is also interesting, and allows for more roleplaying. A clever mage might answer with a cunning plan, or a noble servant of the tribunal might say that he would never join Dagoth Ur. Dagoth makes it clear that confrontation must occur, but he does so justifiably. It feels like Dagoth Ur has a say in how things turn out, rather than the plot forcing me to accept confrontation.

    Finally, unlike Cory, Dagoth has 1) clear goals besides get power 2) a plan to achieve those goals, 3) interesting reasons that, while unacceptable (well, maybe not, that would depend on the player), are themselves reasoned. After all, the Tribunal is fraudulent, despite all the great things Vivec did, and there is a strong reason for Morrowind to return to its pre-tribunal traditions, especially in light of Imperial annexation (sort of, it’s complicated).

    Anyways, I know many have said that in Dragon Age choices do not matter (or don’t have consequence), but are we /just/ looking for a ton of alternative endings? I think branching decisions are great to have, but the really important choices in video games, to me, seemed to be about something else: agency. The ability to define ourselves (or characters) in our game worlds. The interesting point is that many of the memorable things I did in games didn’t actually have alternative outcomes. Fighting Sif in Dark Souls can end in only one of two ways, I die or he dies. But Sif’s death mattered because despite how much I don’t want to kill the only thing in this world that seems to feel pain and be unambiguously good, I have to. The same can be said in Majora’s Mask, where you help a young couple re-unite a minute before the world’s end. The knife is twisted when, I the player, must undo the hardwork and happiness of the couple for the greater good.

    Anyways, sorry for what is essentially me vomiting thoughts on the nature of choice in video games. I guess my motivation is that we already have a ton of “pick your own adventure” type stories but very few opportunities where we really get to roleplay or where agency is used as a device, and I think we confuse roleplaying with picking your own adventure to our own determent.

    1. Morrowind is still the best open world RPG I’ve ever played. Oblivion and Skyrim are great fun, but they sacrificed a lot of the great stories and roleplaying that was present in Morrowind. In fact after I’m done covering DAI, I’ll probably do a write up about morrowind, just so I can praise all the things I loved about it.

  11. Given how invested you seem to be in the DA franchise, i’d have expected at least some semblance of understanding that DAI is /not/ over, that Corypheus was the introduction and that it has been said in many different places that there wasn’t time to fit everything in. Whilst i can appreciate judging the base game as a base game, judging the entirety when there are more story arcs on the way bringing a true close to the game would be much fairer. This isn’t an extended ending thing either, Bioware have told us theres a lot more left for this game in terms of expansions before they even deal with the next DA game. Corypheus was a spark that ignited the inquisition and thats really what this game was trying to give us. I can understand if that disappointed you, if you wanted space ship suicide missions and end of humanity scenarios, but Bioware told us theres at least 3 more DA games planned. It’s a bit early for that stuff. As for the army in DAO, it’s already been done. why go there again? Why give us the same ending we’ve already seen? The Inquisition was not of the same scale as a nation fighting a blight and Corypheus’s agenda was mostly kept within the Inquisition themselves. Orlais was also pretty much the only large force that supported you and they did back you up in the elven Temple scenario.

    As for consequences, there are many outcomes for what you choose to do. They outcomes are effected in the epilogue and your saved world state for the future, much in the way that the previous world states can subtly or largely influence what happens in your DAI game. I’m not sure what more consequence you want. Almost every party member has potential for a major choice in their lives for the future that hinges entirely on you. You can already choose to exile wardens, kill hawke, alistair, loghain, deal with the mage faction or the templar faction, become bound to Mythal or have Morrigan do it, Influence the new Divine or even just plain lose. what more do you want, someone to jump out the screen and slice your balls off? The effects of these choices will be made clear when the time comes, as in this stuff is going to effect future games. Lots of Alistair fans thinking oh its fine, i won’t make him a king, what harm can it do, dragon age choices don’t matter, no consequences, yada yada yada.

    Theres no problem with Dragon Age, it’s doing just fine. Hell, it just won game of the year and best RPG, well above average reviews from every competent source and i’ve seen nothing but praise all over community websites from new and long term fans alike. =O Maybe don’t write it off as a lost cause just yet, wait til the entire DAI saga is over maybe?

    1. You know I agree that the game has tons of consequences, but it felt like anything it had a consequence for I didn’t really care about.

      The chantry can be changed in 3(?) ways, a status quo, reformation, or in the middle. OK, but no one ever gave me reason to care one way or another about specific traditions. I never saw a divine liturgy, never saw the traditions in action, other than tolken priests healing the sick, etc…

      I guess I never got the aesthetic sense of it. It was just another organization that happened to be religious, but it felt like whoever wrote it felt that religion comes down to declaring alligence to an arbitrary name.

      And I would compare this to the Tribunal in Morrowind. With the tribunal you often must take long pilgramages to place where vivec performed important miricles or even just did stuff. You also must sacrifice an associated good there, and then get some text about why this place is sacred (I love the story where vivec sees a farmer harvesting muck, so vivec humbles himself and joins the man as the man).

      These pilgramages give you a sense of the divine within the game, and it makes Morrowind a living breatging place, and gets you invested in the tribunal temple.

      Look, dragon age has consequences, but it doesn’t have roleplaying. That’s the problem.

    2. “Whilst i can appreciate judging the base game as a base game, judging the entirety when there are more story arcs on the way bringing a true close to the game would be much fairer.”

      And if EA releases more story content for free, then I’ll absolutely retract all my statements. But they won’t do that, because it’s EA. People paid upwards of $60 dollars for this game, saying “there is more story coming” is not an acceptable answer. If this were a Telltale game and I was judging it on the first episode, that would be unfair. However if Telltale sold its game on an episode by episode basis, then people would be totally justified in judging that one episode by itself, because it’s being sold as a single product.

      Mass Effect was also the beginning of a long saga, but it gave the audience a satisfactory ending to the first game. Star Wars a New Hope is the beginning of a long story, but it too had a good ending.

      I’m not saying Inquisition is a bad game, in fact I think I said it’s pretty terrific, but that doesn’t change the fact it had a lacklustre ending. If you’re willing to overlook all the problems with Dragon Age Inquisition because there’s more story coming, that’s fine, that’s your prerogative. I just don’t think many will share your opinion.

      Also there is no guarantee that there will be more story, they may be planning 3 more games, but if the sales don’t meet EA’s expectations, the whole thing stops here.

    3. “it gets better after the first 100 hours and you’ve bought the DLC” is a terrible, terrible excuse for an excuse.

    4. Really? No one told me that I would have to pay for the real ending to DAI extra. If someone would have told me that, I never would have bought that game in the first place. At best, I would have waited for the release of the “complete edition” before even considering a purchase.
      Next time BioWare should put a sticker on the box warning people! I mean informing!

  12. this is a perfect reflection of my feelings, and the first time I’ve heard anyone else say it. a 100-hour playthrough should not have the exact same narrative arc as a 10-hour playthrough. I feel like my time setting everything right in the world was shamelessly spat on. an epilogue that mentions -none- of the zones that were so important to fix up? that doesn’t even mention the fates of all the characters? that says not a word about the many NPCs I begrudgingly helped along the way because I anticipated a conclusion that would give me some kind of an emotion, some simulated pride at having set everything in this imaginary digital world right?

    it really was always going to come down to if the climax with Corypheus was any good and if the wrap-up made me feel the time I’d sunk was worth it. maybe if even just one of those things had been the case I’d feel differently. but I’m shaken by neither box being ticked. I don’t want to invest dozens and dozens of hours in something and come away feeling void, and that’s exactly what happened with Inquisition.

  13. There is no direction in DA3. In DA:O, there is definitely some sort of theme about godhood or politics, race/class issues… in DA3 there is nothing. Sure, there are conflicts, but no unifying theme. The arch villain does nothing to tie any of the threads together – to create any kind of thematic narrative.

    FO:NV has a theme, really, any good RPG does.

    1. The great thing about FO:NV and DA:O is that they were made without regard to how the decisions might impact a later game.
      It’s like Bioware wanted to make a game based off of DA:O but they couldn’t commit to it so we’re left with a half-assed system of some awkward dialogue changes and retcons.
      In order to make a good dynamic story you need to be willing to make content that some players won’t ever see.
      DAII and DA:I refused to do this. Almost all major content *will* be seen by the player.
      In DA:O there are entire maps, and dialogue trees that will be totally cut off from you depending on your decisions. That takes huge balls for a game developer to do.
      In DA:I you can pretty much see everything there is to see in one play-through, and that pretty much nails on the head what is so frustrating about this game.
      DA:I gives the illusion of nonlinearity, and for most people that illusion was never shattered even when they finished the game (Which I guess is a pretty impressive feat). When I started this game I was thinking “Wow, this is going to be awesome, what if I made ‘x’ decision on my next playthrough?”
      Now that it’s over I’m going to uninstall it and start a game of Baldur’s Gate, because all my questions were answered; Pretty much nothing happens when you change decision X Y or Z.

  14. Great article. You’ve nailed it. I wrote on Bioware’s forums about the importance of choice in a roleplaying game, and someone posted this article link in the thread, for which I’m grateful.

    I’ve been a running some kind of table top roleplaying game for 30 years; leading a group of ever changing close friends through a twisting and ever evolving series of choices and more importantly consequences in whatever genre exists. It’s all about choice – small and big – and the “illusion” of choice in a narrative driven experience. Yet, so much of what is considered an RPG (and DA:I won that award this year) just isn’t RP – it’s a G. You play their role, and watch a mostly linear movie, delivered in in-engine cutscenes that are worse than a kid’s saturday morning cartoon, and usually with as much emotion/depth/nuance/substance… etc.

    Games that aren’t RPG, like The Last Us, are actually better at delivering that experience – on just about every level.

    Thanks for taking the time to so expertly write what many of us are feeling. I have a soft spot for Bioware, and I can hope is, they know all of this – and that their priorities got screwed up this time round. They bit off more than they can chew, they ran out of time, they didn’t have leadership, it was all EA’s fault, whatever… just so long as they know that this isn’t how you engage players.

    here’s my stream of consciousness:
    http://forum.bioware.com/topic/531877-the-importance-of-choice-in-roleplaying-games/

  15. I’m sorry for this but…it’s omega 4, not 6. As for the rest of the article, I have nothing to add since I agree with most of your points, and some (I missed while playing the game – both mage and templar playthroughs) were pointed out to me by this article.

  16. Wonderful article, I perceived the game in the exact same way. I’m so surprised that there are any reviews of this game without pointing this out.

    I tried to write the exact same thing down, you just worded it much more eloquent.

    I blame many of the things you mentioned on the fact, that they designed the game more like a single player MMO. Because in MMO’s the player enters instances instead of just walking through a world that’s connected. And that’s how it feels most of the time. Entering instances that don’t necessarily have anything to do with any other.

    I was also shocked, that the whole main story took only 10-15 hours. That’s under Mass Effect 2 for example, a game that was supposed to be much more actiony (and thus shorter) than such an RPG.

    When the ending slides appeared, I felt like they agreed, because they managed to sum up the entire game’s story in maybe 6 or 7 of them. It couldn’t have been thinner.

    I’d like to add to your description of the battle with Corypheus, that another huge problem, what made the fight even worse, was that Hawke had already defeated him in the Legacy DLC and that this fight was much more intense and better designed than the one in this major release. The fight in Legacy was actually a challenge. I brought Varric to both fights and I wanted him to say, that at least the first time he had to try to defeat Cory.

    Even the last picture was just PR, because all these characters never stand around the war table in the actual game. 🙂

  17. Another part of the ending that pissed me off is that the epilogue didn’t feature anything regarding your companions other than who became Divine and revealing Solas’ true identity. I wanted to know whether or not Varric returned to Kirkwall to help rebuild it. I wanted to know if Dorian was able to change the way Tevinter did things.

    When the epilogue rolled in Origins, I knew exactly what was going to happen to the friends I had made, and even what would happen to MY character. Here there was none of that. It screams dlc bait to me.

  18. “it was a stream of consciousness straight from my raging, bitterly disappointed mind onto the vast wastes of the internet”

    it wasn’t. this game has 0 choices, none of the choices make any difference, i was hugely disappointed to find this out while doing second playthrough as “bad” character (as opposed to my first “good” playthrough) – but there was 0 difference, like literally i couldn’t make anything else happen choosing entirely different choice-wheel answers on purpose. At most there was difference in 1 sentence or 1 event before everything jumped back to the “main” storyline which was 100% identical in both cases. No problem with that. Problem is they ADVERTISE “choice”, where there is NONE.

    1. Indeed, there is zero choice in the game. My comment on the previous article was mainly to point out it wasn’t up to my usual standards, or at least I didn’t feel it was. I wrote it in about 15 minutes and then posted it without any proofreading at all, that was all I was saying.

      Thanks for reading though, glad to see I’m not the only one who hated the ending.

      1. Are you in need of additional assistance for proofreading? I am offering to help, and I know when to use the word than rather than the word then. I am fairly certain you know when to use both of those words, so I was surprised to see a slip up in the edited review.

        Thank you for explaining your reasons, and I appreciate the break down. I believe some of the effects for choices, however minor and seemingly inconsequential, were easily missed by not speaking to certain companions. I know I was told the changes and outcomes of each area by speaking to an NPC. I also dealt with fallout from certain companions based on my choices, but could easily be missed entirely.

        Leiliana was impacted by my choices, which seemed inconsequential until it was too late to change the outcome. I’m not quite sure the reason Bioware set it up in such a way that one could miss the end result of their choices, and it seems poorly conceived. I prefer to have the consequences stun me into a blank stare, and I honestly expected it from this game. I was disappointed to find the consequences only discovered in non necessary conversations with random NPCs.

        Some of the choices were difficult to make, and I struggled with picking an option. My husband woke up when he heard me crying, and he worried someone had died. All I could do was point at the television, and he thought
        I had discovered the ring of death on the game’s disk. Deciding between Alister or my Hawke was truly one of the most difficult decisions I have made in any game. I didn’t expect to be confronted by a decision like that, so it caught me completely by surprise. I don’t generally have such a reaction, and was less troubled by the choices for Hawke’s sibling and how to deal with Anders. I expected more of an overall impact to the game seeing how difficult the decision was to make. They truly could have done much more with it.

        I have not played Mass Effect, and am not sure if I ever will play it, so I can not compare Inquisition to it. I did play Origin at least four times, Awakenings twice, and DA2 twice, and I will play Inquisition at least once more. I enjoy it more than DA2, and hopefully the next game will be even better than DA2 and Inquisition combined.

        I will be reading your other reviews. I appreciate the thorough explanations far more than those which simply state, “It sucks!” The Witcher is the next game series I plan to play, and I hope it is as enjoyable as I have been led to believe. I was disappointed in Skyrim Elder Scrolls because of game breaking bugs, and it was difficult to discern the plot or story line through much of the game.

        1. I am actually looking for a proofreader, I unfortunately couldn’t afford to pay you but if you’re willing and would like to see posts before anyone else, that’d be awesome.

          I’m curious, what kind of effect did your choices have on Leliana? My first playthrough I tried talking to all my characters as often as possible, and I still didn’t see much change based on my actions. I’m curious as to what changes you saw.

  19. I wholeheartedly agree with every word of this article. I just finished my first play-through and I have no motivation to play it again. Actually I am seriously considering deleting it.
    I also thought the ending was just a fake. I thought the pity old Corypheas’ death is only a coy, especially after they made him immortal, first of ones entered gold city, control an archdemon, magister and dark spawn rolled into one. It is like the producters are throwing all the cool tributes at him and shout “hey look what we have for you – a super cool vilan!” and wait, you can cut him down like everyone else.
    At the post-fight celeration, I thought I will be ambushed by the real boss. Skyhold will hold the battle and show how far the Inquisition has come since Haven. Like the upgrades I made to the fort, moral I raised, agents I recruited, soliders I saved in the game will all come together and prove to me the 70hrs I poured in mean something. But NO.
    What bothered me the most is the lack of interaction between charaters. I don’t care for my party. In DAO, you can click on your companions during any time and have a discussion. While talking with them, you can see their facial expressions, not the puppet face with raising eyebrows and moving lips. DAO did such a splendid job at facial capture that I can’t help but feel DAI is a step down.
    I romanced Blackwall because he was convenient. In DAO, I completed a new playthrough as human noble just to marry Alistair.
    Not counting the beautiful graphics, DAI is a common ARPG game. I will not pay for another DA game.

  20. Thank you for this article John, you and a handful of others have actually kept your heads level and criticized DA:I’s (major) shortcomings with evidence.

    There are game ‘reviewers’ and ‘critics’ that not only NOT mention any of these problems but also write them off as unimportant, so it’s a breath of fresh air to hear someone write intelligently and with regards to the game and previous games.

    I hope we all support the indie/alternative developers that actually put in the work that make their games cohesive rather than the diluted thinly veiled beat-em-up we have with DA:I.

    1. Yeah, if there had been other reviews criticizing the ending I may not have even bothered writing this. Everyone (meaning critics and reviewers) all seemed to love it though, so I wrote it to voice my own frustrations. Glad so many people have enjoyed it.

  21. All the game does is look pretty, I don’t understand how it got such rave reviews from the “offfcial” boards when we’re the ones who are buying the game. I agree 100% with everything you said about this game. I also felt like I was playing an mmo, talk to townspeople pick up quests go kill/gather and go back not to mention every area is exactly the same thing just different environment. The main story is short and the so called after ending makes my face cringe and say eh…why did I have him in my party? Either way… I did put in a decent amount of time into DAI and gave the game a chance but the previous 2 games were more interesting. Also to note the grey wardens (DAO) and hawke (DA2) respectively was such an intricate part of the main story which drove to this point than only to have a so called nobody aka the player (inquisitor) have the authority to throw them to the side doesn’t make sense, what was the point of the first two games not to mention why let the players carry a character throughout the entire game only to have it end up lie to you in the end. This is something bioware seems to be good at which is just a waste of time for me. When DA4 does come around years later, I will remember my experience with this game and what bioware did with the series.

    1. Yeah, I’m actually writing another follow up article on the game’s MMO feel and how that sabotaged any attempt at a good story. I wasn’t even going to buy DA3 after what went down with ME3, but it got such good reviews I decided to risk it. DA4 I’ll wait until it’s on sale for 5 bucks before getting it.

  22. After 100 hours or so on my first (and probably only) playthrough, I started thinking that Bioware had redeemed itself. Then I started the last mission. Why oh why? Everything you have said is spot on. Once again I feel as though my decisions were entirely pointless and that Bioware’s writers got lazy at the most critical moment. Even Dragon Age 2 had a more meaningful ending. It did make me wonder what would have happened if I sided with the Templars. Thanks for saving me the trouble of a second playthrough:) Looks like Bioware fooled me twice…shame on me for not holding my wallet!

  23. I just finished the game myself, and was hoping to see if anyone else felt simply underwhelmed by the ending.

    I have to say, the entire finale was just so mundane and relaxed that I was waiting for Skyhold to explode during the banquet, or something like that. Everything seemed to tie up too smoothly and happily. It was almost as if there was no real weight behind the villain’s motives and actions, y’know? The Inquisition simply beat a crusty senile wizard and then retired to their bedchambers for a midday siesta. All in a day’s work.

    Plus, during the entire finale bossfight, I was thinking “Man, this would be a lot more emotionally charged if, instead of destroying the already destroyed Temple, Cory completely obliterated Skyhold and lifted its remains into the air”.

    I mean, after all, there were no companion deaths in the finale at all (surprising, considering Bioware’s track record), so why not simply crush the castle we had come to know and love? That would’ve been enough for me.

    I dunno, the ending just seemed way too… happy. Maybe Bioware’s tendency for bittersweet has spoiled me.

  24. Really for me this game is a disappointment, so boring the history lame.And they call this the game of year oh god, the game dont look like rpg and the controls for pc are awful . i can’t even finish this game is like someone give some pill for sleep i try 3 times , In my opinion this DA:I is far worse then da:2 at last in this one have a decent history humor that keep me going and dlls change the game a lot for good. they have time for built some great there no excuses. i play DA:O 4 times 3 in DA:2 and this one purchase and sell.

  25. The article was a good read, as well as the Mass Effect ones you’ve done in the past. I’ll try to add my viewpoint to those already here.

    I don’t believe it’s just the ending that inherently flaws this game so deeply. It starts with the fact that it’s designed for a casual audience (so that EA can make as much money as possible). Fenced in by those restrictions, it’s never allowed to reach any heights it theorhetically could since the game is meant to appeal to everyone, everywhere. This applies to difficulty issues, design problems, gameplay oversights, stringency of lore-handling and also the quality of storytelling.

    The plethora of choices you made throughout all three (four) games is completely ignored to furnish an ending the writing team has already decided upon. It shouldn’t be a problem – every story has a beginning and end; it’s the journey that defines it – but Dragon Age: Inquisition’s end smashes the carefully-built lore and sense of dramatics up until that point. A skilled writer realises that fate can mean no matter what you do, your path will end up at the same point, but we will explain why and how; show you how your decision was overruled; use the world’s relativity and rich tapestry of context we’ve spent years weaving to make it seem a realistic outcome. To make you, the reader, find acceptance at the cumulation of it all. An end should bring about a resolution, always.

    At the root cause sits EA themselves, no doubt. Like your surmised conclusion that slashed development time crippled ME3’s ending and the indoctrination theory, I suspect the same happened here. Inquisition’s release was pushed back a few times and there probably were a lot of casualities; integrity and a solid resolution chief among those. I’m afraid, to a money-making suit with nothing on their mind but profit margins, it’s always going to be about the sales.

    Broad generalisation = more customers = higher turnover.

    [Money] chosen over [Customer satisfaction].
    [Profit] over [Plot resolution].
    [Flashy visuals] over [Story development].
    [Explosions] over [Sense].
    [Non-sensical violence] over [Intelligent reasoning].

    And so on. Perhaps there was another ending that actually made sense and would have been satisfying. There may even have been multiple endings, tailored to what we did in the game; when we’d see they’d learned from DA II and ME3. But it got cut short. Non-disclosure agreements are why you’ll never see any of the dev team explain the real reasons. EA have to protect their assets, after all. It’s such a shame, but I don’t see how we can bring about a change ourselves, as ordinary gamers.

    1. Thanks, glad you enjoyed my reviews. And yeah, EA seems to be the cancer eating away at pretty much every creative endeavor they launch. I covered some of the MMO mechanics that I hated in this post https://johnswritersblock.com/2014/12/31/dragon-age-inquistion-ending-coninued/

      But ultimately I have to agree that as ordinary gamers we really can’t affect the industry. One of the reasons I hope Patreon projects and independent fundraising like Star Citizen takes off is so that game developers no longer have to sacrifice creative control for the sake of corporate backing.

  26. I’m currently playing through the game a second time on the hardest difficulty level after finding Hard mode unsatisfying. And I agree about the story, mostly.

    It’s pretty apparent, though, that the elements in the story were mostly meant for people who have not only engaged in the video games, but many of the other stories in the “Dragon Age” franchise as well. Cole’s character arc doesn’t begin in “Inquisition”- it begins in the spin-off novel, “Asunder.” But somebody who never read “Asunder” is going to be wondering who this Rhys and Evangeline are.

    The choice to recruit the Templars rather than the Mages is actually more weighty, in light of the fact you will be forced to kill Grand Enchanter Fiona if you do so- other media establishes her as a fairly important character in the “Dragon Age” universe. Without media from outside the game, how is anybody going to know why she’s upset when she finds out Alistair died in the Fade?

    The problem with those spin-off novels is that they assume a canon that may not be the same as the player’s. “Asunder,” for example, assumes Wynne survived and Shale was recruited.

    It seems, regardless of what the player wants to choose, the developers are dead set on presenting the story the way they want to present it. Given some of the criticisms here, one might think the game would actually be received more positively if they stopped pretending to be about choices and went for a full-on J-RPG approach. They spend two games and various books setting us up for this huge Mage vs Templar conflict. It’s a conflict that has forum debates going on for tens of hundreds of thread pages, and has loosely suggests some real world politics. And then they….do nothing with it for “Inquisition”.

    It’s a shame really because, as others have noted here, the party members are great. I dare say, I’ve grown to like the members of the Inquisition more than the party from “Origins” (let’s face it- Oghren, Sten, and Zevran were really pretty boring). Approval ratings really should have played more of a role, especially since those often felt like what were really at stake in the game’s choices. This is a really opinionated crew, and it wasn’t as easy to keep people happy the way you could in “Origins” by simply showering them with gifts.

    Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any discernible difference beyond certain quest availability and dialogue differences. Though, I will confirm there are dialogue differences. In my first play through, “Vivienne greatly disapproves” routinely flashed across my screen; I thought she was a total bitch. Second play through, I listened to her a bit more on issues and she’s a lot more amiable this time around. Approval should have had heavier consequences, especially since, as I just mentioned, their Approval isn’t nearly as easy to salvage is it is in “Origins,” nor are their reactions as easy to guess.

    I am troubled by the perspective many people are taking regarding the game as a whole, though. The final 10 minutes of the game negates the other 100 hours they spent playing? Video games are a medium that can’t judged only by the same measures we would use in a Pick Your Own Adventure book or even a movie. It’s undoubtedly a beautifully crafted world. The classes and specializations play incredibly distinct and lend to quite a bit of customization, an element of choice people often seem to forget. On my second playthrough now, I’m playing on Nightmare difficulty, and finding the amount of trial and error incredibly satisfying. And this last point may not be all that important to most gamers, but I love the music of the game. I listen to a lot of movie and video game soundtracks and much of “Inquisition”‘s soundtrack is dead on. Save for one glaring, unfortunate exception…

    …that militaristic track that plays in Haven and Skyhold. Too bad it’s one you will probably hear more than any other.

    1. Well for people playing to experience the story, the fact that the story ends up going no where and doesn’t even have a point will negate alot of their enjoyment. I covered some other flaws in the game here: https://johnswritersblock.com/2014/12/31/dragon-age-inquistion-ending-coninued/

      Mainly I had a problem with the MMO mechanics of the game, because I hate MMOs. But if your someone who enjoys that kind of gameplay, the fact that the ending sucks won’t hinder your enjoyment. I’ve always made it clear my reviews are always about the storytelling of a game, there are plenty of other more qualified people who can review the game mechanics. Plus that’s what every review judges a game on, graphics and gameplay, very few ever review the actual story of a game. That’s kind of my niche.

      I didn’t even know that there were spinoff novels for Dragon Age. You’d think if they were that critical to the story they might have marketed those a bit better. I was curious as to who Fiona was, since she was a named enemy at the siege of Haven, but then when I killed her it had absolutely no impact on the story so it didn’t really matter.

      1. The problem is that Origin could pretty much do whatever it like with the cannon whereas both DA2 and DAI had to adapt to your cannon. People say that you couldn’t change things much but Origins painted you into a corner where you had to in a sense blank some things out and negate them to carry on any consistent cannon – otherwise we could have lost Leilana – an interesting character some people whinged because she wasn’t romanceable just in case she is romancing your warden which is a far more likely cannon then her having died. The novels have to be incorporate for those who read them but not too much for those who didn’t. Ditto the first two games. It’s easy to blame the Big Bad corp but this is a problem that isn’t easy to solve.

        In some ways perhaps DAI is a victim of its own ambition it was a long time in development and then delayed further to develop it further and perhaps trying to weave the various parts together just would prove to be too difficult and require dialogue that would never been used by the majority of players. There is already enough to make a difference to make cannoning the next game difficult.

  27. well i finish the game with strong force of will. Really i had no words because this is a pill of crap, someone can explain why this game had 100 hrs of secondary missions with 0 rewards. you start falling of the sky like a god and nothing change even 25hrs of playing @!#$%$ in the final battle someone pointed “Legacy DLC fight with Corypheus was much more intense” i total agree with that, the companions are boring and unrecognizable like varric or ungly cassandrO she look like boy. Its seem you can even speak bad of this game at least in official forum my comment get erased. The marketing department of ubisoft are evil genius because i bite again,
    i will check more often yours reviews and the comments maybe next time you save me money.
    Regards from Argentina

  28. Wow, you people must really be in denial if you think choices don’t mater in DA: I or don’t have an impact. Sorry but don’t be an idiot. Let’s have a level head here. You can’t honestly say there’s no choice in the game and that nothing you do matters.

    1. I didn’t say there were no choices in the game, I said there weren’t many consequences to those choices. In the interest of fairness I did specifically point out a few consequences I did experience at the Well of Sorrows. However the main thrust of my argument was that none of your choices end up affecting the ending of the game. If you’d like to point out a specific example of a choice you made that actually affected your ending, please do so, because I’d love to see. Nothing would make me happier than to see that I was wrong about DA:I, and that in does in fact have more than a single ending that doesn’t shift no matter what you do. I really mean that, because I would enjoy the game so much more.

      1. Uh, I’m not in denial about anything, sorry. Hate to break it to you. I don’t see how I could be. Choice has always had a big impact on events in the series. It’s not meaningless.

    2. so tell me what choice you make change the game just please name one because the story is straight line, maybe the only impact is in the comapions influence but no more if there an impact is so small you cant see it. In the other hand i feel like a idiot for buying this maybe you are in denial and blind you call a lot people idiots even in others sites you read complains for the same reason.

      1. Uh, I’m not in denial about anything, sorry. Hate to break it to you. I don’t see how I could be. Choice has always had a big impact on events in the series. It’s not meaningless

        1. you make choices but there is no diference, point one to you, choose the templars (demon) or the mage (crazy father trying saving son) for alliance in the end dont change nothing , you finish the missions and you start in same point in both sides diferences yeah a few mission in the table … where is the impact ? its huge decision right there. So i asking myself what its point give me that choice because that is not a decisions is a illusion. but you had your opinion and i am fine with that. we are gonna disagree in this fact but i agree with you in dao even da2 the choices always had a impact. Regards

  29. Hello.

    While I loved your review, and agree with you about much of it, I think you (and by you, I really meann ALL OF US), simply have over high expectations.
    Think back to ME1. Which of your choices REALLY had an impact on the story? Basically non. What difference did it make in ME1 if you kept the bug queen live or not? None. Only later in the series did your choices start to have meaning.

    I hope that will be the case here too. While not all choices had a strong impact on the game, your choices from previous games certainly did – my first run through was with a diffault world, and I can tell you it was very different than playing with your previous games’ custom world.
    There are also little changes that can make a lot of difference. For example, can Corypheus take oveer Cole? The dialogue suggests that he can, if you didn’t do his mission. I never really got to test that myself.

    As for the ending, I agree with you, but I think the problem started WAY before the actual battle. There was no sense of urgency, since you’ve basically been winning the whole time, sending the eneemy back more and more. By the time you got to the end, it was like “fine, I’ll go kill him becausee I have nothing better to do.” This made the whole game seem less intense.

  30. What?!!!!!! – What!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Really!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’M DEVISTATED, I’M HURT, I’M CUT…

    I feel that all those friends and family (including my wife) that we as gamers have to fight with and constantly argue with over let’s face it, our addiction, and to whom I stand up to, for these epic games. Justifying to myself that this is what I love and it’s worth all those hours, of sitting doing nothing (to those that don’t understand the addiction)… – they, were all just vindicated in their ridicule, that’s how I feel. Because if someone asked me, so dude, after wasting weeks of your life, what happened in the end was it worth it…? – No, it wasn’t. I bought a PS4 for myself for Xmas, and just one game, DA3. That was my gift to myself. And working Fly in Fly out of the mines, or FIFO as we say in Oz, you get like weeks off on break. Xmas I had off, I put a week into this game.

    At hour 160, approx., I, after finally being unable to find one single mission left, not a mosaic piece, not a shard, not a herb, not an equipment requisition, not an animal I hadn’t slain, and 95% of every codex I could find, etc. Finally I clicked on the final mission…

    I finished the game, last night or rather 1am this morning; Hour 160!!! when as it says in his article, you can do it in 15 if you’re good. However, I’m not about that; I played DAI as I have always played the DA suite, and every other RPG (and I’ve finished them all, several times over)… , I played as I love to, not miss one dialog option, investigating every conversation, before proceeding, exhausting all dialog options. I’ve always played the same, I exhaust everything possible before ever progressing the main story line… It’s always paid dividends.. In so many ways. Gear, Levels, Storyline impact etc.. Skyrim, The Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect, I do them all the same way, never touch the main plot until you can’t find a rock unturned, then keep going.. milk the game all the way.

    So here’s where I could write everything in your article above, verbatim. One big total agree, and I raise you a big fat that sucked, impeccably. I feel lied to, I feel cheated on, for no other game could I say, that It’s been more implied, in marketing, and it’s heritage, that my game style, of careful and meticulous searching, maps, dialog, – you know what I mean, would pay off. This DA was going to be it. Things that other people don’t bother about, there’s not a chest I hadn’t found I doubt. The worry, the stress about game choices. None of it mattered.

    Using the article’s cooking analogy; I spent a week, driving around from city to city, going to their best stores, markets, flying the world looking for the very best ingredients; and DA3 made that experience, so enjoyable, all the while, stressing me out, that which shops I went to and what ingredients I bought, would ultimately alter the banquet, and change dramatically who would attend this ball of all balls, parties of parties…

    Finally, on the night, I’m all dressed up and ready, we make a quick toast, to victory, and then the chef grabbed all the ingredients, and put them in a blender, and presented me with SOUP. I’m so bitterly disappointed I found this article searching for answers, about different game play. Now, I’m so much more depressed, I find out, whatever I do, the chef puts in a blender, and I get SOUP. Sure it will taste different, but the same people turn up, and all we get is different tasting soup…

    I hate you DA3, I hate you because I loved you, so much, until in that final hour, you gutted me.. I have put away my controllers, turned off my newly bought PS4. I’m off to exercise now, I feel stupid, feel like I wasted 160 hours of my life. If I was Bajo or Hex, from ABC Good Game, or reviewing games was my living, I’d live with myself, but it’s not. That was so bad it turned me off a new play-through, something I’ve never experienced with an epic game. I’d go as far as saying that just saw me turn off my PS4 for a long time.

    1. Wazza, I feel your pain. I put about 130 hours into the game before starting the final mission. What a pile of crap that turned out to be. When we commit so much time to something we want a final pay-off don’t we? We want a big spectacular battle, we want to see what happened to everyone, even a few cut-scenes with the companions we spent so long with. Not a crappy pathetic little party in the hallway of a castle. Unbelievable.

      It ruined the whole game for me. And the game had so many wonderful moments along the way too. Like playing sneaky tricks on people with Sera. Or beating your first dragon and iron bull whooping with joy at the achievement. Or helping Viviene find a cure for her dying companion. All these moments have been irreparably tainted, Bioware/EA should be ashamed of themselves. Its like they made this spectacular, fantastically impressive pair of pants from Plush Fustian Velvet and Kings willow weave with a Dawnstone encrusted hem, and then at the last moment, wilfully and uncontrollably crapped in them. I, for one, will not be attempting to wear those soiled pants again, or any future pants they care to make, for that matter.

    2. Hi, after 120 hs of playing, doing almost every mission i could and sniffing in every rock i walked, i clicked on final mission. I feel just like you. Exaclty like you…i feel somehow denied of mt worth ending…robbed of my time.

      Well…so dissapointed..
      Greetings from Brasil

  31. Sorry I know this post was from a while back, but I just have to vent. I am so disappoint. -_-
    Totally agree with everything you said. Ugh, just ugh. After 120 hours and weeks obsessing over the game, doing all the side missions, agonizing over little decisions, redoing choices and conversations to make sure everything turns out exactly as I want it, and then.. nothing.. a thirty minute fight where I hardly had to use potions.
    The worst part is how badly my expectations were thwarted by what they set up. I had figured out the Dread Wolf thing by the time I finished the Temple of Mythal. (I was rping “elfy” elf and so kept Solas as a solid one of my three as well as my love interest and heard just about everything he had to say. It’s all actually nicely and subtlely laid out if you watch for it) and so I had all of these massive expectations for the ending involving Elven mythology and empty thrones and banished Gods and breaking into the fade in the flesh and so after easy as shit Cory, and even into the party, I’m STILL convinced that the Dread Wolf is the real villain and shit’s gonna go down and my feelings are all complicated because omg he was right there the whole time and my character is like in love with him, and then… credits….
    … sigh.
    I guess at least there’s a tbc in the epilogue? Maybe?
    Thanks for the article. I still love the game and had a great time playing it but you put into words alot of the feels that I’m having. You rock.

  32. Hi! John

    I’m soooo very glad to finally see some or at the very least 1 person think same as I did when I finished my 1st play through.

    The moment I killed coryphellus (as Sera would say… 😛 ) and the ending came by the only words that came off of my mouth – “eh!!…ammm…did I just finish the whole game along with all dragons and all side-quests that i possibly could find!!??!”…

    To be true DAI is a good game no doubt but it rather felt like a let-down to be in comparison to DAO and even the much criticized DA2….in comparison to DAO and DA2 Inquisition felt very small a game to me…and yet there are sooo many people who said they tool 150 to 200+ hours to finish the whole game!!…I say it was a move by Bioware or EA to hype up the game for some extra ‘false fame’…coz by the time I finished the game’s 1st play-through I was left gasping for more unlike DAO’s 1st play-through…however, I do think I felt that mainly coz of the exact same reason mentioned in this very accurate blog thread of yours. The story was not a complete slice of bread like DAO or even DA2 at this point were…it was rather a part of a slice of a bread with the other part spread around like crumbs…hence, DAO still remains to be the best of dragon age series to date….

    I don’t find multiplayer aspect of any mass effect or dragon age games to be of any importance at all…not even 0.001% in my view…multiplayer for these kind of story-lead single player recommended RPG games, in my honest opinion, suggests that the company isn’t truly confident in their own product to get the kind of money back they would have estimated and so they build multiplayer only to beg for some of that extra cash to come in…Rather an insult to themselves and the game and story they soo heartily built…but that my view on multiplayer not the game thus I digress!

    I don’t get 1 very precise point about any of the game creators/companies though!!….let me explain:

    Has anyone here played Deus Ex 1…I bet anyone that is anyone who has any respect for storyline and RPGs in general will absolutely 101% agree with me that that game has one of ‘the’ best storylines ever built in a game…preciously why that game got all its fame even when its graphics where extremely terrible. why don’t game creators/companies and all gamers in general understand the fact that ‘multiplayer’, graphics and constantly going around grinding for better stats and equipment and killing other players as if we are terrorists of virtual world is not by any length what makes a game or an animation or a movie or any media for that case. furthermore, making a multiplayer/online game (elder scrolls) will definitely bring about loads of players…I have been through neverwinter and soo many other multiplayers myself but do players remember them as long as they would remember fallout 3 or mass effect!?…I dare them to…I do agree the industry is all about making money and not what ‘players’ truly want/deserve. But it sure is killing the industry faster too…especially in the area of creativity and creative ideas. every multiplayer out there today has the exact same thing going on and only the look, texts (coz voiceovers are mostly cut off in multiplayers) story progression changes ever so slightly…basic gameplay, story-style remain exactly same yet soo many flock to them only coz they are their free pathway to show off their bragging rights to people they might have never meat and will never either!!??…isn’t that pitiful and pathetic!!??…to me it surely is…but again that is all my view point on it and I absolutely had to get that all off of my chest :). But, neither is this blog about it nor am I forcing or asking anyone to change or try to talk me into changing my views. Thus, I digress again!! :)…

    Thx for mentioning the facts of DAI that I have been angry about too….makes me feel I’m not the only 1 on the ‘boat of disappointment’.

  33. 2 words: ending sucked.

    There was so much to love about this game that I can’t believe it ended with some extremely underpowered villian dying so fast. The thrill I get from the ending fight is just about as much as closing a rift. Even slaying dragons were much more epic than this.

    I agree with you, there’s so much more room for an epic ending, given how coryfish was levitating chunks of earth out of nowhere. He did nothing of that sort during the battle, did nothing to my character, and died with the difficulty of killing a revenant. Even given that every action by the inquisition crippled him, it might be more “realistic” to have him dumbed down, but I was expecting the dumbing down to be from “god” level to “stronger-than-red-lyrium-dragon” level.

    He could have shown more desperation and difficulty, e.g. summoning multiple rifts in the arena using the remaining lifeforce of his dragon, sacrificing his army of templars/wardens/whatever-we-did-not-take-into-inquisition to power up himself, or even a cliche giving himself up to demons to become a bad ass abomination.

    The fight should have been harder, e.g. corpyfish spawning himself out of the remaining troops until his dragon is killed, raining demons/meteors from the skies.

    The whole scene could have been more epic, e.g. bunch of red-lyrium infused soldiers doing creepy shit in a creepy voice or singing some creepy chant collectively, cut scenes of dragon fight or fighting soldiers, fighting on a dragon.

    Too bad none of these happened. I had more excitment fighting him at Haven than at Skyhold. I was so underwhelmed at the banquet I opened up my journal several times to check if I have any more inquisition quests. I went to my quarters, went to war room, talked to my characters, hoping there’s a continuation such as finding solas but nope, it was truly the end, only a feeling of emptiness and a sense of incompleteness.

    I’ll be incensed if the “ending” is in DLC. Even Starcraft 2 fight for each of its extension were more complete.

    1. Oh yeah, I spent a good hour after the climax running around, hoping it would trigger some kind of “secret” ending that would somehow make the game worthwhile. You’re not alone there.

  34. I agree with most of your points. Very well written! Your following statement really struck me: “I don’t need a dozen amazing endings, I just need one good one.” This is what I was thinking throughout. I’d rather have no choice but a well-developed story than choice and poor story-telling. By ‘choice’ I do not mean how one plays (i.e. gameplay), but choosing plot points that branch the narrative onto different paths. This is how I essentially looked at Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I liked the gameplay and the story, realizing that I’m not altering the story as I play. It’s linear and I’m okay with that…the choices at the end notwithstanding. (I just didn’t consider them choices as part of the game.) I’d love to read your take on Deus Ex: Human Revolution sometime. 🙂 Keep up the great posts!

      1. Thanks! I’ll have to look into this Patreon thing you speak of. 🙂 I was also wondering if you have a top # list of best story-driven games. Heck, I’d be interested in your top novels! Reading is still by and large my favourite activity and novels my favourite medium for stories than movies, games, etc. Are you writing any fiction? I’d be very interested to read anything you’ve produced.

  35. Thank you! Now when I fail to explain how I feel about Inquisition I can just send this to people. This article turns me on.

  36. This is a very well written argument. Comparing DAI to Mass Effect 2 does make the inquisitor’s choices seem hallow. The lack of shot/reverse shots for the entire dialogue trees also miffed me and spoiled my emersion.
    But, I guess I got pretty lucky with my fem elf quiz, but most other folks surely felt at least a little like you.
    I think I was tricked into thinking DAI was artfully woven together because of my race and gender choice. I even find myself reading through all the elfy codexes…I don’t usually get THAT into the lore. Dragging Solas (my LI) through ruins of my ancestors, the Rift, the glyphs, the Anchor, even Cole felt connected and gave my choices weight. My choices in game even changed my inquisitor’s face. If I play again with a new inquisitor and different choices the illusion of choice, connection, and consequences will probably fall apart.
    One perfect playthrough will have to be all for me. Maybe your choices will have ramifications in the sequel. Even with the no-consequences ending I’m still glad my elfy elf didn’t drink from the Well. 😉

  37. I’m going to write something that might be unpopular, but I’ll explain it and hope you guys understand.
    I’ll start by stating a fact: DAII has become my favorite game of the series after reading this review and thinking about it a little.

    I think the illusion isn’t in DA:I. I think it started as early as DA:O and ME1. DA:O was, supposedly, full of choices. Except it really wasn’t. While it was great to see your allies, which you hand picked, join you in battle, that was a graphic change at best. The last battle hardly changed because of it – Elven archers didn’t prevent the Archedemon from taking flight by shooting arrows over his head. Mages didn’t errect barriers and stop minor enemies from approaching.
    In fact, the place where your choices mattered most is the landsmeet… And no matter how the landsmeet goes, you end up fighting Loghain.
    Sure, your choice of race/class has some minor additions to the game (like your elven friend showing up as a dark friend if you’re Dalish), but the vast majority of the game gives you choices without any meaning to them ingame. They affect the world greatly, but the game barely.

    ME1 suffered from the same issue. Most of your choices never came to matter. Eventually the Normandy is grounded, you escape with it, crash into the citadel after Saren and fight his possessed body. One of the greatest choices, saving the councle or not, has no meaning here.
    But by the time you get to ME3, suddenly your choices matter A LOT. Suddenly whole characters are either there or not. If Wrex didn’t make it in ME1, his replacement makes it much harder to trust the Krogan. Even your allies change.

    DA2, in that respect, had the MOST choices that affected things not out of the game, but in it. Your choices in the first act made certain quests available or unavailable, certain characters were either dead or alive and even your companions could leave, return, be gone forever, etc. So sure, the ENDING wasn’t dependant on your choices, but everything else was. It was a personal story, and therefor the effects were more personal in nature and less enviromental.

    DA:I is something else. DA:I feels like DA:O in that it allows you to make A LOT of choices. Some have direct affect, like which army attacks you, which characters are encountered later, what random encounters you see more, etc. But most are choices which feel like they’re a set up for something in the future. Who rules Orlais? Did you gain support in Tevinter? Did you allow the Grey Wardens to survive? How is the Templar order organized now?

    Other than that, the game’s ending is not relevant AT ALL. Corypheus was NEVER a major part of this game. What this game was about is building the inquisition, and that’s all. Corypheus was just a tool to drive the plot forward.

    The illusion of your choice having consequences starts in DA:O and still hasn’t ended. In the ME series, the last game was the one that showed all your choices come to fruitation (yes, I know, not the very ending, but everything leading up to that changed drastically depending on your past choices. Just try to play the game with a “default” save game, then again with an imported save, and see the differences for yourselves. The game is drastically different until you reach earth at the end).

    DA isn’t over yet. We’ve had three games so dar – the first establushed the world and allowed you to make decisions in Ferelden. The second was a personal story woven into a world changing event which you had no say in. The third was building a new force in the world and influencing Orlais and it’s area… And the choices keep piling on.

    What troubles me are two things:
    1. You were correct in your disappointment of the ending. There was A LOT of potential for MANY (but not all) of your choices to be used if Skyhold was attacked.
    2. I think the amount of choices from earlier games will be far too much to ever actually build a game that will take them ALL into consideration.

  38. Well, I just (really, like right now) finished the game and went in the web to see if someone had the same thoughts I did. And here it is. The name of the article says it all: “All That Matters is the End”. I mean, the game is fun, I thought the combat worked just fine (I liked Origins’ better though). Don’t get me wrong, I invested like 80 hours of gameplay, and you can pretty much just ignore the lack of consequences because, hell, at least you think they are going to matter where they are compelled to matter: the end. So, after doing like 99% of the game, the time to finish it had come. There I go to the war table to start the last mission. A few dialogues and BANG, green lights: “Oh man! He’s atacking Skyhold. It’s clichê, but it can get really epic!”. And then you’re teleported to Haven’s temple, to face Corypheus and his pet, just the two… I mean, wtf? From the green lights to the start of the battle took like 30 seconds. There was no emotion at all, no threat, no nothing. Throw me some miniboss or something! They made Orsino a Golem of Amgarak for the sake of it (and was harder than Cory btw) and I couldn’t had something prior to the last thing in the game?! Then, after you hit him enough, comes a High Dragon atacking the so-called Archdemon, and all I could think of was: “Well, I know that’s Morrigan, but… What of someone who doesn’t know she can do that? Or even she’s a shapeshifter?” They couldn’t show her transforming into it for the sake of the plot, but in the game 6 years ago they made my jaw drop by making Flemeth change. And, after some fight with the dragon and a 5 second cutscene you get back to Cory. And then you kill him. And it’s over. I couldn’t pay attention to anything else. I didn’t care for the orb, neither Solas’ lack of feelings regarding our sucess. And then you get teleported back to Skyhold. And you get the chance to talk to your companions, like in the end of Origins. And the funny thing, as now I can see, is that the end was so bad, I was looking for something more, something HAD to happen. Unlike my fellow disillusioneds here, I wasn’t expecting an atack to the fort. In the other hand, when talking with Cullen. he says in a sentence or two the words “desire” and “pride”, and I was like: “THAT’S IT! The green part at the beggining, I’m sleeping or something like that, in the grasps of some demon, and I’m like my companions were in the fade at the quest of the broken circle, that’s why it was so boring and easy, that’s why everything is fine and everyone is happy. MAN THAT’S GOING TO BE EPIC”. And then it wasn’t. I thought all the conversations in the last part were purposely short and simple because of that, it were mimics or something. But no, the game was finished. And even the epilogue was bad, it was short, it misses like 90% of the information regarding ALL the choices we made, the ones we wanted to know at least. Did Cole got back to the fade? And what of Blackwall? Did he became a true Grey Warden? What about the people I saved from the quarry in the Ice Place du Lion?! The scroll about elven lore I gave to the Dalish? I mean, the ones they informed were good, but it was missing so much, not only regarding my companions but it all! And the thing that annoys me most, is that I enjoyed the game really well until that sudden clarity the final gave me. I can’t see the game with the same eyes anymore.

    I’m not saying that the other games (or even only the ending) were perfects. Heck, Dragon Age II was sickening and repetitive, and all that kept me playing were the characters. But Inquisition had so much potential. Origins’ viliain was an Archdemon, you know you could kill one, since people did before, and he was terrifying! Corypheus had an Archdemon PET, he was imortal, he walked into the Golden/Black City in flesh and I killed him withouth even using a single focused ability. For me, he didn’t need a super motive, the lust for power was just fine, but he had to stood for it, it’s the game last boss after all! He’s not only poor regarding the role play, but as the last enemy in the game aswell. The dragon in the Hissing Wastes was, by far, a more thrilling battle.

    But I digress. The game disapointed me, and the end made the flaws way more visible. If we had something a little better, I believe we wouldn’t be this upset.

    Still, thanks for the common thought, and sorry for the english, it’s not native.

    PS: Btw, the game ended. Everything that comes out as DLC is to be treated as ADDITIONAL content (like in the predecessors). You can’t “kinda” finish a game to build up something to a real ending in some DLC. That’s just crap, and the thought of it makes me cringe.

  39. I ABSOLUTELY AGREE WITH EVERY LINE AND SENTENCE THIS ARTICLE SPOKE OF .
    i played dragon age origins about 20 times
    all genders all races all kinds of choices
    and i was happy
    but here none of my choices make any diffrence
    you think something might happen but NO

    i keep on making cassandra or others GREATLY disagree
    i even told her to leave
    but nothing changes she still talks to me like always..
    wth? in DAO when i poured dragon blood on sacred ashes
    leliana went against me once and i killed her
    that old lady mage left my company because of what i did

    THEY SAID CHOICES MATTER IN DAI
    i kept all the save files and details to have perfect story match for later game ( then i found out i need keep , its alright np ) but you think that would make any diffrence.. no it didnt matter much

    you think there is a diffrence if you make solas hate you or be your friend .. you think not taking viv makes her join others to oppose you ..
    nothing happens at all
    the side quests take a long to finish (for some of them ) but they are very short and nothing to add to the end or anything
    you get few agents like that big guy in bog or many others but thats it .. you wont see them ever

    and you think some people might rebel against you if you rule like a tyrant and keep insulting their maker and chantry but no they still call you herald while you keep yelling everywhere youre not ..

    and your own dalish clan .. you never even meet them yourself
    if you say youre an elf who stands for all you think more elves will care but that didnt happen
    i kept repeating and watching the movies again and again and again but nothing changes

    when i played skyrim that was much more better in that aspect .. random vampire hunters would chase me .. vampire attacking city .. people who opposed you and alll for the choices you made ..

    i didnt even had any use for my quarters as the lord inquisitor… i would have liked to send mails or messages directly with some elves from accros thedas … some threats .. some requests from my own people
    i couldnt even do anything with my quarters .. my banner my decor .. nothing had any effect

    and not to mention your jail … you couldve do so many things with jail but jail in skyhold was totaly of no use

    the lore was PERFECT . the story WAS AMAZING . the characters + dialogues were AWESOME
    why couldnt you pay more attention to give them more details why is there no consequence to lord inquisitor and his behavior and choices he is the most important person in all thedas
    i mean WHAT THE HELL i even chose to ally with tevinter but NOTHING happened

    the end and the choices and consequences .. disappointed me.
    i love the game im still playing it right now but this is my opinion and wont change .
    I EXPECT THIS TO BE SOLVED in next game of DA which i hope is to be developed..

  40. i hope they add some dlc for this later .. i mean i was forced to choose a divine ..
    the character i loved most in all the years of my gaming experience was solas .. he vanished
    but the most disgusting character in all my gaming experience which for me is vivienne is still in my face
    she openly threatened and said : youre leader for now.. i wanted to know your limit ….

    there are countless possible stories writes can make out of it
    they did a well job making an shrewd sellfish hypocrit character that is viv .. i personally loved flemeth and morrigan i and still do because they are evilish and they dont hide it but viv is disgusting .. forcing other mages to live in chains while she sleeps with nobles and lives in castle and she uses magic in open to kill a noble so easily but keeps looking down on everyone else
    from the momment i took her in i regreted that .. some people say : then next time dont take her

    i disagree . why is it only sera and blackwall whom you can get rid of ?
    and none of them pose a threat and play like a snake like vivenne
    but it doesnt matter if you take her in , dont take her , be nice , dont be nice
    no diffrence at all

    cant they make ANY diffrence at all ?
    its like the whole game is all about dialogues nothing actually happens to feel the consequences

  41. Spot on analysis of the “ending” of DA:I. I honestly feel the exact same way. In the lead up to the final battle I was already planning my next play through the game to see how it might effect the overall outcome…BUT then I watched the ending, and I lost all motivation to slog through another 100+ hours of gameplay just so that I can get a few different slides at the end of the game.

    I would have preferred significantly LESS ‘content’ in favor of more intricately woven storylines that had a more observable impact on the game as well as a more satisfying ending(s).

  42. Good lord. Once upon a time I played as a blue hedgehog that ran right. He bumped into a russian man’s flying car to win. The narrative experience of video games as well as interactions have increased thousands-fold. Just because the game wasn’t the narrative equivalent to lord of the rings doesn’t even remotely equate the need to write an article this copious and long-winded. #firstworldproblems

    1. This is somewhat of a category error. While both Sonic and DA are both part of the video game genre, their entertainment purposes and methods are quite different. DA uses narrative as an integral part of its entertainment experience–a method obviously far from the minds of the Sonic creators. This understandably leads to a different type of review for each game.

      Of course, this does not address the issue of whether anyone ought to write a review of DA’s narrative and what length that should be. One could argue that your synopsis of the Sonic narrative was–ahem–prolix. But this is clearly a subjective perspective. 🙂 I don’t care to assign a moral judgment; “tl;dr” would suffice if one cares to make a statement at all.

  43. Ever since the ME3 fiasco, I’ve learned to hold back my expectations in regards to anything Bioware related, I still gotta say that I am hugely disappointed. I didn’t expect a perfect game, and for the most part it’s not a total fiasco, but I did expect my actions to have consequences.. I mean where is the “Crestwood is under attack” mission they showed at E3? Can’t help but feel that the tacked on MP is in part responsible for this watered down game, DA:I turned out to be. This game could have been epic, if this is the low standard we can expect from Bioware from now on, I’m done. Witcher 3 here I come!

  44. I don’t think it’s true your decisions have no impact they clearly have an impact on the next divine and on how your companions regard you. I think you have the right to your opinion but for me it’s not a deal breaker and I suppose I feel that everyone saying DAI sucks and the reviewers lied is overstating it but then again I liked DA2 so what do I know? Right?

  45. I understand the comment about the ending being underwhelming but the ending actually fits very neatly into the story. Despite all his posturing and self-important rants, Cory is the ‘real’ pretender here. He is not an old god. The orb he uses is stolen. His dragon is not a real arch-demon. Cory’s real strength is in manipulating others. If you take away his demon army, his mages, his red templars, and his dragon you are left with the pretender (a coward shooting himself in a bunker so to speak). It is actually a more ‘real’ image of a villain. The question is raised in the game whether Cory or his army is the ‘real’ threat. I think the answer is his army. Having defeated Samson and Cory’s assassin and foiled his plans and removed those he tricked and manipulated you are left with the weak, cowardly megalomaniac who had delusions of godhood. Perhaps underwhelming but actually I found it a refreshing change to the typical game formula. I loved the ending in DAO but I didn’t need it repeated here. I agree that unlike the ME3 ending, this ending was very consistent with the story line. In real life taking Berlin is underwhelming. The ending works but doesn’t provide a button smashing fest.

  46. I am going to do something I rarely do. I actually going to write something :).
    I found your review by accident searching in google -i don’t remember what-. Your Review was so good i actually went ahead and ended up reading all reviews I could find in this blog. So apologies for writing in here since is been so long since the last person probably wrote anything.
    I found myself agreeing with everything you wrote as I read your post. I think that The game of the year award given to this game was more for what everyone hoped it would accomplish than for what it actually succeeded in doing.
    I will probably get a lot of hate from fans and critics who know more than me, but I’ve never replayed any game for its game-play. Instead I would play them again for what i would feel as I play them the first time. One of my favorite games was Chrono Trigger. That old game from Sness was one of the best role play games I have ever seen. Yes, my character didn’t speak. Yes it was a lot cliche. Yes I had no control of the game. And i would end up more in trouble the game the more my companions talked and yet it was awesome. I would give anything to play five more minutes with Lucca, Frog, Robbo and everyone else. Because all they story and side quest amounted together to something far greater than the each individual part.
    I played the Neverwinter Nights series. My favorite being Hordes of the Underdark from NWN1 and Mask of the Betrayer from NWN2 campaings. I loved those series because as i play them I felt like i was reading a book. Like I was part of an actual world and what I did mattered not only to the world out there but to those companions I have come to love and hate.
    Here is the part where I will get the most hate however. I played all Dragon Age games. I played Origins and Awakening (so far the best RPG i have played. At least after The Witcher 3). I played Dragon Age 2. And i played Dragon Age Inquisition. I loved Origins and Awakening. Who cares if my hero can’t jump or use fade step from one end to the other when I could shape shift? That it’ something i have never forgiven Bioware: The fact they took those skills away from my mages in DA2 and DAI. I loved and hated Dragon Age 2. Yes I hated the repetitiveness of the same areas over and over again. Yes I hated that i didn’t have different origins. Yes I hated that i didn’t have different races to choose from. And yet I loved every one of the companions (even crybaby Sebastian and whining Anders). I loved how the party banters between the characters would keep coming back to previous conversations between them. How they were all related to one another.
    Dragon Age Inquisition was a huge disappointment to me, mainly because of the companions.
    There were some interesting companions like Solas (with all the mysticism behind his past) Dorian, Blackwall, Cullen even interacting with Leliana was good. And Cole. Definitely Cole, was the best companion. But that was it.
    Everything else it felt like a really cheap movie with some really bad scripts. Take Cassandra. Basically Aveline 2.0. Except for some conversations (like the one after the seeker quest) it felt as if they had spent the entire time making her tough and then wanted to present a “soft” side of her. (like the cutscene when she is reading Varric’s romance novel) And it fails because there was no build up for it. Nothing that would slowly show that side of her.
    Or take Josephine. On my first playthrough i was romancing her. Until i got to the duel scene in where the inquisitor declares his/her undying love for her. It felt so fake; so unreal that I got so pissed i actually opened the task manager and killed the DragonAgeInquisition.exe process in the spot.
    Alsmot all personal quest are really good. Sera being the exception and even her makes you laugh. Dorian quest was awesome. It showed a side of him that he tries very hard to hide, because his family made him feel ashamed of it. Solas was really good especially if you have focused on mages during all the previous games. Even Blackwall shows some emotions. And cole is really good. Cullen is good and Varric gives you some laughs (as always).
    And yet all of them failed because it made me feel as if I was playing different games and not just one. Dragon Age Inquisition Book I: The Seekers. Book 2: Well Shit (Varric’s quest) Book 3: human or spirit. Book 4, well you get what I mean. It was as if I was watching all episodes of CSI in a row. Each episode a problem to solve with no overall plot going from one episode to another (except for the one that was 2hours long). Nothing that would connect the episodes except for it being on the same city.
    I was really disappointed in this game, at least in Dragon Age 2 I could place Varric and Isabella in the same party that would guaranteed a laugh. Especially if i was playing a sarcastic Hawke.

  47. Hi John,
    I agree with you that the consequences don’t add up to a hill of beans with this story, but I ask this – did you look at the bigger picture? To me, DAI feels like the middle story of a serial. Do anything to survive; and the actions you take today will have consequences down the road. I may be wrong about this but I have to think that all of the decisions that the Inquisition has made will impact the next DA game, which is why the critical choices were narrowed down to just a few: Mages or Templars, Grey Wardens as allies or banished, the Inquisition continues or is disbanded.
    I truly loved DAO and have played through that story 7 or 8 times to just see what the outcomes would be. I realized after the 3rd play-through that I have a hard time overcoming my own moral choices and choosing something different for my characters, so I really had to work at choosing Loghain over Alistair or the werewolves over the elves. However, after playing this game, I think I know what’s coming next. I could be wrong, but to get the ultimate ending that I want I’ve decided to build my DA world based on all of my characters siding with the mages and then see if that decision either blows up in my face or gets me to the happy(?) ending I’m looking for. Ultimately, I decided that mages in Ferelden were under appreciated and under utilized by the Chantry in the past; and I’m hoping in the future that they can band together to defeat the Tevinter Imperium and the Qunari. Of course, if you prefer the templars, maybe they can do the same.

    1. Oh I was sure upon writing the review that EA was planning to follow up with several DLCs and sequels. But I can’t judge the game’s story based on a theoretical sequel. I could only review what was released, and I also I felt that if I’m paying upwards of 60 for a game, then it should have a complete story, not one that requires additional purchases to complete.

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