Dragon Age Online

After around 20 hours of Dragon Age Inquisition, I am more convinced than ever that this is all an elaborate beta testing of the inevitable MMO sequel. Seeing other Heralds running around and closing rifts would not at all have seemed out of place. Hell, there are already dungeons, bosses, grouping, abilities with cooldowns, action combat, mining and herb gathering every 5 feet, crafting, gear upgrades, something approximating reputation meters, companions, mounts, talent trees, and repeatable/grindy quests.

After 20 hours, I am also convinced I am playing this game all wrong. Witness:

Do all the things.

Do all the things.

Basically, I have 4 Inquisition perks, 67 “Power,” and hit level 10… all before recruiting another party member beyond the default ones. No, I did not stay entirely within the Hinterlands; I simply did most of everything aside from the Main Plot that naturally unlocked as I leveled up. If they didn’t want me completing the swamp zone until after the first major encounter with the Chantry, perhaps they should have made the enemies stronger.

Or… maybe they did, and I didn’t notice because I’m goddamn level 10. Oops.

Although I have clearly screwed the game up for myself this way, I am not entirely convinced it is my fault. The genre in general – and Dragon Age in particular – is fond of having plot progression tied to permanently closing areas and eliminating quests. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in of itself, but if I am always paranoid that this particular foray into Zone X might be the last chance I have to acquire Something Something Y, you can bet I am going to do all the things.

At least I'll never have to run away from bears again.

At least I’ll never have to run away from bears again.

It is one of those unfortunate Design Catch-22s wherein you give the player a variety of activities to complete (in case they don’t like a particular kind) and then the player ends up doing everything. What’s the real alternative though? Only having a very limited selection of quests? Relying on a player’s self-control to move on from an area simply because one has become a god amongst men?

Hah! We’re MMO players: we pay by the month for the privilege of performing pointless activities.

In any case, an hour or two after I took that screenshot I advanced the plot by one degree and suddenly recruited four new party members. I am guessing that there is still one more out there somewhere, if only because my total party is otherwise mirror images of each other: male/female shield warrior, male/female mage, male/female ranged rogue, and then just male 2H warrior. Perhaps it will be a melee rogue, just to shake up the symmetry.

I’ll find out eventually, I suspect. Just as soon as I feel like advancing the plot one more degree. In the meantime, I got some more shards to find.

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Posted on January 6, 2015, in Commentary, Impressions and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I’m having the same “problem”. Level 11 by the time I was done with the Hinterlands (I did everything except Redcliffe and that small zone up in the North East… you know the one).

    What is killing the game for me is not the fact that I’m outleveling content, but that the majority of sidequests are just crap. Finding a lost goat and a lost what-ever-that-other-thing-is-called? Seriously? I would have thought we had already moved on from that kind of stupid, lazy quest.

    Regarding characters, I understand there are 3 of each class. I’m still missing my third rogue, but it would be weird if there wasn’t one.

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    • Yeah, I find myself completing all these quests in the hopes of hearing some random quip from my party members. What the quests themselves are actually about are completely secondary to the party banter, which is all I really care about.

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  2. Some open-world games solve this problem by scaling mob power, but this has downsides too. My favorite solution – fewer meaningless, dull or frustrating side quests! Maybe I’m just an asshole, but I REALLY don’t give a shit about homeboy’s pet goat, and incentivizing me to care through bribery (we’ll give you xp! Now you LOVE the goat, right?) only makes me do stuff I don’t care about because I want the money – which only makes the game less fun and more grindy. IMO, if the quest isn’t fun on its own, cut it.

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    • I can’t help but think there is some middle ground between the two extremes of scaling and trivial mobs. Perhaps a system where your XP gains become throttled until you “unlock the limiter” by forwarding the plot? Might be a bit too on-the-nose, though.

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  3. I’ve played about 40ish hours and I can tell you right now that you can go ahead and advance the plot without much(any?) worry about something being cut off.

    “The genre in general – and Dragon Age in particular – is fond of having plot progression tied to permanently closing areas and eliminating quests.”

    That was a very real thing in DA:O-2, but it’s not the case in DA:I. I’m at a point where I need 30 power to move the plot, have about 50 and from the bits of the game that I’ve heard, plot progression doesn’t cancel out a whole lot of anything.

    That said, and since you mentioned over leveling, what difficulty are you on? I started out on casual, over leveled, went to normal, but then back to casual since normal took to long. I may be in the minority, but I miss DA2’s combat. At least that felt faster.

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