I thoroughly enjoyed Dragon Age 2, but even I can’t deny there were problems. Bioware cut a lot of corners, and made a few decisions that really rubbed people the wrong way. Like Final Fantasy XIII-2 before it, Dragon Age: Inquisition seems to go out of its way to address every fault from the previous game. This doesn’t necessarily make it a better game, but it’s clear that the game was built in its entirety as a reaction to the less-than-stellar reception to Dragon Age 2. Today, I’d like to look at exactly where Dragon Age: Inquisition shows its reactionary face.
The most obvious change is that Dragon Age: Inquisition is the most open-world game Bioware has ever made. The environments are sprawling and huge. More importantly, there are tons of things to do. This is in direct apposition to Dragon Age 2’s utterly sparse areas. One of the biggest criticisms of Dragon Age 2 is the fact that Bioware shamelessly reused levels over and over again the entire game. It was the one thing that even strong proponents of the game could not defend. Now, with Dragon Age: Inquisition, none of the environments are reused, and the world feels so much grander because of it.
Another problem people had with Dragon Age 2 was the bisexuality of all of its characters, and their irresistible attraction to the protagonist, Hawke. While some praised the non-heteronormative writing, the fact of the matter was that it was just lazy matchmaking. It was especially bad since it was very difficult to avoid being hit on by ever single character in the game you even thought about having a relationship with. It also cheapens the characters, as everyone is totally malleable instead of having definition. In Dragon Age: Inquisition, everyone has a sexual preference. It’s actually part of the characters, just like sexual preference is part of how people define themselves. Some characters are straight, some are bi, some are gay. Some will only be interested if you’re a particular race too. That’s good, even if it limits options. In as bigoted and divided place as the world of Thedas, it was completely unrealistic that everyone was unstoppably attracted to Hawke.
Dragon Age: Origins was praised for have a certain amount of tactical combat. While I strongly preferred Dragon Age 2’s action-based approach, some people thought that the removal of the slower-paced tactical combat caused Dragon Age 2 to lose depth. Dragon Age: Inquisition acts as a mid-point between Dragon Age 2 and Dragon Age: Origins’ combat. If you choose, the combat can be quick and action-packed, hammering down on your special attack buttons. At the same time, if you ever want, you can pause combat and enter individual orders as well as survey the battlefield. It isn’t strictly necessary, but it gives more options and seems clearly made with Dragon Age: Origins in mind.
Though not as obvious, part of the problem with Dragon Age 2 was that the game wasn’t connected very well together. There were three distinct acts that didn’t flow nicely, especially the third act, which was choppy and uneven. Dragon Age: Origins didn’t have this problem because of the overarching story to end the blight. Despite the uniqueness of it, by having the connecting factor of the game being the life and times of Hawke, Dragon Age 2 lacked. Dragon Age: Inquisition, on the other hand, has the overarching story relating to the inquisition. It isn’t quite the same as Origins, but the inquisition is much more than your main character, and that helps the story feel coherent.
Of course, Dragon Age: Inquisition doesn’t throw away everything from Dragon Age 2. The skill system is essentially identical, with linking skills as well. The game remains streamlined as well, cutting a lot of the ancient and archaic western RPG trappings such as traps and poisoning that Dragon Age: Origins seemed so intent on keeping despite being completely useless. In the end, Dragon Age: Inquisition isn’t necessary the better game for reacting to fan rage over Dragon Age 2, but it is a game that desperately wants to fix past missteps. Even if it isn’t better, that sentiment alone is very admirable, especially in a world where so many developers refuse to listen to fans.