The Dragon Age franchise is one of the most popular RPG series of our time. Originally meant to be the spiritual successor to BioWare’s first hit, Baldur’s Gate, the game went on to became one of the signature franchises of the Canadian studio. Its rich lore, intricate stories and memorable characters have resulted in numerous game of the year awards, and although much has changed, the latest entry in the saga, Dragon Age Inquisition still retains the core strengths of the franchise, albeit with heavy dilution.
Many of these changes were resented by the fan-base, labeling them as EA’s influence to maximize profits. Despite that however, Inquisition was the best launch in BioWare’s history and was received well by the majority of critics. In this post, we’ll have a look at the core changes the Dragon Age franchise has undergone, along with some of the more nuanced ones as well:
An Open-World Setting:
Almost 9 out of 10 games these days are open world. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in case of Dragon Age, it has really diluted the content. I’ve said this before as well, and I’ll say it again, it’s better to have a smaller world with high-quality content than having an overreaching one filled with fluff or fetch quests.
Dragon Age Origins and II both had limited sized worlds, but how they populated them is worth noting. All the quests, both main and side were well-written and added to the lore or the plot of the main game, and weren’t just placed randomly to fill the empty spaces in between. Inquisition does this way too often, overshadowing even the main campaign at times.
Dragon Age Origins had superbly well written side-quests and activities that encouraged exploration but also had fat chunks of story-content associated with them. Dragon Age II had fewer of these and Inquisition has almost none. All the side-quests in the latest game are there just to promote exploration, regardless of whether the vast areas of the map have anything worthwhile to experience.
This is another one of the faults most open-world games such as Assassins’ Creed and Far Cry suffer from. The developers design massive worlds but comparatively spend very less time coming up with interesting content that is essential to motivate the player towards exploration.
Traditional RPG to Action RPG:
Just like many other RPG franchises of its time, Dragon Age started out as a tradition RPG following in the footsteps of Baldur’s Gate and other DnD games, but with every successive game the franchise was molded more and more into an action-RPG with little to no player choice or consequences.
The dialog options have been cut from more than half a dozen to less than a handful. Player choice is quite limited in the newer games as well, and rarely have far-reaching consequences. Furthermore, unlike Origins the player background has been condensed to just a pamplet instead of a proper and detailed one. While action-RPGs have their own place, I believe that genre suits BioWare’s other major IP- Mass Effect (although the way they butchered Andromeda, I’m not so sure anymore).
Lack of Dungeons
This follows my previous point. Dragon Age has not only left its traditional RPG roots, it has also started ignoring some of the core components of the genre. Origins and its successor had plenty of dungeons, but Inquisition with the exception of the expansion packs, is severely lacking in the department.
Length of Main Questline
Dragon Age Inquisition had a pretty short main story compared to its predecessors. Note that I’m referring to the main story, excluding the side-quests, DLCs and expansion packs that are either nowhere as good or are pay-to-play. The extended overall playtime for Inquisition is quite long because of the excessive running around all those annoying side-quests and collectibles require.
And believe me, that gets really boring after a while and is literally painful to do if you are one of those people who do multiple playthroughs.
Dragon Age Inquisition although still retains the core aspects of its predecessors most notably the rich lore, intriguing companions and lastly a strong (but perhaps a shorter) campaign, I fear future entries may ditch even these in favor of the action-adventure flavor EA is pushing hard for.