5 Things That Make Dragon Age: Inquisition Infuriating

dai_infuriating

About a week ago, I had to call it quits playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. I went into it with a ton of excited anticipation, and even found myself loving the game for the first ten or so hours I spent with it. The exploration of beautiful and varied environments, the entertaining banter of my party members, and that signature Dragon Age ass kicking combat system that I so enjoyed. Then some dickhead showed up on a dragon, killed all my bros, blew up my new home, and humiliated me, The Herald of Andraste, in front of my friends and potential lovers! I was a sad, disheartened, and broken man, and all I got out of that epic and heart breaking moment was a cringe worthy song and an impossibly hard to navigate fort. 

It was at that moment that the honeymoon ended and the flaws really started show. I had to ask myself the serious question: is this really the game I want to spend another 70 or more hours with? That’s a long time. Maybe this isn’t the game I hoped it would be. Maybe I should just take half the elfroot and put a stop to this while we’re still somewhat happy.

It’s no secret that Dragon Age: Inquisition is a tremendously ambitious game, and the fact that something this expansive and deep exists is a remarkable and commendable accomplishment in video games. It’s a very impressive and extremely beautiful game, and something this big and beautiful, not unlike the author’s Qunari warrior, is going to be without its bugs. However, there are five design choices that make me scratch my head as to why they exist the way they do that really detract from me enjoying the game. None of these are bugs, because I understand that when I buy a BioWare game, there’s going to be a deliciously rich cornucopia of bugs that come with it which will never be fixed.

Helmets on Qunari

Starting with the most trivial of my complaints about this game: Qunari “helmets”. Before I jump into the bulk of my problem with this, I actually want to give BioWare some praise for being very creative about the armour and helmets work in Dragon Age: Inquisition. If you’re unaware of what I’m talking about, let me give you a quick explanation. In Dragon Age: Origins, you were able to equip different armour pieces which would result in an aesthetic problem where the characters lost their intended “look” and would end up looking like a generic npc. In Dragon Age II, you could no longer equip any armour to a party member, but instead bought or found armour enhancements that increased their stats throughout the game, and any possible aesthetic changes came from specific in-game choices.

*Goodbye Horses plays in the background* "Would you fuck me?"
*Goodbye Horses plays in the background* “Would you fuck me?”

In Dragon Age Inquisition, each party member can equip the same armour piece, but they each retain their own unique aesthetic look, regardless to whether they are all wearing the same specific item. Qunari are a race of very large people, where the majority of them have horns on their head; more of a humanized version of a Minotaur. This presents a problem when it comes to wearing a helmet: they can’t. So what the developers did to get around this is make the helmets seem like more of a tribal-warpaint thing, which sounds like an *awesome* idea. The problem I have with it is that every time I equip a helmet on my Qunari warrior, he ends up looking like he just escaped an ambush from the beauty section of a department store of poorly trained makeup artists. So, my gargantuan, menacing Qunari with a suave faux-brit accent looks more like he’s part of the Raptor’s Dance Pak than someone who’s ready to take on the worst of Thedas.

There’s nothing quite like trying to intimidate and threaten a powerful political leader while wearing bright green face paint and dark red lipstick. “Join me, or else I’ll make you pucker those lips, baby!” This helmet work around is so ridiculous looking, that I’ve had to completely disable helmets from the game, which is unfortunate because Cole and Vivienne just don’t look the same without their trademark hats.

The Inventory

Now, let’s jump into something a little meatier: that god damn atrocious inventory system. Not all of it is bad; it’s actually organized quite well. Each type of item – weapons, armour, accessories and valuables, are all kept separately and then further broken down into subsections; for example weapons can fall into one-handed, two-handed, ranged, daggers and shields. Beyond that, this thing is a broken mess.

What do I have equipped??
What do I have equipped??

Let’s start simple; there is no junk inventory section. If you want to mark something as the equivalent of junk, such as a generic long sword, you can send it to valuables so it no longer appears in the weapon selection. Once you have all your excess weapons and armour in the valuables section, and the useless junk like dolls, you can mass sell your valuables. That’s great right? Wrong! Do you know what else are considered valuables? Quest related items. I’m sure by now you can see where this is going. This requires a lot of micro managing of your inventory and leads to a lot of unintentional sales of important items, forcing you to buy them back, usually at an increased value.

Inventory problem number two: why aren’t a character’s equipped items placed at the top of the list? When trying to compare new items to those currently equipped, the way they differentiate between what’s equipped and what’s not is a little yellow box around the equipped item’s icon. The problem is, it’s the same box that acts as your cursor highlighter, so when you have the item that’s currently equipped highlighted, it can get a little confusing, and I had a hard time telling the difference between the two. Would it be too much to just have the currently equipped item sitting at the top, then do a simple swap?

The Map

Oh my god. The maps in DA:I are nearly useless.

Can you tell me if this is above ground, underground or maybe on a cliff somewhere?
Can you tell me if this is above ground, underground or maybe on a cliff somewhere?

More specifically, the Quest Maps are nearly useless. Now, the quest map is a wonderfully illustrated, old-timey looking map that displays approximate locations of quests. The quest maps are unique to each dungeon and large area of Ferelden and Orlais, and are just beautiful to look at. Seriously, I’d hang these things on my wall or leave one up on my TV as a wallpaper.

However, as a functional and helpful part of the game they fail miserably. I’m not a cartographer;
I don’t understand how to tell the difference between something being on the top of a mountain or in a cavern. In fact, I can barely tell if something’s up a slope or on the same elevation as my Inquisitor. The quest markers on this thing may as well be on a blank sheet with a secondary marker that says “YOU ARE HERE”. Because that’s what the mini map is anyway, and that thing’s somehow far more useful. At the very least it fades items at different elevations slightly so you can tell that you either need to climb or descend.

This may sound like an odd complaint; however, coming from playing Dragon Age: Origins and the poorly titled Dragon Age II where the maps were detailed and maybe too helpful at times, this feels like a regression of sorts in terms of the series’ features. It’d be like if they drastically overhauled the combat for the PC Master Race.

Pointless Jumping Mechanic

When I first noticed the Dragon Age had added jumping to its list of capabilities, I thought it would make for some interesting gameplay sections. That is not the case; far from it, in fact. From what I can tell, this mechanic has been shoehorned in for two reasons: to make you rip your hair out trying to collect shards, and to avoid getting stuck in areas that would otherwise force you to reload your save.

I’m not going to dive into what a shard is, or why you must collect them, because I honestly have no idea yet, but they are almost always placed in ridiculous locations. Sometimes, it’s hard to figure out where exactly they are, because according to the map, you’re standing on top of it, but it’s just not there. When you do finally realize where exactly it is, it generally requires jumping across the most inane platforming ever added into a game, like up the side of a cliff made up entirely of rocks that are smaller than your left foot.

The other time you might actually use jump is because you walked off a platform somehow, and are stuck behind a fence and a bag of some nondescript contents. There’s no clear way around these and you obviously weren’t supposed to be here, so it’s a good thing that jump option is there. While this is a helpful situation to use the jump, I can’t help but feel like it’s a failsafe for bad design. Similarly, I sometimes don’t like using the path to walk up a hill or mountain, so if you jump enough, there’s a brief moment of hit detection that you can exploit to “climb” up a steep slope before sliding down. Otherwise, there’s not much point to the jump mechanic in the game, besides its short-lived entertainment value and picking up items by accident in battle, which leads us to my next point.

Picking up *Everything*

A large part of Dragon Age: Inquisition is collecting herbs, metals and other materials for crafting items and gear, and the occasional fetch quest. This is a great feature in the game and the environments are littered with helpful materials for crafting and questing and you could even make a game out of just collecting everything you pass. Here’s the thing, you pass something to collect nearly every two or three steps you make in the game, which would be awesome if you walk around spamming “X” , and just collect a myriad of crafting materials. But, of course that’s not how it works. (Interesting side note: “X” on the PS4, which equates to the “A” on XBox, is the action button. It’s also the button for jumping. If you’re trying to initiate a conversation, but for whatever reason jump by accident, this can lead to a pretty hilarious glitch that my girlfriend and I have dubbed “The Moon Walk”)

Every time you want to collect something, there’s this neat animation where your character will bend over and appear to be gather the materials with his or her hands. It’s a nifty presentation but it gets in the way of the game, because if you stop every few steps to pick something up and have to watch a 5 second animation every single time, it really adds up and becomes extremely annoying. Especially if it’s for a quest or a requisition, and you’re in an area that is rich in that specific material. Blood Lotus, for example, appears in most ponds throughout the game and is required for a lot of requisitions and potion upgrades; you really just want to be able to spend 10 seconds and collect five of them. Instead, it takes over a minute.

I now understand why Dragon Age: Inquisition takes so long to finish; you spend hours being lost because of a fairly useless map, jumping across nonsensical areas for little to no reason, and just looking at your character’s ass as they pick up crafting materials.

I want to love Dragon Age: Inquisition, I really do. I just don’t understand why it doesn’t want me to. I keep reaching my hand out to show that I want to play with it and love it, and shower in its greatness, but it keeps biting at my hand. I think I’ll stick with it though, for another 70 or more hours of emotional abuse, because I deserve it, and it deserves me.

– Ryan

Ryan

Author: Ryan

Ryan is a Quality Assurance Engineer II at BBM and graduated from Ryerson in 2012 with a degree in Computer Science. Ryan is a huge fan of video games, comic books, and rock music. Any opinions expressed are explicitly Ryan’s and do not reflect the opinions of his current, former or future employers in any way. You can follow him on Twitter: @ryan_boudreau

3 thoughts on “5 Things That Make Dragon Age: Inquisition Infuriating”

  1. First you complain about Qunari make up but i dont undsderstand that complain, they are like barbarians thats why paint their faces, william wallace (remember the movie brave hearth?) painted his face as clown and still was a epic scary guy, about they inventory you say it have 2 problems the first its you dont know whats its a junk item, well you only need go to your casttle to the selling point here you can see all your weapons and compare it with all your equiped weapons, easy not ? the second problem its you say the only way to see the equiped item its a yellow box what mark the item, well its easy to, you only must pass your mouse over a item in your inventory and will spot a square in the right side of it with the equivalent item what its equiped on you so you dont need search the equiped item BECAUSE ITS SPOT IN A BIG SQUARE NEAR TO IT. Complain about the map cause you dont understand if what its in the map its a mountain or a lake ? and what you want? a big sentence saying ITS A LAKE !! ?? man you have minimap with marks for your tasks, you have a big map highly detailed where you can see even the shadow of a tree comon !! and you can spot it with a green mark what in game its a GIANT GREEN COLUMN what reach the sky ! lol even you have a special sound when you search near something important, jesus if you cant see it you better dont go out your home or will guet lost in your own door. about the pointeless jump come on you say guet stuck between 2 rocks lol just select other of your teammates run away and all the grup will automatically guet moved to that place, or call your horse to jump on it, or teleport to other place of the map, and for finish the most important thing, you say it take to long to finish, thats ridiculous complain the game basically its a movie, you can skip all the gameplay and do only the 4 or 5 missions what move the history to the end, for example now i m lvl 21 and actually can kill all the dragons and even final boss just looking to it, i can finish the game in less than 10 mins and only did the first 2 lands, but i dont want finish it i want explore and kill dragons and take important decisions, and enjoy the awesome music of the game, or pass hours painting my armors or searching the perfect armor on the black emporium, there are thousands of funny things in the game like the secret gnomes house on the Emerald graves, the secret references to plants vs zombies or secrect historys to discover, i dont understand why you want end the game, but if you want you really can do the full game in less than 3 days, thae main campaign its basically 6 or 7 silly missions what mostly are just movies, if you cant finish faster its cause you dont know how to craft nice weapons and how to make the history advance or how to farm exp fast,because you dont care about anything except jump around shothing fire explosions. i m tired of people what complain of things what dont understand, if you take your time to learn and enjoy the game sure will learn how to finish it fast but the good thing of this game its you can play it 100 times and always will end diferently, so the game its a about pass time in game and enjoy it , not about run like a bunny searching the best sword to end fast, you are missing a lot of things cause this, its not the fault of the game its maybe you need other game more like click and win, thats what i think.

  2. Hey, thanks for reading and taking time to reply. I have since finished the game, well over 100 hours and finished more or less every quest with the exception of some wine bottles and what not. It’s an excellent game, beautiful score, scenery, and for the most part a pretty interesting story (ending was.. an ending). I understood the barbarian thing with the qunari, doesn’t change the fact that having luscious big red lips during an intense moment made me laugh. Turning off helmets fixes that though, which let me see the other characters faces too except Cole and Vivienne always looked like they were lacking a big part of their character without their hat/headdress.

    The inventory still annoyed me a tad at the end of the game, sure I got “used” to it and figured it out, doesn’t make it very good. Bioware has made better systems in past games, and for a game that feels very informed and influenced by their past games (especially Mass Effect), I know they can do better, maybe on PC it’s better but PS4 it felt disorganized and inefficient.

    Haha, I would like a big sentence that says, “IT’S A LAKE!” I wrote that after the Forbidden Oasis, most of the other sections are more or less flat. I’d love to see a wireframe of the forbidden oasis because that’s a maze some level designer came up with in an acid nightmare. I do in fact get lost going outside, that’s why I stay inside and play 100+ hour games. Otherwise, I have to rely on a map to get anywhere, and well, if it’s not obvious, I’m not very good with them ;)

    People play games for different reasons, and I play many games for many different reasons. Sometimes I like to win. Sometimes I want to participate in a tale. Sometimes I like to be challenged. Don’t read one thing one person wrote once and make a judgement call about their entire personality because they listed five things they didn’t like about a game with literally thousands of different functions any features. There’s so much to love about Dragon Age Inquisition, go read pretty much any review; you’re not awarded game of the year by pretty much every outlet for nothing! The game is gorgeous (except on PS3 and 360 to be fair), the score is brilliant and rivals some of the best movie scores, the voice acting is top tier, the writing is a cut above every game on the market, the world is so varied and deep it feels almost real with its intense politics, different races and climates, struggles between classes (I mean like rich and poor, not warrior and rogue), and so on. It would be nothing more than a joke for me to write something so reductive of something so grand and wonderful.

    #HardingIsBae

  3. Hey, thanks for reading and taking time to reply. I have since finished the game, well over 100 hours and finished more or less every quest with the exception of some wine bottles and what not. It’s an excellent game, beautiful score, scenery, and for the most part a pretty interesting story (ending was.. an ending). I understood the barbarian thing with the qunari, doesn’t change the fact that having luscious big red lips during an intense moment made me laugh. Turning off helmets fixes that though, which let me see the other characters faces too except Cole and Vivienne always looked like they were lacking a big part of their character without their hat/headdress.

    The inventory still annoyed me a tad at the end of the game, sure I got “used” to it and figured it out, doesn’t make it very good. Bioware has made better systems in past games, and for a game that feels very informed and influenced by their past games (especially Mass Effect), I know they can do better, maybe on PC it’s better but PS4 it felt disorganized and inefficient.

    Haha, I would like a big sentence that says, “IT’S A LAKE!” I wrote that after the Forbidden Oasis, most of the other sections are more or less flat. I’d love to see a wireframe of the forbidden oasis because that’s a maze some level designer came up with in an acid nightmare. I do in fact get lost going outside, that’s why I stay inside and play 100+ hour games. Otherwise, I have to rely on a map to get anywhere, and well, if it’s not obvious, I’m not very good with them ;)

    People play games for different reasons, and I play many games for many different reasons. Sometimes I like to win. Sometimes I want to participate in a tale. Sometimes I like to be challenged. Don’t read one thing one person wrote once and make a judgement call about their entire personality because they listed five things they didn’t like about a game with literally thousands of different functions and features. There’s so much to love about Dragon Age Inquisition, go read pretty much any review; you’re not awarded game of the year by pretty much every outlet for nothing! The game is gorgeous (except on PS3 and 360 to be fair), the score is brilliant and rivals some of the best movie scores, the voice acting is top tier, the writing is a cut above every game on the market, the world is so varied and deep it feels almost real with its intense politics, different races and climates, struggles between classes (I mean like rich and poor, not warrior and rogue), and so on. It would be nothing more than a joke for me to write something so reductive of something so grand and wonderful.

    #HardingIsBae

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