While we’ve not yet had a chance to actually play Dragon Age: Inquisition, BioWare executive producer Mark Darrah shared some new details during a pre-E3 press event. We’ll have more detailed impressions to share soon enough, but for now, let’s wade through the facts and figures as they’ve been described so far.
Inquisition picks up 10 years after the Darkspawn incursion first threatened Ferelden in Dragon Age: Origins. The continent of Thedas is in chaos, with Ferelden still recovering from the events of the previous games, the neighboring nation of Orlais caught in a civil war, and the Mages in open conflict with the Chantry, which is itself at odds with its own military force of Templars.
And that‘s when the demons start showing up. Tough break.
Players step into the role of a brand new protagonist, and are charged with leading the Inquisition in an effort to figure out just what the hell is going on. The Inquisition is more than just a plot point; it’s a functional influencer within the game, giving players the ability to send allied forces on missions via the War Table and decide the fate of captured enemies. The tricky political landscape molds around your decisions, but Darrah notes that BioWare worked to ensure there’s no good/evil binary in Inquisition. Of the hundreds of decision points the game confronts you with, most are meant to be colored in shades of gray.
Player choice extends beyond the Inquisition and into the protagonist’s personal life as well. There are nine followers to recruit — the most of any Dragon Age game to date, Darrah notes — and they’re a mix between new faces and returning favorites. As is generally the case in BioWare RPGs, character relationships with the protagonist and with one another evolve over time based on shared experiences and player-guided decisions.
Thedas spans 10 different open regions that players can explore. The land is split between the two nations of Ferelden and Orlais, with no small amount of territory occupied by the Dales, homeland of the elves of Thedas. The various regions offer up an assortment of environments — deserts, mountains, forests, plains, and more — as well as ever-changing weather conditions and region-specific ecosystems.
Players create the identity of Inquisition‘s new protagonist, starting with the character’s race — there are four to choose from — and gender, before moving on to the more granular face and body customization we’ve come to expect from these sorts of games. There are 21 individual combat skills trees to work through, with more than 250 talents and upgrades. Customization extends to gear as well, with Darrah touting the more than 16 million potential armor combinations.
Players are free to craft their own weapons and armor as well, and there’s a significant amount of customization here too. In one screen that flashed by quickly, we saw an elaborate creation menu dedicated entirely to personalizing the hilt of a sword.
Using that gear in combat is what’s key, and Inquisition offers a lot of freedom here as well. Players can stick to controlling one character — any character, not just the protagonist — for more of an action/RPG experience. Commander Mode offers a wider array of options, with the ability to issue move and attack/support orders across the whole party leaning more toward turn-based RPGs.
Darrah’s top-level breakdown didn’t lay bare any major revelations, but it did offer a more thorough picture of what to expect than we’ve previously had. We’ll be seeing the game later this week, so stay tuned for more details soon. It’s only a few more short months before you’ll be able to try it yourself; Dragon Age: Inquisition comes to PlayStation and Xbox consoles, as well as PC, on October 7, 2014.