There’s big, and then there’s Dragon Age: Inquisition. This is a game whose first act contains enough playable material to qualify as a game on its own. It’s BioWare at its very best, balancing a story filled with action and intrigue alongside a vast array of gameplay systems that provide miles of depth for the dedicated player.
It is, in a word, daunting. This isn’t a game you just dive into. You soak it in, really take the time to learn how everything works and, more importantly, how to make it work for you.
The good news is, we’ve done the tough stuff already. We’ve made mistakes and learned from them. And after more than 100 hours spent wandering around Thedas, we’ve got some handy tips to help you get your fledgling Inquisition off the ground.
ABC (Always Be Clickin’)
Here’s a handy tip that you’ll be making use of all throughout Dragon Age: Inquisition. As you weave your way through the game’s assorted exploration spaces, make sure to click the left stick on your controller after every few paces. It’s bothersome at first, but it quickly becomes second nature.
Why? Clicking the left stick releases a sonar-style ping — visualized as an expanding circle that issues forth from your character — highlighting any objects in the surrounding environment that you can interact with, including dropped loot and treasure chests. If you click the stick and hear a high-pitched tone in response, there’s something nearby. If you don’t hear the tone, it’s all clear.
The ping also highlights the silhouette of any nearby interaction-friendly objects in bright yellow, and identifies them with text on the screen if you’re close enough. It also never lies. If you hear the ping but don’t see the yellow silhouette, try panning the camera slowly around in a circle. Look high and low. Change position even. Sometimes, little scraps of paper highlighted in yellow are hard to spot.
The ping is gospel though. If you hear it, there’s something of interest that you should check out. Just make sure it’s not a ladder or some other fixed object; those get highlighted, too.
Make your own Inquisitor
Ahh, character creation. You know how this goes. The face/body modeling stuff is purely cosmetic; how your character looks has no impact on the story or gameplay. The race that you choose — human, elf, dwarf, or Qunari — is more important, with different racial benefits applied at the outset and certain minor aspects of the story shaped according to your choice. Nothing that bars access to parts of the game, but the residents of Thedas respond differently to each race.
As far as racial bonuses go: Humans get a bonus ability point to start the game with; Elves have a 25-percent bonus to their ranged defense; Dwarves get the same bonus, but for magic defense; and Qunari get a 10-percent bonus to their melee defense. There are also three classes — Warrior, Rogue, and Mage — the former two of which further break down on your initial choice into a pair of specializations: Warriors can go with Sword & Shield or Two-Handed and rogues can go with Archer or Double Daggers.
While you’re stuck with whichever race and class you choose for the entire game, the warrior and rogue specializations merely inform your starting abilities and weapons. There’s nothing to stop a warrior that started with a “Sword & Shield” focus from moving into the two-handed skill tree. Doing so limits your ability usage — if you switch from wielding a one-handed axe and shield to a two-handed maul, the skills from the former tree won’t be available again until you go back to using a weapon/shield combo — but each class also has more support-oriented trees that complement any class.
Humans are a good choice for any class. The bonus ability point is more of an early edge than a long-term gain, but it’s handy when you’re just starting out.
Elves, with their ranged defense boost, are best suited for mage and ranged weapon-focused rogues. Those classes usually camp at the fringes of a battle, raining fire on enemies while supporting allies, and as such they tend to draw a lot of fire themselves from ranged attackers, archers and mages. The boost to defense increases the survivability for these low-HP classes.
Dwarves are actually barred from becoming mages, the only race in Dragon Age: Inquisition that carries such a penalty. It’s too bad, as the magic defense bonus could be a handy thing for a practitioner of magic. Dwarves make ideal warriors, particularly the one-handed weapon/shield variety. Complement your skill points spent in that tree with some investment in the Vanguard tree, particularly the Challenge skill and anything that increases your threat level. A capable shield-user is virtually unkillable in combat, so you want your warrior drawing as much attention as possible.
Qunari are great warriors as well, particularly the two-handed focus. The extra melee defense that you get helps to offset the fact that two-handed weapon-wielders are more of an offensive force than defensive force. Qunari players should also consider pursuing the rogue’s Double Daggers specialization. Coupling that with stealth abilities makes the Qunari rogue a potent front-line attacker, with the added benefit of being able to absorb more close-quarters damage than your average rogue.
Regardless of how you choose to specialize, each character class fills a basic role that should be familiar to any longtime fan of elaborate role-playing games and MMORPGs.
- The warrior is your tank class, capable of taking all the damage and drawing all the attention.
- The rogue is your damage-per-second (DPS) class, someone who should always take a rearguard or flanking position so they can spit out an uninterrupted stream of damaging attacks.
- The mage is a support class, with spells that inflict status effects or provide bonuses.
Now to be clear, it’s not quite that segmented in Dragon Age: Inquisition. A warrior doesn’t have to assume a tank role, though the class’s offensive capabilities make it more of a close-range attacker by definition. Warriors that focus on two-handed skills and the Battlemaster tree, for example, fall more into the realm of damage-dealers with support capabilities.
All that said, it’s useful to think in terms of those traditional tank/DPS/support roles as you build out the characters in your party. It’s possible to let the game auto-level the Inquisitor’s companions, but your best bet is to apply all skill points yourself, both to know what each character can do and to tailor your various adventuring parties in a way that each character’s abilities address the weaknesses of others.
One other important point to keep in mind for would-be mages: There is no healing spell in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Mages can eventually unlock “Revival” to bring back downed allies, but all health restoration in the game is handled by potions. We’ll cover how that works below.
Hunting and gathering
Exploration is a huge part of Dragon Age: Inquisition. The basic flow works like this: You venture into one of the 10 open world regions and complete any number of quests that you find there, earning Power points as you go. “Power” is a form of currency in Inquisition, one that you spend on unlocking both story quests and new regions to explore.
The availability of the different regions is dictated by the story. Some of the later environments that you unlock are just too unfriendly to low-level players. Even early on, a location like Storm Coast — the second region you’re able to unlock — shouldn’t be jumped into right away. Take your time. If you go somewhere and you’re getting slaughtered with every step, you probably shouldn’t be there yet.
In every new region, you should prioritize tackling the “discover new camps” mission. Camps are fast-travel locations in Dragon Age: Inquisition; they’re not the only fast-travel points (certain towns and other points of interest are as well), but camps are where you can go to refill your potions, change up your party, and turn in requisitions. It’s possible to fast-travel from any location, so long as you’re not in combat or restricted by the story.
Potions are the only source of healing in Inquisition. You’re able to carry as many as eight at the start of the game, to be shared among your entire party. Fast-traveling to a camp or resting in one of the tents you find will refill your potions. Camps therefore make good rally points to fan out your exploration. The world can be a brutal place, especially early on, so expect to visit camps frequently to recover your potions.
Requisitions are simple material gathering quests that, once completed, bestow some benefit or another. Usually Power. Each region has its own, specific set of requisitions based on the materials that can be found in that location, but there are others that come up as well. There’s a requisition table at every camp, as well as one in the Inquisition’s main base, and you can turn in completed requisitions at any of those locations, even if they’re not for the region you’re currently in.
Between requisitions and crafting — which we’ll cover in a future guide — it’s a good idea to always grab any crafting materials you spot while you’re exploring. There is no such thing as too many. Crafting materials don’t take up space in your inventory, and they’re useful both for completing requisitions and piecing together new gear/gear upgrades. Running an Inquisition isn’t all sword-swinging and spell-slinging; you’ve got to farm as well, and farm a whole lot.
Life during wartime
Running around, adventuring and doing hero-y things, is only part of your job as Inquisitor. There’s also a whole army to run! Whenever you return to the Inquisition’s base, make sure to spend some time at the War Table. Here, your top three advisors gather — a general, a diplomat, and a spymaster — and together, you survey the map and decide on how to exert your growing influence.
The War Table is where you go to spend Power on unlocking story quests and new regions, when they’re available. You can also dispatch your people on Operations, which are hands-off activities that you delegate to one of your three advisors. Each Operation takes a certain amount of real-world time to complete (it usually varies according to the advisor you assign).
For the most part, these Operations serve as narrative color, with little impact on the larger game. You sometimes get rewards, in the form of gear or a boost to your Influence (an in-game stat that we’ll cover momentarily). Other times, one Operation begets another. It’s worth your time to read what each one is all about, and how each advisor plans to address the situation. Again, there’s no material impact on the larger game, but it’s a good way to better immerse yourself in the fiction of your Inquisition.
Lastly, let’s talk about Influence. Think of it like it’s XP, except for your entire Inquisition. As you earn more Influence, the Inquisition’s rank levels up, and each new level earns you a perk that you unlock at the War Table. Perks spread across four different categories and they apply passive bonuses to your larger game. Some unlock new dialogue options, others give you more direct character-level enhancements.
Secrets is a tempting category to start with, since you can unlock a perk that allows your rogue to pick Masterwork locks after you’ve invested four points in the category. That’s definitely handy, as it opens up access to more loot than you’d otherwise get, but it’s not the best thing to prioritize. Look instead at the perks that increase your inventory capacity or potion capacity. The merchant/crafting perks are good picks as well if you expect to be doing a lot of shopping and/or crafting, though that’s better for the mid-game. Start with the inventory/potion capacity boosts and go from there.