What We Want From The Next Dragon Age

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With the release of Dragon Age: Inquisitions final DLC; Trespasser. It’s time to start looking towards the future. And while whatever the next Dragon Age game may not release for many years to come, it seems like a good a time as any to talk about what we want out of it. Bioware made some massive strides between Dragon Age 2 and Inquisition, from a confined city with repeated maps to a diverse open world style play that took you all across Thedas. So what kind of improvements can we expect from the next game? ‘Trespasser’ left us with questions, but It also left us with a guiding direction. Who our villain or goal will be and where it will center around. Spoilers for Dragon Age; Solas will be our antagonist, the elf mage that everyone either hates or loves will be the source of the next games strife. And a large part of the game will revolve around Tevinter, the long talked about but never seen part of the Dragon Age world. With cliffhangers like those how can you not speculate.


In Depth Main Character Background…

Dragon Age Origins has six different openings that serve as a sort of prolog. It’s a good way to drop you into the world and give you background on your Race and where they fit into the world. ‘City Elves’ have it rough and you get to see the lives of these characters or family members play out before you are thrust into the life of a Grey Warden. Each intro takes a good hour and a half. Each intro story also plays into the overall plot in a small way once you come across it. Like the Cousland character running into Arl Rendon Howe at the Landsmeet or finding Jowan and Redcliffe when you started as a Circle Mage. Its things like this that Dragon Age Inquisition missed out on. Sure you get a paragraph at the beginning telling you why you’re at the conclave and a few Inquisition operations but no real context is giving as to why you are where you are or what your motivation is.


New Game Plus…

While the Golden Nug in Dragon Age: Inquisition is a sort of substitute for a new game plus in carrying your collectibles over. Things like a level cap removal and keeping all the cool gear you have spent hours crafting and tweaking the color of would be an awesome addition. It’s hard not to compare Dragon Age to the Witcher, they were released near the same time and more importantly they were the only two big RPG fantasy games to release these past few months. And The Witcher did something I’ve never heard of by making New Game Plus a DLC add-on that you can get for free. Removing the level cap and letting you carry all your gear over. Plus I don’t want to replay Dragon Age and have to worry about collecting every Wine Bottle or Song again.


More Story Based Side Quests…

Once you enter a map in Dragon Age: Inquisition you see all that room to explore and then you see all the missions that pop up on screen. Well, a lot of those missions were “I lost my ‘X’ find it and I’ll give you ‘Y’.” not too much depth in that. The Hinterlands alone had me find a Druffalo and then go find a Sheep in the same hour or so. Sure I could’ve done a different mission but why make me go find missing animals at all. I’m not a dog pound I’m the Inquisitor! Dragon Age Origins and DA2 had some great light story side quests. After searching Redcliffe Village for a young boy who was lost by his sister you find him and his family sword. He tells you he’s scared of the undead that ravage the village at night and is afraid to show it. After taking him back to his sister you then have the option to help them leave the village or let them keep the sword. A mission like that does nothing for the fate of Denirim in the end, but it does give you a sense of purpose while completing it.


Combat…

Sure people don’t play Dragon Age for its Combat; I certainly don’t. And its a tricky thing to complain about because no Fantasy RPG does combat ‘Great’. Save for Kingdoms of Amalur, and that is really just button mashing. But if the DLC ‘Descent’ and ‘Trespasser’ are any indication the future of Dragon Age, we should expect long sprawling combat sections. So how do you fix it? Dragon Age has a large PC playing audience and a lot of them play with the ‘pause and play’ strategy type moves. And console game’s play through the never ending combat type. So in reality they might need to restructure both types of game-play. Something more fluid and arcade’y’ might work.


Cosmetic Improvement…

A cool part of having your own castle is watching it be built over the course of the game, watching the structure go up and the drapery change over time was a cool way to watch your Inquisition grow. But if the next Dragon Age doesn’t involve a growing army and castle how do you show all that. Well Zagden on Reddit suggested a great idea of watching the city around you grow throughout the game, say it takes place in Tevinter like we all assume it will, so maybe Tevinter is getting ready for an uprising or whatever Solas has planned. Watching the ‘Seasons Change’ so to speak is a good way to show growth and change.


More Party Interaction…

Look Dragon Age thrives on its characters and everything you do with them, so asking for more character interactions is like asking for more cake that you’ve already eaten half of. Party Banter while wandering the wilderness is always encouraged. Listening to Morrigan berate Alistair, Varric telling wild tales to Merrill and Solas ramble about Elves are some of the highlights of the games. And maybe Party-specific missions can extend to more than simply confronting Dorian’s dad in a bar. Sure that’s a big deal to him but maybe it needs more setup and build. A more overall and steady look at each character would be a great way to expand the time you spend with each character.
We have a ways to go until the next Dragon Age game, looking towards the future of Thedas is all we can do now. Weather characters return or move on we have plenty to look forward too. What happens to The Hero of Ferelden, will we ever see him again? Does Varric burn Kirkwall to the ground under his new Viscount job? Can Cassandra Rebuild the Seekers? Does Dorian make any headway in Tevinter? What happened to the Inquisitors’ arm? But that’s just my play through, yours could be completely different.

Special Thanks to Reddit users; LicensedpterodactylBionicWoman89BlackSnowCatZagdenma-ma-ma-macaroniIvdar

End of Summer Gaming

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Summer has ended, and soon we will be drowning in big triple A titles, like Tomb Raider, Just Cause, Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty and the biggest of them all, Fallout 4. but before all that happens three bigger scale games were released a few weeks before the tornado of titles could hit us. Until Dawn, Mad Max, and the much anticipated and much talked about Metal Gear Solid Five: The Phantom Pain. It’s not so strange anymore that bigger games come out at different points in the year. But it is a bit odd to see games like these overlap each other. Normally everything would get out of Metal Gear’s way and just let it have September. But since every month of the year left seems to be taken by something. Until Dawn and Mad Max took a chance and released them before the holiday rush.
On a personal note, having played all three of these games for the past three weeks my favorite is ‘Until Dawn’ probably because I just spent the last 5 months playing Dragon Age, The Witcher, and Batman. All great games but very similar in many ways to both Mad Max and Metal gear. I love me some open world gaming, but maybe it’s reaching its peak because now it seems every triple A title needs to be open world. But that’s a discussion for another time. Until Dawn is so drastically different from anything I’ve every played, sure it has elements of the telltale series or life is strange. But it looks and plays so much cleaner and better than any of those games could dream of. No offense to the two games mentioned I love them, but Until Dawn may very well be PlayStation’s best-looking game.
Metal Gear does gameplay better than the other two by a mile. It’s not even a question I cannot tell you how satisfying the stealth in that game is. But I’ve already talked about that in a previous article. And that’s why Mad Max falls into the ‘Meh’ category. Like everybody in their right mind can agree Mad Max: Fury Road was a fantastic spectacle of a movie. While I had no expectations going into the game. I was pretty underwhelmed. It’s good. Not great. It doesn’t do anything particularly awesome like the other two. And since I was all ‘open worlded’ out I, in fact, decided to play through Until Dawn a second time instead of play more Mad Max.
Games like these will and should continue to come out at odd times. The fall is always jam packed, and the summer is filled with indies. So why not throw in a Dying Light or Until Dawn now and then. It’s nice to have a bigger game to play all times during the year.

Dragon Age: Inquisition Trespasser DLC

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No respect I tell ya, The latest and last DLC for Dragon Age Inquisition does a whole lot of timing of loose ends while at the same time setting things up for the future. Bioware has a habit of making you obsess and cherish every moment with its characters. Whether it’s drooling over Cullen’s hair or taking about Morrigan’s swooping problem, no game company does it quite like Bioware. ‘Trespasser’ is set two years after your glorious victory over Corypheus, and things are somewhat better for the world but just as complicated for the Inquisition. So instead of letting things be as they are. The two countries you just brought back from extinction want to either destroy you or eat you alive. That’s Thedas Politics for ya.
Before getting into the technical side of it all. I must say that this series means a lot to a lot of people, including me. I can’t imagine not playing these games throughout my life. This DLC shows the fan service that Bioware is capable of doing. Nods to Dragon Age origins mixed in with the future of the series and even the sense of dread right around the corner. It hit me seeing Leliana again for possibly the last time. (who knows what the future of this series has for her.) I’ve watched this character grow from a tortured spy turned cloister sister, all the way to the Divine. (at least in my playthrough) And with that view of things it made her look old. And it made me feel even older. I grew up with this series and its a testament to its characters that they can elicit those emotions.


As for the DLC itself its great…I can’t imagine any Dragon Age fan was not loving at least one part of this expanded story. The same way Mass Effect’s Citadel DLC took advantage of characters. The opening of this add-on does as well. The best part of any Dragon Age game, catching up with old friends. Wondering around the courtyard looking for your friends and feeling every single emotion as they tell you they are either moving on or talking about the good old days. Whether it was throwing pies at nobles with Sera or taking a spa day with Viv, everybody has something to add and just shows how all encompassing these characters are to each other and you.
The problem I had with Dragon Age’s last DLC ‘The Descent’ was that Combat took forever sometimes and became tedious. Well, some of that Is fixed but its still becomes tedious at times. With new fade powers, fights become shorter but not short enough to justify how average Dragon Age’s Combat is. Again it was a minor problem in Descent and its still present in this one. Hardly a deal breaker.


Trespasser still has plenty to offer. After you finish catching up with old friends. You have to deal with the fact that everybody wants you gone. Now that you fixed the world they want you to leave it alone. And of course not everything goes according to plan. Trespasser is filled with varied and gorgeous locations. From old elven ruins to the dark and wet deep roads you cover a lot of ground in the add on. Even jumping in and out of the Fade a few times. But as the trailer and the ending to Inquisition should tell you we are all being lead to the man that started it all. Without spoiling anything, I appreciated how the ending was handled. Solas is getting drawn out and used as a serious threat not just a one off a bad guy that is taken care of after in two hours. It’s all leading to the next big installment. Which I’m sure we won’t see for quite some time sadly.
If you’re a Dragon Age fan, this is the one DLC you must play. It ties up loose ends and creates new ideas for what’s to come. And in the middle of all that you get to mess around with these beloved characters that you’ve spent the last 90 hours with. As sad as it is to say that this is the final Dragon Age content we will see for a long time it’s nice to see the story of the Inquisition end on whatever note you set it up as. In fact, before the game ends you make two monumental decisions that will effect whatever comes next so now you have to play it.

Metal Gear Solid: My Phantom Thoughts

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For the past four days, I’ve been up to my neck in Metal Gear Solid 5. and I must say it has phenomenal gameplay. Moment to moment sneaking and taking out bad guys is one of the most satisfying feelings this year in gaming. Any chance I get to stealth in video games I relish, its a hard thing to get right, mechanically speaking. One of the biggest games of the year, both in terms of budget and scope is a stealth based game. That doesn’t happen very often. And since Konami and Kojima had a falling out. I doubt we will see a game with this scale and budget again. Sure Konami will go back to the metal gear well, and Kojima will continue to make stealth based games but this marriage of the two seems like a distant if a not impossible dream.

I am not a Metal Gear fan; that’s not to say I don’t enjoy any of the other games. I just haven’t played them. This was my first, so probably with good reason the story flew right over my head. I had zero interest in anything anyone was saying. And cassette tapes as a form of exposition seems like an incredibly old school form of gaming that I’m just not interested in anymore. That being said everything in a cut scenes is extremely cinematic and makes me wonder if Kojima or any of his underlings will try his/her hand at directing TV or movies. The game obviously takes its visual cues from pop culture in terms of direction and scale. And Kojima is the only other person who likes lens flares more that JJ Abrams.

Clearly Metal Gear has stepped up next to The Witcher, and Batman Arkham Knight in the Game of the year conversation. While personally I put it at the bottom of that list and maybe even below some others. We still have a long way to go until that is decided. We will most likely never see this combination again. A gigantic stealth game with both Kojima and Konami at the helm. While that may seem said to die-hard Metal Gear fans, it’s a good chance to look at this game and realize what vision can look like. The opening 30 minutes alone is worth the price of admission. It’s nothing like the game proper but it’s like watching an action movie.

She is a whole other conversation…