110+ hours later I am done with playthrough #1 as a qunari mage. Now I am working on playthrough #2 as a human mage. What can I say? I really like being a mage. I think for my third playthrough I will play as a dalish rogue on nightmare mode, but I’m not making any promises. At least not on the mage part. LOL
Anyway, I am going to discuss my impression of DA:I now that I am done with the game.
Spoilers ahead, of course. Beware, turn back if you’re not done, this is the point of no return, etc.
Let’s break this down.
- Solas, Solas, Solas. *sigh* I was not expecting him to be Fen’Harel, or to be even remotely involved with Flemeth/Mythral and Corypheus. On one hand, I want to despise him for lying to everyone. On the other hand, I sympathize with him. It must be tough to wake up after so many years only to learn that you completely fucked your race over. Elves endured a lot: enslavement, abuse of every type, being forced to live in alienages or being scattered across the globe in little tribes, etc. It is such a fall from grace. Especially when you go to the Temple of Mythral to find the ancient elves who are so dignified and knowledgeable compared to the average, modern-day elf. Back on point. I really pity Solas. Especially if he really did get possessed by Flemeth. I know it is not confirmed yet whether he took Flemeth’s soul (or souls after taking Kieran’s Old God soul), or if she took advantage of him during his moment of grief about his failures, but…who knows. My hope is that a future DLC will touch more on Solas. Better yet, I hope that there is a new Dragon Age game in the future. There has to be, right? I kept hearing that this would be the last one, but the same was said about Mass Effect 3…until we all learned there is another one in the works. Crossing my fingers!
- Overall, I was content with the story. I only wish that Corypheus had more depth to his character. He pretty much came out of nowhere, rambled on about becoming a god, and then carried on like a child once he realized that Thedas was not going to take his destructive ambitions lying down. It just felt like a really textbook, cliche I-am-better-than-everyone-else-and-also-evil type of villain. A part of me hoped that Corypheus would have some connection to Marerath/Andraste’s husband while the Inquisitor (herein Quizzy) had a connection to Andraste. It would have been interesting get more insight on The Maker, Andraste, the Old Gods, and more mythical creatures. Delving into the elven pantheon was not a bad touch though. More of a suggestion, less of a complaint, I suppose.
- There is nothing as fulfilling in DA:I as defeating a high dragon. The first one I beat was the Ferelden Frostback, and that was hella satisfying. My only regret is that I became a Necromancer rather than a Knight Enchanter. I was fighting the high dragon in the Hissing Wasteland (I think?) when everyone, including Quizzy but excluding Vivienne, just fucking died. I swear Vivienne was like one hit away from dying and the dragon had like a quarter of an HP bar left when I defeated him. Vivi kept automatically raising barriers while I casted Fade Cloak, evaded the lighting breath attacks with that ice-based fade running skill (forgot the name), and then I just used my magic sword to beat the snot out of him. It was like 800-4000 per attack. Insane shit. I kept hearing the Knight Enchanter class being referred to as “Dragon Slayer”, but… wow. They were not kidding. Mark and I were flipping the hell out when I won. That shit made no sense. LOL. Anyway, Vivi always kicks ass. What else is new? 😛
- Well, I can’t talk about a Bioware RPG and not mention romance, right? LOL. In the end, I ended up with Iron Bull. I’m a sucker for the funny characters. It has been my romance trend, at least in DA (Alistair in Origins, Anders in DAII, Iron Bull is Inquisition). Overall, I liked it. I saw in DA:I-related discussions that his romance was either too goofy or abusive (What? LOL), but allow me to give my personal take on it. One, the relationship is not goofy, Bull is. It is almost like a defense mechanism for him. I do believe his laidback nature is genuine; however, discussing his past often has a pattern mentioning the bad candidly and then following it with something lighthearted. The joking, the drinking, the mindlessly fucking anything with a pulse–a lot of that strikes me as Bull distracting himself from the pressures of his duties as a part of the Qun. Remember, he did mention that a point came when his tasks burned him out. It was around that time that he formed the Chargers. It was not until he put them all together–a group of fellow dutiful yet rejected people–that he felt like he belonged. No one in the Chargers saw Bull as a qunari or Ben-Hassrath. He was their chief, their drunken and sometimes downright idiotic chief. And Bull liked that. I was worried that making him a Tal-Vashoth would destroy him emotionally, but outside of his tarot card he did not sulk much about it. He made a choice, he asked Quizzy not press him about it, and then he moved on. He just a very resilient person. Sometimes that comes off as goofy. As for the claims that he is abusive, I really have to laugh at that because there was never a point where Bull said: “You are trapped in this relationship, you have to take whatever I give you, and there is nothing you can do about it.” He established that a relationship with him would not be conventional. He established a safe word that could be used during sex to stop anything that Quizzy did not like, and to also stop the relationship itself. Even when you end the relationship, Bull gives you no flack. You get no disapproval from him. It is over when you say it is over. Cole touches up on that too. As awkward as it was to have a spirit reading into your personal relationships, he pointed out that even though Bull established himself as the dominant one, it was Quizzy who really had the power. She determined when things started, when things stopped. Bull did everything to please her, not the other way around. To call that abusive at all… it is really asinine. I’m sorry for ranting about that. I just think some people are touchy about BDSM ever since books like Fifty Shades of Gray came out that did BDSM completely wrong. Being the submissive part of the BDSM dynamic does not automatically mean you are a powerless toy. You do have a say. You are supposed to have a say. In this case, you always had a say in your relationship with Bull. Too many people are glossing over that fact because he is not as tender as say Cullen or Solas. Anyway, it’s not as if Bull is only using Quizzy for his own personal gain. Eventually, if you do the right things, he considers you his “Kadan”–or “heart”–and even tells you that he loves you. He also comforts you at the Winter Palace (followed by an offer to dance), and mentions at one point that once he began a relationship with you he stopped fooling around with the other guys and girls in Skyhold. So, once again, I do not understand the complaints. I just think some people are touchy about relationships where the other party is not in love and sappy at first sight. Doesn’t always work that way. *shrug*
- Seeing Morrigan as a mother was really touching. For a while, it seemed like she was following Flemeth’s path: constantly plotting, manipulating people, delving into the side of magic considered dangerous, etc. But Kieran really changed her. I decided to make her drink from the Well of Sorrows in my first playthrough, but running into Flemeth later and learning she was essentially Mythral made me regret that choice. Not doing that again. Yes, it is poetic justice that all of her arrogance about being the one who deserved the well’s knowledge amounted to walking right into the very trap she tried to avoid; however, I cannot stand the thought of her working hard for so long to be free of Flemeth only to unintentionally bind herself to her forever. Assuming Flemeth is alive through Solas in that ending. Nonetheless, no one can really question her intentions for Kieran after that part where he ran into the eluvian. She was clearly upset just seeing him near Flemeth. Even if it did not dawn on her back then that it was wrong to have a child just to secure an Old God’s soul, it was clear what a mistake that was when she began to love Kieran as her son more than she treasured him as a vessel for the Old God. All in all, I still adore Morrigan. I would love to see an ending where Flemeth is no longer a threat for her because the Maker knows how terrifying it is to be endlessly stalked by someone who had little to no good intentions for you. In my world, Morrigan had a baby with Alistair, but in the universe where she had a baby with the Grey Warden from Origins I like to imagine that they eventually reunite and raise Kieran as family. Maybe that will be a part of my new DA Keep world I import: a mage warden who fell in love with Morrigan, they agree to have a baby, Kieran is born, and then they maybe reunite in a future DLC or game. Yeah, that would be sweet.
- I really loved Skyhold. The decorating, the way everything is set up, all of it. It’s not often in RPGs where you have a home base that provides everything and more for your character. Of course, I had to travel to places like Val Royeaux every now and then to get some items, but I had most of what I needed there. Also, the judgment aspect was a nice touch. Along with the war tables, sitting on the throne and determining the fate of Thedas’ most notorious assholes really put into perspective how tough it is to be a leader. No choice is ever perfect. Even when it seems clear cut, there are shitty consequences further down the line. For example, I thought that by sending the Wardens into a bunch of battles that Thedas would see them less as those once-beloved heroes who fell from grace, and more like the Wardens everyone remembered who always saved the day. Until they were pretty much wiped out according to the report I got. Yeah… leadership sucks. I’d rather play knight to some reliable leader, and just fight anyone who tries to harm them. That seems more up my alley. LOL
- As for the rest of the cast:
- Cassandra – A major surprise considering the fact that she was downright intimidating in DAII. I thought she would be Sten 2.0, but…nope. She is actually pretty adorable. I trusted her to become the new Divine, and I am happy with my decision. Cassie has the perfect balance, to me, of levelheadedness and temper. A leader needs a little temper. I am certain that no one will be walking over while she is Divine Victoria. The way she established the Inquisition confirmed that for me.
- Leliana – Also changed a lot. Not sure if she changed for the better. She is definitely more interesting than she was in Origins, but time and circumstances hardened her. It’s understandable. As far as maternal figures go she has not had the best luck in that department. One woman she trusted used her, and the other died just when she began to feel useful to her. Nonetheless, I adore Leliana. I like to imagine that when Cassandra became Divine Victoria she kept her scouts around to watch her back. Give me my head canon, okay? LOL
- Cullen – A character fighting an addiction was definitely an interesting aspect. I encouraged him to kick his lyrium habit because no good could really come from it. Yes, death is a possibility, but what type of life would he live as an addict? Seeing what it did to Samson I know it would just make someone as straight-laced as Cullen pretty miserable. Overall, I was satisfied with his development as a character. He came a long way since Origins.
- Josephine – Probably the most helpful character in the game. Seeing how everyone besides Vivienne maybe is as diplomatic as a rock, it really helps to have Josie around. LOL. I have nothing bad to say about Josie. Ever. She is adorable, smart, funny, beautiful. I wish I was her.
- Vivienne – I knew I would love her before I got the game, and my assumption was right. She is one of those love or hate type of characters. I have seen more gravitation towards the latter, but the hatred for her is not surprising. The initial reaction to someone like Vivi is that she is stuck-up; however, that is such a lazy conclusion to me. If Vivi really thought everything was below her she would not be in the Inquisition. She also would not have come to your defense the moment you met her. I just think that she knows her values, knows where she stands, and does not falter for anyone. What is wrong with that? For someone who sits on a throne and condemns others to death at times, I don’t believe Quizzy has any right to look at her and say: “She always thinks her choices are always right.” Her choices and opinions are her own. It’s not as if she is speaking as someone who does not understand the prejudices that mages have to go through. She is fully aware of how corrupt templars can be, but she is also emotionally intelligent enough to separate the greater good from what is good for just her. Absolute freedom seems like the greatest option for mages when you completely ignore the events that take place in Thedas. However, when you put things into perspective, it is understandable why she is so supportive of circles. She was in one herself. Being in a circle turned her into the accomplished Enchanter that she is. Really, Vivi is one of those people who has to sit through everyone saying how school is a useless system, and rightly tells them all to shut up. Without schools, there would be no structure in place to educate the mass. Without circles, there would be no structure in place to educate mages. Should it be such a rigid structure? No. I think circles should be a requirement, like schools, but there should be efforts made to make it feel less like a prison and more like a home. Outside of lessons, mages should have the freedom to spend time with their families or take vacations. That is my stance. Nonetheless, I respect Vivi for making the unpopular choice. When you are a member of an oppressed group people expect you to immediately jump to that group’s side, but sometimes certain members within that group can be so damn idiotic and dangerous that they need to be treated like the children they are. And a lot of mages behave like children. Summoning demons to solve their problems, turning to blood magic for ridiculous reasons, blowing up chantries to prove a point… You get it. LOL. Anyway, an interesting person to debate with, and an absolute must in battles. Plus her conversations with Bull are GOLD. Vivi is pretty much the mom of the group. It’s cute. LOL
- Varric – Well, shit. LOL. I’m going to have to nab that tagline from him. Anyway, Varric is Varric, just as likeable as he was in DAII. His success as a writer was pretty nice too, even though his publisher was ripping him off. Also, the fact that Cassandra loved his romance novels… So adorable.
- Dorian – Anyone else came close to tears when he confronted his father? Unfortunately, I have heard too many stories of parents rejecting their children for being homosexuals, and it is heartbreaking every time I hear it. Mostly because I cannot understand how someone can raise another human being, claim to love them, and then suddenly chase them away because who they choose to sleep with. It’s really moronic to me. The fact that his father would delve into blood magic just to make him straight was gross…but probably not far from what some parents would do IRL to make their children straight, much like the whole “pray the gay away” bullshit I read about. Anyway, I liked Dorian. I always like sarcastic characters. It’s also pretty adorable that he ends up with Bull if you do not romance him. Odd couple, yes, but kind of not surprising.
- Sera – Did not dislike or like Sera. She was enjoyable while she was lighthearted, and then a colossal headache the rest of the time. That’s just who she is. Her need to punish nobles is just something that she is going to do whether anyone disagrees or not. Sometimes, individuals like Sera are necessary evils–if you want to call it something so extreme. It helps to think of her as a more brutal, less rational Robin Hood who hates cookies. LOL
- Blackwall – Or should I say Thom Rainier? Damn, that revelation was just beyond unpleasant. Of course when I heard children were murdered as a result of his actions I just wanted to let him stay in that prison cell, but…shit. That was a hard decision to make. It helped to put into perspective that he did not order a hit on his target’s wife and children. It was just an unfortunate accident, one that he still struggles to live with. If it was something he felt nothing about then he wouldn’t have come clean in the first place. Really, one of the hardest things to admit in life is that you are something negative, like a coward. Blackwall struggles with that fact a lot. It was not until he took up the real Blackwall’s identity that he felt more comfortable making decisions that required courage. Before that, he pretty much followed a thoughtless path, and turned a blind eye to suffering. Much like his whole story with the dog that was lynched. Turning a blind eye made him feel like shit, but he knew that he did not always have it in him to speak up about something that required stepping out of his comfortable see-no-evil, hear-no-evil position. Overall, I like Blackwall as a character. He is complex, and more than capable of redeeming himself given the option. When I chose to make him stay with the Inquisition and turn himself over to the Wardens later, he was angry at first, but at the end of the game he saw that it all lead to the world being saved and it made him finally feel some pride in himself. Yeah, I like Blackwall, dark past and all. He might not be a true Warden but, at heart, he is beyond noble enough for the task.
- Cole – I chose to make Cole embrace the fact that he was a spirit, and he seemed happy. Really, he is easy to please: make him help others, go out of your way to help others, and then Cole is happy.
…I think I covered everything, right? Yeah, that was a lot. SORRY BUT I HAVE A LOT OF THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS GAME. So much so that I am pumped for this second playthrough! Bioware really outdid itself with this one. Seriously, if this is what I have to look forward to with future Bioware titles then, man, it’s going to be off the fucking hook. I cannot even begin to imagine all of that exploration and attention to detail that the new Mass Effect will have if they base even half of it off of DA:I’s system.
*sigh* Great game. I’ve been waiting so long for a game like this that was just fulfilling all-around. And all I have to do is tweak some things in Dragon Age Keep to change the experience overall. Yep, I am in love with DA:I. ^_^;
Okay, that sums it up. GO PLAY IF YOU HAVEN’T YET.