As I should have known (and predicted), I spent the first hour or two (or three, cough) in DA:I without getting past the first two minutes of the intro.
The first character I made was Qunari and looked ok in the creator but I didn’t like her one bit after that, and not just because someone varnished her lips when I wasn’t looking. Maybe if I’d called her Maleficent (instead of Malice – close but no cigar) I’d have felt more of a bond with her.
So I went back to the main menu and made another character. I didn’t want to remake my characters from DA 1 and 2, but the Qunari just didn’t feel very connected to the whole thing for me, so I went with an elf this time. Enter Sorrow #1.
I really liked her in the creator, and she wasn’t bad in the cold harsh light of DA:I, though she did have a bit of a gormless look to her and she was made up like an Abba fan from 1981.. but then I realised that a) I hadn’t changed her hairstyle, which was clipping through her ears in a totally kickin’-it-2005 kind of way and b) I’d picked dual-wield rogue instead of archer. Had I known that the initial weapon choice doesn’t really make much of a difference I might have kept her, but I didn’t.
Enter Sorrow #2. There are complicated emo RP reasons for her name and I’ll share those with you as soon as I nail them down, I promise. (Or I just think it’s a cool name.) She’s blonde, which is a colour choice I almost never make in games, but it fit her, and I liked her feral look in the prologue (which is before the intro but after char creation).
No spoilers, but the story grabs you by the hair from the first and doesn’t seem to want to let go – as far as I can tell, which isn’t very far because I’m super, suuuuuuuuper slow about new games like this. When I discovered I could run around and up hills and JUMP OVER STUFF I of course had to do that for a while, with Ms. Stickupherbutt trying really hard not to tell me to hurry, the fate of the world depended on blahblahblah.
So yeah, we made it past the Intro sequence without hating on the disgusting console-driven UI and the disgusting console-driven movement and the disgusting console-driven gameplay too much (seriously. I’m tired of shooting arrows at the landscape in front of me whenever I try to move by holding down both mouse buttons, and I am beyond in loathe with the ‘ping’ your surroundings mechanic. You basically have to ping your surroundings every 3 seconds if you’re like me and dread missing a piece of lore or that 138th elfroot harvest, so… anyway, tangent over).
I lied. I’m totally hating on it. The ‘tactical’ view lets you zoom out about as far as a gnat’s backside if said gnat were up your nostril, which blows. Combat is weird and not like it was in DA 1 and 2. But I’m sure I’ll get used to it soon enough and wonder how I ever did it differently, especially since for me, combat is like the 189th thing on the list of Interesting Things About Dragon Age. But it definitely is weird if you’ve played the other 2 games.
Character progression seems to be a lot like in DA2, which I can live with. The Inventory is another disgusting console-driven element and basically SUCKS for those of us who, you know, have a mouse and a keyboard and can see more than 3 things on the screen at once because we’re not sitting 10′ away from a crappy-resolution television – but I’ll probably get used to that too. It’s not like I’m playing Diablo here, and items are probably the 197th thing on my list of Interesting Things About Dragon Age.
But the graphics are pheno-freaking-menomenomenal, the voice acting isn’t bad (though the facial movements… we won’t go there), the animations are fun, combat is quick and painless if that’s what you want (which I do), and it might be worth the price of admission just for the landscapes.
I doubt I’m the only one to note that DA:I has a distinctly Skyrim vibe to it, perhaps because you start out in the snow surrounded by ginormous scenic mountains, but also because the graphics for this installment are much grander and more cinematic in general. This is definitely a good thing.
And finally – is it just me, or does Solas look like Arnold Vosloo? You be the judge: