The reviews are in and Dragon Age: Inquisition is a hit with the critics. What’s more, it sounds like it does everything people wanted the game to do with its off-track sequel Dragon Age II. That fact along with these good reviews should rocket the sequel to well deserved stardom and possibly even Game of the Year fame.
Yet I wonder when it comes to the greater gaming populace these days whether Inquisition is what fantasy RPG fans are truly after. It sounds like it has everything from great characters to epic battles to gorgeous vistas. That’s pretty much what we want right? Well things have changed over the last generation and if there’s one thing we know is on the upswing it is complete and total freedom over a huge world.
When Bioware started mentioning Skyrim a lot during development of Inquisition I started to get a little nervous. As much as I love me some Elder Scrolls action I didn’t want them to lose sight of what makes Bioware games so great: the narrative freedom. When you play a Bioware game you know you’re in for some great personalized interpersonal relationships that craft the story. When you play an Elder Scrolls game the story disappears into the background and you are just free to roam, doing good or causing trouble for your own reasons in a sprawling world of seemingly endless possibilities. The only way to make that total freedom possible is to make the story and main character practically non-existent.
Thankfully it seems Bioware has found their balance, simply broadening the world and its freedoms. Unless you, like me, are a big fan Bio’s storytelling style the odds could be that total, utter freedom to do anything is more important. If I’m right and that’s the case then Inquisition could just be tiding folks over until the next open world, free to do whatever game comes out. Near as I can tell that game is The Witcher 3.
CD Project Red has assured us, and we should believe them, that their game will also have a fantastic story behind it. However it’s probably the big world and ability to do so much in it that folks are excited about, not the story. God knows how long it will be until another single player Elder Scrolls rolls out, or even something like Fallout 4, so I’d bet my money that the growing freedom-before-story crowd is more interested in The Witcher 3 right now.
It’s the beginning of a new generation and that can sometimes mean a serious wait time for good RPGs. If the tide has truly turned toward the live free or die mentality then will a significant percentage of the Dragon Age: Inquisition sales be made by RPG gamers simply satiating a few base needs while they wait for The Witcher 3? I know I’ve made a couple of appetite suppressing RPG purchases just while waiting for Inquisition.
If Dragon Age: Inquisition has the same setup as Mass Effect 3 where you can essentially tell the game to ignore all dialogue and story choices I’d be curious to know the percentage of gamers who initiate that odious mode. Then we would probably have a hint about whether this is an interesting question or just another of my flights of fancy.