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Bioware’s Dragon Age: Inquisition is one of the games that sits squarely in the sights of any true RPG fan. As the third entry in the series, DA:I has been shrouded in a lot of mystery with only scant information being released over the last six or so months. However, with the approach of fall 2014 and Inquisition’s launch, Bioware is taking the wraps off the game and bit by bit letting fans in on some of what they will face. As part of that information dissemination, we had the opportunity to interview Creative Director Mike Laidlaw to find out more about the game’s protagonist, the Inquisitor.
All players will take the part of the Inquisitor, either male or female, in Dragon Age: Inquisition. The Inquisitor is a hero nearly from the get go. Thedas is rocked by a catastrophic disaster that kills tens of thousands of people and that simultaneously opens demonic rifts throughout the world. Our character survives this disaster and other survivors quickly discover that she has a connection to these rifts and is, in fact, the only one in all of Thedas who has the ability to close them. She quickly becomes a source of hope and inspiration to those around her, another theme that will be explored throughout the game.
“We want players to confront how they will react if others looks at them as special or as a hero.” Laidlaw explained.
There will be some penalties or bonuses to the Inquisitor based on her racial background but where players are most likely to see a difference is in the reactivity of those around her. A Qunari, for instance, walking into a relatively peaceful town might see people back away in fear or act in a confrontational manner. However, a city in distress is, as Laidlaw said, unlikely to care as long as someone is there helping out.
“It’s all about context.” Mike said.
Helping out to forge a path of discovery to end whatever it is that is behind the rifts is what she sets out to do. But the Inquisitor doesn’t step into an easy world, both from her background’s perspective, and from the wider view of Thedas. Every faction is facing its own internal struggle as well. Leaders of groups as varied as The Chantry, The Circle, the Grey Wardens, Orlais, Ferelden are all distracted by their own issues and none seems willing to take on the challenge that the demonic invasion presents. It is into this volatile world that our character steps and calls forth a centuries’ old tradition, the Inquisition.
Mike spoke of the entire theme of Dragon Age: Inquisition as being one that is focused on the themes of leadership and control. As opposed to Dragon Age where players took on the heroic nature of a Grey Warden who had treaties in place and set out to see them honored or in Dragon Age II where players rallied a band of misfits to become heroes, the protagonist in Inquisition is a new hero and a leader and is embarking on new territory by reviving the Inquisition and it is a scary proposition, according to Laidlaw. She is charged with gathering other leaders, other people of influence, to join her in discovering what it is that has beset Thedas and how to defeat it. Everything is built from the ground up, including relationships among individuals, alliances among factions and even literally the construction of fortresses and defenses.
Yet as with any quality role playing game, something for which Bioware is well-known, players can’t have it all. The Inquisitor may build an alliance with Orlais but fall out of favor with the Dalish as a result. Every decision will have an impact and every decision will drive how the story plays out. In fact, Mike explained, while DA:I isn’t a diplomacy game, choices can lock away certain pieces of the story while simultaneously opening up others.
“We want players to have different ways to open up the world. Our fans like to compare notes with others. It’s a really social side of the game. By putting some things away as a result of a decision made, every player feels as if the game is their game, not somebody else’s. It’s not about replayability, though there is that. It’s about creating division and discussion. We think it’s delightful.”