Playing DA: Inquisition first?
November 6, 2014 11:39 AM   Subscribe

I have a PS4 but haven't played it in a year! It's because there's no games I've wanted. I'm into epic 100+ hour RPGs and stuff. Dragon Age: Inquisition would be my first serious purchase for the system. But is it okay if I play the game without having played the first two titles in the series? Will I be completely lost, or have real trouble caring about characters/events/lore I should be caring about? Curious about the arguments for and against (though I understand none of us have played DA3 yet, since it's not out for another week and a half). I'm open to playing through the entire series in order, but I'm also excited to make use of the current-gen system and bask in the immersive atmosphere.
posted by naju to Media & Arts (23 answers total)
I'm a videogame writer. I can't imagine anyone building a $100 million game that you can't enjoy unless you've played the prequels. You didn't need to have played Elder Scrolls: Oblivion to enjoy Skyrim, did you?

Generally, what we try to do is give you great characters and a great story; but whenever we can tie a character back to the previous games, we do. ("I need the hero to run into an old thief." "Oh, so use that guy from DA2, the young thief." "Awesome, yes.") So there's a greater narrative depth if you've played the other games before.

Of course you can explore the narrative in reverse. After all, even though the Star Wars prequels were terrible, there was nothing wrong in principal with making some movies with Darth Vader, and then discovering how he got that way.

Personally, I enjoy newer games more than older ones. The tech just gets better and better, but so does the character animation, the voice work, the story, and so forth.
posted by musofire at 11:48 AM on November 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

posted by poffin boffin at 11:57 AM on November 6, 2014 [14 favorites]

I wouldn't worry about it. I don't think the Dragon Age Lore/World is super interesting, and you could always just Google for stuff you are confused about, since there's a Dragon Age Wiki out there. DA3 does not look like it's carrying straight on from a previous game, either.

Also, it seems like DA3 is a bit of a departure gameplay-wise from the previous games, so it's not like the first games would necessarily train you for this one.

If you do want to play the first two, I'd recommend having a PC... the first game, in particular, is a lot worse on console. You don't have the tactical view option that the PC version has and it's just a slog. And the PS3 version is a nightmare technically... looks bad, performs bad, endless load times. Not sure about 360.
posted by selfnoise at 11:59 AM on November 6, 2014

Though playing the first two is absolutely worth it, it's not particularly important to do so prior to DAI; the character you play in Inquisition is different from the protagonists of the previous two games. Additionally, DAI won't be able to import saves from previous games, but will instead use the Dragon Age Keep to build specific world states (i.e., to let players define their choices from the previous games and have those details reflected in Inquisition). All you'll gain from playing the previous installments is sweet, sweet anguish over all the hard choices, and familiarity with the characters who show up to make cameos in Inquisition.

FWIW, if you do not use the keep to build a specific world state (you'll need an internet connection on your console in order to import the keep data), I think the game ships with a particular configuration for the events of both Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2. Not sure offhand what that configuration is, though.

Now, I gotta get back to my 7th playthrough of Origins....

ETA: I think the Keep is finally live for everyone and not just their beta testers; if not, keep an eye on the site, and it should go live very very soon.
posted by Janta at 12:04 PM on November 6, 2014

Not sure offhand what that configuration is, though.

I think one of the livestreams said that the ship config is the same as the default keep config? Maybe I will watch them all over again just in case.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:08 PM on November 6, 2014

And yes, the Keep is live although still a little bit buggy, but any choices you make that the keep tells you are impossible to have made in actual gameplay can usually be fixed by locking down the choice.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:10 PM on November 6, 2014

One thing with Dragon Age (and Mass Effect) is that it’s usually up to the player to decide how much or how little they want to learn about the world. You can talk to people or not. Read codex entries or not. In this case, I think that the opening section of the game is going to be a conclave that brings together a lot of factions in the gameworld. So I imagine that that will be a place where new players can delve into the history and seasoned players can skip over what they already know. So I say jump right in and have fun.

But also, I know Origins was on Steam for about $6 recently, and would highly recommend it if you have time. And don’t bother with the Keep for now, but maybe play with it a bit when you’re ready for a second playthrough and know the characters better.

And if anyone wants to friend me on PS4 for multiplayer, I have the same ID
posted by saffry at 12:48 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

But is it okay if I play the game without having played the first two titles in the series? Will I be completely lost, or have real trouble caring about characters/events/lore I should be caring about?

They're all self-contained stories, and from what I understand, the only benefit you'll have from having played the previous games is recognizing some cameos and knowing a bit of back-story for events which will probably also be explained well enough for you to follow.
posted by empath at 12:51 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

And FWIW, I didn't bother with Dragon Age 2 after playing Origins because of how little it seemed to be connected to the first game. I wanted to know what happened to all my characters, and they seemed to basically start over from scratch, instead.
posted by empath at 12:52 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks! So it sounds like this is different from the Mass Effect series. In those games, it felt like there were serious character and story arcs occurring over the course of three games. But this is much more self-contained, and even features different main characters from game to game?
posted by naju at 1:05 PM on November 6, 2014

Right. The Mass Effect games all had the same main character, approximate time period, many of the same supporting characters, and narrative arc. The Dragon Age games feature some recurring supporting characters (though far less), have different protagonists, and take place in different time periods with self-contained plots.
posted by selfnoise at 1:17 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can definitely play this one as a stand alone game. That said, if you're a fan of in-depth RPGs go play the first two as soon as you can. They'll enrich your experience of this game considerably. There's a pretty huge world and backstory, and playing the other games will add depth to the choices you make.
posted by MsMolly at 2:21 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

To give an example, imagine if Mass Effect 3 had started out with a whole new set of characters, but in the same war. You'd be able to play the stand-alone plot, but if you hadn't had the experience of all the stuff leading up to it you wouldn't get as much out of it.
posted by MsMolly at 2:24 PM on November 6, 2014

I think it would be fine. I played DA, then DA 2, and you definitely didn't have to have played the first one to appreciate it. I imagine it will be the same for 3. However, I do recommend playing then at some point, especially the first, it's a great game.
posted by catatethebird at 3:49 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ok but my serious non-elfsex opinion is that if you don't play DA:O before DA:I comes out then it will really, really not age well when you do eventually give it a shot. The difference in fight scenes and skills and spells is really super intense between just DA:O and DA2, I imagine it will be similarly increased in awesomeness with DA:I. Similarly, I started assassin's creed with ac3 and followed up with the ezio trilogy; when I went back to play the first one it was so awful, so slow and tedious and misery inducing. If I had started with ac4 I probably never would have gone further back than ac3.

look just do it ok go make out with elves
posted by poffin boffin at 5:27 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've recently finished another playthrough of DA1 (140 hours in that game in total, though much of that from years ago), and am currently enjoying my follow-on run through of DA2. There are crossovers; Anders, one of your companions in DA2, is from the DA1 DLC - awakening - and there's pretty regular call outs to things you did as the Warden of Ferelden in the story. That said, it is true that most of the characters for DA1+DLC that do show up get only a cameo in DA2. Leliana from DA1 is returning as one of the companions in DA3 - and she coincidentally was my romance option this time round in DA1, so I'm really glad to see her come back. Morrigan will also be a big part of the plot, but not as a companion.

It's not like Mass Effect though, where you're playing the same character through all 3, and many of the companions carry over. Both in the DA1 DLC and DA2 you mostly get an entirely new set of companions, and the lead character is different, and the same looks to be true of DA3. They're set in the same timeframe (DA2 takes place one year on from DA1, DA3 follows on from DA2 by at most a few years from the trailers) but in different places.

For me, DA1 and DA2 are still both really good RPGs. DA1 is a classic RPG, complete with huge amounts of skills and complex equipment juggling across your numerous companions; DA2 is a much more actiony, streamlined experience with a much trimmed set of choices (the companions all have pre-set armour that levels up with them) and they re-use the same locations many times. I kind of like the latter; I'm really getting to feel like I know Kirkwall, unlike the fairly anonymous locations in DA1. Play wise, it's like the shift from mass effect 1 to 2, which given it's the same studio in the same timeframe, is not terribly surprising.

All said, the things you did in DA1 and 2 will likely be referred to as background history/far away events, with most of the people involved playing cameos at best, assuming they follow their usual pattern. I personally like that I was the one that shaped that history, and like the little callbacks to past events where I made the tough choices - including which NPC people might be alive or dead in DA3. But I'm pretty sure it would also work just fine playing DA3 cold, and that those events are just part of the pre-existing world history.

If you do play DA1 (on PC, of course!) there are a bunch of mods on that improve the graphics and gameplay - dragon age redesigned, theta HD, JB3 (if you have the GPU RAM), autoloot, lock bash, more hairstyles, and improved atmosphere are all the ones I used I think.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:31 AM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I hope it's not too spoilery to say; I kinda like that they do change the protagonist and most of the companions. It's given them a lot more scope to have your choices affect who lives and dies (and the latter consequences to the world of them being dead) and given several major characters can be killed or not even added to your party in DA1 and DLC, trying to code all that into the follow-ons would be a hugely complex task - if someone is going to be essential to the plot in game 3 you can't really let them die in an earlier one, and there's only so many magic resurrections you can do! I've noted that the default in the Keep history chooser is that you didn't even encounter the DLC companions, for example.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:54 AM on November 7, 2014

Best answer: Kotaku did a good round-up of the information you'll want for Inquisition, A Beginner's Guide to All Things Dragon Age.
posted by saffry at 3:19 PM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

don't do it save yourself

i have lost 120h to this game im so tired
posted by poffin boffin at 11:10 PM on November 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Yeah so I decided to play through the first Dragon Age before touching the new one, and I'm mostly happy with my decision. No doubt I'm going to be spending 200 hours between the both of them.
posted by naju at 11:12 PM on December 3, 2014

BUT WHO ARE YOU ROMANCING give them presents
posted by poffin boffin at 8:00 AM on December 4, 2014

Response by poster: Not shacking up with anyone yet. I found Alistair's mother's amulet. But I'm tempted to give it to Morrigan just because I'm evil.
posted by naju at 10:22 AM on December 4, 2014

Having now played completely through Inquisition once, I'd recommend that you play DA II also. There's a pretty hefty set of callbacks to both games, but the second one especially, and I think a lot of the game will make much more sense if you know who Varric, Cullen, Cassandra, and Hawke are before the Inquisition starts.
posted by MsMolly at 7:13 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

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