Dragon Age: Inquisition – What is known

There’s a lot of hype surrounding Dragon Age: Inquisition right now. And I mean, a lot. For those of you who are fans, you’re probably thinking ‘duh.’ It’s the final instillation of the trilogy. So, independent of the hype, what do we know? As it turns out, quite a bit.

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Character Races, Male and Female Available

  • Human
  • Elf
  • Dwarf
  • Qunari

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Confirmed Past Characters Returning

  • Varric Tethras
  • Morrigan
  • Cassandra Pentaghast
  • Flemeth

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Development Information

  • Frostbite 3 Engine
  • Speedtree Software Toolkit
  • Will be released on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, and the PC
  • Environments will be reused less than in Dragon Age 2.
  • BioWare has worked on the game since March 2011, two months after the release of Dragon Age 2
  • Release date pushed back from late 2013 to 3rd quarter 2014
  • Development team focused on creating an open world, using Skyrim for inspiration. Mike Laidlaw, the creative director of Dragon Age: Inquisition, said that the game will not be a true open world but rather have a linear story.
  • Further refined combat system, focusing on preparation rather than button mashing.
  • Further refined romance system, moving away from gifts and focusing more on decisions and events.
  • Developers claim decisions from previous two games will have a great impact on the world of Dragon Age: Inquisition. They developed a program, Dragon Age Keep (soon to go into Beta Testing) to allow players to make the decisions without needing to replay the two games.
  • David Gaider, lead writer for the entire Dragon Age series, confirmed there would be a multiplayer aspect to the game.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition seems to have promise, taking to heart many of the issues fans had with the previous game. One thing that I found curious was the inclusion of female Qunari. On one hand, I think that gender/sex diversity will only add to greater options for the players. Though, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a female Qunari before. How does BioWare justify their absence until the third game? I am afraid that they might just throw them in there and act like they were always around.

The one thing BioWare does better than anyone else, in my opinion, is improving gameplay from game to game. While I may dislike story decisions they made (see Dragon Age 2: how not to make a sequel for example), I have never criticized how the gameplay progressed. And since the release date was pushed back almost an entire year, it’s obvious that this game is not being rushed.

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I want to believe in BioWare, they they would make the same old high quality story-driven games like they used to. But I was let down with the past two ones. Way, way, way too dark. I like my stories to be a little bit optimistic. Not… so deathy, you know?

If you’ll notice, I didn’t bother saying anything about the story… I guess that’s why I don’t think I have a good sense of it. Sure, there’s a civil war… but who are the good and bad guys? Can you take a side? What will the Inquisition do exactly? How does the tear in the Veil play a factor? Morrigan’s reappearance… is this a good thing or did she cause the tear? And what about Flemeth? What is her role in all of this chaos? There are enough unknowns to where I don’t feel confident about anything about it.

Though I’ll say this. Whatever the result, BioWare is trying their best. Gotta admire that, right?

Unintended Consequence of the Next Generation

A recent report from the security firm Kaspersky Labs said there was an increase in hacking attempts against the Xbox One and the Playstation 4.  Coupled with every other game system and devices used for gaming, the report claims that approximately 34,000 attacks occur per day worldwide. The claim that I want to focus on is that the increase in hacking is concurrent with the release of the Xbox One and PS4.

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Video game consoles having online play was experimented on as early as the Fourth Generation with adapters for the Super Nintendo. We saw an expansion of that in the Sixth Generation with the Playstation 2  and Xbox having an internet connection. The Seventh Generation further expanded on it, making DLCs easily available on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. It was in the Seventh Generation that we saw a hint of the dangers when Sony was hacked and millions of customer’s personal information was stolen.

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We’re now on the cusp of the Eighth Generation of video game consoles. We’re seeing a further expansion of their online capabilities. We’re seeing a lot more options for online play (co-op and pvp)… to the point where the games that tended to not have online play suddenly will have some sort of online option. Microsoft wanted the Xbox One to always be online, a policy they thankfully reversed (though it is not clear how often it has to be online). Sony has the PS4 offer interesting online features like streaming  and/or sharing gameplay.

There is an implicit danger with greater online options. And we are seeing that with the increasing attempts to hack into these newer consoles. To be honest, I was taken off guard when I found out about it. Sure, it makes sense on one hand. The danger of being hacked, dealing with worms and viruses, or whatever else have you is a part of daily life with the internet. That’s why we all purchase software to help minimize the risk.

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If we are forced to have our video game consoles be “always connected” or “always on” like what is being pushed.. let’s face it, it’s only a matter of time… then we have to expect our console to be someday hacked. Having a system be always on and connected has to be an inviting target for any criminal out there.

Dragon Age Origins; Review

Most people I know that own any major gaming platform (PS3, Xbox 360, PC) have played Dragon Age; Origins at some point and everyone I’ve met says the same thing.

It’s amazing.

I’ve seen a few odd bad things said about it through different reviews but they’re but a small stain on the otherwise massive canvas. So, by and large, Dragon Age; Origins must have done a LOT of things right. My opinion? Yes, yes it did. It isn’t by any means a perfect game, but those don’t exist. So, I’m going to try and flesh out the good parts and the few bad parts to try and explain to people who haven’t played it while it’s such a worthwhile investment.

First up, and probably the thing that has the most impact; storyline. This game has a story that trumps almost all other RPGs I’ve played. The main story is compelling and you never find yourself bored with it. There are just enough twists to keep you entertained but not so many so that you expect them. Progression is well paced and enemies scale appropriately according to your level so you’re not over or underwhelmed. The 6 different backstories give the start real depth because it’s something you’ve chosen. It also gives the game replay value right from the off as people treat you differently throughout the game depending on what you chose. The sidequests can sometimes be a bit of a pain depending on what they are but most of them have good pacing with appropriate rewards at the end. Companion quests are extremely worthwhile and engrossing as it makes you realise that the characters you recruit had a life before they joined forces with you. It gives them a great sense of depth and thought. Overall, there isn’t anything to complain about when it comes to it’s story. It’s got everything it needs; nothing more and nothing less.

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Next up is combat. Combat is functional and flows smoothly enough, but can feel quite awkward sometimes considering if you click off and enemy your character will just stand about like an idiot. Your abilities have modest cooldowns as do the various poultices so when you’re in a tough battle you feel as though you’re actually being challenged as opposed to just constantly necking health poultices so you’re Mr./Mrs. Invincible. It’s not very fast-paced but it gets your heart pumping in other ways; suspense coupled with constantly checking up on your allies to make sure they’re coping alright. The combat might not be approaching warp-speed any time soon but it gives you plenty of time to deliberate on your options. Faster paced combat used in it’s ‘sequel’ (though I use the term loosely) Dragon Age 2 can sometimes make you panic and hit any old button, praying it works. Overall, it could be a bit faster and a bit more user-friendly, but it makes up for it in slightly less conventional areas.

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Then comes characters. You fall in love with them. Full stop. I can guarantee there will be at least one party member you come across who will capture your heart, romantically or otherwise. For me, it was every one of them. Even the merchant Bodahn who stays on the fringes of your camp has an extremely in-depth backstory for you to ask about if you choose to do so. Romances are believable and charming, and the gift system is extremely rewarding. Approval and disapproval is very well done; for example if you take a character who prefers immoral choices and a character that prefers moral choices then you make an immoral choice, you’ll earn approval from the character that prefers immoral and disapproval from the character that prefers moral. It’s a challenge to make everybody like you but it’s not impossible. Companion quests hold real sway for them as they almost always have personal items that will last you for at least the majority of the game. However, it’s their own individual personalities that sell it the best. Each character is different and unique. The voice actors are convincing too, sucking you in further. You care for them deeply by the end of the game and whenever something bad happens to them you feel it. It’s not often a game can do that to a person. There is absolutely, definitely no fault with the characters. There may be a few flaws here and there to some, but I can’t see any.

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The last thing I’ll touch on is soundtrack. The score for this game is amazing. Even the menu screen music captivated me for a good 5 minutes. I didn’t start the game until it’d finished. The amount of sheer effort gone into composing the music for this game is monumental and you can tell. It always suits the situation and the battle music changes depending on the severity of the enemy you’re facing. It can make you stressed out, but it compels you to do better. It makes you want to win. Some of the scores make your heart swell; sometimes with pride, sometimes with determination. For me, it was half of what kept me going when I’d face a strong opponent and they’d keep killing me over, and over…And over. I probably would’ve given up before long if I hadn’t heard the score and thought;

‘…Yup, I can do this.’

Again, nothing to complain about. Only praise. A good musical score can be just as important as the story in games like this. If the music is awful and fits poorly, you’re not going to want to play it. It ruins the immersion and the fun, for me at least.

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So…There you have it! I’m sure there are plenty of better reviews out there but here’s my addition to the ranks. If you haven’t played Dragon Age; Origins I would strongly recommend it. Considering the game isn’t that new, the price is very modest. Even the Ultimate Edition on Steam with every DLC pack is saving you a lot of money as opposed to buying the vanilla then adding all the DLC afterwards. Don’t take anyones opinion as true; you’ll only know how good this game is if you try it for yourself. Try it, you won’t regret it.

ashenRenegade, signing off~

Co-Op, PVP And All Things Girly.

Well, first things first.

Hello everybody! I’m ashenrenegade and I’m here to dig up a topic that has been plaguing both myself and a fair number of my friends.

Sexism in gaming.

It’s truly ridiculous that it’s gotten to the stage where if I even turn on my headset whilst waiting in a lobby there is a high chance of at least one of the following happening;

1) I will be kicked. (Often the most likely, sadly)

2) I’ll get a flood of friend requests from people who I don’t know and, quite frankly, don’t want to know.

3) I’ll get cussed out. (Bearing in mind this has only happened a couple of times and the abusers were prepubescent, playing Modern Warfare 3 and were just dying to tell me how many times they’d slept with my mother.)

I know both male and female players that have been unreasonably kicked from lobbies, this is true, but it seems to be exclusively female players that have been removed from lobbies because of their gender. It isn’t specific to just one game either; Mass Effect, Borderlands, Call of Duty, even Team Fortress 2 which appalled me. The list could indeed go on but not all of this is just my experience. One particular example which was my experience was in the Mass Effect 3 lobbies quite a few months ago. I joined a Silver lobby with a level 20 Vanguard who was well equipped for the tier – she could’ve probably done Gold, actually. I turn my headset on to say good luck and to shout if anyone needed a hand.

Next thing I know, I’m back at the map.

It’s this kind of behaviour that’s steering both myself and other female gamers away from multiplayer gaming and more into singleplayer gaming. It’s a shame and unfair as I know for a fact – and this isn’t feminism talking here – that in the world of gaming girls can hack it just as well as the boys. I’m certainly not condemning all male gamers; I know that the majority are quite accepting of girls joining in the fun but it just takes one bad experience. The minority are what can sometimes cause the most damage. I am also not placing the whole blame entirely on this minority. I recognise that there are some people out there who are giving girls who play video games a bad name.

Breaking it down simply; there’s a difference between girl gamers and “Gamer Girls”.

Girl gamers are people like myself and other girls all over the world; we play games frequently because we enjoy them. It’s a hobby for some, a career for others. It’s a way to let off steam and feel good about yourself when you do well. Some play competitively, others casually. Exactly the same as any boy.

Now, “Gamer Girls” are something different entirely. They are often girls who know next to nothing about gaming but will go out of their way to pretend that they do to pique the attention of any male players they come across. I am sure everyone has encountered at least one and they are only giving girl gamers a bad name. Their over-exaggerated behaviour has become something of an embarrassment for the girl gaming community.

Eg. “OMG I TOTALLY PLAY COD ALL THE TIME LOL I’M SO GOOD AT IT I LOVE VIDEO GAMES”

They then proceed to join lobbies of primarily male dominated games (Typically the likes of Call of Duty, Mordern Warfare, Battlefield, etc.) and proceed to do shockingly badly because they’ve quite obviously never played before. Their behaviour grabs male attention and they then do everything in their power to keep it. It only makes them more wary of genuine girl gamers and can sometimes spark the hostility. I can’t tell you how many pictures I’ve seen scattered across the internet of some girl in a skimpy shirt and underwear basically eating a PS3 or Xbox 360 controller in a bid to look sexy. This very unique form of public humiliation is often very far from the truth. I don’t know any girl gamer who would basically strip with the intent of plastering themselves all over the internet for the attention. We’re much more likely to be screaming at you for getting in the way. It’s true; our tempers can be quite violent.

Anyway, I think I’ve spewed enough at everyone for now. I just wanted to hopefully change a few peoples minds and remind other girls who had this problem that they’re by no means alone.

Well, I guess this is ashenrenegade signing off.

…P.S.

It’s slightly disturbing that the girls are never the ones with custom painted neon pink armour. Just saying.