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*Spoilers for Mass Effect and Dragon Age ahead! You’ve been warned!*

Recently on Reddit I saw a few posts regarding Dragon Age: Inquisition. While the majority of people were praising the game, the ending came under particular scrutiny, with one user saying “Dear Bioware, when designing endgame sequences, ask yourself: ‘is this enough like Mass Effect 2’s endgame? The answer is always No”. While I certainly got a chuckle out of it, it makes a good point on the state of player choice.

BioWare got it right with Mass Effect 2. Depending if you’re a Hammerhead or Mako fan or whether you preferred the heavier RPG elements of the original you might have some issues with the gameplay but in my opinion the story was nearly perfect. It was simple but compelling, well paced but allowed for freedom and most importantly, every choice you made had impact, particularly during the Suicide Mission ending. If you didn’t make sure your companions were loyal, they would die; if you didn’t make sure your ship was ready, people would die; if you delayed when you were clearly told time was of the essence, people would die.

It was perfect because every consequence was avoidable by player choice and nearly every choice had direct impact on the way the story ended. If you made terrible choices you could kill your entire team and die yourself; kind of a bummer sure, but it meant your decisions mattered. Nobody was going to Deus Ex Machina you out of the Collector Base. This is also why people had a problem with the Mass Effect 3 ending; because the choices you made, the alliances forged had little or no effect on the ending at all. Choice was seen as an illusion in that game when the potential result was limited to different coloured explosions.

Look, stakes!

Look, stakes!

In my opinion, Inquisition suffers from the same issue. Now let me be clear, I love Inquisition. I am currently in the 60th hour of my second playthrough and I’m planning a 3rd; I have a stack of games I haven’t played yet because I’ve been swallowed whole by this game. The only issue I have (besides illusive schematics, I mean seriously where is the Tier 3 Rogue stuff!?) is the final encounter.

I spent 90 hours building my Inquisition, I recruited the Mages, redeemed the Grey Wardens, saved the Empress of Orlais and did countless war table missions and side quests to bolster my forces and it had exactly zero effect on my final confrontation. I fought Corypheus with my regular party and beat him and everything was fine forever. Yes, I know my forces were far away and could not march back fast enough but I think we all saw this for what it was; a cheap cop out to avoid having to include them in the final battle. That could have been fine, but nothing factored into the final battle. You only bring 3 of the 9 companions you spent 90 hours getting to know, the other 6 deciding you can probably handle it until the aftermath. Yes it’s a 3 companion party system, but what were the other 6 doing, just chilling at Skyhold playing Wicked Grace?

I missed a few companion quests by chance in my first playthrough, nothing happened as a result. No other Inquisition soldiers appear; what, we didn’t leave a few guards back at Skyhold to mind the gate? Not even Cullen or Leliana pick up a sword, despite them both being well-established as extremely capable fighters. Its this dissonance between the story I created and the ending I experienced which has made me look back at my favorite game of the year with such a critical eye.

Feels a bit lonely up here...

Feels a bit lonely up here…

Oddly, the Adamant siege in the games second act conveys the weight of the Inquisition handily. Maybe the story team got their cutscenes mixed up but it certainly feels strange to have the epic scale confrontation come at the 40 hour mark of a 100 hour experience.

I want to reiterate that I love this game, I was just disappointed in how little my choices, my game impacted the conclusion. BioWare is the “Player Choice” company, their RPGs are based around the idea of the player authoring their own story where every decision is supposed to have weight. When Mass Effect 3 was pitched as having dramatically different endings, gamers were so incensed they approached the Better Business Bureau with claims of false advertising. It seems BioWare recognized the issue this time because Inquisition came with its Extended Cut DLC built in, a slideshow with a voiceover to address results of your actions; which I would bet is BioWare’s effort to avoid another Mass Effect 3 debacle. Seeing similar issues appear not 3 years later from the same company nonetheless makes me worry the industry isn’t learning from its mistakes.

The reason I don’t feel bad or whiney or entitled for asking for more from BioWare is because I know they’re capable of it. They had choice, stakes and consequence down pat in 2010, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask them to cut a Hinterlands quest or two to spend a little while longer on the ending. So for Mass Effect 4 or the next Dragon Age I’d just say one thing; “Is it enough like Mass Effect 2?”

More About This Game

Wyatt Hnatiw

Staff Writer

Wyatt Hnatiw is a lifelong gamer with a borderline inappropriate love of BioWare RPGs and Bioshock. Maybe he just loves the prefix Bio...

  • whatever54

    i didn’t play DA:I but i watched a lets play, i can very clearly see why you’d not like the ending even if you enjoyed the game.
    obsidian actually made a game that imho did the ending sequence better then ME2, it was neverwinter night 2.
    that was obsidian one and only attempt and making a bioware style game, resulting imho in what was the worst obsidian game ever made, but the absolute best bioware style game ever made.
    if you liked DA:I i highly recommend NWN2. also mask of the betrayer is literally recommended to everyone.

  • SevTheBear

    Bioware has
    tried to be casual friendly for a few years now. Just ain’t working out. They
    need to remember that fans of RPG want choices, party customization, exploration
    and a GOOD story. Not all that Micheal Bay shit and the HEAVY focus on sex scenes.

  • Mermadesings

    I started playing ME well after the trilogy was finished so I went into the games knowing the ending was controversial. I think if I’d gone into cold, I would not have been happy with the non-choice of the endings.

  • Nick

    What do you mean it was the one and only attempt at making a bioware style game? Obsidian has been making RPGs since they started mostly started as sequels to Bioware titles. NWN2 is great and I ended up playing it much more than the original.

  • Thomas Nelson

    If my choice is split between a hundred-hour MMO, largely spent mucking around in boring environments gathering crafting materials for indistinguishable gear or a thirty-hour story driven, fast-paced shooter with limited statistics and more action oriented flash I will go with the latter every single time. Dragon Age: Inquisition is the game every dip-shit old school BioWare fanboy has been demanding for years. It is all statistics, crafting, exploration and boring, repetitive role-playing bullshit. It’s bar none the most tedious triple-A game of the year.

  • Edmund Black

    Don’t forget, you’re considered just a whiny, entitled child for wanting a satisfying ending for a game you’re invested in.

  • TeLin特林

    Well, there are more games that are right up your alley.

  • Richard Drakos

    I think Bioware, CD Projekt Red and Obsidian are really the only WRPG devs that really get it these days. I’ve been playing WRPG’s (and JRPG’s) for well over 2 decades and it’s nice to see WRPG’s at least getting some of that old school feel back and why I’m enjoying DA:I.

    If a more streamlined, lite RPG is what people want, then Bethesda has that covered. There’s room for both styles of WRPG and I hope to see more like DA:I. The writing and the sex scenes are still hammy as all hell though lol.

  • Nick

    So you don’t count FNV, or KoToR2 even though they built them directly off of Bioware games…. Cause honestly they’ve only made NWN2 in that style period if you’re talking point and click.

  • cypher20

    See, this is interesting because i personally was not a huge fan of the story of ME2. Nearly every story mission amounted to A) Stop by planet whatsitsname B) Meet new party member Jane/John Doe C) Go through some missions to get them on your team. The result was that unlike in a traditional RPG where you get your team built up and then go questing, by the time my team was finally complete, the endgame was nearly upon me. I could either go off and do all the side quests ( a time-consuming break from the story) or just go straight into endgame. So, I wasn’t a fan of that.

    All that said, I do agree that the ending was great. The fact that your choices really did matter and change the ending was a great touch. Now, I’m sure that made programming the sequel a nightmare, but that doesn’t excuse the ending of ME3 or DA:I. ME3 was the end of the trilogy, so there are no planned sequels. So why not let there be multiple endings? DA:I also does not have any sequel planned that I’m aware of, so again, why not let your choices matter? Overall, I think the author is pretty spot-on. Having you make all these choices is kind of a waste if they don’t really impact the story much.