Before my hiatus, I managed to play the latest and last DLC from Dragon Age: Inquisition (which is more like saying I sat in front of my computer reloading the downloads until I could purchase it on the day it released). “Trespasser” was advertised not only as answering one of the bigger questions that the ending of the main game lef, but also finally showing the player some of the political, and otherwise, ramifications of their inquisition. Was “Trespasser” everything the player-base was wishing for? Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but it’s exactly what I was wishing for.
Most can agree that the ending of main-game Inquisition was underwhelming. Beating the big bad, Corypheus, felt less like taking down a world-threatening power and more like sending a child to the corner to think about what he’s done. And the revelation that long-time party member Solas was actually the elven god Fen’Harel, not to mention that he caused all this rift business in the first place, was cool, but the player couldn’t actually do anything with this knowledge. The inquisition itself by that point held almost too much power for not being a politically affiliated group—the Inquisitor just elected a new Divine for fuck’s sake—so the player was left with this huge feeling that this couldn’t last. Especially given the fragility of Thedas’s current power structure. And what do you know, it couldn’t.
Two years after defeating Corypheus and removing the last rift, the inquisition is called to Orlais once more to take part in the Exalted Council to decide their fate. Now that the inquisition’s purpose has been fulfilled, Ferelden wants, pretty much demands, for it to disband immediately. Orlais, on the other hand, appreciates the symbol of the inquisition itself, but seems more interested in using it for its own means rather than allowing the inquisition to continue unsupervised. To mediate, and to perhaps give the Inquisitor a friendly face in the midst of all of this, whichever Divine the player elected previously sits to mediate between the two opposing forces. With this looming over the Inquisitor’s head, the last thing they need is someone trying to sabotage the Exalted Council. Guess what happens.
After some people at the Winter Palace end up murdered and barrels of explosives get smuggled in, the Inquisition launches a secret investigation into who or what is causing this chaos. Following a trail of blood, the Inquisitor is led to a mysterious thing: an eluvian (an elven artifact; looks like a mirror, acts like a portal). Even more mysterious, the eluvian leads to an area with several more eluvians that have been forcibly turned off, blocking the Inquisitor from their true goal. Almost immediately after passing through the eluvian, however, they find the source of their problems: the Qunari, most noticeably the Viddasala, one of the leaders of the spy branch of the Qunari and the one who knows the most about magic. Her interest in the eluvians is not, surprisingly, solely for infiltration. No, the Viddasala is after information on ancient elven magic, and more importantly here to stop what she calls the “agent of Fen’Harel”. To which the Inquisitor is like, “shit, she’s talking about me, isn’t she.”
On top of uncovering and stopping this Qunari coup, the Inquisitor is dealing with their mark (which hasn’t disappeared) slowly expanding and devouring them. As their mark grows, it becomes more powerful and volatile, and so the Inquisitor must also come to terms with the fact that they may not in fact survive to the end of the Exalted Council. Or that it may be better that they do not, since by the last act of the DLC they no longer have control over it.
Stopping the Viddasala’s plot (which involves a dragon, naturally) leads the Inquisitor right to their old friend (maybe?), Solas, who has a lot of explaining to do. Which he does. Starting with this whole “you’re an elven “god”?!” thing. And then he leaves. Yet before he does, he amputates the Inquisitor’s arm so the mark no longer plagues them. And the fate of the Inquisition? Well, that’s left up to you to decide.
When people call this the “Citadel DLC” (from Mass Effect) of Dragon Age, I’m inclined to agree. Although overall less light-hearted in tone, the strongest point of the DLC is the ability to talk with all of your past party members and see what they’ve been up to for the past two years. Often, these scenes are hilarious and finally give the impression that the Inquisition was more than a group of people who had to stick together for political purposes, but an actual group of friends. (…Although that’s probably dependent on how high your approval was with them.) You can even get married in this DLC, which, hello? Is everything I ever wanted for my Bioware LI and my protagonist. Although the characters you can marry are very limited—there are only three options as far as I’m aware—I’m elated that one of the marriageable characters is Sera, the lesbian romantic option. Far too often lesbian romances in particular are portrayed as tragic and doomed, so it’s nice to see one that ends in an adorable wedding and promises to kick more ass in the future.
Furthermore, I was extremely pleased to finally see and feel the consequences to putting together the inquisition. Sure, the inquisition did a lot of good, or mine did anyway, but as it stands, no matter how much good it did, it’s still a large unsupervised group with access to spies, weapons, and lots of strategically sound outposts across southern Thedas. It’s terrifying to even think about going against the inquisition. So it only makes sense that people would be sick of your shit and tell you to lay down your banners now that Corypheus is locked away in the Fade. What made me even happier is that when questioning you, they bring up things you actually did in the previous game and made you think about them and defend them, if you wanted to. For example, I claimed this place in Ferelden that had bandits running all over it. So even though I kicked the bandits out, the Ferelden representative was annoyed that I hadn’t left the post, causing my inquisitor to get sassy with him (do you really think bandits are a better choice than the inquisition? At this point, they may be). Little touches like that allowed me to get more immersed in this DLC than potentially the rest of the game. And the inquisition’s fate truly is in the player’s hands. I, for one, disbanded it, but many others may have kept it together. It’s even hinted that this decision will have an impact in Dragon Age 4, whenever that comes out, so I’m excited to see if I get fucked over because of my choices.
While there was a lot more that I liked and appreciated about “Trespasser”, I can still understand one of the complaints over my very biased opinion. Much like the rest of Inquisition, “Trespasser” is extremely focused on elven lore and history. Even though this makes sense given that you’re directly dealing with the fallout of Fen’Harel’s schemes, I’ve heard from players of other races that they don’t feel very connected to the story. Now, since I play as an elf I’m just having a grand old time, but yes, this DLC does cater almost exclusively to the elves, and especially those that romanced Solas. But I do think the DLC has more to offer than just that.
“Trespasser” was the DLC that Inquisition didn’t really deserve, but that the player base deserved. It felt like everything Inquisition itself should have been in addition to feeling way too short for everything the player has to uncover. While there were still some things that kept it from being that perfect DLC (in that sort of je ne sais quoi kind of way), what it delivered and what it promised for the future filled me once more with hope for the series. I absolutely love that Solas/Fen’Harel is undoubtedly the villain for the next game, and that the conflict may be more than “stop him from undoing the veil and plunging the world into magical hell”, because it’s always more complicated than that. Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Who knows. Additionally, I have hope that the Inquisitor will remain the protagonist for the next game, which means that we will have a disabled protagonist for this acclaimed series. I hope that Bioware chooses to go into the struggles of living as the Inquisitor with only one arm, but also showing them able to more than adequately do what they came to do. While I can speculate on the next game forever (we’re going to Tevinter?! Be still my heart), I’ll always be grateful that this is the ending Inquisition got. It was far from a perfect game, but opened the door to so many new stories and game mechanics. I can only hope that Bioware takes the lessons it learned and really sit on them, contemplate how to make the next game better for everyone. …Also learn what grey morality actually means and how to present it (#MageRights).