As someone who isn’t very religious and who’s had very few positive interactions with religion, I always get a little bit worried when it takes a significant role in the media I consume. That same worry filled me in Mass Effect: Andromeda when I began speaking with one of my crewmates, namely the science officer aboard the Tempest, Dr. Suvi Anwar. As I continued interacting with her, I was pleased to find that her character wasn’t limited to being “the religious one”, and that she found joy in the fact that she and my Ryder both had differing opinions on spirituality and the prevalence of religion—a mindset that is often sadly lacking in real life. I left my first Andromeda experience feeling like Bioware really stepped up the nuance in their conversations concerning religion and spirituality, but as the game’s plot twists ruminated in my mind, I came to the conclusion that Bioware and their stories still have a huge problem with avoiding exploring and accepting other religions outside of the Christianity “norm”.
Though it shames me a little to admit it, I am a little bit filthy, and while I’m plenty picky about quality writing and good story, it’s very rare that I take the time to read a fic that has no sex in it at all. A recent exception has been Bellus et Bestia by CandidCantrix on AO3. The story is a Dragon Age: Inquisition AU about Dorian and The Iron Bull that takes place before the game’s story. It really delves into Qunari culture and Iron Bull’s mental state, as well as taking a slightly different approach to Dorian’s past. It is very, very loosely based on the story of Beauty and the Beast, but instead of taking the obvious tack and making the eight-foot-tall horned Qunari the “beast” character, Iron Bull is actually the one who gets captured and held captive by Dorian, who is rather horrifically less pretty in this AU than in the game.
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She wakes to the sight of a woman staring down at her.
Tall and beautiful and elvhen, with golden hair that cascades in rivers down her shoulders, and eyes the colour of the sun. She is clad in silver and cerulean and rich, emerald green, and when she moves she is whisper-silent, her expression wide with surprise.
The sky is blue behind the woman’s head.
That arrests her attention even more than the woman herself. It has been so long since she’s seen a blue sky.
The woman asks her something in elvish. Lyrical and lilting. A question. When she doesn’t immediately respond, it gets repeated to her.
She has learned enough of the ancient language in her quest against Solas that she can gather the gist of it.
“What are you? Where did you come from?”
Her eyes turn over blue skies, and leafy trees, clear air and the feeling of magic on her skin, so close it’s like she just fell into a rune trap. But there’s no sign of any spells being cast around her. The woman’s face is unfamiliar, but she’s seen those kinds of eyes before; peering out at her from an old human woman’s visage. From beneath Morrigan’s brows.
“Mythal?” she guesses.
“This is I, yes,” the woman confirms. “What are you? Some sort of… construct of flesh?”
What a promising reception.
“I am a person,” she says, with the firmness that can only come from meeting those who would deny that claim. It is a phrase she has memorized in the ancient tongue.
Mythal looks her over. Deliberates a while. Then she gestures to something behind herself.
“You are damaged,” the evanuris informs her. “We will repair you, and then we shall see of that claim.”
The ending of Dragon Age: Inquisition’s “Trespasser” DLC seemed to bring up as many questions—if not more—as it answered. Unfortunately, many of those questions will not be answered for what I can only assume will be years. While I and many others of the fandom await the announcement of Dragon Age 4, it’s nice to know that fanfic has always got our back. Even if the future that fanfic presents us with isn’t exactly nice.
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.
Spoilers for Inquisition and “Trespasser” under the cut.
As literally anyone who knows me in any capacity will have heard (ad nauseum) by now, I have spent a lot of time lately playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. Like, a lot of time. Throughout the game and as I devoured peripheral media afterward, I found that the universe in which Dragon Age takes place is delightfully meaty, full of complex themes, metaphors, and social commentary. Particularly interesting and expansive were Bioware’s concepts about magic — how it works, its limitations, and its effects on society. Varied public opinions on magic mean that magic-users are given drastically different treatment in different regions of Thedas. Not only is magic and the control thereof a major source of political tension, the various in-universe religions, especially the Chantry, have strong and vocal opinions on the matter that help to shape public sentiment, leading to constant disputes about mage rights.
Just as interesting as the social consequences of magic is the concept of the Fade: the physical source from which magic flows. Though it is observable, the Fade is very mercurial and very different from the material world, and is fairly poorly understood by the denizens of Thedas. For mages, who are born with innate abilities to channel magic, the Fade is the source of their power, but for everyone else, it is the source of dreams and (according to some) desires and temptations.
This is one of the last lines uttered by the Inquisitor at the end of Bioware’s newest DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition, “The Descent”. Where last time’s DLC took us to the high cliffs of the Frostback Mountains, this time the Inquisitor and crew head deep, deep underground to Orzammar’s Deep Roads—the place where all the darkspawn hang out and where Grey Wardens go to die, if you remember from the first game. After playing through the I-don’t-know-how-long DLC (probably around four hours if you’re sticking to story missions) I, too, have more questions than answers, least of all being “why doesn’t Bioware know how to make good DLC anymore?”
Though not the fan-anticipated “Egg Hunt”, Bioware surprised players of Dragon Age: Inquisition this week by releasing the game’s first DLC, The Jaws of Hakkon, on Tuesday for Xbox One and PC (sorry, other systems!). What makes this release surprising is that Hakkon was released with absolutely no promotion, save for a teaser image that came out one day before its release. I’m not exactly sure why Bioware chose to do this, but the buzz and hype this move created seems to have been worth it: I doubt there’s a DA fan out there who isn’t aware by this point. However, people have been speculating on the quality of the DLC itself, which bears a fifteen dollar price tag. Personally, I think this speculation is deserved. Within both the Dragon Age and Mass Effect franchises, some DLCs just haven’t necessarily met the bar on the price they asked for. Fifteen dollars is a lot to be asking for on a DLC that no one knows anything about outside of an image and, as of this morning, a trailer.
This doesn’t answer the question of whether or not the DLC is worth the price of admission. Well, for some it might. As for my opinions on it, whether or not to buy it lies solely in what drives you as a player.
Spoilers for The Jaws of Hakkon and DA:I under the cut.
Looking for fic for a newly released game—or an older game that you haven’t finished—is dangerous. From the short summaries on the search page, it’s usually impossible to tell if there’ll be spoilers inside or if it’s safe for consumption. Needless to say, I don’t go looking for fics that fall in these categories. Yet, when one happens to metaphorically fall in my lap—well, I’m only human. A somewhat weak-willed human.
Spoilers for Dragon Age: Inquisition under the cut.
Due to technical issues and personal events, I have not been able to play Dragon Age: Inquisition to the lengths that I had expected. Yet even without these setbacks I wasn’t foolish enough to believe that I’d be anywhere close to done in time to write this first article (oh yes, there will be another one). Twenty hours into the game and having only really explored the Hinterlands—the very first area—I’m getting a good sense of what I’ll be in for, and I have to say that some problems aside, this is exactly what I wanted from this game.
Inquisition allows players to choose from four races this time around: humans, elves, dwarves, and the newest addition, qunari. Each race is reacted to differently within game so some inquisitors may be treated better if they’re human, others may gain certain notoriety if they’re qunari, and so forth. As is my MO with games that allow me the option, my first playthrough is as a Dalish elf rogue, so I’m looking forward to walking through the game with all that barely restrained prejudice coming from every human, especially from the Chantry, because who needs to believe in the Maker when you have your own set of cool Dalish gods. Just the person that should be leading the inquisition, right? Or, rather, I’m not the leader yet.
After years of waiting, finally there’s less than a week left until the release of Dragon Age: Inquisition—less than a week! No amount of exclamation points could properly convey my excitement, but rest assured I am very, very excited for this. When initially pre-ordering the game, though, I ran into the issue of which system to order the game for. While I have a lot of saves on the Xbox 360, did I really want to run this beautiful game on a system that wouldn’t be able to handle the graphics at their full potential? Did I want the full graphical experience as provided by the PS4, but with no save files to import or speak of? In the end, I ended up ordering DA:I for the PC, not only for the ability to import my save files and the lack of graphical deterioration, but for the user-generated growth of the game as well. And by, “user-generated growth”, I refer to the abundance of user-created mods that will no doubt spring forth after the game’s release.
Mods are an aspect that drove me from console gaming to PC gaming in the first place; not that I was unhappy with my console experience, but these mods ended up adding things to the game—and adding back to the game in some cases—that I could have never dreamed of. Sure, you have your console command modding (infinite experience, killing all the enemies on screen, and so forth), but what I’m here for is how the players interact with the universe via add-ons. Weapons, hairstyles, eye colors, user-made companions: all of these things show a desire to interact with the universe in a way that extends beyond canon, and that’s something I can get behind. So, to get some of those creative juices flowing, I’m listing off the top five types of mods I’d like to see for Inquisition. Additionally, for you fellow PC gamers out there, I’m reccing my favorite mods from the past two games as examples of each type. Hopefully they’ll brighten your gaming experience as much as they have mine! Continue reading →