Sep 4, 2014

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Dragon Age Inquistion Multiplayer First Impressions

Dragon Age Inquistion Multiplayer First Impressions

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With the news of a multiplayer mode for Dragon Age: Inquisition breaking just last week, I was eager to get a hands on some Dragon Age Multiplayer action.  Remember the multiplayer mode for Mass Effect 3 that was such a hit with gamers?  Well, so did the developers.   Attending the Dragon Age Multiplayer panel, the developers made it evident that they were building off what made Mass Effect 3‘s multiplayer mode such a hit.  There were several things to take away from that panel.   One was the fact that anything you do in the multiplayer campaign has no bearing on the single-player campaign.  So kiss that atrocious Galactic Readiness feature goodbye.  Single-player is about single-player and multiplayer is about multiplayer.  That doesn’t mean they’re not entirely disconnected.  In the setting of Dragon Age: Inquisition, the multiplayer involves players taking on a role in the Inquisition’s army and conducting missions for the Inquisition’s behalf.

Jumping into the hands on multiplayer, I found that the multiplayer is going to revolve around dungeon crawling.  In this alpha build intended solely for Pax Prime, I was thrust into a cooperative multiplayer level with three other players.  The setting was a Red Templar stronghold.  The classes to choose from were Legionnaire, Reaver, Assassin, and Mage.

Legionnaire was your basic tank player.  He/she had the abilities appropriate to charge headlong first into a dungeon and start hacking and slashing.

The Reaver and Assassin are for more methodical players.  The Reaver is capable of dishing out large amounts of damage but time her attack right and she is capable of massive amounts of damage.  However, only when her health is low is the Reaver capable of that amount of massive damage.  As such, managing her abilities may be a bit tricky.

The Assassin, which I had the pleasure of playing, is different.  He can deal massive amounts of damage as well, but flanking the enemy is the key to how much damage the Assassin can deal.  As such, I found myself using the his stealth ability more often than not to sneak behind enemies and do one of my heavy attacks like the double stab or the upper cut.

The last class that players were given was the Mage.  Now you’re probably thinking that the Mage was the healer.  Well, at least for this alpha build, the Mage was there for dealing long distance damage.  In the panel,  developers made it clear that the Mage was not the clear cut healer. When you receive your bare bones Mage, he does have some support abilities like generating shield from damage but how you develop your Mage determines whether he becomes support or healer.

In terms of difficulty, the demo was pretty difficult.  I and the people i was playing with were not able to beat the demo on the show floor.  The demo involved advancing through five dungeon levels that were the Red Templars’ stronghold.  The developers who were on hand at the demo mentioned that as players progressed through the level, the enemies would get harder and harder.  I definitely got that impression.  As I progressed through the demo, I was using the Assassin’s evade ability to leap out of tight spots.  It was the last dungeon in which my party met our match and we weren’t even able to see the final boss.  Suffice it to say that the subject of that last dungeon came up at the panel and the developers had designed the last dungeon to be especially difficult.  Apparently, the final boss of the last dungeon was THE Red Templar and, up until that panel on Saturday, only one group was able to defeat.

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In terms of gameplay, the demo felt like it was meant to show off each class’ abilities.  Each dungeon was large enough that players would be able to spread out was let loose on the enemy.  However, we didn’t venture too far from each for fear of being overwhelmed.  Combat seemed to bring many of the mechanics that are present in the single-player campaign into the multiplayer campaign.  In terms of loot and reward, you do receive loot and rewards in the form of gold and cards.  These cards contain your rewards, such as new armor and weapons.  However, you don’t find out what these are until the end of the level.  This mechanic was designed by developers to keep players from interrupting matches by pausing the game and browsing through the loot and choosing what to equip and what not to equip or what to keep and what to discard.  And remember in the ME3 multiplayer where your rewards were completely random and you seemed to receive that same SMG over and over?  While that’s not completely gone, you do have the option to break your rewards down to basic components to upgrade the armor and weapons you already have.

Developers also demoed a browser-based app called Inquisition HQ in which you’ll be able to access through your browser as well as apps for Android and iOS devices.  Unlike the disaster that was Mass Effect 3: Datapad, this app is being developed directly by Bioware and is coming from the same team that brought you the N7 HQ.  This app will allow players to customize their multiplayer characters while on the go.

While we got a good first look at the multiplayer,  there’s a feeling going around that this news is just the tip of the iceberg.  Much of the demo seemed like lessons learned from the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer while other parts seemed like the best parts of dungeon crawling.  How many more levels are going to be playable?  Just how far will the customization go?  If a Mage can either be healer or support, what are the branches for other characters?  More news on Dragon Age: Inquisition‘s multiplayer is sure to follow as we get closer and closer to the release date, which, if you don’t already know, is on November 18th in North America and November 21 in Europe on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.

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