I have been playing Dragon Age Inquisition excessively over the past months, trying out different races, classes, difficulties and romances. My first playthrough was as elven warrior wielding shield and sword, on Normal, which suited me just fine, although the DLCs were all pretty hard-fought and I hated having to level up before I could even consider taking them on. Yet, it was an education. Currently I am playing as a Qunari warrior on Casual, a DW human rogue on Hard and an elven mage on Nightmare.
My Party Selection
While I try to get the best out of my own character’s specifications, armour and weapons, I have learned that it is your companions who really make the difference.
These are my favourite party members:
Regardless of which gameplay difficulty I choose, I take Blackwall on almost every mission. Battlemaster and Vanguard combined with Champion and really good armour and weapons make him literally unstoppable. Whenever me and the rest of the team need to swallow regeneration potions after a particularly hard fight against enemies three levels above ours, Blackwall is always good to go without.
Although the game starts him with a Winter ability I usually pick a combination of Rift Mage, Spirit and Storm for Solas. The Rift Mage-abilities, especially Firestorm, are simply awesome. And he really does give good advice.
Vivienne as Winter Queen and Knight-Enchanter is death to every fire-breathing dragon and perfect for slowing down Darkspawn and other creatures. Although she can take care of herself on the battle-field and is a great boon to the party she obviously does not come on every mission. Some simply require another mage specification. When she does, though, I enjoy the bickering between her and Blackwall very much.
Varric’s Bianca, when properly modified, is the dread of demons and undead. I conquered the ramparts on the Exalted Plains with ease, combining Dorian as Winter and Necromancer with Varric and Bianca, the latter outfitted with a demon-slaying rune. Also, Varric is great at hunting down any fleet-footed creature, such as rams and hallas, and his banter with the rest of the party is just cool. As Dorian-loosely quoted- says: “The dwarf plays dirty!”
Cole is adorably naive and while he is a skilled Assassin I mostly take him for the banter with the others. My favourite exchanges so far were between Dorian and him (“Be careful with flashing your daggers when I’m throwing fire.”-“It’s alright, it won’t harm me. It is friendly fire.”) and Vivienne, Cole and Solas (“Tell that thing to leave me alone.”-“Solas is not a thing!”-“Ha! Well said!”). There are tons more. Lovely.
What characters and specifications work for me
1. Qunari Casual
My Qunari started out with a two-handed weapon on Normal, which I later changed to SnS, but since the other Qunari also became SnS, I changed her back to THW and she died a lot. So now I play her on Casual, which “really works for me”, as the Iron Bull would say, even though she still tends to die more often than not if I do not play her actively. When it came to choosing a specification I was torn between Templar and Reaver, but despite everything I went with the Reaver and usually combine Ring of Pain and Dragon Rage, which is truly great. Killing High Dragons has never been so easy, but the three in Emprise de Lion I will leave for last. Before I take on Hakkon Wintersbreath, that is. For fights, I take another warrior, usually Blackwall, because he is not only unstoppable but also my romance of choice in this playthrough, a mage and a rogue, mostly Cole, for support. As a character my Qunari is a soft-hearted giant who is friends with everyone on the team, except for Sera, who got thrown out after she led the Inquisitor into a trap in Crestwood. The Templars and Wardens are our valued allies and we will soon face the Venatori in the Temple of Mythal.
2. Rogue Hard
On Hard I took great pains and no little time to get my DW rogue Inquisitor and the warriors incredibly good armour and weapons early on. The latter I outfitted with corrupting runes as soon as I could, which made it surprisingly easy to defeat enemies that were way beyond my own level, from level 20 (mine was 8) to, you know, the enemies with the red skull above their heads that usually means certain death. Battling through fade rifts is a different story, especially if they feature an Emissary and Lesser Terrors. While in most fights my Inquisitor just keeps on hacking and slashing with her awesome dual-blade daggers and occasionally goes into stealth for a precise kill of well-protected enemies, fade rifts and dragons demand tactical view and the care and support of a mage, which I take over instead of my Inquisitor. My rogue specification is Tempest, since Varric is set as Artificer and Cole as Assassin. The specification is really great, especially freezing enemies on contact. While Sera also got the Tempest specification, which in my opinion does not make sense if you keep her as archer, I do not like her and almost never take her along. Character-wise my Inquisitor is very pious and cares for her warriors, which is why I chose to have the Templars join as allies. She is down to business, which is also reflected in how I employ the advisors at the war table. While Cassandra and I are BFFs Solas hates me and I intend to piss him off even more, just to see what happens. I have recently secured Empress Celene’s support and am currently preparing for my first trip into the Western Approach. My lover of choice is the Iron Bull and we have already killed our first dragon together. Aren’t Qunari romantic?
3. Mage Nightmare
On Nightmare my mage Inquisitor started out as specialist of the Inferno, combined with the Knight Enchanter specification, because I was thinking of close quarters fights later on and of the DLCs, especially Jaws of Hakkon, and I also wanted to see what two Knight Enchanters could do on a battle field. Soon though I realized that this was not working. Now the Inquisitor is a Rift Mage, who wields a high-leveled staff that does lots of electricity damage, combined with Spirit and the full range of Storm. For fights I usually take along three warriors, all SnS, including the Iron Bull. One warrior guards my back, the others wrack havoc, protected and supported by me. I use the tactical camera quite excessively and I really enjoy employing chain lightning and paralyzing foes to open up a chance to strike for my warriors. It gives me a sense of truly making a difference in the fight. Also, I have gotten pretty good at employing Dispel in just the right moment when battling fade rifts or mages. We shall see how that all plays out in the long run, though. I have yet to beat Adamant Fortress, let alone a High Dragon. As for characterization I am a proud elf and all for the mages’ freedom, which is why I chose them as allies. Vivienne truly dislikes me by now, but Dorian is my bestest friend and I take him along whenever we are facing Venatori or the undead and when it is safe to take two mages. Which, most of the time, it is not, or only if you also take two warriors to protect them. I am trying to employ my advisors in the most diplomatic way at the war table and so far we are doing fine. Romance-wise I picked Solas, since my first elven warrior went with Cullen. Which was cute, especially in Trespasser.
As you see, I have sunk lots of hours into that game, and I still find stuff I had previously overlooked. Which is why I love it. Also, I will post an update on how each character played out once I’m done. If you’ve played similar specs, advice is welcome!
Read Part 2 of “Building character” here.