I regret that I’ve never gotten into the Dragon Age series. I messed around with DA: Origins a bit but could only devote a few hours before other games took priority. I’m not exactly the best authority on the games. I take it there are dragons of sorts in a kind of age or something. Probably magic and knights as well. Ya know, the typical themes and motifs of classic western RPGs. Still, my brief time with series seemed fairly positive initially and perhaps I’ll revisit at some point. Regardless, I was able to attend an EA press showing yesterday for a myriad of games but my main focus was on the third installment of this RPG franchise, Dragon Age: Inquisition.

I gotta say upfront – even in this alpha build – Dragon Age: Inquisition is looking pretty nice. Sadly, the demo was hands-off as it was shown in a playable format only. In fact, the above and below videos are nearly identical in presentation. So, I can’t speak to its feel as much as I can my impressions given during the briefing. What I’m saying is that you can just watch these two segments and more or less draw the same conclusions.

One notable to point out is how the director, Mike Laidlaw, mentioned that this is how they always envisioned Dragon Age – one that has a grand, explorable world in which a player will a crucial impact to the story. This is interesting as I figured the first Dragon Age was adored for its old-guard sensibilities as a successor of sorts to BioWare’s original dungeon diver, Baldur’s Gate. With roots sprouting from pen and paper RPGs. At the event, we were greeted to a lush, vibrant world much in the same vain as The Elder Scrolls series. I can’t help drawing comparisons with what was shown.

Furthermore, some mechanics are set up to allow you to impact the world. Actions have consequences, and how much or little you engage may affect how much influence you have over particular regions. Supposedly, there are side quests as well as ambient missions which, when resolved, will have a physical presence over the world. You fight enough and clear out some bandits and maybe you’ll start to see some of your soldiers patrolling roads keeping the peace. It’s a neat subtle gesture that should hopefully bring a little life into the game if implemented meaningfully.

Combat is more energetic than, say, something like more conservative, tactical WRPGs such as Original Sin: Divinity. You can take control of any individual party member and simple wail away with whatever skills you have. You can see this plainly in the mage playthrough as it almost mirrors a third-person shooter in a sense, what with spells slinging all over the place. If you’re looking for something a bit more thorough, you can choose to set up actions for your entire party by freezing realtime and planning out moves. It looks open-ended and fluid enough to blend a bit of both worlds to battles engaging without getting completely overwhelmed.

Like, I said before, the event didn’t show much more than what these two videos encompass but I was generally left with a positive feeling. I tend to lean into more free-from role-playing and it looks like Dragon Age: Inquisition is hitting the mark in my book. I just hope fans will embrace the newer direction. Dragon Age II certainly gets its share of detractors but it seems that BioWare has learned a few things, amalgamated their direction, and found a way to service fans and newcomers alike. Out of everything I saw in this very narrow slice has got me yearning for second shot with the series.