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December 24, 2014


Beginner tips for Dragon Age Inquisition

by Master Pillow

I realize that I’m a bit late with this post considering a ton of other sites have let their own tips and tricks be known but I figured that I like the game enough to add my two cents.  Therefore, here are some of my thoughts about Dragon Age Inquisition for those who are just about to start their first single-player campaign.

*Just note that all these screencaps come from my Xbox One playthrough of the game using my Dalish Female Mage, Ylisha Lavellan.  I’ll have more info regarding these screenshots and Ylisha in general in a future post.*

Take Your Time in the Character Creator

Dragon Age Inquisition is a MASSIVE game that can take most gamers between 50-125 hours to complete.  This is one of those rare instances when a game company isn’t lying about the overall game time as the world of Thedas as presented here is simply so big that most gamers will probably not see everything during their first playthough.

That said I strongly recommend that you spend as much time as possible in the robust character creator to craft your male/female avatar to your liking considering the fact that you will be staring at them for the next 100 hours.

Unlike previous installments, there is currently no way to modify your character’s appearance once the game starts so it makes it imperative that you are truly satisfied with your creation.

Take note that the character creator features some oddball lighting which really plays havoc with some of the makeup and colour settings so much so that I’ve had many of my characters end up looking like they had just walked out of a circus with shocking pink blush or really bizarre paint jobs.  You’ll know right away how your character has turned out once you finish the character creator as the game transitions to a bunch of cutscenes with lighting that is more indicative of the rest of the game.

At the same time, the game has an awful tendency to have really SHINY LIPS so it is advisable that you leave the slider at zero or near to it as anything else will make your avatar look like they have wax lips.  Turning the slider to max will result in a truly horrific appearance whereby your avatar looks like mannequin.

In other words, if your character looks hideous it is better to just exit once the cutscenes are over and redo the character creation rather than to spend 100 hours staring at a less-than-desirable avatar.  Bioware has stated that they might add the ability to change appearance later but that doesn’t help you now with characters that did not end up exactly like you desired.


Class/Race “Kinda” Does matter

Physically creating your character is always fun but be sure to pick the class and race that best suits your play style.  Race does matter in that NPCs and companions do have unique dialogue that is tailored to your race but in the end it really doesn’t affect gameplay or the overall narrative drive.

One big caveat to this and, this is a minor spoiler, there is perhaps one combination of race/gender that has the potential to end up being “deeper” and more emotionally rewarding than the others but you’ll really only realize this after you finish the game and truly understand what is going on.  If you luck out and take this path by choosing said race/gender and romancing a certain companion, you’ll easily come to the conclusion that the game is rife with possibilities in terms of continuing the story in the next installment especially if Bioware bucks the trend and features the Inquisitor again.

Picking the right class is certainly important as well although Dragon Age Inquisition allows the player to take active control of any party member during combat.  This is not only a cool feature to have but it allows players to “get the feel” and experience the other classes and I have an inkling that many gamers might soon doubt their initial choice of class for their created avatar.  Once again, if you find that you are playing a companion more than your Inquisitor it might be a better idea to just restart your playthrough again and choose the class that floats your boat instead of the initial choice.

Be aware that once you reach a certain point in the game you will gain the ability to choose your advance class specialization which can end up resulting in a completely different form of play style than the base class.  Knight-Enchanter comes to mind where you previously were a mage that stayed at range but then transitioned into a close-combat melee role.

The Hinterlands

That leads me to the next point regarding the game’s first open world area, The Hinterlands.  Many other sites advise you to quickly get out of this area and this is mostly true as the zone is simply huge.  Doing every conceivable side-quest and exploring every nook and cranny can take players upwards of 10 hours or more which can easily lead to burn-out.

However, the zone is a great place to figure out all the different classes and how they work and also to experiment with features like the tactical cam in order to do better in combat.  At the same time, while most of the side-quests aren’t totally related to the main plot they all do a great job in world building so that those that take their time to read everything will come away with a much better appreciation of the world of Thedas that Bioware has so lovingly crafted.

Nevertheless, it is best that players never get stuck in the mindset that each zone has to be completed 100% before moving to the next.  It’s advisable that players go through each zone doing whatever they want and stay as long as they do not feel bored.  Once players feel as if they are getting tired it would be a good idea to do a story-related quest or open another zone.  There’s no penalty to move between zones so make use of this feature as many times as you wish.

Not to mention the fact that the zones feature areas with vastly different level requirements.  For instance, The Hinterlands contains areas with rifts that are 10+ in level so if you wander into these parts at level 4 you are going to get your ass handed to you.

Be sure to relax at the Inn/Bar

If you are feeling particularly bored or just need a break a great place to hang-out is the Inn/Bar at Haven (or later area) where you’ll find a bard that actually sings a plethora of songs, some of which are actually about your companions.  This is actually a cute feature that I did not expect but what is even more mind-blowing is the fact that you can listen to some of these songs in English…and French!  Yes, you can hear them in French if you go to Val Royeaux and the bard will be there singing in a different language.  It might not sound like much but it certainly displays Bioware’s commitment to crafting a deep believable world that you can get lost in for days.

Tactical Cam

Fans of the original Dragon Age have begged Bioware to bring back the overhead tactical cam and they have, albeit not exactly to rousing applause.  Players who are more accustomed to the first installment or other PC RPGs will probably not like the tactical cam here as it has a very narrow field of view but it does have its uses.

If you are playing on a higher difficulty level the tactical cam is certainly useful to pause combat and issue commands to your, unfortunately, mostly brain-dead companions.  At the same time, tactical cam allows you to check the level of all enemies.  This is a great way of knowing if you are totally under-leveled to the task at hand so that you can make a run for it and avoid unnecessary combat.

Don’t Worry About Drops

Dragon Age Inquisition is no Diablo 3 meaning that though loot drops like water that the items themselves rarely, if ever, excite unlike Blizzard’s gaming series.  Don’t get distressed if items are just plain awful or if new weapons or armor outright suck.  Just equip what you need and sell the rest as junk at a merchant.

The really good gear in the game is all crafted so it is a much better idea to search out armor/weapon schematics and mine/harvest resources that are of higher level.

Valuables are JUNK

In a completely baffling decision by Bioware the items you pick up and find in your Valuables tab are actually TRASH that should be sold a.s.a.p. once you get to a merchant.  They are only there to earn you quick cash.  If you do not get rid of these you’ll quickly find your limited inventory space filling up.

However, make note of anything that is denoted by a YELLOW ICON in the Valuables tab as these are the items you SHOULD NOT SELL and instead turn in to the scientific research desk in Haven or the appropriate place later in the game.


The War Table

Once you get to Haven you’ll gain access to the War Table which features an assortment of quests that have to be completed by one of your three advisors, Cullen, Josephine or Leiliana.  The natural tendency for most gamers will be to merely pick the advisor who can complete the assignment/quest in as short a time as possible.


To get the most of the War Table assignments you need to carefully read what is going on and the objective and then pick the advisor that you think best suits the mission.  Picking the wrong advisor can actually lead to quest chains breaking depriving you of assets and lore.

Admittedly, the further you get into the game the longer these assignments take with some requiring more than 10 hours each to complete.  You can run these overnight if you so wish so that they’ll complete while you sleep or you can outright cheat.

You can force complete these assignments if you go to your system clock in your console settings and forward the time manually.  The game will keep track of this and finish the assignment once you log back in.  In other words, if an assignment takes five hours merely assign an advisor to it, leave the game and go to the console setting and forward the clock by five hours.  However, in my experience, there’s really no reason to do this unless you are just plain impatient and can’t wait for the timer to complete.

Inquisition Perks

You’ll notice that by completing quests that your INFLUENCE level slowly increases and once it reaches the next level you are granted a PERK.  PERKS can also be gained through AGENTS that can be directly hired/gained during some quests as well.  Each AGENT gains you one PERK which is a kind of general buff/asset such as increased inventory space or adding one extra potion slot.

Being limited in number it is advisable that you take the time and really think of which ones of these are useful and which ones are utter trash.  For instance, adding more inventory space might seem like a good idea but in my experience it is useless as you can merely warp back to camp and sell items anyways.  Perks like extra potions or the Deft Hands one which allows you to open certain locked doors are basically mandatory.

Other great choices include the ones which allow you a chance to gain more herbs/minerals when you harvest them as well as some that add dialogue choices especially if you want to learn more lore.  Things like advance horse riding are basically manure.


Haven/The Other Castle

While it goes without saying that players should explore every zone, many forget to do so with Haven and the other castle you acquire later in the game.  You’d be surprised at what you can find in both areas.  For instance, though players will usually just walk around Haven and talk to every NPC they can find, you can also leave the confines of the fort and wander around the icy environment picking up a ton of herbs and even a rare logging site.  Not to mention the view of Haven from across the lake is stunning to say the least!

Levelling Up/Equipping Companions

Players don’t need to be told that levelling up gains them a single point to put into any of their skill trees.  However, do not forget to do this with the rest of your companions including those which you aren’t really using.

At the same time, a neat way of reducing your inventory is to dump gear on those party members who are sitting on the bench and you hardly use.  Once they are equipped you’ll notice that you’ve actually cleared a ton of inventory space.

Additionally, many players are prone to making mistakes in choosing skills that at first seemed cool in description but ended up not being so helpful.  You can reset all your skill points once for free by visiting the store at the blacksmith in Haven by purchasing the appropriate amulet.  However, you’ll need to pay using in-game currency for any resets after the first.  You can also reset any of your companions as well to try out different builds.

My Kingdom for a Horse

Yes, you do eventually get access to a horse but unfortunately, it has a few issues.  First and foremost is that its running speed isn’t exactly light years ahead of your avatar’s running velocity.  However, what is worse is that the horse stops running the moment it bumps into any obstacle, even something like a lowly bush.  This quickly gets annoying and I figure most people would be better off just walking on foot, especially the first playthrough as it allows players an easier chance at discovering items or places of interest.


This leads to scanning.  By pushing the left-analog stick in, your character will turn into a submarine of sorts and emit a kind of sonar ping.  This ping will scan and pick up anything of significance around the player character.  In the newest patch, Bioware has made this process even easier by showing individual dots on your mini-map highlighting the exact location of each item of interest.

This is why it is better to go on foot for most of the game as pinging everything in sight is the best way of picking up items.  Only use the horse if you have to quickly traverse a huge open space like in the Hissing Wastes zone which is simply huge but devoid of much besides sand dunes.

What happened to the healing?

Unlike just about every other RPG ever made, Dragon Age Inquisition does not have magic users who cast healing spells with impunity.  Instead, Bioware has settled for a rather unconventional mechanic that heals come only from a limited supply of potions.  That means you need to always remember to restock them for free before setting out to explore.  If you need to resupply you can merely warp to a nearby camp but the method is certainly a bit clunky.

Eventually, you can unlock other types of potions such as tonics or grenades or rejuvenating salves but for the most part your party is going to be chugging potions like crazy. As you can imagine the reliance on healing potions means that increasing the number of potions by using PERKS is a necessity especially on higher difficulty levels.

Also, do not forget that you can research potions to make them more potent.  This is done by collecting/harvesting certain ingredients and then upgrading them at the potion upgrade bench.


You’ll notice that you get asked to fulfill many requisition orders at basically every camp you unlock.  While this is certainly an avenue to gain power levels in the end it just isn’t worth the hassle to do these as power comes easily.  Instead, all these requisitions do is lower your herb/material levels considerably which you would probably better utilize in making potions or crafting armor/weapons.

Difficulty Levels

Speaking of difficulty, I found Dragon Age Inquisition far too easy on normal setting as I completed the game without dying even once.  While player skill will undoubtedly vary I would suggest those achievement hunters to just start on nightmare in order to obtain all their achievements in one playthrough.

Nightmare is certainly much tougher as evinced by my many deaths but I have to admit most of them resulted in my sheer stupidity as I thought I could just plough my way through enemies with ease.  Regardless, if you find yourself in a “no-win scenario” it is best just to turn 180 degrees and run away as enemies will eventually stop following you allowing the party to instantly resurrect any “dead/unconscious” member.

Modify Behaviors

If you are finding that your AI controlled companions have a tendency to get killed far too easily I’d advise that you try to modify their behaviors.  Here you can choose tactics such as how many potions each character will keep in reserve or, more importantly, how they target enemies either by following the player controlled character or allowing the AI to do whatever it thinks best for himself/herself.

I’ve found that the AI really has a hard time with range characters like archers and mages that inadvertently find themselves in melee situations.  I’ve had some luck rectifying this by setting them to do what they want and not follow the player controlled character.  If all else fails, resort to tactical cam and issue individual commands.

Save Often!

Each character you make is allowed up to 50 saves each on the Xbox One/PS4 versions.  Considering the vast amount of dialogue/plot point choices available it is recommended you save often and remember which save is which!  If you don’t like your first choice you can merely reload and try another option.  This is great when you realize that most choices will cause some party members to agree with you and others to despise you.  You can’t have it both ways so if you are playing to raise a particular character’s approval rating you are surely going to want to save often in case you pick something which they do not agree with.


Character Approval Rating

Each companion comes with his/her own likes and dislikes which means whatever choice you make during the game will be met with agreement from some and disagreement from others.  This is really important to note especially if you are pursuing a romance path with a particular character.  Make too many choices that he/she disapproves of and soon you will have locked out any chance you had at romancing them.

Also take note that there is NO METER that shows character approval ratings so you have no real idea where your character stands in terms of each companion.  You are just going to have to mentally take note of your choices and whether or not each character approved.  Yeah, it sucks but that’s more like reality anyways as no one really has any definitive measurement on how others see them.

Romancing Characters

Some players will have a good idea who they want to romance before starting the game and others will wing it and see if anyone floats their boat.  The only things to remember besides character approval ratings is that anytime you see a “FLIRT” option you should ALWAYS take them even if it is not someone you want to “get it on with.”

This is because failure to flirt actually locks you out of some romances totally no matter what you do.  This is actually an awful mechanic that really forces your Inquisitor to flirt with everyone for a while before picking your intended sleeping partner.  Personally, I found it awkward for my female Elf to basically flirt with everyone she could but you just have to chalk it up to the game mechanics.

Yes, you do “go all the way” with certain characters with some really NSFW cutscenes that you would never want your boss to see but you’ll have a good idea when they are coming so if you don’t want people to see these, like your kids, you’ll know long in advance.

Also, like many Bioware games, Dragon Age Inquisition contains a multitude of partners some of which only swing one way.  In other words, while it is certainly fun to flirt with everyone I realize some players might get frustrated if they are set on romancing someone only to realize later that they aren’t interested.  If that is the case I’d recommend you do a quick Internet search to discover who exactly you can romance and how.

Finally, use the left D-PAD!

That’s because this is the console shortcut for bringing up the map!  I have to stress how important this is as not using this method makes opening the map an extreme chore.  Remember, left D-PAD and you’ll thank me later for saving you hours of frustration.

Final Thoughts

I’m not sure if I’ll ever get around to penning a long-winded review of Dragon Age Inquisition akin to my Mass Effect 3 post but I hope that these tips/hints will help out those just beginning on their journey through Thedas.  If you have any more hints/tips please feel free to comment below.

© 2014 The Galactic Pillow

1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Dec 24 2014

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