Working off my first run-through (which, if you were interested, I wrote a day-by-day playthrough of here.)
In case you’re not interested in a day-by-day playthrough, I basically tried to do the diametric opposite the second time, so my first Inquisitor was a Human Warrior who sided with the Mages, kept the Wardens, sacrificed the Chargers, had Cole become more human, romanced Cullen, made Leliana Divine, and had Morrigan drink the water.
This time around, I also consulted a walkthrough in the interests of completion.
So of the initial “secret” quests, the only one I had missed entirely was the Harlequin tagging.
Those things were not only hard to sneak up on, but almost never showed up this time around, even though last time I remember seeing them *whomp* in and out all the time.
Oh Cole and Maryden! Well that’s maybe not quite as cute as the Zither scene, but they seem happy.
Wow, without the Chargers, there is literally nothing Bull has to say to you.
There continues to be a lot more PDA here than you’d expect at a religious conclave.
…Which is actually just fine, when it is the Inquisitor and Cullen getting married! Squee!
I feel like this Inquisitor, being a warrior and fairly well-connected, would be a little more aggressive and less placating than an elven mage.
Wow, there were like three whole eluvians I didn’t find last time (for the record, I found them this time without the walkthrough.)
The interaction with the old elven spirits doesn’t go half as well if you didn’t drink the water.
Cool, I got new armor. It’s for rogues, but it still fits for some reason?
I still don’t get how anyone affords the Clasping maw.
I guess I’m using the beehive on a stick–I wouldn’t want Cullen to think I’m scorning his dog’s gift.
Even though they seem to have patched some of the problems from the last time, this lag in the Deep Roads certainly didn’t go away.
I just timed it, and it takes about 50 seconds for her to loot something or climb up a ladder after the request.
Huh. I totally didn’t realize you could bust open some of these passages once you get the exploding anchor ability.
Gosh, this one veil fire puzzle has such tricky timing, I don’t think I would have ever gotten it without having read about it.
Josephine seems pretty upset about this council and the Inquisition, for having been roughly 1/4th of the Inquisition.
This Inquisitor is unimpressed with the squabbling that’s going on while her hand is catching fire.
Given that we’re implying that she’s going off to die, I feel like there should have been more with Cullen than a quick hug.
Oh wait, there were even more secret quests than this one walkthrough had!
For one of them, you had to find a piece of codex in the Deep Roads before you flooded everything. Well, I guess we’ll find out whether I did or not eventually.
I cannot find this underground vault at the Elven Ruins for anything.
Wait, I just found it. Hachi machi, but that’s a lot of money.
We can afford the Clasping Maw now!
But in a sad reveal, it’s a two-handed weapon, and we only trained one hand and shield. Womp womp.
I guess we could try to craft actual warrior armor with the new schematic we just found.
So it’s super good armor, but sadly an unattractive color. I guess we could give it to Iron Bull, since he’ll be coming along on most of these quests.
I must say, the new armor makes Bull look pretty svelte.
Oh, the fireworks thing was another game I missed first time around.
Actually, after about fifteen minutes, I’m pretty much missing it this time too.
I think you’re supposed to score 80 on it to get something decent, but the most I could manage was around 65 before I couldn’t take it anymore.
Ok, time for the Qunari gauntlet.
So this time around, we’ll try saving the dragon.
I’m not sure why we’re so charitable with this one, when we didn’t care about killing all those other ten, but maybe we mellowed.
Look Qunari girl, Bull’s not going to turn on me.
What did you call me Bull?
I can’t believe I just had to kill Bull.
I have to lie down now.
Ok, back now.
I think I’m ok.
But wow, this will not be my definitive playthrough of DAI.
Nice that they give you a chance to reform your team since I’m down a man now.
Plus the traitor took off with my newly-crafted armor!
Apparently still not over it.
I guess on the plus side, after Bull, Solas doesn’t really evoke that much of a sense of betrayal anymore.
I guess we did find all the codex, because we clued into the Fen’harel thing already.
So let’s reflect on Solas’ plan for a minute this time around.
The Evanuris did the unspeakable by killing Mythal, so Solas put up the veil to lock them away.
The veil ruined elven society by taking away their magic.
At that point, Solas got sad and went to take a nap for a couple millenia. (What?)
When he woke up, he decided to destroy the world by tearing down the veil, but for some reason, all his power was in an orb?
Too weak to open the orb, he does the next best thing, and gives it to a totally evil crazy powerful magical…thing?
His initial plan is for Corypheus to open the orb and get exploded, at which time he was going to take it and destroy the world, but he was foiled by Corypheus not going along with the plan and surviving.
You break the orb, so he drops you and the Inquisition like a hot potato and goes and kills Mythal for her godliness.
He kills her, even though this was the exact thing he screwed up everything in the first place for!
Solas, you are a bad planner.
This Inquisitor isn’t in love with you Solas. She’s gonna take you down if you mess with her.
Well thank goodness Corypheus didn’t think of this way of getting the anchor off you.
Although, if you think about it, Corypheus was the only thing that prevented Solas from killing everyone already with his orb and anchor.
Basically, Corypheus saved us all.
So this time around, I think the Inquisitor would keep the Inquisition around, because she’d want a big force to go after Solus and her arm.
That was not much of a heartwarming last scene with Cullen, BioWare.
At least the epilogue cards have slowed down.
Vivienne’s going against the Divine! More betrayal!
Ok, I thought about it some more, and I guess it’s logical that if you had Bull let his BFFs die, then you shouldn’t expect him to form an attachment to you, whom he’s known for a much shorter amount of time, that would overrule his dedication to the Qun.
It’s just the idea that the whole game revolves around our character that deceived us into thinking differently.
I think the only good thing was that this Inquisitor didn’t romance Bull, because that would have been the end if he’d slept with her for two years and then turned on her.
I still love Cassandra reading “This Shit Is Weird” so much.
Ok. Time for one last fling with the Inquisitor and her merry men.
“Enjoy time with them while you can,” translation: “We only added upfront dialogue.”
Wow, Bran changed a bit. The years haven’t been too kind to him.
Now we control the giant harbor net of Kirkwall. Well I’m sure that won’t come in handy one of these days.
I knew the Executors would be back! Hard in Hightown!
Oh man, all these books and letters are so great. I could read these all day.
OMG, it’s the collar from that spirit that possessed the cat in Shale’s village!
Ok, when Zither showed up for Maryden, I full on did the Home Alone hands-on-the-face reaction.
I have no idea what we were throwing at people with Sera.
Sera does what we’ve all wanted to do to Maryden sooner or later.
Well, Bull is as terse as always. Was Freddie busy the week they recorded this?
Hm. There seem to be a lot more couples getting busy here, than you’d expect at a religious conclave.
Why am I picking up all these dog bones?
Wow. Josephine treated us to the Orlesian equivalent to Noh drama.
Well Leliana appears to be back to her old self.
Fenris is the bartender in Hard in Hightown, and I just died.
Ok, I’m not so sure what the ham was for in spa day.
I feel like maybe BioWare needs a field trip to a spa.
Oh not just ham, but the sad banana-on-a-stick weapon.
Well Leliana appears to be kind of done.
Cullen found a dog!
Oh THAT’S why we were picking up the dog bones.
The dog brought us a…mace made out of a bee hive? That’s very thoughtful.
Chateau Haine got a new Duke!
I guess you can’t talk with Dorian much?
At least we got a letter from Alistair.
I love the descriptions of the random crap we find.
At least he didn’t bring Isolde again.
I would say however, if they had Alistair come, it would have been vapors time.
Oops, I think I’ve been running right over all these people soaking in the bath.
Oh we found Cassandra again.
Oh wow, she’s going to kill Varric.
You know, I really dote on Dorian, which is why I always think it’s odd that while he says we are ultimate BFFs, he never spoke to me after the first third of the game or so.
Well I guess social time is over.
Wow, Teagan turned into kind of an ass.
“We exiled the Grey Wardens!” Yeah, how’d that work out for you?
Also, is Teagan forgetting that Ferelden’s King and Queen are both Grey Wardens? No wonder you couldn’t have Alistair here, saying this.
And why is he saying Gaspard is on the throne? We’ve already read letters on how Celene and Briala are still ruling together.
I’m not getting this.
Maybe Teagan ended up having to spend way too much time with Isolde and he got all Ethan Frome’d.
Ok, wait a minute. We’re following a trail to find out where he came from. Why then would the blood stains go up to a dead end? Shouldn’t they just show where he came? It’s like we’re going the wrong direction.
Well maybe this is why Bull didn’t talk much before. They were saving his voice for the quest.
Ok, I’m not sure “shooting green fire” at the ancient mosaic is the same as “examine.”
Wow, these purple flames are kinda insta-death.
Well ok, now aren’t we glad I drank the well?
Yay–an antidote for the insta-death.
Kind of an unfortunate posture for this poor dead Qunari girl.
You know, I think it’s gonna be hard to fulfill this directive to make contact with the Qunari if we keep killing them.
Oh good. Some sort of puzzle with veil fire and a button.
Ha Ha. Got it.
Well I still don’t get what’s going on, but I guess we’re going back now.
We went to confront Corypheus all by ourselves…and Harding?
Attack, attack, attack.
Oops, our dragon seems to have gotten smushed.
Attack, attack, attack.
Ok, I honestly never figured out what this power of the rift did. I periodically use it on dragons, but even though it looks like numbers of damage are pouring off of it, the health meter doesn’t ever seem to change.
No more dragon. Kind of a gyp that there’s no loot.
Back to Corypheus.
Attack, attack, attack.
Everyone with an orb step forward. Not so fast there, Corypheus.
Look Solas, we’ll find you another orb.
…Or not. See you around, I guess?
This party shows the weirdest camera movement when you start talking to people. Like it actually rotates around you and stares at the wall.
Cassandra becomes Divine. That is going to be one militant Chantry. With a fun library.
No end romance scene for the Solasmancing Inquisitor. Sniff.
Oh there you are Solas. Petrifying poor Flemeth.
I don’t see how they say you can keep going with side quests afterwards, when all the shopkeepers seem to have gone home.
Oh, Blackwall too.
Actually everyone’s gone, including most of the decor. I can’t think that’s intentional.
I also don’t really know what Power got us. I have no quests left, and 256 Power.
Ha Ha. Leilana and Josephine twitting Cullen about his hair is the best thing.
Oh everyone’s back now. I guess it was a glitch.
Well that seems to be the end.
So, having done it twice now, I would have to say that I think the more developed story comes from being an elf, siding with the Mages, and drinking the well water yourself.
I haven’t played a rogue…ever, actually, but between warrior and mage, the combat is roughly 1000x easier as a mage.
Played the Solasmance to see if you ever got any hints about Solas’ big secret, but not really. Partly because he doesn’t really talk to you much after macking on you twice.
I was also a little disappointed on how people talked it up like it was this big tragical thing, but I still don’t think anything has had the emotional sucker punch of the Alistair dumpage.
Possibly because after you play it once, you’re kind of spoiled as to how this relationship is going to end up, but he’s still pretty distant the whole way through.
Even trying to portion out the plot more evenly this time, it still doesn’t seem like there’s enough, in proportion to the “just wandering around biding time” bits.
It feels like there’s a good amount of story in the beginning, but then in the middle it just seems like it ends.
For example, the Hinterlands seems well-integrated into the story with a lot of quests that directly impact the Inquisition. So does Val Royeaux, the Storm Coast, and Crestwood.
But then once you have all your companions and you’ve taken a side with Templars/Mages and fixed the Wardens, you’re still left with most of Exalted Plains, Emerald Graves, Emprise du Lion, and the Hissing Wastes, none of which hardly feel like they have anything to do with anything.
By the time you finish them and get to the endgame, it feels so long since something significant happened, the tension is kind of diffused, whereas you’d think it would be ramping up.
Additionally, at that point I always seem to be leveled up where none of the loot is helpful anymore–and there’s still a good third of the game left.
And what’s the deal with the decisions you make on rebuilding Skyhold? They make a big deal about telling you your choice is IRREVERSIBLE, but then it doesn’t seem to matter one way or another.
My favorite is when you make the tower either a Mage or a Templar center, and you can’t ever even talk to anyone in it.
Also kind of bugged that you can keep talking to Fiona if you pick Mages, but Knight-Commander Barris disappears entirely once you promote him.
It doesn’t help that the fight to get to the Temple of Mythal feels a lot like the end of ME3, so you kind of subconsciously start thinking that’s going to lead to a big confrontation, but depending on how you approach it, there may be no major fighting at all.
Then when you do get to the real end, it seems odd that it’s basically two big fights, neither of which is as bad as half of the dragons you fought earlier.
No explanations or monologues either. Just walk in and start throwing rocks at stuff, and when they stop moving, the game’s over.
I also still think, even with the banter hack implemented–maybe?–there doesn’t feel as though you have as much character interaction as the past games, even though there must be, considering how much larger this game is.
But for example, Dorian–siding with the Templars, you don’t spend any time with him until after Skyhold.
Then he has his personal mission pretty soon afterwards, and then I don’t know if he had more than about half a dozen sentences after that.
I know for at least the last half of the game, all I could ever say to him was “hello” and “goodbye,” and it was the same with Bull.
There were also a bunch of moral choices that seem like they were supposed to be those “there are no right answers” things, but totally had right answers.
Like there is no way it’s good to make Cole a spirit, if he’s going to end up wiping himself out of existence all the time.
The parts that work, I think, really work–the attack on Haven, arriving at Skyhold, the ball at Halamshiral…
…But then it just makes the other 120 hours of quests to resurrect dead people so you can kill them again seem a little bit like filler.
In retrospect, the conflicts at the beginning are much bigger than the ones you’re left with later–the rift, for example, seems like a much more widespread threat than Corypheus, by the end of the game, just as the Templar/Mage fight feels more significant than the Freeman or Warden battles.
I think I kept expecting that things would get worse and worse and then suddenly at the end, there would be a reversal and we’d save the day.
Instead, it was more like things gradually got better and easier and then it was over.
At the end of the day, it’s a beautiful game and I love the characters they developed for it. I just wish we’d have had more to do with them during the course of the story.
I’m sure I’ll play it again, but I tend to think it may not ultimately have the replayability for me that, say, DAO or DA2 have.
Anyway, maybe Trespasser will make up for all of it. On to Trespasser!
The bartender says people are complaining that I’m bedding my allies? I certainly haven’t seen anything to give me that impression.
Ok Morrigan. Off to the Temple of Mythal.
Forgot how repetitive these sequences are, wandering down the river and killing Templars.
I feel like Cullen would have said something to us, since we just saved him.
Entering the Temple. Oh, one Corypheus, extra crispy.
Now does Corypheus’ lieutenant know that he can come back in a blighted thing? If not, why do they keep going through the temple? They don’t seem that excited about him being apparently dead.
“Oh, the Old Gods are probably a myth.” “HDU!!”
Um, Solas, do you have something to share with the class?
Ok, jump in the hole? Or do the rituals? Jump in the hole? Or do the rituals?
Well maybe we try both this time around: trot around the rituals and then jump in the hole.
I always feel like this was kind of a weird ritual for priests to make people do. I get that it would make people focus and meditate, but on the other hand, it’s like if you had to finish a few rounds of Dance Dance Revolution before you could see the Pope.
Alright. Time to see what’s in the hole.
Oh good. My inventory is already full.
[Line of magical elven archers show up with arrows cocked.]. “Someone’s watching us!”
Nothing gets by you, Inquisitor.
“Say something, Solas!”
“Don’t look at me. I got no dog in this race.”
Ok, we will ally with you…Wha?…Damnit, Morrigan.
Well this Sentinel guide is one personable elf.
I must say, Calpurnia is a lot more reasonable than Sampson.
Look, you might hold off on the “savage Qunari” remarks when I have one RIGHT HERE.
Maybe I should have brought Dorian.
So who’s thirsty?
Solas? “NOOOO!” Well alrighty, then.
I let Morrigan have the well last time, but I feel like an elf inquisitor would have more of a vested interest in drinking it herself.
Well this was a lot more dramatic than if you let Morrigan take the power.
The fact that Corypheus showed up again doesn’t bode too well for Calpurnia.
Morrigan doesn’t seem like she’s gonna let this go anytime soon.
Oh burn from Leilana. Maybe she’s still bitter that Morrigan never wanted to go shopping with her.
The dragon is a horcrux?
Ok, getting on to the last chance to talk to anyone.
Not too much from Varric or Vivienne, but to be fair, I’m not sure we were close.
Ok Solas, your turn.
Slave markings? Yeah, you can go ahead and get rid of those, thanks.
Watch the hand there, Solas.
Oh this is horrible, although the option to say “your loss, asshole” is pretty great.
Solas, you heel.
At least you get dropped off outside, because it’d be pretty awkward to still be in his room after that.
Cassandra is such a good friend in this game. I’m glad she didn’t kill us in the beginning, like she wanted.
Wait, did Cole just…erase himself?
I think my favorite line of Sera’s is “I believe the stuff not made up by dead people who failed.”
Blackwall’s pretty terse.
Man, what exactly is going on in that painting in the stables? I’m…not sure I want to know.
You can tell when I’m getting close to the end, because I start doing a permanent save every few minutes.
“Red lyrium. We should be cautious here.” [Setting up camp] “What did you say, Solas?”
Ok, I don’t even know why this couple died on the cliff with the bottle of wine his dad left him.
I have never been able to get this one quest with crazy lady moaning about losing the ring to activate.
Finally found Michel before Suledin Keep. I love the quest name “Call Me Imshael.”
Oh, ok Michel. Leave me here to kill the Choice Spirit while you go back to town. This wasn’t even my deal!
Let’s see…riches…power…virgins…Oh, no virgins…
Now you’re called the Late Imshael.
Oh wait, the red Templar is Carroll? Not the mildly crazy Carroll from the tower docks? Who liked cookies?
Well, we’ll never know now–he was too distorted to see if he was the same. Poor Cullen has so few old friends left.
I like how these guys in the cages at the quarry are screaming and yelling to be let out, but their fellow townspeople are just walking around, pretending not to hear.
LOL at the guy who wrote the whole confession to his wife, and then wanted to take it back when he made it out of the quarry alive.
No, buddy. The manslaughter doesn’t not count just because you survived to face the consequences.
I like how when Cullen fixes this bridge, it looks indistinguishable from the original stone carvings, but when he had to fix that ratty bridge in the desert, it looked like he gave some high school a hammer and some two-by-fours.
Ok, twenty more minutes, and we took another dragon down.
Maybe we can manage the last dragon, since it’s closest to the fast travel point.
Oh, it’s like two levels higher than us. Maybe if we just sit on the ledges and shoot down at it?
Ok, I don’t think it should be able to hit us with the dome of fire if it can’t even see us.
Ugh, it keeps putting up guard as soon as I whittle it down
Ok, about half an hour, and we’ve managed to take one leg down by about 1/6.
I think we’ll have to come back for this one.
Oh hey, Wicked Grace!
I kind of feel it improbable that Cullen would actually agree to a bet where he might lose his clothes, but it’s cute anyway.
I guess no one wanted to invite Solas or Vivienne.
All right. Off to the Hissing Wastes.
Man, I had forgotten how big Hissing Wastes was.
Actually, I had more or less forgotten everything about Hissing Wastes. I think it’s mostly because there isn’t a lot of plot or dialogue here–just walking around in the desert, killing random things.
The nice part is that there are so many campsites, you can pretty much just leap off of cliffs, and be reassured that you can make it back to one of them before you’re totally drained.
I do like the section where it’s almost always nighttime with that big moon in the distance. So pretty.
Unfortunately so much of this area is all based on those map quests that I find so difficult. I can never get the sketches to line up with the actual point of view until I already know where it is.
Playing a mage makes the combat so much easier than a warrior, since you can basically pick people off from a mile away…but it also makes it a little meaningless, since you basically never see or hear them, and by the time you run over to loot them, they’ve evaporated.
Dragon time! Bull gets so excited.
Ok, missing one page of the journals, and one ocularum.
The chances of me finding the journal page seems pretty slender by this time, but I don’t know why I can’t find a skull on a stick.
I also think historically, I’ve finished one mosaic. I usually get all the pieces…except one.
I’ve never gotten enough gems to fulfill that Hinterlands tapestry requisition, either. Damn templars.
Time to go back for that dragon on the Storm Coast.
Ugh, it’s electricity resistant, and that’s most of what I have.
I never have much idea of what this power of the rift thing does. Like a lot of lights and colors, and then everything goes back to killing me.
HA. This fragment of inadequate chain mail is hilarious.
“The designer may have misheard ‘aureole of protection.'”
Alright, now time to see if we can get that second dragon in Emprise.
At least I have a fire staff with me. The problem is that these colosseum layouts make it so it’s hard to get far enough away to not get hit by the effects of her attacks.
Oh what a hurt. After a half hour of fighting, the dragon loot and two of the dragonling loot spawned under the stairs where I can’t pick them up.
Ok Solus, it’s nice that you can sense there’s an artifact here, but it would help if you could give me a hint where.
Well, we’re at the same level as the last dragon–maybe we can give it a go again.
Entering in from the top we can pick at her largely without getting beat up, but it’ll take forever because no one else will be able to help.
Should she really be able to fire mine me when she can’t even see me?
It’s like ten minutes to take down the guard, for about thirty seconds of actual attack time.
Attack, attack, attack.
Everyone else is dead now.
Just me and the Highland Ravager.
Oh wait, we’re done. Yay!
Ok guys, naptime’s over. Now we can pick up the last shard and go investigate the temple.
Forbidden Oasis! Sounds so much more exciting than “walk around in the desert and fall off ladders!”
I read a lot of hate for Forbidden Oasis. While I don’t loathe it, I think part of the problem is that the heavy dependence on vertical mapping makes the flat maps more or less useless.
Considering the major quest is to find the jillion shards littered around everywhere, that means the majority of your time is spent just trying to figure out how to climb up on stuff.
It doesn’t help that the only other quest of note stymies you by making you hunt down a miner who never seems to be anywhere around where her marker is.
20 minutes spent running around trying to find her, you start wondering if she really wanted that wedding ring in the first place.
Ok, ready for the Temple of the Forbidden Shard.
Really Solas? Is it really an artifact of your people?
Also, it’s not just your people, in case you’ve forgotten.
Cole, you wouldn’t keep getting fried by those circles if you’d stop running into them.
No matter how empty I try to get with my inventory, I can never get through this without having to go back and sell stuff off.
Well, I think we’ve exhausted the resources of the Forbidden Oasis.
Time to go look for the elven blood magic sword.
There is an awful lot of loot lying about this random elven temple.
This actually seems a little like a side quest to the Knight’s Tomb side quest.
Well that was pretty brief.
At least Bull got a new sword out of it.
So at this point, I think we’ve just about done all the quests we’ve been able to find up to What Pride Had Wrought.
The initial plan was to now do all the DLC except for Trespasser, but as all the reviews I’ve read seem to think they are on the short side and not heavy with story (versus lore) content, I might actually wait until they put them on sale or in a bundle or something, and just play through until we can do Trespasser.
Basically, I’m a little impatient to get to Trespasser by now.