by Lucy Ungaro
This is a review of the latest and last Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC and of Inquisition generally. It contains semi-spoilers, but not really.
I admit it: I am a Dragon Age junkie. I have been playing Inquisition religiously for almost a year, and beforehand played Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age: II each several times. I loved Inquisition, but I thought the ending was abrupt and emotionally disconnected. Trespasser, a heavily companion-oriented DLC, resolves that gracefully. You get to catch up with your old friends in a brightly colored, gorgeous palace, and in the midst of the abundant laughter and affectionate eye-rolling, there are some genuine heartwarming moments. The DLC has other things going on, but those pale in comparison to the time you spend with your friends.
Trespasser takes place two years after the defeat of Corypheus, the self-proclaimed “God” that tried to destroy the world by tearing a hole in the sky, only to be stopped by you, the Inquisition. The greatest powers of Thedas, Dragon Age’s world, are perhaps rightfully threatened by the Inquisition’s continued presence in their land. The Inquisition is a large army, after all, that exists outside the influence of any one country, with no lord other than the Inquisitor. Honest Ferelden, the dog-loving, adornment-scorning country you save from annihilation in the first installment of the series, wants the organization disbanded, while cunning Orlais, the country of secrets, betrayal, and facades, sees it as an opportunity to absorb the power of the Inquisition into their own. And so the Inquisitor and pals set out on their last journey, to deal with politics yet again, or so it seems.
I was really excited for Trespasser because, unlike every other DLC for Inquisition, it finally expanded on the main story with new content for our beloved companions, and it absolutely delivered. The bonding time the Inquisitor had with her, and my friends was bittersweet, which is exactly what the creators were trying to convey. I had a constant sense of this being The End, and because of that I cherished every companion interaction, most of which were spot-on. Spa time with Vivienne, matchmaking with Cole, pranks with Sera, and drinks with Iron Bull. Just like old times.
The overarching decision of saving or disbanding the Inquisition was a well-developed, complicated one, to the point where, at the end, I wasn’t sure whether I should preserve the Inquisition. I started the DLC not doubting for a second that I would never let the Inquisition be disbanded. But when I heard Ferelden’s “get off my lawn” complaints, I realized how we could be perceived as a threat, and how easy it would be for us to fall into corruption if someone else took charge, or if we lost sight of what was important. As Ferelden’s ambassador said, the Inquisition exists in Ferelden territory. An army without an allegiance, a potential danger to both Ferelden and their neighbor, Orlais. This is the storyline that interested me. Much like the main game, however, I felt that the story suffered in between bouts of companion-loving and intrigue, especially when a Qunari corpse was found in the Palace, which catapulted the Inquisitor on her last adventure.
I found the Qunari plotline boring. I thought the antagonist was uninspired, and I did not enjoy trudging through the Deep Roads after the previous DLC, the Descent, was several hours of exactly that. The Qunari threat seemed out of place in DLC that was clearly about exploring the Eluvians (magical elven teleporters), finding out the truth behind the elven gods and their history, and, of course, punching the mage turned traitor, Solas, in the face–just kidding, I begged him to come back to me. The Qunari got in the way of what I really wanted to do, what was really urging me forward. They were the necessary filler, the buffer, between all of the delicious companion moments and the eventual, much-anticipated reunion with Solas. However, the Qunari plot was irrelevant to the main story, and that made it feel like it was simply a giant side-quest.
What the Qunari storyline lacked in substance, it made up for in combat, which has been noticeably improved in both the DLC and base game with several new additions to each class’s skills. Almost every skill now has a new upgrade, and you can toggle between the original one and the new one. These additions especially seem to buff the two-handed warrior, which I think was strongly needed. The “Block and Slash” skill’s new toggle is called “Flawless Defense,” and it adds a 50% damage bonus and 15% guard. The added guard is the key. Previously, the class felt far too squishy. It never had enough guard, even though it’s a warrior class and is therefore always in the frontlines, taking damage. This one toggle helps switch Iron Bull from a damage dealer with a health potion addiction, to a damage dealing tank. The DLC also had some great battles. Towards the end was one of the most spectacular boss fights I’d experienced in Inquisition, excepting dragons, of course. It was action-packed, challenging, and very fluid. Plus, there were oodles of pretty colored explosions, coupled with the DLC’s epic, inspiring battle cry of a theme titled “We Fight On.” Hearing this while in the midst of an intense boss fight elicited a strong, visceral reaction in me. It felt like the game was going out with a bang.
As I played, I realized that I had been on almost a year long journey with these characters and this game. I started it as soon as it came out, and finished it as soon as it ended, over the course of nine months. It was a saga. It wasn’t without its faults, of course, but I don’t think I realized how much of an impact the game had on me until I played this DLC, and it dawned on me that it was all over. Despite my complaints about the Qunari storyline, the DLC is packed with satisfying emotional moments, and I was brought near tears more than once. This is in large part due to a breathtaking performance by Alex Wilton Regan, who is the actress for the British female voice, and a powerful confrontation with Solas. There is a scene in which the Inquisitor breaks down from all of the stress and the frustration of being attacked by the very people she saved from a torn sky, and Alex Wilton Regan’s delivery of these few lines is the most gripping and poignant performance in Inquisition, one of the best I’ve ever witnessed in videogames.
I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice it to say that it felt much more whole and satisfactory than the base game’s ending did. The base game ended suddenly, with no real closure. Trespasser, on the other hand, ended triumphant and bittersweet, with closure from all characters, even Solas. Plus, it held a compelling hint for the next Dragon Age game. Trespasser is a great way to say goodbye to characters we grew to know and love, to learn more about the lore-rich world of Thedas, and to receive closure for a game that has captivated my attention for so many months.