Dragon Age Inquisition Has Big Dragons, Bigger World

As the third game in a beloved series, "Dragon Age: Inquisition" has a lot to live up to, but fans can rest easy. Electronic Arts showed off the title at E3 2014 yesterday (June 10), and it features the customizability, gorgeous environments, tactical combat and meaningful story choices that players have come to expect from the series.

Tom's Guide sat in on a guided demo of the game for a small audience at the EA booth, and saw about half an hour of gameplay. An EA representative took control of the main character, a female Qunari mage (Qunari in the "Dragon Age" universe are tall, stoic warriors with horns). The game lets players choose among four races and three classes, surpassing the first game's three races/three classes and the second game's one race/three classes.

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The mage led three party members (a melee warrior, a fire mage and an archer) around a mountainous lakeside region, where we got our first good look at the game's massive scope. Unlike previous titles, in which players could only explore certain paths, this map was both completely open and enormous. This one level contained more space in it than the entirety of "Dragon Age: Origins," the first game in the series, an EA representative informed us.

Combat has also received something of a revamp. The game is half action-based and half-tactical, taking some of the best aspects of the fighting in the first two games. During the demo, we saw the party take on bears, fennec foxes, spindly demons, corrupt mages and even a towering dragon. The protagonist used her ice magic to freeze foes in place while the other party members took advantage of this to hack away at them. Combat takes place in real-time, but players can also pause the game and assign commands at will.

A "Dragon Age" game is nothing without its story, and "Inquisition" picks up right where "Dragon Age 2" left off. Mages, a controlled group of magic users, want their freedom, and Templars, a group of warriors dedicated to overseeing the mages, want to prevent them from becoming a threat. Neither group is wholly in the right, and it will be up to the player to gather resources, strongholds and soldiers to bring the conflict to an end in an all-out war.

What sets "Dragon Age" apart from many other series is its focus on player choice without a morality system. Performing actions, such as sending recurring party member Leliana to infiltrate an enemy base, won't give you any arbitrary "good" or "evil" points. Rather, if she gets captured, she'll hold that against you in the future — provided you rescue her at all. The story can go in wildly different directions depending on the protagonist's actions.

"Dragon Age: Inquisition" is one of our favorite titles at E3 2014 so far, as it refines what already worked so well about the series while adding features to increase scope and raise stakes. The game will launch on October 7 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3 and PC.