At gamescom this year, Dragon Age Inquisition game director Aaryn Flynn mentioned that a completionist run of the RPG could consume over 150 hours of gametime. With the introduction of multiplayer, you’ll need to carve out even more time to spend with Dragon Age Inquisition this November. So how does a co-op multiplayer experience fit in with what has previously been a single player affair? Look to the precedent set from right within the Bioware team: Mass Effect 3.
“We realized that a lot of people get engaged and a lot of people love to play with their friends,” multiplayer producer Scylla Costa told me at PAX. “We have this team of Dragon Age veterans, and also experienced Mass Effect 3 multiplayer developers. So we combined them to create a great multiplayer experience for Dragon Age fans.”
I went hands on with Dragon Age Inquisition‘s multiplayer at PAX on the Elven Ruins map, one of 3 campaigns the game will ship with. My Rogue Assassin was joined by a tanking Legionnaire, brutal Reaver, and Elementalist mage, all controlled by fellow PAX attendees.
Your multiplayer character is unrelated to the single player campaign. Instead, you select from 12 different builds, each leveling up discretely and earning new moves along the way. As you might expect, success will come easier to groups who venture forth with a diverse party of tanks, damage dealers, and support characters.
Here’s how multiplayer plays out in Dragon Age Inquisition: as your team explores the dungeon and battles enemies, different events occur at random. For example, we encountered a character in need of aid that we needed to escort to a safe area. Successfully clearing these tasks earns bonus gold for the team.
Gold and health pickups are shared, and experience is distributed in ways that are relevant to class, so players can play their roles and not worry about trying to land every kill and snag every loot drop.
Initially I was a bit too aggressive with my rogue, taking on knights and other armored foes. That earned me a quick knockout. After a teammate’s revival gave me a second chance, I took better advantage of my Assassin’s moveset – using the rechargeable cloak move, sneaking up, and backstabbing.
When things get crazy in Dragon Age Inquisition multiplayer, potions can make things even crazier. A memorable highlight for me was throwing a jar of bees at a mob of archers, then taking them down as the bees stung them repeatedly. Bee sting allergies are most definitely a thing in Thedas.
Scattered throughout the map, randomly, are rooms that only certain classes can open. My rogue was able to pick a lock leading to a treasure room, and a tough boss encounter when we tried to claim the loot. These areas offer greater reward at greater risk, but fortunately we were successful. Our luck ended when we encountered a “VIP” boss, flanked by archers and knights. The four of us fell quickly to the demon, ending our demo.
While Dragon Age Inquisition‘s multiplayer lives separately from the single player campaign, it didn’t draw attention away from single player. If anything, a lot of learning was passed back and forth between the teams. “When we were developing multiplayer, it’s awesome for the [single player] combat team, because it’s much easier and faster for us to iterate on the creatures and abilities and all the combat in multiplayer, because we don’t need AI – we’ve got four [human] players,” Costa said. “So combat for single player is better because we’ve been developing it in multiplayer.”
Dragon Age Inquisition launches for Xbox One beginning November 18th in North America.