Dragon Age – Play Shifting

A few levels deeper into Dragon Age Inquisition now, 8 I think it is.  To sum briefly, the Hinterlands stink because your character stinks.  I’ll explain.

In RPGs, there are two types of power curves.  A statistical one, where you get better armor/weapons and the dice roll bigger numbers.  This is offset by the enemy also getting stat upgrades.  It usually evens out in the wash, assuming both are the same level.  This is linear growth and you see most of this in MMOs once you’re at max level.

The second power curve is skill based. You get more skills as you level and DA:I gives you a new one every single level.  And because the game is cooldown based (with some resource management), the more skills you have, the more powerful you become.  Combos start being viable.  Superior skills become available, including AE attacks that incapacitate opponents.  It’s one of those paradigm shifting things, where the gameplay suddenly shifts. And it’s not like the enemy suddenly gains more skills, as they are more or less locked depending on their type.

An example.  My warrior just gained enough skill points to use both single and AE taunts, with enough additional skills to survive the damage from all those attacks.  This means that they can successfully funnel all attention to themselves while the other 3 characters, all decked in a pile of AE attacks, mop up the floor.  1 level previous to this, closing a rift could be hard because of all the stragglers and lack of a tank.  Now it’s like a cake walk.

And I’m not even level 10 yet, what with advanced classes further building niche skill sets.  There are rogue builds out there that solo dragons on nightmare difficulty.  That’s not even a thought in my mind at lower levels.  This is an odd change compared to other level-based games, where the power curve is incremental.  MMOs have more levels, and therefore a normalized curve.  Right, a level 5 typically has the same time to kill (TTK) that a level 80 has.  The jump is when your stat power curves up at max level due to gear, not skill.  There might be one or 2 skills while leveling that change your playtstyle, but not every level.

Yet in DA:I, it’s practically every level.  It’s enjoyable too, since the play pattern changes as I progress.  It’s not the same buttons for 40 hours, in some crazy dance (which is why I dislike the AC series and like Shadow of Mordor).  There’s some progress to be had and it’s actually noticeable.  I’m interested not only in the story (which has ups and downs) but the actual mechanics of this RPG.  It’s fun!

Final note for those with DirectX crashes.  First, update your drivers to the beta versions.  Yeah, no game should require beta drivers but whatchagonnado?  Then, set the game to windowed fullscreen.  That should stop most crashes.  Finally, set the Mesh option to anything above Medium.  That get’s rid of the plastic hair.

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