Re-examining Dragon Age: Inquisition: The Trespasser, the Descent, and the Wildcard

This week saw the release of the final major DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition, Trespasser. This follows closely on the heels of another story-heavy DLC, The Descent.

My party in the Descent DLC in Dragon Age: InquisitonThe Descent was excellent, and Trespasser was even better — an epic and emotional tour de force that is quite possibly the highlight of the entire Dragon Age franchise to date.

(Note that I do not own and have not played the Jaws of Hakkon DLC, but I did watch a friend livestream it in its entirety over the course of a few weeks.)

You may recall from my original review that I left Inquisition with somewhat lukewarm feelings. I felt it was a major improvement over past titles in terms of game mechanics, and that it had some impressive highs, but that an excessive amount of filler content and some other hiccups held it back a lot.

But Descent and Trespasser were so fantastic that it’s completely reignited my passion for Inquisition, and now I’m wondering if I’ve underestimated the game… or if this is just a passing fancy.

I’ll be writing this post assuming that the reader has played all of Inquisition, including the DLC, so expect some spoilers.

A fitting end:

The climax of the Trespasser DLC in Dragon Age: InquisitonAt this point I think we can safely say that Inquisition was released unfinished. It’s amazing that a game as vast and detailed as this one could still be incomplete, but it definitely was.

The original ending to Inquisition was an anticlimax. It was entirely too quick and easy, it lacked emotional weight, and it left many important questions unanswered.

Trespasser was the ending the game needed. It offered emotional send-offs for all the major characters, a thrilling and intense climax that did not feel at all rushed, major revelations that have completely upended everything we thought we knew about the history of Thedas, and tantalizing hints of what is to come.

While not as crucial, Descent also provided some useful clues to making sense of Inquisition. One of the big things the main game left me scratching my head about was red lyrium, the nature of which was never fully explained. We learned that it’s lyrium that’s been infected with the Blight, but that made no sense at the time, seeing as the Blight infects living things and lyrium is a mineral.

But now we know that lyrium is the blood of a Titan, so now things make sense.

Some might be upset by having to buy a couple DLCs to get the full Inquisition experience, and I certainly wouldn’t blame them for feeling so, but personally it doesn’t bother me that much. If the end product is good, I don’t mind forking out a little extra dough.

The heart of the Titan in the Descent DLC in Dragon Age: InquisitonThe ending always has a profound impact on how one views a story, and I think the weakness of the original ending was a major contributor to my ambivalence towards Inquisition. Now that there’s a better ending, my opinion of the game is much higher, but much of my complaints about Inquisition still hold true, and I do have to wonder if this will last once the high from these DLCs has worn off.

That might take a while. Trespasser rocked my world.

This time, it’s personal:

Trespasser was almost entirely Elven lore, so maybe it’s not surprising I loved it so much.

It’s not just the info-dumps, though. These events play so well into the development of my inquisitor it’s like Bioware wrote it for me.

My inquisitor is a Dalish Keeper. There is nothing more important to her than her people and her culture. She and Solas hit it off right away, and they remained close up until he suddenly left the Inquisition.

And even when she learned the truth, and the terrible things he had done and still wanted to do, she almost wanted to join him. There is nothing in the world that she wants more than the restoration of her people.

An action shot from the Trespasser DLC in Dragon Age: InquisitonShe doesn’t care that it would kill her. She would give her life for a reborn Elvhenan without a second thought. Nor would she shed a tear if the corrupt nations of the shemlen were to drown in fire.

But there are people in this world she cares about. When her clan died, those close to her in the Inquisition became her clan, her family. She cares deeply about Sera, Dorian, Thom Rainier, Varric, and the Iron Bull, and she cannot let them die.

So now she could not be more torn. A man she loves as a brother plans to bring about that which she spent all her life dreaming of, but the price is just too high to pay, and now she has to stop him, and save him.

The writer in me is just squealing in joy over what a fantastic character motivation that is.

The ending has led me to believe we will be able to continue playing as our inquisitor in the next game, and I will be profoundly disappointed if this is not the case. I’ve never liked abandoning the player characters after each Dragon Age game, and at this point in the story it just doesn’t make any sense not to continue with the inquisitor, if you ask me.

The wildcard:

Something else Trespasser has made me reexamine is Sera.

My inquisitor and Sera in Dragon Age: InquisitonNow, I knew I was going to like Sera from the moment she was announced. A chaotic good Elven archer? That’s all I need to hear.

But when the game came out, she didn’t quite live up to expectations. I did like her spirit of joyful rebellion and her passion to fight for the little guy, but there was much about her I found off-putting. She was too crude, too childish, and her disdain for her own people was equal parts confusing and off-putting.

If I was playing as a dude, I would have romanced Dorian instead, but I’d already rolled a girl, so I decided to press ahead with my original plan of romancing Sera. Let me tell you, it’s not easy to win over someone who fears magic and disdains Elven culture when you’re a Dalish Keeper.

But eventually she warmed up to me, and as she began to open up, I began to understand her. At first glance, Sera seems so simple and shallow, but nothing could be farther than the truth. She is an incredibly complicated person, and even when her behaviour seems utterly random and nonsensical, there is often a deep and powerful meaning to what she does. She just has a very difficult time expressing herself in appropriate ways due to her youth and lack of a proper upbringing.

As an aside, it’s this ability to gain a deeper level of insight into characters that ultimately sold me on the concept of in-game romance, which I initially found odd and perhaps a little creepy.

My inquisitor and Sera on their wedding day in Dragon Age: InquisitonComing to understand why Sera is the way she is, as well as how big-hearted she is, improved my view of her somewhat, but it wasn’t until Trespasser that I came to love her character as much as I expected to when she was first announced.

I came to the conclusion a while ago a lot of the reason Sera is so rough around the edges is simply that she’s basically a kid. I often wondered if she would mature as she got older.

The answer is yes.

In Trespasser, it became clear that Sera’s positive attributes — mainly her kind and loving nature — have won out over her rougher aspects. Oh, sure, she’s still cursing all the time and drawing butts on everything for some reason, but where it counts, she’s grown up.

What impressed me most was that her Elf-hate, the one thing that still really bothered me about her, had softened. She was using her Red Jenny network to track down survivors of my clan — all on her own, without prompting — and even more amazingly, rather than gloat over the loss of everything the Dalish once believed in, she simply offered my inquisitor a proverbial shoulder to cry on.

It was so gratifying to see Sera evolve like this, and it’s this kind of stellar character development that keeps me playing Bioware games despite their many, many flaws.

The future:

My new Qunari rogue in Dragon Age: InquisitonMy eyes now turn to the future of Dragon Age and my relationship with it. My love for Trespasser has inspired me to do something I never expected to do (at least not any time soon): Start the game over with a new character, a Qunari rogue.

I don’t know if this will last. Inquisition is vast game, and there’s a pretty good chance I’ll just lose interest — which is what happened when I tried to play DA2 a second time. I really don’t relish doing all those side quests and other chores over again. I know I could skip them — I probably will skip collecting shards, at least — but it’s just so hard to resist the completionist in me.

I will be taking it easy. I think playing Inquisition largely to exclusion of other games the first time led to a lot of burnout and may have given me an unfairly negative view of it. Since Inquisition plays more like a single-player MMO, perhaps I should have adopted the more laidback attitude I use for them.

If I do continue, I have to decide whether to side with the Templars are not. I feel I should see the other side of the story, but I hate the Templars and everything they stand for.

As for the franchise as a whole, well, it’s already pretty much confirmed we’re going to Tevinter. I think the inquisitor will once again be the protagonist (they damn well better be, anyway), and that we’ll be mediating the Tevinter/Qunari war in much the same way we did with the Templar/mage war, with Solas playing a similar role to Corypheus.

Pack your bags: We're going to TevinterI think Scout Harding will be a party member in the next game, and probably a full romance option. She seems a very popular characer (rightfully so), and I don’t think they snuck her into the final cutscene for nothing.

I think Dorian will play a major role, but not be a party member. Probably his role will be analogous to, say, Leliana’s in Inquisition. We’ll probably have the option to make him ruler of Tevinter at the end.

I very much hope that Sera will return as a major character. I’d like to believe her mentioning that she’s already visited Tevinter is foreshadowing of some sort. I also hope we get to explore her magical talent — or whatever she has. I’d also love to see Bull, Thom, and Varric again, but based on their epilogues, that seems fairly unlikely — especially for Varric.

I’m also hoping the inquisitor gets to graft a giant sword to their stump like Kargath Bladefist.

Whatever may come, Trespasser has left me far more excited for DA4 than I have been for any other Dragon Age game to date.

9 thoughts on “Re-examining Dragon Age: Inquisition: The Trespasser, the Descent, and the Wildcard

  1. This really makes me want to reroll and try and romance Sera. I had had the same reaction you did to her, but turned my attentions to others instead. Now I feel like I should have stuck it out. I’ve romanced Dorian, Cullen, and Solas so far–after the belated discovery, first playthrough, that no amount of panache could woo Cassandra toward my fem rogue. Now I want to buckle down and get to know Sera past more than just the quest with the noble on the road in the dark.

    Thanks for posting this! Clearly a fourth playthrough is in order someday. I suppose I can hope for a major snowstorm this winter…

    • Glad you liked the post.

      Romancing Sera is very difficult (at least if you’re pro-Elf and pro-mage) and requires a great deal of care and patience, but if you can stick it out, it is quite rewarding. There’s a lot of laughs and some fairly touching moments.

      You’ve just got to be prepared for the fact that she’s going to do and say a lot of crazy stuff that seems totally random and nonsensical at first glance. The challenge, and the fun, is to decipher the real meaning behind the foul-mouthed, barely comprehensible word salad she’s throwing at you.

  2. Hey!
    Great review.

    I completely agree with the feeling the Inquisitor should return as PC of the next game, if said game is about Solas. It makes absolutely no sense to get a new PC for the sake of it. I can’t think of a single way i would be satisfied with that story ending with anyone else. I hang out on the Bioware forum a lot, and it saddens me to see how many people want a new PC because “Bioware said it’s about Thedas”. It would just be poor writing, at this point. I was expecting the Inquisitor to die at the end of Trespasser, if i’m honest. But they didn’t, there is not way for them to die and no matter what you do, they’re hunting down Solas. That character motivation would make the conclusion of that story SO much more satisfying.

    I generally romance Solas, but i have characters on every path (love, friend, neutral and hate) and they all left me with the desire to have my Inquisitor stop him, out of a desire to save him or so i could stab him in his face. To have them reduced to an important NPC or a codex would be…really bad. And i don’t think i would get over that quickly.

    • Yeah, I was totally convinced that the inquisitor was going to die at the end. Between Dragon Age’s habit of not reusing protagonists and how so many of the characters seemed to be saying goodbye, it seemed certain.

      That’s part of why I feel so strongly the inquisitor needs to come back. After going through all that and still managing to survive, it would feel incredibly wasteful to abandon the inquisitor.

      My one concern is how they’ll handle romances if they carry over the inquisitor. Undoubtedly Dorian will still have a major role, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Cassandra and/or the advisers came back, but beyond that… I can see a lot of people (myself included) being upset if their favourite romance chance doesn’t come back, or only has a brief cameo.

      • Yes the “it’s about Thedas” thing. Pretty pointless, really, since it’s the characters that bring the world to life. The Inquisitor is intrinsically tied to every story plot i know of. They know Solas’ plans, they know the Qunari have been planning an invasion since they saw the Breach and a whole other mess too. If i wanted to stop a crazy elven God, Tevinter would be my first stop. To know of all this but be like “nah, i’m retiring in Ferelden” wouldn’t really suit the Inquisitor.

        The only thing i got from Trespasser was that the Inquisition is done, it isn’t needed anymore. All of the companions were a part of that organisation.

        If they keep with the open world, though, i’d love to see some of our former friends again. Sera mentions that she’s been in Tevinter before. Rather than have an “Oh, hello” and then 5 minutes later never seeing them again, it would be nice to have a long mission with our friends and an “intimate moment” with the LI’s after. I bet that everyone we were with before is looking and listening for Solas, the Inquisitor wasn’t the only one he used. So between that and letters that state what they have found, the romance could continue even without the person being there all the time. And it’s believable for them to not come back as companions, because we know they’re off doing their own thing and the whole “look for people Solas doesn’t know” bit at the end. It will end up with some getting more love than others, sure, but i’m a Solas fan…there’s no chance of love there anymore haha

        The advisers would be the trickiest, i guess. And whomever is Divine is not in a place to roam about. But i’m sure they can make it work.

        Really, as a (newbie) writer myself, to waste this kind of character motivation would be a crime…and it will really upset me. (sorry for the long reply, but i’m pretty passionate about this haha)

      • No need to apologize! Passion over nerdly stuff is the whole reason for this blog’s existence.

        I’m pretty sure they’ll be bringing back at least some of our companions if the inquisitor returns, and maybe even if they don’t. It’s just a question of who.

        I think Varric can be ruled out. Bull and Blackwall are also pretty unlikely, especially since Bull might be dead, depending on the player’s choices. As I said in the post, I think Dorian will play a major role, but probably not as a party member — though it’d be great if he was. Cassandra has a pretty good chance of coming back — she doesn’t seem to have a life outside of fighting to save the world. Sera is probably 50/50 — her line about Tevinter might be foreshadowing, but she’s a pretty flighty sort, and she seems to be a fairly unpopular character, so the devs might not be motivated to bring her back.

        I don’t imagine Cole would return. His epilogue seemed pretty conclusive on my playthrough. Vivienne… probably not. She’s more about gaining personal power than saving the world. I sure hope she doesn’t come back, anyway.

        I actually think the advisors are the most likely to return. We saw them in the end cutscene, and they seem to remain committed to what the inquisition stood for, if not necessarily the inquisition itself. I could maybe see Josie quitting, but Cullen and Leliana will stay the course, I think.

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  4. Inquisitor said his adventuring days are over when he first appeared without an arm. Look for him/her to make a nice cameo like hero of kirkwall. I don’t want a 1 handed protagonist

    • While you’re probably right that the inquisitor will just get a cameo, I maintain it would be a massive mistake. There’s no way a new protagonist could have such an intense rivalry with Solas. It’d be like doing a game where the Joker is the main villain but not including Batman.

      And if the missing hand is the reason, that would be a really, really bad move. It’d be massively ableist and rightfully piss off a lot of people. Heck the missing hand is half the reason I want to play as them again. Have you seen the ending slide where they strapped a crossbow to their stump? Badass as hell.

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