The Fine Details
- Releases August 11, 2015
- Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC
- EA Access users get a 10% discount
- Can play anytime after Skyhold
Hello everyone, my name is Ashe. And welcome to my breakdown of Dragon Age Inquisition's latest DLC: The Descent. If you haven't watched the original trailer yet, click the annotation on screen or the link in the description to watch it yourself.
A bit of groundwork before we start.
The Descent is a collaboration between Bioware Edmonton and Bioware Austin, with writers like Hall Hood and Courtney Woods involved in Descent's story. It takes place anytime after getting Skyhold, and is not post-ending restrictive. Meaning, you can bring Solas. We've seen Bioware hint crazily about this DLC for the past few weeks, including its initial hint by Bioware's general manager Aaryn Flynn back during the Kotaku Q&A. Lyrium, dwarven castes, Grey Warden, Shapers and the Shaperate, the Legion of the Dead, types of Darkspawn, Dwarves being the "wisest race" in Thedas, and the ultimate question of the Deep Roads and whether you would, and I quote, "Brave the darkspawn-infested Deep Roads in search of lost dwarven treasure?" And now we come to a point where it's an entire DLC about fighting through the Deep Roads to uncover the cause of earthquakes that may cause a geographical collapse.
In the Descent, you'll fight through multiple levels of Darkspawn whose difficulty levels, numbers, and even monster types increase as you progress. While it will scale by level to a point, you will need to be a high level in order to penetrate the bottom. If you have troubles with your current Inquisitor leveling, I suggest taking on Jaws of Hakkon and leveling up that way. Not to mention you'll grab a new Inquisitor ability from that DLC where it'll help you against Darkspawn arrows while taking on the big daddy of the room.
Anywho, let's start.
Welcome to the first slide of the trailer. The two statues are the same as ones you'll find outside in the Storm Coast. A couple years ago, I guessed from the Discover the Dragon Age trailer that this was a statue of Orseck Garal, paragon and first king of the Dwarven Empire. Because of the official Dragon Age twitter showing the Storm Coast, in particular Lyrium Falls, as a specific location, this entire DLC most likely occurs underneath the Storm Coast. And since neither Kal-Sharok nor Orzammar are close enough to the Storm Coast, it's likely that most of the areas we encounter in this DLC will be remnants of the old Dwarven empire that once spanned the entirety of Ferelden. If you look around the region, it is not a stranger to land slides, quakes, and more. I'd say not only is the Storm Coast our prime place of entry, but we likely won't get a new region map like we did with Hakkon. Instead, we'll get an entirely different region underground.
The Inquisitor looks down from a wooden scaffolding that peers into the crevice. More rain because we're in the Storm Coast. We see Iron Bull as a companion for the Inquisitor, likely because both his recruitment and personal quest lie in this region. The Inquisitor and party descend on a platform elevator, where we can see a light in the distance, meaning that this cavern has been used, but things get noticeably darker in the descent. You can also see a Paragon statue relatively intact in the distance.
The Dwarf here on the left is from the Legion of the Dead. You can tell by the distinct armor, something you can actually grab for your own Inquisitor in-game. I will name him John Doe for now.
We also see a new Dwarven female warrior here as well, who I'm naming Jane Doe. She's equipped with a sword and shield, but unlike the Legionairre John Doe, her outfit is a variant of the Carta Dwarven armor we've already seen in the game. I don't believe we have seen either of these two characters before in the Dragon Age series. And before you ask - it's definitely not Sigrun. The absence of facial tattoos, as well as Sigrun being a rogue and not a warrior, are very telling. And as far as Bianca? Well, Bianca's blonde.
But here, we see Jane Doe or someone very similar in Legionairre gear. The male Legionairre is still the same - beard, tattoos, and armor. Here's my thoughts: Jane Doe is the Inquisitor's temporary companion. Notice that we have Dorian and Cassandra - only two of our usual companions instead of three. John Doe's stayed the same, but Jane has Carta and/or Legionairre armor. Her hair and face has stayed the same, so I'm inclined to believe she will temporarily join us on our adventures, as well as John Doe. And before you ask, Bioware has already confirmed that they would never have a new permanent companion like Sebastian or Javik from Mass Effect wrapped behind DLC again, so at best, it's like the temporary companion Tallis.
In any case, in this scene, I'm curious what will happen if you're not a mage, as the Inquisitor uses a fire wall to brighten up all the eyes here.
A Darkspawn ogre. Lovely.
In this shot, we don't see Jane doe, but instead Cassandra, The Iron Bull, the Inquisitor, and John Doe.
In the next, we see lyrium veins, something we saw quite a number of in Dragon Age 2, as well as 6 people on the ground. The Inquisitor, marked by the distinctively marketed flaming sword, Cassandra behind, Iron Bull, and three Dwarves. Two seemingly male, one female. All present are warriors, except the mage Inquisitor.
A possible Darkspawn Emissary, judging by the hands. Now, this is where I have to stop and give a bit of insight into this character. While in Origins there were different variants of Emissaries, in Dragon Age 2 there was only one type which looked like this one. Sort of. Pale, weird helm, and more. But the specific things to mention here is that they have Elven-like ears and long, extended claws. Its size is comparable with Corypheus and the Architect - perhaps, even bigger. And the shoulder pads are rather telling.
One of the many bridges that span the deep roads. But with all your companions - Dorian, Iron Bull, Cassandra. This seems rather low into the Deep Roads, considering the light that emits from the cut. Also, have you noticed there isn't a lot of love for rogues in this trailer? Well except Varric, who pops up for a second.
The Inquisitor here is a warrior, so two sword and shields, one DPS warrior, and a mage.
And a closeup of a new enemy faction, a seemingly lyrium-infused enemy that is unlike the red lyrium templars and Darkspawn we've seen in the past. Why? Well, their armor is extremely well done, despite their eyes being devoid of color. Their skin is covered up by cloth - take a look underneath the helmet and you can see cloth covering all their skin. It hides any chance of determining Darkspawn corruption, but highly doubt they are considering the lead's right hand seems like a normal blush. Not sure whether they're driven insane by the lyrium or not, but they utilize the lyrium. They also seem sentient, as they're able to not mindlessly charge at the Inquisitor and party, but then again, we only see them fighting our Inquisitor. From left to right: 2-handed warrior, duel-wielding rogue, 2-handed warrior, lyrium wielder, and an Archer.
Another huge cavern with lyrium veins everywhere, with Iron Bull fighting off many new enemies. Now something that happens for a split second is that it looks like the ones with lyrium veins use their hands in a crossbow-like motion, sending a projectile towards Bull, by lifting their right hand. They also have medium armor, so possibly a rogue.
A few genlocks and an Ogre. You can also see their little setup in the distance - skulls on pikes and the red makeshift wall. Creative Director Mike Laidlaw mentioned that Ogres have specific punch attacks, shown here by Cassandra getting mauled and thrown around. The Inquisitor then sends a spell that reminds me of mindblast, but looks more Rift-specific, judging by the green. If I'm right, that would mean an AOE send-back spell that can be used across all classes, which is invariably great when dealing with mobs and mobs of Darkspawn for many levels.
I think it's funny how they just say "reveal a secret" on the screen since it's rather lackluster without context, but the next slide shows you an entirely new underground area with flora, trees, and lyrium all in one place. It's an entire area not corrupted by the Darkspawn taint, and holds a creepy mist that reminds me of the Crossroads. But what's notable? It was, or is, inhabited. Catwalks are on the top left, and a strange platform that seems to be attached to the lyrium veins that encapsulate this place. It was made with purpose, perhaps to harness power, the same way the large red lyrium shards on chains scattered throughout Emprise du Lion are used to harness and distribute power. Tug, a companion of Leliana's, once owned a blade that had a very unknown Dwarven phrase sketched into its blade. "The Stone lives beneath Orlais. Mathas gar na fornen pa tot isatunoll." The rough translation is "I regret the sacrifice of my kin, but it means that we will find our way home." The Stone has always been the core of Dwarven belief, and ever since we discovered that lyrium is alive, this quote's true meaning, as well as the separation betwen Kal-Sharok/Orzammar/and all other Dwarves may finally be unearthed in the DLC to come. And besides, an underground cavern with plants and lyrium that spans the halls? Although we're not in Orlais, I have a feeling Descent will go into why the Dwarves left Kal-Sharok for the East. To Orlais. Ferelden. And why the quakes are happening now.
Cassandra, Varric, Solas, and the Inquisitor fighting an ogre in the rain...followed by an underground cavern with Solas, Varric, and the Inquisitor fighting an armored Gemlock.
The Shriek, a variant of Darkspawn that's extremely quick and extremely annoying, returns.
And the return of the ancient rock wraith from Dragon Age 2, however it's not fueled by red lyrium. Instead, blue lyrium. If you don't know what this creature is, the rock wraiths are believed to be Dwarves who died and were turned away from the Stone. But in DA2, the ancient rock wraith we fought was in the Primeval Thaig that existed before the first Blight. In any case, the rock wraith stands at the center of pillars emitting blue glowing runes, and since it is not ruined by the Darkspawn taint, glowing bright with blue, we may see more Primeval thaigs that pre-date Dwarven history, locked away for centuries and protected by wraiths just like this.