Do you pay attention to the lore?
Yes? No? When it comes to enjoying Jaws of Hakkon, I believe this is the first question you need to ask. Because how you answer will actually say a lot on whether you'll enjoy this new DLC or not.
There are a lot of wants - a lot of expectations for Inquisition DLC. Some want Wolf Hunt - answers for what happened at the end of Inquisition. Some want new schematics, armor, weapons to throw around. New abilities to shove in an enemy's face. And others want to know more about Thedas - what hasn't been seen before. Where did people come from. Where are they going.
Well, let me break down what the DLC actually offers. With as little spoilers as I can manage.
Frostback Basin. It's an entire region for you to explore, with all enemies and goodies to enjoy. 7 Rifts, 6 camps, 16 points of interest, 3 ocularums, 12 shards, a locked door with a codex entry regarding a certain lost figure of Elven history, 1 specific set of unique armor, one new Inquisitor ability, 3 astrariums, and three Avvarian vendors. Things to buy from these new vendors? Avvarian furniture to decorate your throne and Skyhold, Tier 4 armor and weapon schematics, and crafting materials.
As far as the people involved, you'll learn more into the Avvar. Not just the idea of their hyper-religious ideologies, but their people. Their views on strength and honor...and magic. Also, they have an arena that feels like the Dwarven Provings of Dragon Age Origins.
Lore-wise, you'll find more historical background on Emperor Drakon and Orlais before the Second Blight, the Seekers of Truth, and the original Inquisition.
You can start the DLC anytime after moving to Skyhold, and if you so choose, even after the end of the main storyline.
And because you can start it after the main story, I imagine you can guess it already - the result of Jaws of Hakkon does not affect the main plot. Matter of fact, the DLC's story does not cause immediate impact to the state of the Inquisition. However, it does give greater...weight to the world in which the Inquisitor, Hawke, and the Hero of Ferelden live.
If you're expecting a Witch Hunt-like DLC lead in for Dragon Age 4, I'm afraid this is not the DLC you are looking for. Not yet, anyway. What the DLC does provide, however, are small hints...little tastes of the future. And what's to come. Perhaps for Dragon Age 4. 5? What's out of our reach, and perhaps, what's over our heads.
And this is where I have to turn on the spoiler warning. My general opinion of Jaws of Hakkon? It's a fun adventure for about 8-10 hours worth of content. Fights in this installment, especially bosses, are more difficult and rewarding than the base game, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Combat's the same, except the new Inquisitor ability, which does not affect the cooldown for Mark of the Rift. That said, for those who want to know more lore-wise? I think you'll be much more inclined to play this DLC.
Story spoilers on Jaws of Hakkon are now in effect. You've been warned, but if you're leaving now, thanks for joining.
My honest thoughts on Jaws of Hakkon? Let's start with the Avvar.
The Avvar are a welcomed change from the civilized and cultured set of Orlesians and Fereldans that we've grown accustomed to in Inquisition. In this DLC, you're exposed to two sets of Avvarian groups: the Hakkonites, the hilariously named baddies of this DLC, and the Avvar friends in the East. The good ones you'll see in their everyday settings on the cliffs. More noticeably, you'll see how their customs aren't as wild as you may think. Hard-workers who believe in spirits as their gods, who compete in physicality, and observe honor and civility. I like how Bioware takes that human approach to the Avvar, who left the Hakkonites to look like a tribe of rabid dogs. The contrast works well.
Now, Jaws of Hakkon establishes interesting things in this DLC. One of my previous videos has talked about this, but let me say it again: not only are the Avvar in tune with spirits, but they also have a tried and true method of separating spirit and soul, such as...oh I don't know...Anders and Justice. That's game changing. But what's curious is that this specific entry is set in a side quest with Sigrid the Exile - how Avvarian mages are raised with the help of a spirit. And this spirit possession also lies in the main quest as well. While Flemeth has said "a soul is not forced upon the willing", possession and spirit joinings come into play during this DLC. It sets a stage, a context, a precedent, for future spiritual joinings that we've seen quite a few times in Dragon Age's past. Wynne and the Spirit of Faith. Anders and Justice. Evangeline and Faith. This DLC doesn't address the questions that the end of Inquisition left. It answers for questions that we may not have asked, but will in time.
Just like addressing whether all the Old Gods were male...or even real. Well, one of the Old Gods Razikale...was female. And Geldauran, one of the Forgotten Ones in Elven history, was real. But none of these things are mentioned in the main plot. It's all side quests, and while the main plot has its own narrative on the Inquisition of Old and Inquisitor Ameridan, I keep shifting eyes towards the side quests and exploration because Bioware quietly put these revelations, these moments of foreshadowing, separate from the main quest. And while there are those who will rush through the main plot and call it a day, those who look to satisfy their curiosity of Thedas's history are rewarded in this DLC for engaging every nook and cranny.
Looking at it, Jaws of Hakkon matches with what Leviathan DLC did for Mass Effect 3. That DLC was a big history lesson, in which we find the truth about the Reapers' origins, and gain support for the War. The greatest discovery the galaxy has ever seen. In Jaws of Hakkon, we gain greater context for the Inquisition: the Seekers of Truth, the state of Human and Elven relations before the Second Blight, and Inquisitor Ameridan's last mission.
THE MAIN QUEST
Inquisitor Ameridan, I think, will hit hard for players. He's a man - an Elven man - who was shoved by circumstance into the role of Inquisitor and leader of the Seekers of Truth. He's so alike to our Hero of Ferelden. Our Hawke. Our own Inquisitor. To be honest, I think he identifies the best with sarcastic Hawke, but that's neither here nor there. What counts is that even though he just wanted to be a soldier and fight, he became a leader. And he sacrificed himself, and his happiness, to do the right thing.
The overall main quest is like a condensed version of the original main plot. Big bad, need to fight the big bad. Gain allies, like the Avvar. Plot twist - something's up with the thing aka person we're trying to find. Clean up the mess. What I think really makes the main quest shine is that it holds a deeper meaning for players, though they might not realize it at first. In truth, Inquisitor Ameridan is just another player character...but lost to the ages. Centuries from now in Thedas, his fate will be our Hero of Ferelden. Hawke. Inquisitor Lavellan, Trevelyan, Adaar, Cadash - take your pick. The companions he had - his own lover - were forgotten. Ameridan being a mage and leader of the Seekers? Forgotten. His friendship with Emperor Drakon - forgotten. As I was listening to the very-very-very short interaction between him and my Inquisitor, and the memories he left behind, all I could think about is that despite the choices and love we put into our own player characters, in the sands of time, history will only remember the basics. Talking to Ameridan was like my Inquisitor looking at herself in the face. Everything leading up to your confrontation with Ameridan is simply a quick revisit of a player character whose story you never played. But because of your possible history as the Warden, as Hawke, or the Inquisitor, you know the story all too well.
ALL THAT REMAINS
Don't get me wrong - I like Jaws of Hakkon. I think it paves the way towards the future of Dragon Age, in the most subtle ways. But I do have my qualms.
Funny enough, I'll start with the Inquisitor. Not Ameridan, but our Inquisitor. The Inquisitor's dialogue felt so uninspired. I don't know how to describe it in any other way. While I understand the Inquisitor was in a position of learning, researching and finding, so much of the interactions were devoid of personality. Of Sass. Of Fervor. Of tenacity. I know there are those who don't like too much personality in their player-character, so they may identify with them. However, it felt barren for a lot of the DLC. If you watched my Assquisitor playthrough, you know that I was agitated the whole way through. The third option, usually reserved for an aggressive outlook, kept reiterating the same mood of "Let's just get to business". It was generating that exact emotion every line. The Inquisitor wants to get to business. The Inquisitor wants to get to work. What was that? Oh, history you say? Just tell me where to go because I don't care. I was very...bored. It was like the Inquisitor lost their backbone.
The only times where this was distinctively not the case were during the judgment of Storvacker and the last chat with Scout Harding, and those two are held until the end of the DLC. It felt like my Assquisitor was left with two options: Paragon. Or neutral. And I didn't want either.
Other than that? Companions felt muted - banter wise. While there were a couple gems, especially if you bring Sera and Solas with you to the shrine, or Dorian telling you to watch your step at the risk of telling Cullen how you met your doom to gravity, all in all your companions do not contribute a lot. Perhaps that's why I also felt the Inquisitor was dry during this DLC. The reactions were very short. Very curt. I'm glad they gave Scout Harding a larger role in this DLC, and it was a job well done. However, my companions felt more like a bunch of hired guns doing their job and not raising any information or words of substance. It was all too quiet. And while I understand DLC is harder to pull voice actors back, this DLC felt a bit emptier than I had hoped.
Those two things, our Inquisitor and companions, are the only parts that rubbed me wrong about Jaws of Hakkon. But the DLC itself...I can speculate volumes of what can possibly happen in the future of Dragon Age based on this DLC alone. If I am to talk about the gameplay itself? It's nothing you haven't seen before. Puzzles, fighting, and angry people poking sticks inside you. The armor is great - what Ameridan leaves you is swanky as hell. And the new T4 schematics are quite nice. But the experience is fleeting, if you don't give yourself the time to thoroughly enjoy the new codices that the game has given.
Is Jaws of Hakkon worth it?
If you pay attention to the lore, yes. The small revelations lead to so many possibilities.If you don't, you may enjoy it. But you're still hack and slashing. And if you play the DLC with the only purpose of speeding through the main quest, you might want to stick to Youtube and Dragon Age Keep. But for the luxuries for the Inquisitor to enjoy: armor, weapons, and the like, it may satisfy those who want to do more hurt. Jaws of Hakkon is all about enjoying the details, and I hope you have fun with it.