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OK, we’ve been badly distracted playing Dragon Age: Inquisition, and haven’t started having deep thoughts yet on account of we’re too busy puttering around picking flowers and killing zombies.

Some semi-random commentary follows. No very significant spoilers, but we do mention NPC names and speculate about their romanceability and so forth.

Feminina:

I played a fair bit over the extra-long weekend, have gotten a fair bit done, and have reached what looks like the (first of many?) major plot branch where you have to pick one course of action to the exclusion of another.

Naturally I immediately ran off in commitment-phobic horror to do less momentous sidequests before I make that decision. Collected some loot. Picked up four new companions. Just met Iron Bull last night, and as a qunari myself am not sure if I’ll want to romance him ’cause we have that in common, or if I’d rather branch out…we shall see.

Butch:

Ok, is that plot branch Val Royeaux? Cuz I was planning on doing that next. The very last thing I did was spend some power to unlock Val Royeaux (where the game seems to want me to go), while scouting both the storm coast (where there are wardens) and the place that has to do with investigating shards. I should go to Val Royeaux, ya? Cuz I think I sorta have to play during kid nap today so I don’t go nuts.

Feminina:

Val Royeaux is not the branch point itself, although it unlocks a branch. But I would say go there, because you can do some plot stuff and get other quests, and you don’t have to lock yourself into anything yet. The companions are scattered around, not all in the same place, but Val Royeaux because will give you the option to meet two of them–another reason not to just go back to the Hinterlands, since more companions is more opportunities to chat with people!

Butch:

Have you done any other areas? Or did you just do the hell out of Val Royeaux?

Nice buildings. Why the masks? They’re hiding cuz they’re French.

Didn’t do all that much. Had other chores. Met the clerics, met a templar who was an asshole, started finding stuff from Red Jenny.

They make it very hard to like the templars. I sorta find that not so hot in a game about choice. I mean, you COULD like them, but they’re very nasty.

Feminina:

I did everything I could find at Val Royeaux (including the short spin-offs), and I went to the Fallow Mire to rescue some captive soldiers (whom I’ve yet to be able to rescue), and then I went to the Storm Coast. Oh, and back to the Hinterlands a couple of times, since it turns out that yes, you will wind up back there for quest-related reasons, so don’t worry about leaving it now.

Lots of gallivanting about.

I agree about the Templars. I mean, Cullen’s a (former) Templar and he’s OK, and that one young one in Val Royeaux who said “wait a second” before the main guy told everyone to shut up and march out could have been sympathetic, but we didn’t get a chance to really find out. As far as we know, they’re just a bunch of jerks. I mean, did you REALLY have to whack that lady on the head to get your point across? You could have just said “we’re leaving” and left…that in itself kind of does what you needed to do there.

The notion that they’re all bastards hasn’t gotten much counter-evidence, at least at the point where I am, although I have a bit more of a suspicion of where they’re possibly coming from…but the game does feel as if it’s weighted against the Templars right now, which is interesting. I wonder if maybe the mages are going to do something incredibly jerk-tastic to balance it out, or if the Templars will get a chance to redeem themselves (or both), because otherwise you almost have to lean towards siding with the mages in this war just based on personality.

Of course, we know personality isn’t always the way to judge, but if you just like one person more and another one acts like a bastard, it’s hard not to be inclined that way. I wonder to what extent this is intentional…after all, Bhelen’s people were the huge jerks in DAO, and Harrowmont seemed more sympathetic, but if you played it both ways you found out that Bhelen was a more effective ruler. Being a jerk in person doesn’t mean you’re going to ruin your country and all its people. Maybe the Templars will actually be a more effective overall force for good than a bunch of unchecked mages running around, even if they do trample a few individual human rights.

Just like BioWare to try to make us think.

Stop that! We just want to get laid! Which hasn’t happened yet, although I’ve gotten a bit of good flirting in.

Butch:

Oh I’m flirting with anything that moves. Keep your options open. That and I was raised in a boring old circle tower. Time to cut loose.

That’s also another reason to be down on Templars. I’m a Mage. They kept me locked up.

Feminina:

Yes, as a mage you do have a specific perspective on the situation that I as a mercenary rogue do not. Although you do run into mages who think that leaving the Circles was a bad idea, and that they and their kind are too dangerous to be allowed to roam around the countryside, so even among mages there are differences of opinion.

Speaking of specific perspectives, the game has been good at having people react to my qunari-ness, and people have commented that I’m an odd figure to be the “Herald of Andraste,” so my hope that it would be an interesting political situation to play as a qunari has been somewhat borne out. No doubt there are comments about the various odd aspects of all the character types and how they are all, in their own ways, not what you’d image as the Herald of Andraste, so I’m sure it’s not just this race/class, but it’s cool that they put the time into it to craft specific comments. This is why we love BioWare.

I’ve been flirting pretty indiscriminately, although I do slightly fear scaring people off by coming on too strong. Because I’m like 8 feet tall and have big horns and wear greenish face paint. Some people might find that intimidating.

I’ve already gotten a “thanks, but no” from two people, and I’m like “did I ask too soon? Or am I just not his/her type? Did I play that wrong, or was that always going to be the answer?”

So much uncertainty–just like real life! And just like real life, I’ll console myself with the thought that ‘no’ was always going to be the answer, and that we can continue to be friends and work together to destroy renegade Templars and mages and build a powerful religio-military institution dedicated to closing a hole in the sky. As one does.

Butch:

Yeah, I’m sorta playing Evelyn as someone who didn’t really want to rebel. She didn’t like the tower, but she also didn’t have much of a problem with the templars, as they left her alone, as she was well behaved, and really just wants peace, not all the running around killing dudes.

I’ve gotten a lot of “A mage calling herself the Herald is heresy!” stuff. And Solas was intrigued. I’ve also gotten a lot of dialog options that are mage specific. Had a long, flirty conversation with Josephine about how boring it was in the mage tower. She’s so into me.

Who’s already ditched you? I made Cullen blush, I got a “that….wouldn’t be prudent at this time” from Cassandra (though she did slightly approve, that’s something) and Josephine practically jumped me on the war table.

I’m telling myself that Leliana is still pining for my warden.

I have gotten over rejection and heartbreak by building SO many religio-military institutions. I mean, before I found whiskey. Both approaches have their pros and cons.

[Later]

Ok, Kotaku is discussing all possible sex scenes in DAI. Should we just go watch them all and pick our love interest based on how good they look in lingerie?

Feminina:

Cullen told me he’s not really looking for romance right now (maybe he will be later!), and another person, whom you’ll meet soon, kind of laughed and said “thank you, but no.” I haven’t really managed to get anywhere with Josephine…must seek her out for more flirting. Of course, I don’t have that ‘tower mage’ thing to talk about.

I like the idea of reviewing all the love scenes in advance and going from there, but it does kind of take the suspense out of the thing. Maybe for our second playthrough! Which we’ll totally get to because there’s nothing else coming out that we want to play! Ha.

I’ll probably review them all afterwards and see whether I made a good choice.

Butch:

Second playthrough. You are funny.

So I did get a bunch in last night. Met Sera and Vivienne, who I imagine you’ve also met. Got the quest to go find the Grey Warden in the hinterlands (who I’m guessing you have) and the quest to meet the Iron Bull. You got anyone else? Or is that the four you mentioned the other day?

I’m guessing Vivienne is the one who blew you off entirely, as when I flirted she said “don’t be absurd.” Is ok. I don’t dig bald women. That Sera on the other hand, is cute. She said I was cheeky. Her war table missions are awesome. I have Leliana out now on “the Inquisition needs beeeeeeeeeeeees.”

I’m also guessing the first branch point you mentioned yesterday was the “should we go get the mages or templars?” bit. Or did I miss something?

I’m pretty much going mage at this point, but I think I may go get that warden, mop up some stuff in the Hinterlands, then drift up to the storm coast with my new warden to a) check on those wardens and b) meet the Iron Bull, who sounds like a hoot.

I noted last night that, in what amounts to a week and a half, I have 11 hours in. It took me three and a half months to do 25 hours of TLOU. Ah, bioware.

Feminina:

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up! Vivienne shut me down completely, and those are the four companions I’ve picked up so far, and that’s the major branch point I’m (still) currently facing. And you see what I mean about the game being kind of weighted against the Templars to this point…it’s like, “Why WOULDN’T I go check out the mages as opposed to the Templars?”

I’ve already dedicated a much greater amount of energy to that option at this point, trekking off to Redcliffe and everything, and there are a lot of mages willing to talk to me and tell me they’re concerned about what’s going on, and I can kind of suspect that something similar is probably going on with the Templars as well (Cassandra did mention that this behavior was totally out of character for Grand Seeker Lucius), but still…I don’t have any particular emotional ‘in’ with the Templars, who’ve all just marched off and vanished. The mages are at least talking to me. Clearly, I would care more about figuring out what the hell is going on with them.

And then I just wonder if there’s something major and important that we’d find out by approaching the Templars instead…which, of course, there must be from a game standpoint…I mean, they wouldn’t design two branches for a plot and make one of them totally stupid and boring while the other contained all the interesting stuff. At least, one would certainly hope not.

But in any case, I’m going to follow up with the mages as soon as I finish up with a few things on the side. Requisitions, selling loot, looking for shards, fighting bandits. That sort of thing.

I also seized the opportunity to follow up on the “beeeeeees!” quest, which is too hilarious not to pursue. Although sadly I haven’t actually seen bees in action yet…I need to get Sera out with me and make her use them. I equipped them for her, but I guess it’s not at the top of her tactics list or something.

Stay tuned for more play-by-play musing and reports of our attempts to find love in a harsh, demon-infested world!

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