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Note: discussion of mechanics, very minor plot spoilers

Buttons:

I ran away from Emprise du Lion and tried Crestwood. I found the cheese shield! I also ran around a small building to the right of the town of Crestwood and in this dead-end there was a pile of scattered playing cards, a skeleton of a dead guy, and a wheel of cheese about 1/3 the size of the skeleton. I think they may have an inside joke about cheese that we’re not privy to.

BTW – Have either of you judged anyone yet? From your throne? I’m wondering if everyone gets the same dude to judge the first time. I had the Avar guy… with the goats. Hilarious! I’ll not go on so I don’t spoil anything in case you haven’t. Hilarious, I say!

Finally hit Level 12 and Origin says I’m at 34 hours or so. Seems like levels 1 – 10 went fast and then I started going at a glacial pace.

New areas of Skyhold opened up to me. Now there are merchant stalls, and I got to meet Your Trainer. I thought these people were supposed to expand my inquisition skill tree. I’ve only got two inquisition skills in there and it feels like a ripoff compared to these lovely skill trees that every other skill has. Do the inquisition skills open up more?

Also, the rift power; it seems like it’s always not available for me to use, or if it is maybe once per map? I don’t know; is it tied to mana? Whenever I want to use it; I can’t. Advice?

Oh – and when I went through the destruction of Haven, having read the blog I tried to run around and save everyone I could; based on what I read from you two… there’s no chance for one player to save some people and another player to save others. Every player ends up saving the same people; and the same people live and die each time. So when you write ‘I saved the blacksmith’, well, everyone saves him. However, the illusion that you did it yourself and felt like there was some sort of meaningful choice on your part is interesting, especially when you had no choice.

Feminina:

Yes! Judging the guy with the goats! That was awesome. I think the judging follows specific quests, so if you finish up a mission with a related mastermind/significant person, you get to judge that person right afterwards (or whenever afterwards you get to your throne).

I guess I’m glad to hear that saving the people wasn’t actually optional…my crushing guilt is somewhat eased. But it is interesting that it came across as more under player control than it was. And in this game, you never know–it COULD have been!

I am now level 22 and have yet to expand my Inquisitor skill tree. You have to do a war table mission to get instructors to teach you specialized skills, and then you have to talk to the three possible instructors (each with a different style/approach to teach you), pick one to train with, and then do missions to follow up on it. I just can’t seem to get all the materials for my training mission with the trainer I picked, so I keep not doing that. I would recommend following up on it sooner than I have, because there’s probably useful stuff in the expanded skill tree, I just have no idea what it is. I should probably give up and pick one of the other trainers, just to move ahead on this.

The life-sucking inquisitor power is AWESOME, but it does recharge very slowly. I believe it recharges based on how often/well you hit in combat…so get into fights as often as possible! Supposedly it recharges faster when you successfully pull off combos (i.e., one person freezes an enemy, another hits it to create “SHATTER”), but I’m not very good at setting those up.

Butch:

Hey! Wiki-ing is cheating! No more wiki-ing!

The power uses focus. This was mentioned in the tutorial that popped up when you first get it in the tunnel there after haven, but you didn’t read that, did you? No, no you didn’t.

Focus happens when you hit or kill an enemy. Once you have enough focus, you can use a focus based ability. These abilities are marked “Requires and uses focus” on the skill trees. Clearly. Also, as reiterated numerous times on numerous loading screens, other party members will not use focus based abilities unless you are controlling them or you explicitly set it in the tactics menu.

Focus. It’s called focus.

Some poor dude at bioware worked hard to write all that shit into the tutorials that pop up and the loading screens. Consider him, and read.

Feminina:

I think wiki-ing is OK after everyone’s done something. Retroactive wiki-ing.

Wiki-ing ahead is…I won’t say cheating, because whatever, it’s a game you’re playing by yourself so you’re the only person you could cheat against, but at least it risks spoiling yourself. Although again, game you play by yourself, so if someone else doesn’t care about spoilers who am I to argue with them? As long as they don’t spoil it for me, of course.

I contend that Butch’s explanation of “focus” was essentially what I said, only I left out the actual term “focus.” I glance at the tutorials, OK?

Also, what loading screens are you looking at? I swear mine always contain bits of codex info, which I kind of like because it puts bits of codex that I probably barely skimmed when I found it in front of my eyes again, but which I also kind of don’t like because they take longer to read than the game does to load, so I never get to finish them. This should make me rush off to review my collection of codices, but of course it doesn’t because as soon as the game loads I’m busy doing the same thing I was too busy doing to read the codex in the first place: playing!

I’ve actually been meaning to propose a blog exchange on the topic, like “how do we feel about the fact that this game doesn’t just constantly reiterate ‘helpful’ tips, it actually gives you different stuff to read?”

Butch:

We must agree to disagree. Wiki after completion of the game.

Each load screen randomly loads three “cards” that you’ve unlocked. You can shuffle through them with the bumpers. Often, these cards are tutorial cards.

I’m for it. I like the three card system. Then you don’t get the same tutorial over and over (Snacks are nice in moderation……get the reference, buttons) but you can remind yourself if need be. Plus, occasional Sera card.

Feminina:

Ahahahahaha!!!! Seriously? You can flip through those cards? I’m laughing wildly at myself for never having noticed that. I mean, I knew the cards were there, but I just figured they were randomly selected and purely decorative.

Well, in that case I’m definitely for it–flipping cards gives you something to do while the game loads, and a choice of things to read is a plus. Although apparently the “Attention slow-witted players: you can flip through these cards!” notice is too damn small.

Wow. Twenty-two levels and I didn’t know that. The things you learn.

Buttons:

First of all; wiki: I didn’t wiki anything about Haven – I read our blog; that’s how I know. I didn’t look it up on a wiki. False accuser!

Rift Power + Focus. Thanks for the clarity. It’s an interesting point you bring up though. Having made a tutorial level I’m more sensitive to text on screen than most. And I do recall reading that. However, I also recall thinking ‘bah – I know all about focus. I’ll just skim this’. The other piece is that I was interrupted a few times during and after the cave sequence so my attention was somewhat scattered. I wonder about the efficacy of tutorial text on screen for a new player vs a player who’s already played DA1 and 2. Are they more prone to have the reaction I did (I know all this already, shut up game!)?

The cards I knew about but like F indicated there’s often not enough time to read all of it. Because my reading was interrupted by the game finishing loading, the game actually taught me not to read them because I’ll never finish them so why start. Therefore I never flip the cards because I’m sure I’ll not be able to read all of them. Interesting conundrum.

Butch:

Well, when a game is being made that’s a big part of the franchise, I imagine the “satisfy veteran” vs. “teach newb” is a very fine line to walk.

Me, I like tutorials and read them a lot, even in franchises, because of my own insecurity about being bad at games.

Feminina [later]:

When I played last night I could see that yes, there are the perfectly obvious little “left/right trigger” icons right under the cards, indicating that you can hit those triggers to make something happen–I just never looked at them that closely before? Plus, as Buttons says, I almost never finish reading even one card, so I have little motivation to flip to others that I assume I probably also won’t be able to finish reading. And I read pretty fast–I wonder if ANYONE is really reading the bits of codex?

Not that I’m suggesting they should increase load times to let us read more while we wait!

I like tutorials OK. I appreciate their existence, because I like having the option to look things up, but honestly if I already know something or how to do something (or if I think I know it), I generally don’t do more than glance at them. If I see an informational screen and my first reaction is “yeah, I know this,” I will usually give a cursory scroll to the bottom to make sure nothing leaps out at me, and then close. I certainly don’t really peruse them. I am impatient, I confess it, and sometimes this backfires and I remain woefully ignorant of some important detail that would have explained much or made something easier.

That’s why I keep Butch around. People think it’s for the punching, but actually it’s for the close attention to detail!

Butch:

I flip through them to get to the short ones. I don’t bother with the ballads and stuff.

What bugs me is, when you’re 92 hours in a game and it’s still saying stuff like “Press X to climb.” No shit, game. But this has been blogged on before, right? I lose track.

Feminina:

Since I never flipped through the cards and always seem to see the codex entries rather than the helpful hints, I really don’t have a complaint against this game in terms of giving useful tips we all learned at first level (“Did you know…? Use healing potions to prevent dying when injured in combat!”) But yes, we’ve talked about it in regard to other games, and it’s always good for an eyeroll and a laugh.

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