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Note: some near-the-end plot spoilers for DAI

Butch:

Ok, watched Leliana be ruthless (yikes), had her kill that sister, etc, met bianca, did that bit, and played cards with everyone which was unbearably awesome.

THOUGHTS!

SMART having the card game come after Leliana and Varric’s bit. Very nicely done. We talk on themes of family and belonging, and that is very much what this game’s about. So here we have two key characters have their faith shaken and questioned (Varric’s faith in Bianca, Leliana’s faith in the divine/chantry), and that’s followed by a card game where everyone (almost, more on that in a bit) is there, together, laughing, happy, and part of something they want to be a part of. Nice that Varric is there (as Varric comes to the conclusion that his faith in Bianca/dwarves was misplaced) and Leliana ISN’T, because SHE clings to her old beliefs. I told her to let it go, and she wouldn’t. SHE clings to old memories, and can’t join the party.

Interesting that Solas wasn’t there and Cole was. Solas’ fear was “dying alone,” and yet….he can’t bring himself to come play, despite his fears. He WANTS to be a part (or is scared not to be) and can’t.

A nice bit of acting/storytelling/game mechanic: So Josephine tells a story. You have a chance to ask for another, tell Varric to tell one, leave, or tell one yourself. I picked to tell. “So it was the day of my harrowing (there’s a bit you didn’t get) and I was surrounded my the high mages and templars…..” screen goes blank…”….and that’s why they locked up that history and threw away the key.” And there’s some laughter….and for the life of me I couldn’t tell if it was genuine or the kind of awkward laughter when the boss does something not that funny. I couldn’t tell, me, not Evelyn. I was left wondering if I was really a part of this circle of friends or not. My faith in the inquisition was, just a little bit, shaken. That was cool.

Varric even says afterwards that even HE sometimes has a hard time seeing Evelyn not as some icon, but as a real person. VARRIC!

All told, very well done roping the player into the whole idea of questioning faith. Blurred lines. Love me some blurred lines in games.

Gonna go deal with Blackwall next.

Feminina:

Right? RIGHT?! I told you, Leliana is freakin’ scary! That was the point where I began to live in dread of her deciding I had served my purpose in the cause as she saw it, and needed to be quietly disposed of. I love her, but she’s kind of terrifying. And yes, I tried to tell her to move on–hell, the DIVINE specifically told her she needed to move on–and she’s having none of it. Did you talk to her yet about her possibly becoming the next Divine? Because yikes. I could see Leliana being the well-intentioned but deadly villain of a later game…you see where’s she’s coming from (literally, if you played previous games), but she must be stopped!

But we shall see.

Anyway, moving on, I agree: I loved the card game bit. I didn’t tell a story, I asked Varric to and I think he told one about Hawke, so I didn’t get that slightly awkward bit of people laughing politely/genuinely at my tale, but yeah, even so there’s that edge of “hey, we can all be friends but we all have jobs to do in the morning and MY job is just different from everyone else’s.” I’m the Inquisitor, and no one else is.

They’ve done some very interesting things with non-combat scenes in this game.

Butch:

Yeah, she pretty much lost it. Indeed, she was PISSED when I told her to move on. I had the same reaction: “Dude, did you not READ the note?” Her faith has led her down a nutty path.

Sort of like the Venitori guys, right?

Great scene, the card game. And a well timed scene.

We’ve talked a lot about how this game is moving forward, unlike Skyrim. We’ve talked on how it nudges you forward in terms of “go here, do that,” but it also has timed its cutscenes flawlessly. There’s no reason the card game couldn’t have come earlier or later. There’s nothing there that is contingent of a or b happening, but it MEANS more coming after two crises in faith. It moves things forward better if it’s there. And that’s good game making.

They have indeed done interesting non-combat things. More so than in other bioware games. I mean, a lot of the story arc in other bioware games either happens in camp/the normandy, or it happens in little wee cutscenes that are in the heat of battle. This game gives us story stuff at Skyhold, sure, but also the ball, also stops in the regions, etc. It isn’t divided into “Skyhold=talking story, everything else=fighty story.” Granted, the structure of the game helps, as does the power of the PS4, but still.

Feminina:

Yeah, Leliana is an example of how faith, even (especially?) sincere, devout faith, is not necessarily (or even usually?) a force for good. ‘Cause, wow. Her vision of how to proceed is sooooooo not something I can get behind.

I mean, they’ve never presented the Chantry as an unalloyed force for good, always as a human institution with human-made flaws, but Leliana really highlighted the dark side of organized religion there. I wouldn’t put it past her to try to organize a crusade or something (perhaps against the qun?). Or to argue for an inquisition that looks a lot more like the one we’re familiar with from history. She’s gone off the deep end!

Maybe she’ll come back, but seriously, I will not even be surprised if we wind up having to fight her in the next game.

Butch:

Yeah, she’s all kidnapping cousins. She’s gone totally batshit. Where’s my cutie who likes shoes? She just needs some shoes.

And Solas, who is rather unwavering, isn’t happy either.

AH! A crusade against the Qun! That’s a neat one. Especially if you’ve played DA2 and had to deal with the Arishock in Kirkwall, who was his own kind of religious nut. That would be a game with rather grey overtones.

Man, I hope we don’t have to kill her. I’ve already had to choose between Morrigan and Leliana once, I have a feeling I will have to again. Don’t do it to me three times, Bioware.

Feminina:

Indeed, what happened to the cheery shoe-lover? She’s been hard to find throughout this game, although we saw a glimpse of her at the ball, and at this point I’m not sure she exists anymore. People change…

A Leliana-influenced Chantry against the qun (which, as you note, is also well represented by…dedicated religious folk) could totally work. And be kind of grim, but interesting. It’s been interesting to travel and talk with Iron Bull, who defends the qun even though he himself seems to have done very well living apart from it, and, in the end, wasn’t dedicated enough to it to immediately sacrifice his troops for it. Just as the Chantry is far from being presented as flawless, the qun is not presented as being an incarnation of pure evil. (Which, yay for more complex storytelling!)

I guess I’d be inclined to support the Chantry at this point, but depending on what we learned, how things were going, etc., it could be a pretty tough call. One could see both being pretty oppressive, and if the qun were not directly threatening non-qun lands at this moment, while an invigorated “we must forcibly convert everyone” Chantry was? I dunno. Maybe I’d work with the qun to oppose the Chantry.

And Solas, well…we’ll talk about Solas another time.

Butch:

See, I STILL blame myself for Leliana’s anger. I was a hottie. Maybe if I had chosen her, maybe if I had developed a thing for RHGEBBs instead all would have been well.

But no.

Chantry versus qun could be dark, and dense, but, you know, bioware has been drifting that way for some time. ME got darker as it went, this is the darkest DA game I think. Why not? With a writing change (lead writer David Gaider said he’s giving DA to someone else after ten years to work on the super secret bioware project that isn’t Shadow Realms or ME4 and JUSTTELLUSWHATITISALREADY….ok, I’m ok now), why not take it in a slightly different direction? We shall see.

Chantry/qun would be a tough call. And a good game.

Yeah, Solas….I sorta figured an elven temple….he might have something to say.

I also figured out the whole “who would be the one companion at the end thing:” Gotta be Varric. See, you could NOT recruit everyone but Cassandra, Varric and Solas who all join in the prologue. You had the “will not join the inquisition” option BEFORE THEY EVEN GOT THERE on everyone else. Solas and Cassandra….you COULD piss them off pretty much, except maybe Cassandra would stay cuz she kinda IS the inquisition. But if you send her to make her divine?

Gotta be Varric.

Feminina:

I like your logic regarding Varric as the one person who would never desert you. I can’t find any confirmation or disconfirmation on the internet, but I can only spend so much time looking. People have confirmed that Sera, Blackwall and Dorian can be irritated to the point that they leave, but no one is saying “I got everyone to leave except x.” Thanks for nothing, internet!

Butch:

Yeah, I can see that. Still, if someone did such a shitty playthrough of ME that everyone, including Shepard, died, then someone must’ve done an equally shitty playthrough of DAI by now. I mean, someone got chucked from the ball, right? Speedrunners. Those crazy fuckers have done it for sure.

Feminina:

Somebody on a forum said he was on his third playthrough and was intentionally trying to alienate everyone and get them all to leave. I guess if you play often enough, you get around to trying weird stunts. Personally I’d spend that time playing on Nightmare level to get a platinum trophy, but who am I to say that someone pursuing a personal arbitrary goal of being a huge jerk to all companions is less valid than someone pursuing a game-imposed arbitrary goal of hunting a trophy? (Or maybe he already did that.)

I don’t think I could play like that, though. I would just hate the character I was playing too much. But again, if you’ve got the time for a third playthrough, I guess you’ve got the time to spend hanging out with a virtual jerk for a while.

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