Co-Optimized: Dragon Age: Inquisition

In today's Co-Optimized, we check out Dragon Age: Inquisition's multiplayer mode. Four agents of the Inquisition come together in this cooperative dungeon crawler. Although, the game might be painfully slow going at first, working as a team, and combining abilities to greater effect, might be enough to win out. Or at least get you enough experience to play better next time.

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There's nothing like the thrill of competitive multiplayer, but sometimes it's better to kick back and play alongside your friends and family instead of against them. Co-Optimized, we highlight and discuss games that are best played together.

With yesterday's release of Dragon Age: Inquisition's first DLC campaign, it's only fitting to discuss the game's multiplayer mode. Given how expansive the single player campaign is, it can be easy to overlook the title's cooperative multiplayer portion. But even though the single-player experience is great, there's nothing quite like facing the Thedas' greatest threats alongside a small party of fighters.

In multiplayer, a small group of soldiers are sent in to investigate ruins. However, the Inquisition's resources are stretched thin, since saving the world seems to require quite a bit of cash. Therefore, these fighters are equipped with basic weapons, and they'll have to find better equipment and upgrades for themselves.

Multiplayer is essentially a dungeon crawl, with very straightforward goals. Up to four players band together to eliminate all enemies, progress through the ruins, complete objectives, and ultimately, fight a boss character. Hidden throughout the ruins are treasure rooms that require specific classes to unlock. A warrior can punch through weak walls, a rogue picks locks, and mages dispel magical barriers. So, it's a good idea to have a diverse team while exploring the world.

What makes the mode tricky is that it's extremely challenging. Unless a member of the group is very high level and equipped with powerful gear, these multiplayer matches could end very quickly, as players are run through with swords, torn apart by demons, or eaten by dragons. There's power in numbers, and working as a team is paramount to success. Players need to combine their talents and make the most out of whatever abilities and equipment they have. That usually means using ability combos for greater damage.

Adding to the challenge is the fact that each player is only allowed to carry two healing potions while there are none available within dungeons. Once you've run out of healing, the only way to recover everyone's health is to reach a healing pedestal at the end of each level. That being the case, starting as a character with two abilities and basic weapons can be painful. Climbing up the levels can be slow going, depending on how far you progress with each mission.

Multiplayer has a unique skill tree that's unlike the one from the main campaign. Choices are limited to two trees, each with a straight path, and a choice between two branching sub-skills at each level. For example, an archer must first pick up the First Blood ability before he can choose between the branching Long Shot or Leaping Shot abilities. Although the skill system looks like a straight path, players still have a good shot at creating very powerful characters, even though the skill system doesn't have the same flexibility as the campaign's. Just keep in mind that you can only bring four active abilities with you, resulting in players having to figure out how best to support their character with passive abilities and potions.

Players have a chance to upgrade their equipment between matches, and can purchase chests full of items using money earned during play. For those who prefer to skip the grind, there's a real-money option for buying chests as well. Although the loot system is random, players can maximize their chances of getting better items by saving up their gold and purchasing bigger chests. Chests also have a chance of unlocking new classes to play with.

Although Inquisition's multiplayer might be considered rather slow going, especially at early stages, it makes up for it by emphasizing teamwork and throwing a lot of powerful creatures at you. The party needs to prepare itself for an end-of-the-mission boss fight, and the boss may intermittently call in reinforcements. That means the team has to look out for each other while working to defeat the toughest monster in the mission.Many soldiers end up falling, but they return stronger and maybe a bit wiser than before.

So, if you can manage to pry yourself away from the main campaign, gather together some friends, and start killing the enemies of the Inquisition. 

Managing Editor

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