Co-Optimized: Dragon Age Inquisition: Dragonslayer

Dragon Age: Inquisition's cooperative multiplayer got a free upgrade with the Dragonslayer expansion. We gather together the party, comprised of both new and familiar faces, play a few chords on a magical lute, and go dragon hunting.


Although we've highlighted Dragon Age: Inquisition's cooperative multiplayer in the past, the mode received a considerable amount of new content with the free Dragonslayer expansion pack that released recently. The pack adds three new characters to the roster, one of whom is the ever recognizable Isabela, a possible companion and romantic interest from Dragon Age 2. Like most of the other multiplayer characters, they must be unlocked, and getting them requires gold (earned through playing) and a bit of luck.

The Dragonslayer expansion, as its title indicates, also has dragons. A fourth map called the Ferelden Castle, is added to the rotation. A mix of both Red Templar and Demons impede your path to the top, and they seem more concerned with killing you on sight than taking cover from the High Dragon flying overhead. That's their mistake, and one that you shouldn't repeat, since the dragon isn't just there for looks. It circles overhead and occasionally spits flames, ice, or electricity down on adventurers while they're busy fighting. Although players are often the victims, they can sometimes benefit when the dragon decides to light a whole line of enemies aflame.

Although the fundamentals of Inquisition's multiplayer haven't changed - you're still part of a Inquisition agents sent to infiltrate a location, kill all enemies, and confront a large boss - the new characters add a renewed dynamic to the group. So far, I have only been able to play alongside the Zither, the lute playing Virtuoso, and Isabela, the high-speed duelist and Queen of the Eastern Seas. I have yet to encounter Awar Skywatcher, who combines elemental magic with melee attacks, but after playing the other two I'm certainly looking forward to trying him too.

Zither changes up the group balance in a huge way by addressing one of the game's biggest challenges: health. With a few exceptions, players can only bring two health potions with them, and there is no healing mage class. Although the power of music doesn't heal, it adds another layer of protection and resistances. But players will have to unlock abilities and play the notes in the right sequence using the magic lute. Giving the party barriers, for example, requires Zither to play the Cold chord three times. Just a few of these protections can easily turn the tide of battle, but his musical talents also branch into Battle Hymns, which give the party offensive bonuses or fires a unique musical attack.

Isabela is the fast moving duelist that specializes in hitting without being hit back. Given her high damage and unique ability to come out almost unscathed in many situations, it's not uncommon for her to be the first fighter in and be the last one left standing if the mission falls apart. Including when confronting a High Dragon head on.

Most Inquisition players are pretty much used to taking on groups of Red Templar and demons, even when they spawn to flank the party. But the dragon adds a new wildcard to the familiar dungeon crawling formula. Dragon projectiles stay on the ground for a while. A fire breathing dragon leaves a burning patch and electrical ones drop mines. Stepping into them damages characters, which can often leave them trapped when fighting enemies. On the bright side, players can try luring enemies to these spots, but dragon fire more often acts as an impediment, especially when it lands in the middle of a narrow walkway or staircase. The dragon also forces the group to scatter and seek cover, making it easier for enemies to single them out and kill them.

The trek through the ruined castle culminates into a final confrontation with the dragon in a wide open courtyard. As Inquisition players already know, dragons are extremely tough to take down, and the multiplayer version is no different. Players have to coordinate and focus all their firepower to cripple the dragon and take it down. In the meantime, it will fight back with various attacks that include blasting fire, summoning a group of baby dragons to eat you, and flapping its wings to draw everyone in for the kill. It's not uncommon for the dragon to incapacitate or kill weaker characters with a single move. A team of low level players might have a very rough go at defeating the dragon, but that pretty much describes every boss in Inquisition's multiplayer.

Dragonslayer shows that if there's one thing that can make Inquisition's dungeon crawling multiplayer more exciting, it's an element breathing dragon and a host of characters that are both familiar and new. While it doesn't change up the game's fundamentals, it adds enough variety to make it worth revisiting if you haven't played in a long while. So, gather up your blades, bow, staff and lute and go dragon hunting.

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. With Co-Optimized, we highlight and discuss games that are best played together.

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