Inquisition Diaries #13: Descending into Disappointment
SPOILER WARNING: These diaries will contain spoilers for Dragon Age Inquisition (DAI) and its downloadable content (DLC), as well as its predecessors, Dragon Age: Origins (DAO) and Dragon Age II (DA2), and may also contain spoilers from the tie-in materials. If you’re new to this whole Dragon Age business and want to know what the hell I’m going on about, please visit my little Dragon Age Primer to learn a bit more about BioWare’s fantasy roleplaying video game series. Not able to devote the ridiculous amount of time into leading the Inquisition yourself? Then join me on my noble journey!
One day, I might actually try the multiplayer aspect of Dragon Age: Inquisition, which at least makes passing reference to the main storyline, but, well, I’m more interested in the main storyline. But although I’ve already defeated Corypheus, BioWare has provided me with something new to dig into. Namely: The Descent, the new Dragon Age Inquisition DLC that takes players into the biggest dungeon we’ve faced—the Deep Roads.
Dragon Age fans are very familiar with the massive caverns that spread beneath the continent of Thedas and perhaps beyond. They are the home of the dwarves, some of whom never leave this underground realm to see the light of day. They are also home to the darkspawn, the corrupted creatures of darkness that remain a constant threat. The dwarves, specifically the Legion of the Dead, are tasked with keeping back the forces of the darkspawn. The Grey Wardens exist to thwart the Blight, which occurs when the darkspawn find and corrupt an old god, turning it into an archdemon to lead them to the surface, but after the shameful affairs in the desert, the Grey Wardens have gone strangely silent. That leaves only the Legion and the Inquisition to discern what is causing earthquakes beneath the Deep Roads and defend against the darkspawn that are breaking through thanks to the quakes.
The Deep Roads are not a fun place to be in Dragon Age terms, what with all the paths and the darkspawn and the undead, but after playing The Jaws of Hakkon DLC, I’m eager to see what BioWare has to offer in the latest expansion of their vast realm. So let’s suit up Inquisitor Lerenne and see what’s shaking way down in the deep. Lerenne and her team arrive to find Shaper Valta tending to dead lyrium miners after the collapse of a mining cave. Lyrium, used in all sorts of magic, is the major export of the dwarven kingdom of Orzammar. These quakes are bad for business.
Valta leads the crew to find the Legion, but first, we must fight a stray ogre that comes barreling up from the depths. Ah ogres. How I missed you.
Further down, darkspawn swarm the few remaining Legionnaires who are trying to seal off the caverns. With darkspawn temporarily thwarted Lerenne has time to speak with Valta and with Renn who leads this group of the Legion. The two are well acquainted and work well together, though Renn does not give much thought to Valta’s theory of a titan being at the root of the quakes. As a Shaper, or historian, Valta’s knowledge is vast, and she’s also found the journal of a Paragon that leads her to believe her theory is true. Valta believes that the Stone from which dwarves believe the world is shaped and they themselves are born from is speaking to her and that the rhythm within the quakes is guiding her to its source.
While the Stone has always been a part of Dragon Age dwarvish lore, this titan business is new. The injection of a whole new creature makes me a little suspicious. But we’ll see where this goes.
Deeper still, we discover doors that require unusual gears to open them. The gears, Valta notes, are not common dwarven craft. They are scattered all over the map, which means I have to leave no corner unvisited in the vast, winding caverns, if I want to access all the secrets hidden behind the doors. There are also expedition markers to be placed on the map which unlock quests on the unique war map for this area. I figure, as I go along, that once I make it to the next camp, I’ll have access to the war table map so that I can unlock the expeditions. After more travel and waves upon waves of darkspawn, I make it to the second camp and discover that there is no war table. Worse, there is no fast travel option. Also, there’s no quartermaster available for me to unload all my loot. So. I have to walk alllll the way back? Sigh.
Back at the initial camp, I send Cullen’s soldiers to build me bridges on the expedition map, then head back down into the caverns. Hidden doors are opened with the special gears to reveal some mostly useless loot, tidbits of lore, darkspawn, and more gears. Totally worth my time. Except not really. Also not worth my time: getting back to the lift to take me further into the story only to find a game glitch that makes the lift unusable. Thank goodness for gravity. With encouragement from my daughters, who always seem to enjoy seeing me make my character fall off of precipices, I make it back down to the next level. Soon the group is traversing unknown territory, leaving the Deep Roads behind to wander caves lost to history. Valta thinks this is great because yay lost history! But it’s not so great when a new enemy appears and kills Renn with their obnoxious ranged weapons. There are pieces of a soldier’s journal to be found that speaks of scaled (lizard-like?) creatures. Valta deduces that these are ancient dwarves with armour bonded to their bodies with lyrium. She deciphers writing on the walls to confirm that they are called the Sha-Brytol and they guard the titan from invaders. They don’t seem interested in negotiation, so the next chunk of the game involves more descending and fighting through beautiful lyrium lit caves. Yay.
Busting down the Sha-Brytol’s fancy road blocks finally leads us to a sanctuary deep below ground, and at its heart is a great big chunk of lyrium that looks like, well, a heart. We are, according to Valta, inside the titan, and this heart is the new goal. So, more descending (with ladders this time) and fighting.
According to Dragon Age creative director Mike Laidlaw, this dungeon is meant to grow more challenging the deeper you travel. So far, the only challenge is fending off my growing boredom and disappointment. There’s no really interesting addition to the lore that I love so much, none of my companions—who usually offer lots of witty and insightful commentary—are saying much of anything, and the new gear I’ve found for them is, well, ugly.
Continuing to the heart, Valta is struck down and Lerenne and her team are locked inside as the heart becomes a great stone guardian. Oh finally! A challenge! Except not really! Not only was the fight pretty easy, I had thought that this guardian would lead to the revelation of the titan we’d been told about for the past few hours. Nope. It seems, that’s pretty much it for this DLC. The walls that had trapped Lerenne and the others crumble and Valta revives and displays a sudden burst of magic—unusual, since dwarves have no access to magic. No other Sha-Brytol show up, and Valta really has no clue what’s going on other than concluding that the quakes had started with the breach, and now the titan is at peace again. Shaper Valta has found a new purpose in life as she decides to stay to unearth this forgotten history and hopefully not die before she can bring her findings to the Shaperite.
“I’m leaving here with more questions than answers,” says the Inquisitor, reflecting my thoughts. Except my thoughts come with the added bonus of “Wow, that really was not worth $14.99.”