Reviewing The New “Dragon Age: Inquisition” Expansion, “The Descent”
Please welcome new guest writer Ruth, with a review of “The Descent.” Some spoilers follow, be warned!
“The Descent” is the latest story DLC for “Dragon Age: Inquisition” and it involves descending further into the Deep Roads to discover the cause of the earthquakes that have recently started happening in the region of the Storm Coast. It’s aptly titled.
Unlike “Jaws of Hakkon,” the previous story DLC, “The Descent” has a more linear focus. It provides more of a traditional dungeon crawl, rather than an open zone to explore at your own pace. Having said this, you can leave the Deep Roads at any time and then return to pick up where you left off. The DLC can be played at any point in time after you’ve reached Skyhold, although you’re better off taking a high level Inquisitor. The quest line can be accessed through the war table. Hover over the Storm Coast and look for the operation ”Disaster in the Deep Roads.”
Let’s start with what the DLC is good at. “The Descent” is quite effective at raising curiosity and creating a suspenseful atmosphere. At end of each level, you’re presented with a slow, creaking lift. The sights you see on the way down become stranger and stranger. The enemies you face are more mysterious. You’re exploring uncharted territory, and you get a sense of that. As a fan of “Origins,” seeing the high-vaulted caverns in the Deep Roads rendered in Frostbite was kind of cool.
In terms of game play, there isn’t anything new to explore. The difficulty level is similar to that in “Hakkon,” that is, harder than the main quest line. I felt that combat wasn’t particularly exciting; the new enemies didn’t have any unique abilities that set me on a back foot. Now, I’m aware that the difficulty level is supposed to increase as you go deeper into the bowels of the earth; but if it did, I didn’t notice. Combat, to me, felt like a test of endurance rather than a challenge as I slowly ground down my combatants’ hit points and made sure to keep everyone shielded.
Since “The Descent” doesn’t really switch things up, I’m sure that you’ll feel similarly about the combat in this as you feel about the combat in the base game.
The story of “The Descent” doesn’t feature any significant choices, to my recollection, and doesn’t focus on your companions much at all. It is, instead, very lore-heavy. On my adventure, I took Dorian, Vivienne and the deeply rhabdophobic Sera. What I discovered at the end of the quest should have huge ramifications for the mages and the templars. However, my companions’ comments on the finding weren’t very pronounced; they recognized the importance of the revelation in the course of a sentence or two. Sometimes brevity is the soul of wit. An alternate explanation is that voice actors aren’t always cheap or easy to pin down.
That’s not to say that “The Descent” completely overlooks the human (or in this case, dwarven) side of a narrative. On your journey, you are accompanied by Shaper Valta and Lieutenant Renn, a commander in the Legion of the Dead. Valta speculates that a Titan of legend might actually exist based on her studies, but Renn is unconvinced. They are old friends, and their banter is very Mulder and Scully-esque.
At the end of the DLC, my Inquisitor remarked that he’d left with more questions than answers. I felt similarly. “The Descent” might end up becoming hugely relevant to the over-arching story of “Dragon Age” in the same manner that “Dragon Age 2’s” “Legacy” DLC became significant when Corypheus made a reappearance. The ending in “The Descent” reveals a rather titanic secret (pun intended?—I’m not telling). Still, I have little idea what the implications of it might be going forward. If you prefer narratives with a tidy conclusion, “The Descent” might leave you wanting. If you’re a lore aficionado and you like to speculate about where the “Dragon Age” universe will be heading, this expansion might do something for you.
Ruth is a recent philosophy graduate who writes gaming news regularly for GGS gamer. When she’s not searching for a job and worrying about the graduate employment market, she can usually be found gaming. Or writing about gaming. Or watching Netflix. Or obsessively checking her emails. Or wondering how to use Twitter.
(images screenshots from “The Descent,” a “Dragon Age: Inquisition” DLC, property of EA Games and Bioware)