A cataclysmic event plunges the land of Thedas into turmoil. Dragons darken the sky, casting a shadow of terror over a once-peaceful kingdom. Mages break into all-out war against the oppressive Templars. Nations rise against one another. It falls to you and your party of legendary heroes to restore order as you lead the Inquisition, hunting down the agents of chaos. Bonds will form - and some will break - as the campaign for truth takes its toll.
BioWare's latest action-adventure delivers an unparalleled story set in a vast, changeable landscape. Explore hidden caves, defeat truly monumental creatures, and shape the world around you based on your unique play style.
Explore, lead, and battle: Tough choices define your experience, and even one decision can change the course of what's to come.
Civil war has ravaged the Orlesian countryside for months, but you'd never know it in Halamshiral. The nobles carry on as they always have, seemingly unaffected by the chaos surrounding them. You certainly won't hear the merchants complain about that, though. Not so long as the sovereigns continue to line their pockets.
So, with opposing forces engaged in battle outside the city walls, why has the Inquisition come to Halamshiral?
"The civil war is now at an impasse," explains level designer Chris Corfe. "The faction leaders are at a peace talk at the Winter Palace in Halamshiral, a magnificent Orlesian structure built on ancient elven grounds. The Inquisition is here to find and stop an assassin."
"We are about to attend a costume party," adds senior environment artist Ryan Love. "Get your mask on and your dancing shoes ready, but don't let your guard down. There's more to this party than meets the eye."
Though we've heard much about Orlais through Dragon Age lore, players will get their first chance to really get out there and explore it in Inquisition. Creating areas such as the Winter Palace in Halamshiral presented the team with an opportunity to flex some creative muscle.
"The cultural background of the Orlesians and the elves inspired the area," says Corfe. "From a layout perspective, the Winter Palace is inspired by old French palaces like Versailles. Writing, level design, cinematic design, and level art all had a hand in helping shape it."
"I think a lot of Halamshiral's inspiration comes from the world's most ornate and decorated places. Buckingham Palace was also used as inspiration," Love said. "Middle Eastern styles also influenced the building of this place."
"Our team of level artists really outdid themselves here," Corfe added.
Orlesian nobility has a reputation for enjoying the finer things, and the Winter Palace’s lavish architecture is no exception. What sets the look of this Orlesian gem apart from that of other areas players will visit in the game?
"There's a plethora of unique areas, but the main point of interest would be the ballroom," says Corfe. "Oh, and don't forget to check out the artwork in its ceiling."
"Ornate decorations, lots of gold, and over-the-top flair," Love added. "You may also notice the stark contrast between the gold-covered main areas of the palace and the servants' areas. This also speaks to the large wealth inequality within Orlais. In order to have this kind of excessive decoration, someone has to polish the brass."
The Winter Palace is quite the sight to behold, but of course, looks can be deceiving. Not all battles here are fought with staves and steel. In Halamshiral, politics can be even deadlier than the blade. The most effective weapons are typically rumor and scandal.
"Combat is not the main focus here," Corfe says. "Intrigue and social interactions rule the day, so the gameplay has unique elements. We still have some balancing to do, but I'd say it's shaping up nicely."
When it comes down to story, both Corfe and Love are a bit more tight-lipped. Although they are careful not to reveal any plot spoilers, they couldn't resist a little titillation.
"There is a nice chunk of content off the beaten path," admits Corfe. "And beware of the approval of the Imperial Court!"
"Make sure to search every dark corner of the place. You never know what you might find," Love confessed. "Also, always remember to be a good party guest. People won't take kindly to a guest snooping in their closets!"
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