My first not-the-Hinterlands place is the Fallow Mire. Rainy and dark. One of the things about DAI that I noticed right away is that the art folks are obsessed with shiny. Khaaras’s hair and skin are shiny. Everyone’s outfits are shiny. And when you have a whole level that’s pouring rain, EVERYTHING is shiny. I’m not a fan of the sweaty-face result of the shiny, but in the rain it all looks pretty cool.
Okay, so after defeating the Avvar lord, one of his people – the Skywatcher (big giant dude with a huge hammer I fought earlier) – comes up to me and congratulates me on killing him (and freeing my soldiers, which was the point of the whole thing). And I’m given the option of saying goodbye or of recruiting him to the Inquisition. Okay. Giant pagan dude is now an agent of the Inquisition. That should prove interesting, if nothing else.
And… that map appears to be cleared. That’s a significant difference in comparison to the unending Hinterlands (which I’m still not done with, sadly). There is one door yet in the Fallow Mire that requires some perk I don’t have to open, but it still only took me like an hour to play the area, in comparison to the eleven hours I’ve spent so far in the Hinterlands.
Next area – Storm Coast. Because why not? Oh, hey. It’s raining here, too. More shiny! (I swear, I didn’t do that on purpose.) Oooh, look. A cave. That’ll be fun. And on the other side of the cave? Dragon. I am… uncertain about this. save There’s a… giant attacking it? There are giants in Thedas? Varric: “Seeker, you’re the dragon expert. What do we do now?” Cassandra: “Don’t get killed. By either of them.” Step one: Kill the tiny humans between us and the dragon. Step two: Observe the dragon breathe electric balls of death until the giant falls over. Step three: Think “Oh, sh**” when the dragon turns toward us and shoots an electric ball of death in our direction. Step four: Be really, really relieved when it flies away. Step five: Go see if the dead giant results in profit! (It does.)
So I wander all the way along the coast until I literally can’t anymore (yes, I tried – I drowned). Then instead of walking back to get on the cliff like a normal person, I decide to channel my inner rockhopper and make Khaaras bunny-hop his way up the basalt pillars like a demented mountain goat to get to the top. Fortunately, my NPCCs just teleport after me (although I’d have liked to watch them hop up after me, frankly). I appreciate that the developers made that possible. They even put a little luncheon scene out on the edge of the far pillar so that I could feel better about getting there for no apparent reason other than to find out if I could.
Well, there’s a Deep Roads door I can’t open that my quest indicator tells me has red lyrium behind it – but the internet assures me that it will open later. I really wish there were some in-game indication to me that I don’t have to worry about it – even if that’s simply not putting the quest indicators in a closed-off cave. Cuz then I wouldn’t fall off several cliffs I’m not supposed to climb while trying to find the back door.
Having done most of what it appears I can do – either for the sake of my sanity or because that’s what the map will let me do – I suppose it’s time to do what the War Council has been telling me to do – and go to Val Royeaux in Orlais. It’s a new place for the DA games – DAO/A was set in Ferelden, DA2 in the Free Marches (the city of Kirkwall). Orlais has been discussed by many NPCs and a few NPCCs, but this will be the first time the game takes us there.
It doesn’t seem like a friendly place. Cassandra is not happy. And Val Royeaux is… very Louis XIV. And colorful. It’s… weird. I’m used to games that have colors which reflect their world-states – you know, dark rainy marshes or the strange multi-tonal grey-brown of all the Gears of War games that makes you think it has color but really doesn’t. Val Royeaux is VERY BRIGHT. Blue and red and green and sunlight. It kinda hurts.
Oops. I was running in a circle reading the inscriptions on the lions and managed to walk into a plot. I hate it when that happens. Yes, let’s all mourn the loss of the Divine. Oh, they’re accusing me of killing her. Right. Khaaras looks suitably creepy and monochromatic at the moment. However, I’m not about to have him claim to be the Messiah. And they’re going to sic the Templars on me… or the Templar is going to punch the Chantry lady? Uh… Not really okay with that.
He’s apparently the Lord Seeker, and he is PISSED at Cassandra. And he says that “The only destiny here that demands respect is mine!” which means he’s a world-class a-hole who really dislikes Khaaras… and is taking the Templars elsewhere because Val Royeaux is apparently unworthy… Riiiiight. This guy is going to come back later, either in tears or for me to kill. Possibly both. Cassandra says this is “very bizarre.” I smell red lyrium, but probably only because Meredith did the same thing in Kirkwall. Also, there’s a lot of red lyrium for me to destroy in that quest, and also Varric keeps fretting about it… so I think it has a more significant role to play here.
And someone is sending me medieval text messages? (Arrow with a message wrapped around it – Monty Python style.) And it’s from a teenager? (My guess, based on the language – “baddie” – and doodles that are adorning it.)
Val Royeaux is really special. There’s a crazy woman in a wacked-out dress with a mask, a hat with fake flames on it, and a ruff. And she’s going to help us. Okay. That’s going to lend credibility to the Inquisition. The Chantry Mother is cranky (because she got punched out, so I can’t really blame her).
Not much there, other than starting the landslide of offers from a variety of places. There’s some weird Red Jenny thing (which started in Kirkwall in DA2) that I can’t follow through with yet in Val Royeaux, Leliana wants me to track down Blackwall in the Hinterlands (oh, god, back to the Hinterlands), and I have an offer from the Iron Bull on the Storm Coast. I’m also supposed to approach both the mages and Templars, but my advisors can’t decide which one is more likely to kill us. I vote for both.
Since the prospect of going back to the Hinterlands right now is triggering some sort of extremely mild twitching, and since I don’t know that going back to Val Royeaux will be useful, let’s go back to the Storm Coast. At least that way Khaaras can stop being the only Qunari in the game.
My god, Iron Bull’s pectoral muscles are BIGGER THAN MY TORSO. Also, he’s extremely pasty. But that may be in part because Khaaras is dark complected and that’s what I’ve gotten used to… although I feel like Varric and Cassandra aren’t THAT pasty (Solas, sure, but he’s a bald elf). So he’s Ben-Hassrath – like Tallis (aka Felicia Day in the DLC for DA2) – super-secret Qunari spies that apparently want to work with the Inquisition. That’s… not making me feel any more comfortable about this whole thing. But what the hell.
Now I have to decide which grouping would be funnier… Iron Bull and Cassandra, or Iron Bull and Varric… I can’t go without my mage, which tells me I need to rock out the Sarabaas next time around (Qunari mage). I’m a rogue, so let’s see how amusing Cassandra finds Iron Bull. I hope I open up another Orlais mission soon, because that has potential for hilarity.
But instead… let’s go back to the Hinterlands!