Review: Dragon Age Inquisition’s “The Descent” DLC

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Seemingly out of nowhere, Bioware has dropped another single-player DLC campaign for Dragon Age: Inquisition into our laps. With barely a week’s notice, “The Descent” has set up the task of venturing into the Deep Roads to uncover a great mystery. But how well does it pay off?

As with previous DLC,”The Descent” kicks off with a new War Table effort in Skyhold. Earthquakes have been wreaking havoc for the dwarves underground, and the Inquisition has been called in to lend a helping hand and figure out what’s going on.

For me, this was a pretty exciting premise – both Darkspawn and the Deep Roads were sadly absent from Inquisition’s man game world, other than a brief reference here and there. While not everybody loved the spelunking efforts of previous Dragon Age games, climbing down into the ruins of Dwarven culture was one of my favourite parts.

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As you explore these underground caverns, you’ll face down many familiar members of the Darkspawn horde – Genlocks, Hurlocks, Shrieks, Ogres and Emissaries, all with a fresh coat of Inquisition-era paint. Thankfully they retain their Dragon Age II design sensibilities, complete with the big pointy armour that made them a far more recognisable presence than in their debut in Origins. This also helps to visually set them apart from the Veil-themed enemies seen in the main game, which helps to stop this from feeling like the same battles as before with different skins.

The story of “Descent” delves further into the Deep Roads than has previously been seen, both figuratively and literally. Not only do you climb further down into the dark than ever before, but more is revealed about the world and mythology underneath Thedas than the series has previously covered. I don’t want to say too much and spoil any surprises, but rest assured that this DLC opens some new story doors for the series that – hopefully – will be pursued further down the line.

Gameplay-wise, this DLC can be a little bit uneven. The inclusion of a localised War Table is a fun addition, allowing you to undertake work to further explore this game zone – similar to rebuilding bridges in areas such as the main game’s Emprise Du Lion. However, the difficulty features a couple of sharper-than-needed difficulty spikes that didn’t feel like they were properly thought through.

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At one point you encounter an extended wave battle with Darkspawn, with zero checkpoints to catch you if you fall. One mid-boss battle felt like it was not properly balanced even for a character of appropriate level, whilst the DLC’s end-boss is laughably unbalanced for melee players – but a cake-walk for a ranged character to take on essentially by themselves.

While these do act is dim points for the DLC at large, they don’t affect the overall experience too harshly. The story is enough to bring you through, even if sidequest content is a little light on the ground. All in all it’s a worthwhile addition to the main game’s mythos, but I’m not sure the current price tag is entirely fitting. If you’re keen to get a little bit more Dragon Age time in your life, go for it – otherwise, I might recommend waiting for your platform of choice’s next sale.

Dragon Age Inquisition‘s “The Descent” DLC was reviewed using retail code on PS4, as purchased by the reviewer.

 

Review: Dragon Age Inquisition’s “The Descent” DLC
6 out of 10

The good

  • Interesting addition to Dragon Age canon.
  • The Deep Roads and Darkspawn return.

The bad

  • Lumpy difficulty.
  • Poorly balanced end-boss.

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