Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mass Effect 4 and Dragon Age Inquisition to share the Frostbite engine

Bioware stated that Mass Effect 4 and the new Dragon Age Inquisition will both be built on the Frostbite Engine.

Although I’m not invested in the Dragon Age (DA) series I thought I’d play Dragon Age Inquisition to get a feel for the Frostbite engine and see what we might expect to experience with Mass Effect 4.  I did partially play Dragon Age II and it was horrible on oh so many levels.  Most people and game reviewers who have played DA say the DA Origins was excellent and DA II not a worthy follow up effort.

So I'm 25 hours into DAIQ and so far I'm not impressed.  To be fair I am playing on a Xbox 360.  Perhaps DAIQ on Xbox One or PS4 is significantly better than Xbox 360.  I'll buy an Xbox One when the new Mass Effect comes out.  Wish they would make it for Mac, but I digress.

I'm not a techie and know very little about programming and writing code etc so my experience is just my perceptions as a gamer playing so I don't know if the problems are with Frostbite, Bioware programming or any number of issues that can affect game play.

The first thing that I noticed is that the sound keeps shutting off.  I have to go to an external menu and return to the game to fix the sound.  Occasionally that doesn't work and I have to exit the game completely and reload to get the sound back.  

To continue the sound theme, the sound is often broken up like it isn't properly synched with the animation or the sound can't keep up the video.  This is a frequent problem and is annoying.

Visually the Xbox 360 looks good but there are many instances where the screen doesn't render seamlessly.  This usually affects a section of the screen that doesn't look right then you can watch it fill in.  That might be because the processor, graphics card and available random access memory of the Xbox 360 doesn't have the horsepower to handle the requirements.  Any techies have an explanation?

The game mechanics are similar to Mass Effect with the familiar wheel etc.  You can choose three other characters to be part of your team for missions.  The War Council is somewhat like going the galaxy map on the Normandy in Mass Effect.  Unlike Mass Effect you can switch between characters controlling any toon in your party.  I'm not sure how I feel about this. It is fun to switch occasionally but switching makes me feel like I'm less invested in the character I created to play the game.  For example I created a mage.  But if you get bored and want to check out the abilities of a warrior or rogue you can do that and switch back to your character whenever you want.  I'm sure others may view this as a good feature.  I'm not against it but not sure I want to embrace it either.

Moving through the game zones is a problem.  You are able to mark the location you want to go to and a little graphic in the bottom left corner shows your field of vision and your mark giving you a straight line azimuth to your target.  The problem is that this graphic is blank.  It doesn't show you the terrain between you and your target.  So you'll find that you can't move to the location because there is a terrain feature such as a mountain range between you and your target.  Ultimately you end up having to follow some type of terrain feature going out of your way to get someplace.  You can exit to the menu screen to look at the game map which shows you the terrain around you.  The terrain it shows isn't terribly detained but that ends up taking significant time from actually playing especially if you have to do it frequently to find your way to the target location.

More DAIQ updates to follow.