DJ Arruda, ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Coming off a massively successful launch, Dragon Age: Inquisition has been enjoying the past few months in a well-deserved spotlight. The question that has been floating around since November is “when is there going to be more?” In a bold move, BioWare both announced the DLC on March 23rd and released it the next day on PC. Due to a glitch it was released on Xbox One that same night, before the trailer even hit. This sizable piece of DLC introduces a new area for the Inquisitor to explore at any point in the story. Though many fans were hoping for a post-ending DLC after a stellar epilogue, this DLC is only the first piece, and surely there will be more given BioWare’s support of previous titles.
Taking players to the Frostback Basin, a gorgeous new environment as large as any in the main game filled with treacherous swamps and treetop camps alike, the DLC sends players tracking Ameridan, the last Inquisitor and hunter of dragons, who disappeared in the area 800 years ago. A compelling quest to be sure, and one that fits right in with the other storylines in the game, offering many more hours of questing. In this new area, the Inquisitor must also contend with the titular Jaws of Hakkon, a rogue clan of Avvar barbarians trying to bring back their god of war. What’s so great about this DLC is how much it fleshes out the lore of the Avvar, mentioned in the series since DA: Origins but never properly given a full, in-depth examination. Here players get to explore the culture of these people, recalling both Vikings and fantastical north men while also being uniquely Thedosian. As the Inquisitor works with a more peaceful clan to try and stop their wayward brethren, as well as contending with hostile wildlife and perilous terrain, players are once again lost in the world BioWare has created.
What’s also satisfying is how difficult the area is. One of the few complaints with the main game is that a player could eventually outlevel even the hardest areas so much that the combat lost its challenge. That all changes in this DLC, where the enemies are a refreshing trial, especially on the higher difficulties. Using new abilities which counter even the sturdiest builds forces players to think of new strategies when taking on bands of Hakkonites, and there is a renewed sense of satisfaction in coming out on top over this new foe. New armor and weapons offer a leg up and can even the odds, but BioWare has clearly been listening to fan feedback since the game launched. Humorous lines poking fun at some common complaints are well integrated, and the tweaking of some gameplay aspects such as removing requisitions officers in the Basin truly shows that fans are having their voices heard. Puzzles both familiar and new offer a more balanced gameplay pallet, and the balance between non-cutscene dialogue and thrilling cutscenes tries to strike a happy medium between cinematic and immersive narrative. References to what the player has already done in the game, even if playing after the ending, as well as each party member having an active voice in the story continues the successful representation of choice and character that makes the game so popular.
In a seemingly short amount of time, BioWare has handed out a worthy piece of content to continue Inquisition’s momentum going ahead. Additionally, numerous patches continue to be released, offering free content such as a storage chest and armor tinting. Other updates have heralded the return of the Black Emporium in the near future, a DLC from Dragon Age II offering new wares and the opportunity to change your appearance in the titular shop of a peculiar merchant. For $15, players will not be disappointed with the amount of content they are receiving, and there is replayability for this area as in the main game itself. With rumors of a Deep Roads DLC on the horizon, as well as the likeliness that we will get a DLC set after the epilogue at some point, BioWare has continued to impress with this first offering of additional content. Rich in lore and story, refreshingly challenging, and a good sign of things to come, Jaws of Hakkon is as good an excuse as any to return to Thedas and wander in the forests and mountains of the Basin.
Overall Rating: 9/10