In Dragon Age: Origins we got a deliciously dark fantasy world with intelligent, brutal combat, sprawling dungeons, and memorable characters. Then Dragon Age II came along, and stuck players in a single city for almost its entire length, dumbing things down to the point of boredom. With Dragon Age: Inquisition, BioWare worked hard to make up for the sins of their past, and the results are nothing short of spectacular.

Demons are like cockroaches; nobody ever wants them to show up, and when you do see one, there are probably a thousand more you're not seeing. When demons invade in Dragon Age: Inquisition, it's up to your customizable hero to use her magic anti-demon hand to seal up their rifts and keep them locked in whatever demonic hellhole they came from. To do this your hero teams up with the Inquisition, an army of hodgepodge soldiers, thinkers, and weirdoes. The primary storyline is, for the most part, cliché enough to induce eye-rolls, but like many of Bioware's games the real strength in Dragon Age: Inquisition lies in its world, its characters, and their interactions. You'll grow really care about your band of well-written allies over the course of the game, so much so that you may grow to curse the party selection screen since it means that, no matter what, you have to leave someone at home for a while.

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While Dragon Age II was a claustrophobic affair, Dragon Age: Inquisition gives players a Skryim-level of freedom, with vast areas to explore, all full of quests to complete, tombs to raid, and monsters to slay. It's easy to get sidetracked from the main storyline, and that's okay, because getting sidetracked is half the fun. Each area has so many great little stories tucked away inside that you may play through the same area as someone else and yet have a very different experience. Plus, with the sweeping landscapes, incredible character detail, and fittingly haunting soundtrack, you'll probably find yourself wandering around quite a bit out of pure curiosity.

As with most RPGs, you can expect to spend plenty of time locked in combat. Inquisition takes some of the best elements of the combat from the previous two entries and creates battles that are both immediate and strategic. You can control a single character at a time, striking with advantage through clever positioning or ability use, or you can switch to a more tactical view to command your entire party at once (something that's pretty necessary given how stupid your AI-controlled party members can behave at times). Whether you're focused on the details with a lone hero or thinking more large-scale and strategically, combat is a joy. Enemies are smart and relentless, and DA:I offers clever players a variety of ways to create and seize the advantage thanks to your myriad of powerful, satisfying skills and flexible character progression system.

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As an important member of the Inquisition, you're not just another soldier in a simple party of adventurers- you're waging a campaign against the demonic scourge through the use of guile, diplomacy, and sheer military power. You'll spend a chunk of your time in the war room overlooking huge maps representing Ferelden and Orlais, sending agents to various parts of the world to gather intelligence and resources. Through your war room efforts you’ll unlock new abilities that can grant you things like additional dialogue options, the ability to pick locks, or more income if you’re really hankering to pimp out your fortress, Xzibit-style. The war room really makes you feel like you're part of a mission that's larger than just your character; figuring out where to focus your efforts feels good, and rewards players who pay attention to the advice and skillsets of their NPC cohorts.

While there's a tremendous amount of content to be enjoyed with Dragon Age: Inquisition, it's not without its problems— there are so many bugs in this game you may need to call an exterminator. During our time playing it on Xbox One, we experienced several crashes and cutscenes that wouldn't load properly until we reloaded our data. Still, if you're a fan of RPGs or open-world excitement, don't let the thought of a few bugs scare you away.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition represents a glorious return to form for the series, with its huge world to explore, great cast of characters, and immensely satisfying combat and character progression. Despite its flaws, this is easily a contender for RPG of the year, and a must-have for most any gamer.

This review was based on a purchased digital copy of Dragon Age: Inquisition for the Xbox One.

9.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating