I remember when I first booted up Dragon Age: Inquisition on my (not exactly wimpy) PC. The framerate was unexpectedly low, and there were stutters and crashes. Moreover, the controls were awkward as all get-out. Months later, some problems have been solved, but many still linger. PC players are getting fed up.
Over the course of the past few weeks, Kotaku's gotten numerous emails about what PC players find to be the sorry state of Dragon Age: Inquisition on their platform of choice. Moreover, there's a PC community concerns thread on BioWare's forums that spans nearly 500 pages. As you might expect from something that hundreds of people have dedicated thousands upon thousands of words to, the outrage stems from, let us say, a few factors.
Back before Dragon Age: Inquisition came out, BioWare somewhat notoriously promised the massive RPG had been "made for PC gamers by PC gamers." That set the bar pretty high — perhaps too high given EA and BioWare's goal to spread their artisinally aged dragons across all platforms.
Then came the grievances. Most PC gamers' problems with Dragon Age fall into two broad categories: 1) "it's a console port, you [incoherent string of curse words]!" and 2) "it's a glitchy console port, you [incoherent string of different curse words]!"
After three big patches, BioWare's managed to banish a slew of bugs — ranging from AI problems, to quest scripting errors, to broken party banter, to abilities that didn't work right — but in the process they have accidentally created a lot of new ones.
Most notoriously, there was the time that patch two wiped characters' faces clean of scars while also causing some other smaller issues. More recently, patch three broke crafted shields and armours made before the patch, something BioWare told me they're planning to issue a hotfix to correct.
Other issues — like a widespread glitch that made custom saves imported from previous Dragon Age games go haywire — have crept in due to things like server errors. BioWare has since squashed that one, but reports of things like graphical glitches, gameplay bugs, and intolerable performance on certain hardware configurations remain.
Meanwhile, PC players (myself included) find the controls and interface in Dragon Age's PC version to be bafflingly bad. Major complaints stem from the mandatory (and relatively small) number of hotkeys and, most upsettingly, a tactical view option clearly intended for controllers — not mouse and keyboard.
The camera's movements are awkward, and it gets stuck on things like trees and small inclines. You can't queue up multiple commands for party members, either — which means micromanagement, micromanagement, and more micromanagement. I want to feel like a wily battle commander, damn it — not an out-of-shape hiker who is also the world's most incompetent ghost.
Players have also wailed and mashed keys over limited click-to-move and auto-attack functionality. Basically, they were hoping for something more along the lines of Dragon Age: Origins' PC control scheme, which Inquisition's seemed to be heavily based on — at least, from a tactical point of view. Obviously, that's not what they got. BioWare has acknowledged that the PC controls need work, and they said they'd get on that in earnest after patch two.
Patch three, which came out a couple days ago, brought us... a walk/run toggle. That's it, at least on the controls side of the equation. It's a nice little touch, yes, but modders had previously made one themselves that included walk, run, and jog. Meanwhile, much bigger issues remained unresolved. Given that, again, patch three also brought its own handful of glitches, players spoke out with renewed ire.
I got in touch with BioWare about its plans for Dragon Age: Inqusition's PC version in the future, especially in light of the fact that each step forward seems to be accompanied by one or one-and-a-half steps back. On the topic of new glitches repeatedly creeping into the game, they said that sometimes it's simply unavoidable.
"Dragon Age: Inquisition is an enormous game," a BioWare rep told me via email. "We test to the best of our ability. Some things, like the crafted shield bug, [are very hard to isolate and reproduce]. This makes testing those specific issues very difficult."
As for the improved controls, UI, and other elements fans have repeatedly asked for, BioWare was worrisomely hesitant to go into specifics. I asked if a better UI, an overhauled tactical view, click-to-move functionality, and better auto-attack were in the works, and all the developer offered was, "We're continuing to work on further improvements to the PC experience for our players." Huh. They also wouldn't detail how long they plan to keep plugging away at the PC version of Dragon Age: Inquisition, instead merely saying that they're "always listening to fans and are committed to giving them a great experience with our games."
If nothing else, on their forums BioWare said better mouse-and-keyboard controls and other "key" issues are "still a priority" for them. Patch three got developed over the holidays, they added, so it was tough to make any big additions or changes.
That, at least, is encouraging, even if people are getting justifiably impatient after months of waiting. Here's hoping BioWare sees fit to open up more about their plans soon. PC gamers are notoriously hard to please, but even a little focus on the platform goes a long way.