I didn't necessarily want cooperative multiplayer in Dragon Age, but the implementation in Inquisition is pretty fun.
My love of Dragon Age and of MMOs would pretty much mean I'm destined to enjoy a cooperative experience in the new Inquisition. BioWare has toyed with multiplayer before in its Mass Effect franchise, and colleagues seemed to enjoy it, so perhaps they wanted to make that same magic happen in Dragon Age. I got to test out a dungeon called the Elven Ruins with a merry band of 4 adventurers at PAX Prime 2014, and then spoke with Scylla Costa the producer of the multiplayer at BioWare about his goals for the project. I learned I may be spending a lot of time bashing skulls with friends once November 18th rolls around.
The first thing to note is that the progression in multiplayer is completely separate from the single player campaign in Dragon Age: Inquisition. There will be no transferring of items or gold or anything like that. At launch, there will be 4 classes available to play in multiplayer: Reaver, Legionnaire, Assassin and Keeper, which is a type of support mage. Any items you pick up in the dungeons will be yours to keep and equip, or you can "melt" it down to use for crafting. You'll unlock new characters to play by crafting the armor of that character. That's sort of the progression of the multiplayer, and eventually you could have a stable of 12 characters to choose from.
I played as a Keeper mage in the Elven ruins, and her abilities were designed to shield the group with a barrier, dispel negative enemy spells, and when there's time cast a devastating chain lightning attack. The Keeper was pretty squishy, so it was important to stay back and support from behind the frontlines. When in danger, I could get away quickly with a fade step ability. It was super challenging to keep a shield on my teammates without drawing the ire of enemies, but interestingly the Keeper dealt more damage the more she was injured, so there is a weird balancing act to play with. The warrior classes had taunting abilities, or armor to make them able to soak more damage, while the Assassin excelled in fading behind enemies to make a sneak attack from behind. Our team did pretty well, getting to the 5th area with most of our health potions at the ready, but we failed to kill the final swarm of enemies as they attack the Inquisition's flag in the final room. Multiplayer in Dragon Age: Inquisition is tough.
Every player shares gold and loot while going through the dungeon, so there's no danger of someone stealing that drop you wanted. Costa said that he wanted players to "play the game naturally" without needing to pay a dime. Of course, being EA, there is a way for you to purchase the multiplayer's currency of platinum and use that to buy chests of loot to aid in your progression, but Costa said it's only a "short cut for time."
Lore-hounds won't be too disappointed with the multiplayer. Each character has its background story and will have a specific voice actor in the signature banter delivered between characters. There won't be any restriction to double up characters in the party - you can run with two or more Reavers for example - and Costa said the A.I. will recognize this and add banter like, "My we're all looking handsome in this party." You'll also be able to kit out character's skills in a simplified tree, and with the tons of equipment available it is possible that even the same character can look and play quite differently.
A neat feature that will be available at launch is the Inquisition H.Q. website. You'll be able to log in when you're away from the game to tinker with skills, craft items, and buy platinum all through a web interface. "It's no fun to wait for your buddies when you just want to play," Costa said. "So the Inquisition HQ will allow you to interact with the game when you aren't playing."
Costa said there are many fans of Dungeons & Dragons-style tabletop games on the team, and that's the feeling they want to bring to the multiplayer of Dragon Age: Inquisition. As I said, the multiplayer is difficult, and it requires a deep coordination between teammates to stick together to succeed. If I've learned anything from D&D that seems to be true in DA:I multiplayer, it's "Don't split the party."
Inquisition is out on November 18th on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and on PC. Sadly, the multiplayer will be platform specific so you won't be able to play with friends from different formats.