Editorial: Wait a Minute, Inquisitor

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Actually, wait six hours. Then wait five more. Oh, and then another three.

You’ll recognise this if you’ve been playing Dragon Age: Inquisition as I have over the last few weeks.

We’ve seen the ‘timer countdown’ mechanic before in free-to-play mobile games but curiously it now seems to be gaining traction as a convenient way to gate content in full price titles.

In the free-to-play model, you’re offered the chance to pay to remove the wait. It’s an irritating cash collecting mechanic but imagine the same idea in a title you paid $60 for but with no way to bypass the waiting time even if you wanted to.

I give you the Dragon Age: Inquisition War Table.

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From the War Table you send Inquisition agents out into the wilds to complete missions. Missions can take anywhere from ten minutes to twenty-four hours to complete. While agents are out completing tasks you can jaunt about doing side quests, collecting items, or chatting with companions.

What I found was that as I got deeper into the game I realised I’d spent more time doing side quests, collecting items, and chatting than visiting the War Table – leaving myself nothing to do while I caught up on missions I’d neglected. Missions the game suggested may not be available if I decided to press on and conclude the main storyline.

I’m aware it seems like I brought this on myself – but playing the fun parts of the game which directly involve my actions instead of running to and from the War Table to read some text, click a button and then wait eighteen hours… I don’t feel like that’s really my fault.

Dragon Age is a great game despite the War Table. I clocked over one hundred hours before completing the storyline and perhaps the mandatory War Table time limits are to force you to spend time away from the game, a public service from Bioware to make sure we’re all getting enough sunlight.

But please note Bioware, EA or anyone else who thinks that making players wait for an arbitrary countdown to finish is a good idea – it isn’t. It ends up making a great experience grate. It’s an artificial barrier that serves only to irritate. Please find a better way next time and don’t make us wait too long.

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