In Dragon Age games of yore, you'd merely defend the realm of Thedas from evil. In Dragon Age: Inquisition, you get to own it. Well, large chunks of it at least. As Lord High Big Cheese of the titular shady organisation, players will claim entire regions by conquering, converting or otherwise making off with the keeps they contain, as part of a strategy subgame that's tied to the unfolding of the plot. I think I'll start by annexing Kirkwall and turning it into a giant hot tub. An Inquisitor can never have too many hot tubs.
Thinking about this has obviously led me to think about where Dragon Age: Inquisition might take us. Exploration is very much the focus, in large part thanks to the BioWare's use of DICE's Frostbite engine, which is rather more comfortable with scale than the handworn proprietary tech employed by previous games.
So, what's on the itinerary this time? Here's a round-up of confirmed and probable locations, based on preview coverage and developer hints. In detailing the contents and history of each area, I stand in the shadow of the creators of the Dragon Age wiki - in the event of a conflict between my version and theirs, I humble admit my own ineptitude. Onward!
1. The Tevinter Imperium
Dragon Age has many Evil or at least Deeply Dubious Empires, but the Tevinter Imperium is by far the most notorious. It's the nation responsible for the realm's little recurring demon infestation problem, you see. Back in olden times, the ruling mages or magisters of Tevinter tried to physically access the Fade, an alternate dimension that's home, among other things, to a Golden City.
On entering the Golden City at the invitation of the old god Dumat, however, the Tevinter mages corrupted it - transforming themselves into the Darkspawn, who would go on to invade Thedas at intervals over the ensuing decades under the leadership of one or other old god. Five of these invasions or Blights have been thwarted to date, and there are seven old gods in total. Two to go, then. I wonder if that massive extra-dimensional rift in the sky has a role to play, here.
Largely as a result of this, and also because of a centuries-long spat with the Qunari, Tevinter is a bit of a dive right now. Its rule once spanned Ferelden and Orlais, but the empire has been whittled down to the north and centre of the continent. The mages are still in charge: sorcerers and sorceresses from established families make up the dominant social class, the Altus, presiding over mages from non-magical families, followed by non-mages and a mass of human, elf and Qunari slaves.
In some respects Tevinter is a bit of a dark mirror to its more powerful neighbour, Orlais: there's a Chantry and there are Mage Circles, but they practise blood magic freely albeit tacitly, and are not recognised by the "true" Chantry in Orlais. This could make for some interesting chinwags, kind of like when diehard Sonic and Mario fanboys get drunk together.
We're definitely going to Tevinter, as revealed by producer Cameron Lee in an interview with OXM. Were I writing the plot, I'd scribble down a trip to Minrathous, the capital: it's protected by a trio of massive golems, acquired from the dwarves, who are the only non-human race in the region to enjoy any kind of privileged status. I'd also make room for a fight with an elephant, which are often found in Tevinter's armies.