Witcher III: Yennefer or Triss?

That is the question.

[Disclaimer: I did not read the books, nor did I play the previous games and have no plan on playing them. I may read the books later on. My opinions are completely based on my playing Witcher III: Wild Hunt.]

I’ve advanced far enough in the gameplay — I’m not done yet — to spend some time with both Triss and Yen. I saw how different they were and how they interacted with Geralt. Here is my analysis on why I chose who I chose for G.

TRISS MERIGOLD

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Pros:

I *like* Triss. I really, really like Triss. She’s funny, smart, nice, sweet, pretty, brave, loving and beautiful. Apart from the witch hunters and King Radovid, everyone seems to think highly of her. She has a deep empathy for her fellow mages and people in general. She even went OOC and became an inspiring leader for persecuted mages while helping them escape from Novigrad because she knew what she needed to do. She is not prideful. When she needed money both for herself and her fellow mages, she did everything no matter how low (i.e. killing rats) for a sorceress of her standing  just to earn some coin. She willingly exerted a lot of effort and put herself in danger for the sake of saving one or two individuals.

While trying to look for Dandelion and Ciri, she withstood torture from the witch hunters so Geralt could interrogate Menge. Afterwards, she slaughtered her torturers and burned the building. That’s pretty amazing for someone who’s known to be “really nice.”

She sincerely cares of Geralt, Ciri and their friends and she obviously still carries a torch for our resident witcher. Lastly, she has tons of deep red hair and lovely green eyes, both of which I would love to have in a heartbeat.

Cons:

She slept and entered into a two year relationship with Geralt while he had amnesia, knowing full well that he and her dear friend Yennefer were in an occasionally on and off but decades long relationship. Yup, that’s a true friend alright.

As a supposedly powerful sorceress, I believe that she has the potential to do so much more. But she relies on Geralt so much for a lot of little things. When it came to proving herself as a leader, she depended on Geralt to make an important decision, which should have been her call (see Now or Never quest). Yes, I know they’re necessary for quest content but it’s the way she asks and what she asks for that I found annoying. There is a distinct lack of independence as the game clearly shows that Geralt showed up in the nick of time before Triss got into deeper trouble.

Her sweetness and likability make her major flaws easy to dismiss.

YENNEFER OF VENGERBERG

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Pros:

Let’s get the looks over it early on. Yen is glaringly gorgeous, the type that would shine in a dark, crowded concert hall and make other women hate her. Her hair is so unbelievably glossy and looking at it makes me want to pour a whole bottle of serum on my head.

She’s independent, intelligent, focused and strong. She’s not afraid to take on difficult quests alone and she is secure and confident in her abilities as a sorceress. In spite of her distant manner, she shows an ability to deeply care for Geralt. However, her love for Ciri dwarfs her affection for Geralt (see The Last Wish quest). She is single-minded and devoted on her search for Ciri. She will roam the earth for her, steal for her, suffer for her, drain a sacred’s garden’s magic power for her, perform necromancy for her, and tolerate kings for her. For Ciri, nothing was too much for Yen as she constantly reminds Geralt that finding her and protecting their “daughter” from the Wild Hunt was their main goal.

Cons:

Yen seems to think that manners are optional. She has minimal small talk skills and can easily get impatient with people she does not particularly like. When under pressure, she sees politeness as a waste of time and appears brusque to others. Unsurprisingly, this does not endear her to a lot of people. When she was in Kaer Morhen, the first thing she did was order other witchers to gather things she needed to break the curse (see Ugly Baby quest), which made Vesemir, Lambert and Eskel think of her as bossy and rude. She can also be sullen and stubborn. She rarely smiles.

She can have a sarcastic and dry humor. Some may interpret it as her putting Geralt down a lot. Others may see it as playful banter borne out of habit from being together for 20-some years.

She has a temper. She gets annoyed very easily and, upon arrival at Kaer Morhen, lost no time in tossing a heavy oak bed out of the window because that’s where Geralt and Triss stayed during his amnesia years.

CONCLUSION

I chose Yen.

*waits as violent reactions from male chauvinistic gamer-bros ensue*

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The game forums are full of criticisms about how utterly bitchy and arrogant Yen is and how badly she treats Geralt in comparison to how sweet Triss is to him. Aside from stressful situations, I never thought of Yen as bitchy. She was pushy and demanding at times but only when she needed something critical. Otherwise, she acted perfectly civil and polite. Her sarcastic wit is something Geralt is surely familiar with, he even joked about it in Vizima. She is definitely more distant but that is most likely caused by her naturally secretive personality and by her ability to compartmentalize her feelings and set her emotions aside temporarily when needed. Her “arrogance” is a misconception that stems from her confidence in her ability and talent as one of the most powerful sorceresses in the world of Witcher.

She did not feel the need to ask Geralt or any man for permission when it came to making important calls that she had to, especially when it was within the sphere of her expertise. The ones who called her too controlling may have missed the parts where she asked Geralt for assistance or left the decision up to him when the situation called for someone with his skill set.

The malicious criticisms against Yen reminds me of how people in real life see confident, independentassertive and intelligent women as abrasive and bitchy. I don’t find it disturbing that gamers are quick to judge. What I do find disturbing is why male (and even some female) gamers branded Yen as THE BITCH and completely bashed her, when she just happens to be the only strong female among the lead characters, as they sang Triss’ praises for being a nice, submissive and sweet girl. Misogyny is alive and well, folks.

My husband, who is not intimidated by the type of woman described, thinks Yen is an awesome character. I think she’s a very complex and more interesting one than Triss. Before leaving for Kovir, Triss begged for Geralt to ask her to stay. Yen would have said “f* it, I’ll stay because I want to be with you.”

I chose Yen because she has proven her love and devotion for both Ciri and Geralt. Sure, her relationship with Geralt may not be perfect but let’s be honest here… Geralt isn’t exactly the squeaky clean boy next door type. (Hello!!! Keira Metz and the Cinderella-isque fling!) He deserves the occasional barb. I think he’s damned lucky to have women like Yen and Triss in his life.

In the end, I think Yen is the better choice for Geralt. He’s drawn to her because he knows she’s what he needs. She will certainly keep things interesting for Geralt as they grow old together (awww). I don’t see her expecting Geralt to retire in wedded bliss (as Triss would) as that would bore Yen to tears. I see them traveling, casting spells, slaying monsters, and working together to save this cynical world one quest at a time well into their twilight years.

*******

If you’d like to read an account about Yennefer from someone who has read the books and played all the games, see The Real Dragon Nerd’s post here.

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Cullenitis

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I need another T-shirt just for this.

How to Kill Your High Dragon [Dragon Age: Inquisition – Mage Edition]

I don’t get players who skip dragon battles just because it is optional. The game is called Dragon Age for f*’s sakes!

DISCLAIMER: This is not an official game walkthrough. I’m simply sharing what I’ve learned and what worked.

I’m normally very selfish about tips but I don’t do multiplayer and won’t lose anything by sharing. Besides, there are tons of tips and walkthroughs on dragon hunting that make use of warriors because they’re tanks. I’m offering a different but almost foolproof alternative: a mage.

A lot of gamers don’t like using mages because they are seen as physically weak and are distance fighters — two characteristics that are big no-no’s when fighting dragons or any large and tough creatures like pride demons. Mages are very underrated. They are so much more powerful than some gamers think. I’ll go over on how I built my Inquisitor, the party members I brought, and a few tips on spells, weapons and armor.

This is the first time I beat Hivernal (Emprise du Lion) during my first playthrough. I was sill experimenting with weapons and party members. My Inquisitor was a Rift Mage and he and pretty much everyone else died before the dragon's health was halfway. I had to switch to Vivienne, who was the only one alive at that point, and killed the dragon with her alone. This is when I discovered how effective a Knight Enchanter was.

This is the first time I beat Hivernal (Emprise du Lion), a level 19 dragon, during my first playthrough. I was still experimenting with weapons and party members. My Inquisitor was a Rift Mage and he and pretty much everyone else died before the dragon’s health was halfway. I had to switch to Vivienne, who was the only one alive at that point, and killed the dragon by the skin of my teeth with her alone. This is when I first discovered how deadly a Knight Enchanter can be.

Building the Inquisitor

Any race or gender will do as long as the character is a mage. Do the specializations quest as soon as the operation becomes available in the war table after moving to Skyhold. The options are: Rift Mage (like Solas), Knight Enchanter (like Vivienne), and Necromancer (like Dorian). Being a rift mage or necromancer is cool but to be a mean, green, dragon-killing machine, you need to be a Knight Enchanter. Complete the requirements ASAP and spend skill points on the Knight Enchanter abilities. Completing the whole specialization is ideal. You won’t be missing out because your other mages have all the specializations and it’s easy to experiment and play with their abilities by controlling them during quests.

What truly makes the Knight Enchanter special is the spirit sword. A souped-up staff is great for distance fighting but the spirit sword will allow you to get down and dirty in close quarters. A Knight Enchanter has wicked defense, you can take a beating and come out with barely a scratch. You’ll turn into a powerful mage with a badass stick but can fight like a tank when enemies rush you or when there is no option to fight from a distance. It’s like having the best of both worlds. Being a Knight Enchanter will also give you the ability to conjure shields that will surround your Inquisitor during a fight. Another huge advantage is the resurgence spell — this will allow you to heal your party (even the dead ones) at full health! The spirit sword is not technically a weapon, it is a spell. Make sure you’re up there when it comes to magic. Load up your weapon, armor, and wear accessories that enhance your magic. When using a controller, make the spirit sword a part of the shortcuts.

What is the difference between just having a warrior with a strong weapon? After all, they’re natural melee fighters. It’s the staff. The combination of staff and the spirit sword ensures that your attacking won’t stop even if the dragon jumps around since you can easily switch between the two. Vivienne would do the same thing if you set her up correctly. (See notes on the Dream Team below.)

The Dream Team

  • Vivienne. Like the Inquisitor, Vivienne is a Knight Enchanter. Her abilities will unlock before the Inquisitor’s and spending the skill points on them is ideal. As for the “normal” specializations, choose something that is different from your Inquisitor’s. For instance, if your Inquisitor is an electricity mage, make Vivienne a fire, ice or spirit mage. When setting up the character record, make the spirit sword a preferred ability through the tactics options. Even if controlled by AI, Vivienne will still use her staff but she will rush to the dragon and join the Inquisitor in fighting close combat with her spirit sword. Don’t forget to enable resurgence, the AI will use it as well. When setting up the shortcut keys, have the spirit sword and resurgence easily available because you never know when your Inquisitor might die and you’d have to switch to Vivienne. (You would not have to worry about dying if you build your Inquisitor right.)
  • Cassandra. I was dense and didn’t realize that she was dropping hints throughout our conversations in Skyhold. Cass is a princess of Nevarra and her family is famed for dragon hunting. Hell, her brother was the best of the best and he let her tag along. She also mentioned that she saved Divine Beatrix by killing a dragon. She was telling me to take her all along and I didn’t even realize it until after I killed half of the dragons in Thedas with great difficulty as a novice player. What makes Cassandra special is her Seeker powers. It’s ideal to complete this specialization. The rally ability generates guard for her and other party members (see notes on focus below). Having her around makes your party fight harder and stronger. She doesn’t die easily either.
  • Solas, Varric or Iron Bull. The last member of the party depends on you. Personally, I’d rather bring Solas or Varric. Solas has awesome Rift Mage abilities that can be useful since he will be casting them from a distance. Complete his Rift Mage specialization. Make his pull of the abyss a preferred spell and don’t forget to activate firestorm. Varric’s rogue abilities are invaluable. He’s quick and compact. Complete his artificer and archer specializations. Enhance his dexterity and cunning and you’re all set. Iron Bull will be another tank and a lot of players are comfortable with using a strong tank. But I find that he dies too easily when he fights dragons.

Weapons, Armor and Accessories

Before you read the tips below, I want to reiterate that crafting is optional but is HIGHLY recommended.

Equip your mages with powerful staffs. I recommend having a stock of cold, fire, and electricity staffs on hand because there are different types of dragons and they have specific immunities and weaknesses. If what you found are not sufficient, craft a couple. This is where collecting crafting materials matters.

Powerful two handed weapons are a dime a dozen but I find swords for Cassandra harder to get. I have three powerful crafted masterwork swords for her. Two are for her regular fights and one is specifically made for dragon hunting (has a dragon-slaying rune). She also has one crafted and two picked up shields on hand.

Varric has his Bianca. I never give Varric anything else since his Bianca is upgradable. My Varric has Bianca Arms VI but his grip and aiming are both crafted from masterwork schematics. Bull is carrying a purchased weapon: Axe of the Dragon Hunter, which I bought from Bonny Sims in Skyhold. It already comes with a Master Dragon-Slaying Rune.

Speaking of runes, crafting Superb, Master or regular Dragon-Slaying Runes is ideal for you party’s dragon-slaying weapons. Having rune schematics is useful but a couple of low level dragons will drop runes, which you can use to fight high level dragons. Again, this is not a requirement but it is definitely nice to have. After all, you won’t need these runes for your other quests. The exception to this advice is Varric. Even if you’re swimming in runes, I would not recommend wasting a Dragon-Slaying Rune on his weapon since he will be using his Bianca for everything.

Armor is simpler. You don’t have to make all of them since a lot of the picked up armor already have resistance. Also, specialized resistance armor doesn’t have to be made for every dragon. You can choose the hardest one to defeat. For instance, I find the Highland Ravager to be the most difficult to beat so I crafted fire resistance armor for all my dragon hunting party members only. During my first playthrough, my two mages had 72% fire resistance each and Varric had an insane 132% fire resistance armor. I didn’t bother with crafting special armor for the other dragons as my regular ones were more than enough.

I make sure that my people are accessorized properly. For instance, I have a superb magic amulet for my Inquisitor but she carries a superb belt of focus because she will use mark of the rift and resurgence. You can also upgrade focus at the war table using your Inquisition perks. There are special resistance and ability specialization rings and belts as well.

Potions

Healing potions are default. I’d add more slots using your Inquisition perks from the war table because it will allow you to have 12 healing potions on hand. There are belts that also increase slots. I use the regular healing and regeneration potions. My husband uses the healing mist as well. Most players probably use more potions, tonics and grenades than I do. They’re definitely useful but, aside from the three mentioned, largely optional. (Strictly my personal opinion.)

If your Inquisitor is built and armed well, you won’t even need to heal and will probably use your potions for other party members. So pick up those elfroots!

Focus

Upgrading to Master Focus is definitely recommended. You can do this by spending inquisition perks at the war table. Advanced Focus is a prerequisite. Why is it important? The strongest spells and abilities are powered by focus and having Master Focus will trigger tier 3 focus effects. In dragon fighting, you will use at least three focus-based abilities: mark of the rift, resurgence, and rally. If you have Solas with you, firestorm is focus-powered as well. With Master Focus and her rally ability, Cassandra will generate 30% guard generation and stamina/mana regeneration per second plus 30% damage resistance for the entire party.

Solasan (special)

The shards are there for a reason! Collecting shards will unlock the doors in the Temple of Solasan in the Forbidden Oasis. While it is an optional side quest, it is highly recommended because you get so much resistance points from Solasan. To get the complete package of fire, cold, spirit and electricity resistance, you’d have to collect all the shards in Thedas and this is no small feat. There are a total of 108 shards in the game. There are three doors for each specialty and the last one, electricity, will only unlock if all the other doors are opened.

In my current playthrough, I only collected enough shards to get all the fire and cold resistance Solasan could offer. I did not bother with electricity because I didn’t feel like collecting a massive number of shards for spirit resistance as spirit was the least among my priorities. If you have time and are OCD when it comes to completing quests, definitely do Solasan.

My husband wanted me to add that he completed all the shards and opened all the doors during his second playthrough after I told him about Solasan. Talk about OCD mode.

Fighting

Just as you’re approaching the dragon, activate the mark of the rift. Then bombard it with other spells. If your Inquisitor is an electricity mage like mine and is fighting a non-electricity dragon, static cage, barrier or chain lightning are great. Immolate is great for ice dragons. It all depends on which dragon you are fighting since they have specific immunities and weaknesses. Modify your shortcuts according to the dragon.

A lot of the dragon fighting will be done at close quarters. Most of the time, you don’t really have a choice because those things will draw you close by force. Fighting with your spirit sword can inflict more damage than a staff and you have access to weaker parts of the dragon (like its belly) and hurt it more. You can also disable a leg early on by hacking at it to no end. You will still get to use your staff when it moves around but try to get as close as you can. Vivienne will pretty much do the same thing if set up the right way (see notes on Vivienne above).

Have Vivienne as your second. Just in case you get killed, which is highly unlikely, you will automatically switch to Vivienne. She has a spirit sword and the same Knight Enchanter abilities. Most importantly, she also has resurgence, which you can use to resurrect/heal yourself and everyone else.

Each dragon is different. For example, Abyssal (The Western Approach) never flies around and is a melee fighter. I’ve beaten her using a staff alone by staying at a safe distance and I’ve also beaten her with a spirit sword. She’s one of the easiest to kill and will probably be one of the first ones you’ll fight. The Ferelden Frostback (The Hinterlands) flies around a lot and sometimes stays on elevated surfaces. This is where being a distance fighter works since you can switch between staff and spirit sword easily enough.

For more information about the high dragons, check out this guide from IGN.

Video

This is a video of my Inquisitor fighting the Sandy Howler from the Hissing Wastes. The party members are Vivienne, Cassandra and Varric. The Sandy Howler is immune to fire and weak to cold with 246,000 health points. It’s a level 20 and is the 3rd most difficult dragon to beat. (The most challenging ones are in the Emprise du Lion.) This Inquisitor and her party uses a mix of crafted and picked up weapons and armor, nothing over the top. Cassandra instantly generates guard for everyone, which did wonders for defense. I gave her an enhanced rally ring.

My Vivienne was built to have fire magic and usually carries a unique fire staff. But for this fight, I crafted an equally strong cold staff for her and deactivated the fire spells so the AI won’t cast them.

My Inquisitor did not need to heal and the potions were used mainly by Cassandra and Varric. I think I was a level 22 when I did this. In a previous playthrough, I fought the Sandy Howler as a level 22 Rift Mage and there is a marked difference. Being a Knight Enchanter was easier. You don’t have to be a level 22 either. The Sandy Howler can be beaten a few levels lower, perhaps level 16+.

My husband said that while fighting the Highland Ravager — the most difficult dragon to beat — he walked away, had coffee, and was still at full health when he returned. All because HE TOOK MY ADVICE and built his second Inquisitor according to my guide. (Isn’t the wife always right? *smug*)

Good luck!

Here’s to your dragon fighting adventures. Have fun! And let me know how this works out for you.

A Response to a Review

I wrote this on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and I’m just re-posting it here because I find it easier to track stuff that I wrote through this blog.

By the way, why do bloggers get so much flak? People should be relieved that we’re expressing our opinions and views in writing and reading is completely optional. This is preferable to me forcing my non-gamer friends to listen to my ranting and raving. I hold on to my gaming friends because there are so few of them in real life. (I refuse to join a forum and the reason is another long and painful story altogether).

On to the re-post of the review of a review!

*****

This is my response to a review of Dragon Age: Inquisition published in Forbes:

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‘Dragon Age: Inquisition’ As Game Of The Year Is Like ‘Crash’ Winning The Oscar

I usually respect others’ opinions considering that we all have different tastes. Liking games is like liking wine — it’s all about personal preference. But if you’re an official reviewer for a big name magazine/site, then making sure that you make sense is important because you can make yourself sound stupid real fast. There are so many things wrong in this review.

  • Spending 40 hours is not enough. In my second playthrough, I beat the game in about 40 hours.In another playthrough, I proved that I could do it faster and beat it at 26 hours. I beat it but did NOT enjoy it. I missed a lot of things that I enjoyed in my first 150-hour playthrough (and even that was not enough IMO). In 40 hours, I managed to finish all the main quests but did not unlock or explore five major areas of the map, killed one high dragon instead of ten, barely interacted with the companions/advisors much less do all their personal quests, barely crafted (I used stuff I just picked up instead of having a balance of crafted and uncrafted weapons and armor), missed a lot of cutscenes, and completely defeated the purpose of playing a richly written open-world RPG. In short, 40 hours is just enough play time to gather the points needed to do the main quests.
  • Being too under-leveled to win. The recommended levels for each main quest is a general guide. I beat the game at normal setting at level 16-17 on the shorter playthrough while some wouldn’t even consider that high enough to explore the Emerald Graves. Strategy, strategy, strategy.
  • No one is forcing you to do the side quests. A lot of them are enjoyable so I would recommend doing them. I also wouldn’t call some of the side quest fillers. A lot of them are actually hard and can help level up your character to be strong enough to beat the Venatori.
  • Conversations are optional. I totally avoided Sera and Bull one time. But I wouldn’t recommend avoiding the conversations. The cutscenes are interesting and could open up new quests and operations. Some of what they say can give you ideas to beat certain quests. DAI has a rich narrative and the conversations contribute to knowing more about Thedas and its history. Also, how else can you hook up with Solas, have a nice date in the Fade and then ditch him before he has the chance to give you a spectacular version of the “It’s not you, it’s me” speech (because my Inquisitor does not have enough ice cream in the cellar) and then hook up with Cullen right after just because? There’s a soap opera in the midst of the blood and gore.
  • Related to #1, there are lots of things one will miss when playing the basics. Personally, I think crafting is enjoyable. I spend so much time in the undercroft that both the blacksmith and arcanist probably think I’ve moved in. Gathering the schematics and materials to make that perfect slaying weapon can make the difference between beating the Highland Ravager in Emprise du Lion in one try instead of 15.
  • Last but not the least… Admitting that you have a preference for sci-fi, which DAI is clearly not. I don’t like sci-fi, first-person shooting games so I know that I can never produce an impartial review of Destiny.

</fangirlrantover>

Celene vs. Gaspard

celene

The other night, Chris did the “Wicked Hearts, Wicked Minds” quest. It’s not the hardest but it can be annoying because the Winter Palace has endless rooms that look alike! It’s like the fancier, gold-plated, shiner version of Redcliffe Castle when you do “In Hushed Whispers.” (That stupid quest gave me a headache). I’m not the most patient person and I saw that if Chris doesn’t get help, he’d spend five hours on this quest alone. So I walked him through the whole thing: room after room after room.

“Sonar now! The ring is right there.”
“Up the balcony. Halla statue on the corner. NO! The other corner.”
“Pass the door. No not pass by, pass through.”
“Ask Cullen why he has so many admirers.”
“Better arm yourself up ASAP because you’ll be fighting a rift in three seconds.”
“Up the stairs, left, right, left, left, doorway, left. Okay, kill everyone.”

I supported his idea to kill Empress Celene and make Gaspard the Emperor. Why? Because Celene is a bitch. Yes, The Game is complicated but I don’t like the way she walks, talks, and pretends. (“Your arrival at court is like a cool wind on a summer´s day” my ass). Gaspard may be a complete SOB but at least he can fight. I chose Gaspard during my first playthrough. At the end of the quest, Chris couldn’t believe how much I remembered but I reminded him that I did this four times.

In my playthrough with Miss Sixpence, I let Celene live and regretted it bitterly. I’m seriously considering going back to a previous save and changing her decision. I’m not in a hurry to finish the game, I’ve already proven that one can beat Dragon Age: Inquisition in about 25 hours. (Note that I said “beat,” not enjoy). So Miss Sixpence can take her time and wine and dine in the Winter Palace again.

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My half-Asian Inquisitor tried to get back together with Solas. (See painful history here). But he kept on shutting her down, saying that they have more important things to do, i.e. Corypheus. He flat out refused to talk about their status. I don’t think I can play this character again. I’ll probably just keep the profile to rewatch the breakup cutscenes when I feel like torturing myself.

I need more tissues.

Since Miss Sixpence, my main playthrough, is in a relationship with Cullen, I feel weird whenever I see Solas. Especially when she has to pass through his office to go to Cullen’s. She and Cullen just recently progressed into being “serious” after she confronted him about his intentions. But every time I have to make her talk to Solas, there’s this feeling that they are supposed to be together in a different dimension. So to make myself feel better, I give him the best weapons and armor I could find or craft and take him along all the time.

I feel like I’m giving the wrong impression here. The Cullen arc is amazing. I did it on my second playthrough and I’m very happy with it because BioWare did a really good job with his character. Which is why I chose Cullen again for Miss Sixpence.

It’s just that Solas is, well… Solas. I like both equally for different reasons.

Gah! I am way too invested in this. I can’t help it. The Solas character is such an integral part of the mindf*ck that is also called Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Why the Solas writer from BioWare should be shot and worshiped at the same time.

From now on until the day I get tired of it, the contents of this blog will be mostly about Dragon Age. Particularly Dragon Age: Inquisition. I’m trying to be a considerate Facebook friend to about 2,800+ people and I don’t want to spam my wall with DA:I rants.

Apparently, BioWare not only writes the most beautiful and complex narratives, they also include awesome romances in their games. They’re not an integral part of the gameplay but they’re great to have, if only to give more depth to the characters that you play. Like I always say, having a make out session in between blitzing red templars/Venatori/dragons/bandits/etc is always healthy. I have not played the first two games yet but Inquisition is probably the best game I have ever played in my entire godforsaken life so I assume that the first two are just as good.

WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

Back to romances. The first character I played was a male elven mage. The guy was a mean killing machine and, as far as he was concerned, love was not even a part of the picture. He was more celibate than the average pope and devoted himself fully into the Inquisition. He even let Cassandra down hard and she was pretty awesome considering the available options.

Cassandra-new

In my third playthrough, I chose to be a female Inquisitor. I called her Ms. Sixpence because my endless tweaking produced a lookalike of Sixpence None the Richer’s Leigh Nash. This time, I decided to hook her up with Cullen because he’s cute and, um, really fit. For a fictional character.

CullenOfficial

I think the Cullen romance arc is wonderful. It had the loveliest cutscenes. There were a lot of adorkable “awww” moments that will make you *squee* and giggle. (Even male players say this.) Besides, who can resist an ex-templar with a severe Call-Me-Maybe syndrome that gets all shy and talks about the weather when you attempt to flirt? Cullen will quit lyrium for you, he’ll do a complete 180 and change his opinion of mages because he met you, he’ll even learn how to dance just for you. Cullen is also responsible, stable, devoted, and will give an emotional speech about how he’s afraid to lose you before throwing you into a ring with Corypheus and the Archdemon. But he’ll make up for it later by sneaking into your quarters in the finale and hugging you in your Inquisitor-sized balcony while you stare into the horizon. In short, Cullen is the guy you take home to meet your mom. He’s the one you marry and have extremely good-looking babies with.

And then there’s Solas. Solas is the rather shady elven apostate mage who joins your original party. He has a mysterious past and will rarely talk about himself. You know that he’s this powerful rift mage that walks in the Fade like a boss and has spirit BFFs. He’s not as in-your-face gorgeous like Cullen but he makes up for it by being the intelligent type.

Solashd

When I heard that the character is also romanceable, I immediately made another profile with a new elven Inquisitor. I tried to make an Asian one, which was difficult considering that Bioware decided to ignore our part of the world. I only succeeded in making her look half-Asian.

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I built her for one purpose only: to be Solas’ girlfriend. *snortfle* This doesn’t mean that she won’t be mean and dangerous like my other two but I heard that pursuing Solas was a difficult job in itself. I skipped a lot of the side quests and only did the important ones. Unlike other characters, flirting with Solas was not exciting. His answers were appreciative but still distant.

And then something changed. I bugged him so much that he agreed to talk more about his favorite subject: the Fade. In a dream, he took my Inquisitor to a lovely version of Haven in the Fade, made her feel special, and kissed her. (Insert butterflies here.) But he later apologized for being too forward and said that he just wanted to be colleagues. (Insert WTF.) He acts all proper and friendly until he asked her to help him out with a personal quest (All New, Faded for Her), which had a sucky ending and made him sink into such a deep depression that he left Skyhold for a while. He suddenly returned and had a meaningful conversation with the Inquisitor. He got all mushy and tried to break away AGAIN but my precious little half-Asian Inquisitor pulled him back. (Insert incredible make-out session.) He later promised to “think about it” and said “Ar lath ma, vhenan” (I love you, my heart) before leaving.

There’s a lull for a while but he still continued to call her vhenan every time they talked about important Inquisition stuff. Note that he has no repeatable make-out cutscenes like the others, which IMO increases the anticipation. Also, all the cutscenes are between GP to PG-13. Unlike explicit!Sera, boobies!Cassandra and naked!Cullen, there is no hint of nudity anywhere and Solas faithfully keeps his shirt on. (WTF BioWare!) However, he did mention that he and the Inquisitor do sleep together, which I guess is better than nothing.

Upon returning to Skyhold from the Temple of Mythal, Solas asked her out and took her to this super romantic date by a waterfall.

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He held her hand, called her beautiful and said that she was the only one he cared for in a long time. The scene where he took off her vallaslin (face tattoo) with magic was seriously INTENSE. o_o I had goosebumps for days! @_@

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This was followed by a kiss that was totes better than what Scarlett and Rhett could have ever imagined. He called her a rare and marvelous spirit …

… and then broke up with her HARDCORE.

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He gave her false hope by saying “in another world” — further ensuring that she would pine after him for decades because he would be the one that got away. Then he left her there to shrivel up and DIE alone with no effing explanation!

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WTF, SOLAS?!

THAT WAS WORSE THAN ANY BREAKUP I HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED IN REAL LIFE.

Knowing what I know now after finishing the game, I completely understood his reasons. They really could never be. *sobs into pillow* But that does not make it right! My heart broke into a million tiny little pieces and not even half a box of caramel d’lites girl scout cookies could make me feel better. I HATE YOU, BIOWARE!!!! *shakes fist* *cries more*

But you know what, it was all worth it. Cullen was wonderful. But the Solas arc was EPIC and TRAGIC. I can see myself going back to previous saves and repeating the torture all over again. Gujab, BioWare.

Lastly, here’s an awesome graphic from Aidan Scanlan’s Twitter feed that explains this whole f*cked up situation. (Thanks, P, for sending this to me.)

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