Since I’ve talked about The Descent, the last and unexciting DLC of Dragon Age Inquisition, I might as well talk about the previous module, expecially since I’ve referred to it multiple times in comparison to the following one. New and old scenarios: the Hinterlands and Creswood just had a baby First of all, Jaws of Hakkon […]
Since I’ve talked about The Descent, the last and unexciting DLC of Dragon Age Inquisition, I might as well talk about the previous module, expecially since I’ve referred to it multiple times in comparison to the following one.
First of all, Jaws of Hakkon is to be considered an expansion in the most literal of ways. Did you like the Hinterlands area? Did you like Crestwood? Did you like the forest around the Temple of Mythal? Well, just imagine: Crestwood and the Hinterlands just had a baby, and asked Mythal to raise it. The Frostback Basin is a wide area quite similar to the Hinterlands, with its quests, its landmarks, its own Ocularia and, unfortunately, its shards. It has bright red leaves, giant mushrooms and a swamp that will make Dragon Age Awakening‘s Blackmarsh Undying look like Wonderland.
Here the fauna is so bad that Scout Harding has to advise you, in spite of her fear of heights, to make camp on trees, Ewok-style, but have no fear: your camps will not be the strangest settlements in the area. You’ll find Tevinter ruins, giant tuning forks to mark your way, and an authentic Avvar camp, much dissimilar to the keep you ravaged in the Fallow Mire during the main game.
Overall, the game would be worth its while only to have this additional area to explore. As with Crestwood, you get to see the change from day to night.
Along with some old characters such as Scout Harding, who has lots of dialogues and stays at camp for you to talk with her, for a change, Jaws of Hakkon introduces some new characters that are worth mentioning.
First of all, there’s Thaine Svarah Sun-Hair, the leader of your Avvar clan. She suffers from some not-so-good writing, it’s true: she doesn’t seem to care if you go ahead and kill one of her Gods, and the explanation she offers for that is not satisfactory at all, for instance. Aside from that, she has the charisma of one who fought with her hair on fire (hence her nickname) and unfortunately she seems to be a much more charismatic leader than your Inquisitor will ever be. Alongside her, a whole pantheon of Avvar figures, from the Augur and her apprentice (a beautiful sub-plot) to the Huntmaster, down to Trainer Arrken (who will be very happy if you beat your hosts senseless during Hakkon’s Trials in the Arena). Also it’s very difficoult not to mention Storvacker, the proud (?) bear of the hold whom I was very proud to acquire as an agent.
However, the most intriguing characters of this DLC are not from the present but from the past. The challenge was not easy: you are on the trails of the previous Inquisitor and Bioware had to make it interesting, even if the Inquisition is not that fascinating (in my opinion, anyway). They worked in a very clever way, and succedeed: the light gets shred on Inquisitor Ameridan little by little, mostly through recovered memories, which means voice recordings. You begin to know him through the eyes of his beloved, the elven dreamer Telana. You learn about her death, and his disappearance. You follow his trail up to the Wall of Ice and when you finally let it go (sorry, I couldn’t resist), you get to meet him in person. It’s hard not to care about his story, and when you think it’s finished, you collect the final memories and you realize what this has been about: the Second Blight, the betrayal of elves, the Exalted Marches. This events lead back when it all started, when the Thedas we know was shaped. It’s interesting even if you’re not an elvish fanboy. And Hakkon knows I’m not.
Creatures and bosses: hordes of barbarians and a whole new dragon
Alongside these friendly Avvars, you’ll get a much less friendly and much more sparkling variety of enemies: the tribesmen who call themselves “the Jaws of Hakkon”, or Hakkonites. They will constitute your main opponent in this area, when you’re not busy fighting giant spiders and other enormous creatures. They have the Spellbinder (mage), the Bruiser (stealth thief), the Defender (warrior) and the Bowman (ranged thief). As with your regular Apostate, I recommend taking down the Spellbinder first.
Everything in this area is of extremely high level, which can be very good news if you are of high level as well, since it will give you Xps where nothing else does it. You’ll encounter Level 27 Poison Spiders, Gurguts and Lurkers. Should this not be enough, you can go hunting non-aggressive species such as Snoufleurs, Tuskets and Bogfishers. If you are a fan of the latter, I strongly recommend you talk to Havard-Pierre d’Amortisan and embark in the Nox Morta quest. You’re going to love it.
The most important creature of this DLC, however, is Hakkon Wintersbreath himself: your eleventh High Dragon (and incidentally the one you need to unlock the Dragonslayer achievement in one single playthrough, due to the infamous bug). As the name suggests, (s)he’s a Level 25 ice dragon to which the Hakkonites have bound the soul of the ancient Avvar god of winter. (S)he will fight as every other dragon does, calling dragonlings and trying to stun you. (S)he’s not so hard to take down, and can make for a very entertaining fight.
There’s four of them: two are story-markers, and the other two are optionals. The Firestarter one (destroy all the Winter Shards and light all the fires in the Old Temple, for 15 Origin Points) is not so easy to get and personally I missed it. The Old Temple area has a time element to it, much similar to the one in the Winter’s Palace, except that here you don’t get kicked out from a party but you freeze to death. And, since I’m Orleasian, I didn’t take it as seriously.
The other optional achievement is Legend-Marked, and it’s about impressing the Avvars and is not dissimilar to what you have to do in order to trade with the Dalish Camp. It’s a bronze trophy of 30 Origin Points.
Story and interaction with the main plot
As I said, the story is a nice and well-balance mix of drama (Ameridan’s story), politics (Avvars and their involvement) and wit. Unfortunately, we still have the shadows of Mass Effect over us, therefore the DLC has no connection whatsoever to the main scenario: you just have a couple of War Table missions and your advisor’s remarks are priceless, expecially if you decide to acquire the bear as Cullen’s agent, but you don’t get to speak with anybody about anything and no additional dialogues are unlocked.
Also, some would expect special interactions from Solas and Cole, giving that a great part of JoH is about spirits and dreams. Still, there’s something nice from Solas, expecially when you visit Ameridan’s shrine: everybody seems to forget about Fen’Harel, apparently.
Well, we won’t.
Just wait for a post-ending DLC to come out, and you’ll see if we forgot about Fen’Harel.