We ventured into the Frostback Basin to uncover the secrets of the last Inquisitor.
Dragon Age: Inquisition's first single-player DLC, Jaws of Hakkon, was released a few weeks ago, introducing a new region and storyline to the game. The new area, Frostback Basin, both beautiful and challenging, is recommended for level 20+ characters and can be reached before or after the completion of the main story. Avvar—friendly and not—are the primary inhabitants of the region and are whom most of the quests end up involving.
In the DLC you'll embark on a new main story adventure to discover what exactly happened to the last Inquisitior, Ameridan, who had disappeared 800 years before you took the post. Numerous side-quests will involve gaining the trust of the friendly Avvar at Stone-Bear Hold, pushing back the threat from the unfriendly Avvar calling themselves the Jaws of Hakkon, and furthering the inquisition's discovery and foothold in the region.
Shards and astrariums make a return, with a new shard door to unlock and a cave entrance to open up. The astrarium puzzles are a mixed pot; the one that appeared to be the most complex I solved on the first try, while another took me several retries before figuring out the pattern. While both of these are completely optional, you can score a couple of nice items from them (especially if you're not already decked out in level 20+ gear), so they may be worth your time.
Overall, Jaws of Hakkon feels a bit too much like a loot pinata. Close rifts and get rare Tier 4 crafting components and purple equipment. Several elite creatures hold more unique gear, as well as various chests throughout the story areas. While it's always a good feeling to equip your characters with stronger items, it begins to seem a bit ridiculous when you have six new purple two-handed mauls, four more bows, seven new staves, and so on. The content would have been better off with less spewing of purples and more inclusion of better crafting schematics.
I'm not sure if it was the RNG, but I only ended up with a couple Tier 4 schematics, and had no desire to craft any of them. Most of the new schematics were Tier 3, and as someone who already had spent 22 levels prior to Jaws of Hakkon decking everyone out, very few characters benefited from them.
Between the main story and side quests, you'll find yourself busy with at least 8-10 hours of fresh content if you are a completionist. Throughout it all you'll get a better understanding of the Avvar tribes, their gods, how the Jaws of Hakkon differs from other Avvar and a deeper look at the life of Inquisitor Ameridan. The content involves many spirits, some puzzles, veilfire and a few cutscenes.
The new quests were entertaining and the story presented was good, but they didn't quite have a hook to them that made me hungry to devour the content as quickly as I wanted to in DAI. While BioWare is unbearably good at injecting humor into their dialogue, one part the DLC is missing—which is a shame, because it's one of the best parts of Inquisition—is companion development and interactions. Your chosen companions are along for the ride, and they continue their normal party banter and will occasionally approve or disapprove of your actions, but none of the new content involves them aside from their side comments.
Sure, Sera and The Iron Bull may object to being dragged into a mass of spirits, and Cassandra still has her vendetta against creatures of a grizzly nature, but true interaction with them is missing. Perhaps a short new companion quest would have solved this, or at the least, some more chatter with them in Skyhold so those of us who can't even hold a conversation with them after completing the main story could at least properly speak to them again. The new faces we're introduced to are forgettable (I still can't remember that researcher's name), with the only newly introduced standout character being a bear.
One character that did get included more in the DLC was Scout Harding. For the first time she sticks around in the new region for you to chat with and Harding will also pop up during a few of the main story quests, including the ending cutscene. It wouldn't be wholly shocking if she ends up as a companion and/or love interest whenever a Dragon Age 4 is created. Also, she's quite interested in mayhem.
Finally, there's Frostback Basin itself, which has the same stunning visuals found in other parts of Inquisition. The enemies you'll encounter include a mix of the familiar, but some of these may have a twist. The Hakkon Avvar can bit tougher than your average humanoid, with groups you encounter potentially including mages, sneaky rogues, archers, as well as both one-handed and two-handed warriors. A fight against a giant in this region is challenging—expect added difficulty as it employs ice-based attacks. There is one dragon fight, though this one will not present too much challenge if you've gone up against the Emprise du Lion trio.
The large area truly does make great use of its verticality. From high in the mountains to the lower reaches of the swamp, you'll find yourself often climbing up massive branches or carefully hopping down ledges while exploring the region. The Inquisition camps you establish will be a mix of ground-level sites as well as expansive tree houses. While the name of the zone sounds like you'll be entering a wintery locale, it's actually thickly forested—nearly jungle-like in spots—though you do finally encounter an area of ice during the story.
Jaws of Hakkon offers a good amount of new content into Dragon Age: Inquisition, and is definitely worth picking up for fans of the game. While crafting and companion interaction lacked in some ways, the storytelling, exploration and challenges will make your time spent in the Frostback Basin quite enjoyable.
Ann "Cyliena" Hosler, Managing Editor