Thedas can seem like a intimidating place when you first set out. Dragon Age: Inquisition throws an almost overwhelming amount of information at you right from the start, and it can be tough to sort through it all at first.
As always though, there are a few basic strategies that you can keep in mind as you build up your party. We've compiled some tips on character building, party composition, crafting, and tactics, all of which should help you whether you're navigating the terrors of The Fade or Orlesian politics.
You can also find our full review of Dragon Age: Inquisition here.
Basic Tips and Strategies
Use the Tactics Screen for Focus Fire:: You may be able to brute force your way through enemies early on, but it'll get you killed later. Use the Tactics button (Touchpad button on PlayStation 4) to get the lay of the land and assign targets for focus fire. Establish a flow for your abilities and make sure to keep everyone buffed. Especially against bosses, Dragon Age: Inquisition requires a decent amount of tactical thinkings.
Focus on Archers: Archers are death on any unprepared party. Most of the time, enemy warriors are just there to absorb your attacks while they do the real damage. Make sure you kill them first. A Warrior with the Turn the Bolt ability is also a big help.
Make Sure to Set AI Tactics: Since you usually only control one character at a time, much of the action is handled by the computer. Take care to go into the Tactics menu (Start + Character Record, tab over to "Tactics") and set abilities they can use. This is especially important when setting up a Mage.
Don't Be Afraid to Switch From Your Main Character: If you're controlling a Warrior, sometimes it's best to take control of an Archer or Mage to get a better sense of how the battle is unfolding. Warriors in particular can usually take care of themselves, especially if they rely heavily on parrying attacks. Give this a try if you're having a lot of trouble with an enemy boss.
Get More Potions: Inquisition Perks confer many benefits, impacting among other things your conversation options and how many potions you can carry. Since healing magic is nearly non-existent, make sure to upgrade your potion carrying capacity from 8 to 12 as soon as you are able. Make sure you also craft some Regeneration Potions, since they are very useful for healing between encounters when traversing a large dungeon.
How to Earn Power Quickly
Power is a key resource in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Large amounts of it are required to unlock quests that advance the story. Here are some of the best ways to earn Power if you're looking to keep the story moving.
Unlock New Areas: Unlocking a new area typically costs around eight Power, but the short-term investment quickly yields much more rifts to close, camps to establish, and sidequests to complete. When in doubt, unlock a new area and start exploring.
Close Rifts (1 to 2 Power): Closing a rift is a good way to accrue some quick Power as well as experience. Rifts can be found everywhere, so if you're traveling from one point to another, it never hurts to stop and close one or two on the way.
Establish Camps (1 Power): Camps are checkpoints where you can replenish your potions and make deeper inroads into unknown territory. They also yield Power when established, so go and put up camps early and often.
Seek Out Major Sidequests: Though not always the case, major sidequests can occasionally yields 10 points more of Power in addition to the usual benefits of loot and experience. Crestwood and Emprise Du Lion are two regions with sidequests that yield a great deal of Power upon completion.
Suggested Party Composition
Party composition plays a big role in how you approach strategy in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Said composition is governed in large part by which class you select early on, whether it be Warrior, Mage, or Rogue. In general, you'll want to follow basic RPG convention when constructing a party: Choose a tank and a magic-user, then fill out the rest according to your preferences. Below is one composition that generally works well.
Warrior (Weapon and Shield): Whether you choose Blackwall, Iron Bull, or your main character, you definitely need a tank who can absorb arrows, challenge enemies, and generally act as a bulwark for your party. You're actually best-served handing this role off to the AI since its does a very good job of tanking hits, leaving you to focus on dealing damage with your character of choice. Outside of the main character, Blackwall is the best tank in the game.
Optional: Warrior (Two-Handed Weapon): Warriors wielding two-handed weapons are quite strong, especially later on. They're very good at taking the pressure of the tank while also doing a lot of damage. Note that you earn a two-handed weapon late in the game with a rune capable of doing significant amounts of damage to dragons, which is very useful in the latter part of the game.
Rogue (Archer): Archers are again very strong in Dragon Age: Inquisition, being able to pick off foes at a distance while they focus on the party's tank. Sera is an excellent addition to the party on that front. Make sure you focus on the Sabotage tree so you can get useful abilities like Poisoned Weapons and Explosive Toxin.
Mage (Winter or Inferno): Unless you really want to challenge yourself, a Mage is pretty much a requirement given that they can cast defensive barriers and powerful area of effect attacks. Make sure you focus the Spirit tree to unlcock barrier magic. Vivienne's specialized move, which allows her to resurrect and heal the entire party in an emergency, makes her a great addition. Also, she's the best character in the game.
Optional: Mage (Winter or Interno): If you want to really dish out the damage, it can be worthwhile to add a second magic-user at the expense of a two-handed weapon user. If you do decide to go this route, make sure to pick whatever tree you missed with your other magic-user. A second magic-user can also be used in place of an archer, but with the drawback of slightly lowering the sustained damage output while also making the party even less defensive.
Abilities to Target for Each Class
Warrior: Turn the Bolt and Turn the Blade are essential abilities for tanks, and anyone building a Weapon and Shield Warrior would be well-served by also focusing on the the Vanguard and Champion trees, which contain a huge number of essential abilities such as Challenge-a taunt ability. Two-handed weapon users, meanwhile, will want to work on getting the Earthshaking Strike + Shattered Ground ability, which splits the ground open and sets enemies on fire. Whirlwind, as always, is a terrific area-of-effect attack.
Suggested Abilities: (Weapon and Shield) Turn the Bolt, Turn the Blade, Lunge and Slash (Two-Handed Weapon) Mighty Blow, Whirlwind + Rising Winds, Clear a Path, Earthshaking Strike + Shattered Ground.
Suggested Specialization: Champion + Vanguard (Weapon and Shield), Templar + Battlemaster (Two-Handed Weapon)
Mage: It's generally best to focus on Winter first for the Mage since it can freeze and immobilize foes, with Spirit being useful for casting the all-important Barrier spell. Inferno is a strong option for a second mage since it panics foes. The Knight Enchanter specialization contains the hugely powerful Resurgence ability, which can heal and revive the entire party at the expense of Focus. Vivienne specializes in the Knight Enchanter tree.
Suggested Abilities: (Inferno) Immolate, Flashfire, Pyromancer, Clean Burn (Winter) Winter's Grasp, Mana Surge, Ice Mine, Ice Armor, Blizzard (Spirit) Barrier, Guardian Spirit, Strength of Spirits, Revival
Suggested Specialization: Knight Enchanter
Rogue: Rogues are fairly straightforward. If you go with the Double Dagger approach, then focus on Subterfuge so you can get the all-important backstab. If Archer is more your speed, then make sure to get Poisoned Weapons in the Sabotage tree.
Suggested Abilities: (Archer) Long-shot, Explosive Shot + Chain Reaction, Death from Above, Pincushion, Full Draw (Double Daggers) Twin Fangs, Dance of Death, Sneak Attack, Deathblow
Suggested Specialization: (Archer) Sabotage + Tempest, (Double Daggers) Subterfuge
A Brief Guide to Crafting
Crafting is easier than it looks. Once you unlock the Undercroft in Shyhold, you should have more than enough materials to begin crafting weapons in earnest. Recipes can be found in shops around the world, with Val Royeaux being a particularly good place to look. Otherwise, just take care to mine any interesting materials you might happen to notice on your adventures. Emprise du Lion is a great place to find high-end materials like the Arbor's Blessing and Dawnstones.
When you begin crafting a weapon or a piece of armor, you need to select three materials plus an optional "Masterwork" material that can be found around the world (ex. Fade-Touched Dales Loden Wool). You can see the process in action at around 34:50 in the video below.
Here are a few useful materials to look out for:
Masterwork: Fade-touched Paragon's Luster: Heals 20 percent of damage taken over 10 seconds. Healing is always useful given that DA: Inquisition is often as much a test of endurance as it is skill.
Tier 3 Common Metal: Dawnstone: Can be found in abundance the Emprise du Lion. Helps DPS considerably while also offering +3% armor penetration, which is a huge help against the numerous Red Templar you encounter through out the game.
Tier 2 Common Metal: Pyrophite: Appears in the Emerald Graves with some regularity. Adds 2.5% damage to guard on offense of +13 health on defense.
Tier 2 Common Leather: Quillback Leather: Grants +6 percent ranged defenes, which is invaluable against archers. Can be found on the Western Approach along with a wide variety of other animal materials that are useful for crafting armor.