In a somewhat surprising move, BioWare launched the first batch of major DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition today, thus guaranteeing it would be totally buried by Bloodborne coverage. For Xbox One owners, though, it comes with the silver lining that it is currently exclusive to their console (as well as the PC).
Titled Jaws of Hakkon, it introduces a new region, with all the attendant sidequests and mobs to fight. BioWare began teasing it yesterday, with virtually no prior warning, and released it today. It features a sidestory that adds around 8 to 10 hours of total content to the game, serving to shed some light on the fate of the previous Inquisitor while providing some comparatively high-level content (players are encouraged to be at Level 20 or higher before taking on the area).
Thus far, it's received a mixed reception from fans. There are those who object to the price ($15) and the fact that it's a timed exclusive, and others who argue that it plays to the worst of Dragon Age: Inquisition — lots of basic MMORPG-style quests that do little to build on the story or the cast. The new region has drawn comparisons to the Hinterlands, which became notorious around DAI's launch for being a massive area loaded with fetch quests and other content that has been derisively referred to as filler.
Speaking as someone who enjoyed Dragon Age: Inquisition more than most, though, I welcome the introduction of a new region. While the complaints about the filler quests are understandable, I've never felt any particular obligation to play them, so they don't really bother me. It's quite possible to play through DA:I at a casual pace without having to embark upon the collect-a-thon quests, though I'm sure they drive completionists insane.
If Jaws of Hakkon proves anything, it's that DLC continues to be a tricky business for large RPGs like Dragon Age. BioWare really has only two options — introduce a full-blown expansion that meaningfully advances the story (for example, Dragon Age: Awakening), or focus on a sidestory that slides neatly into the existing content. With their first batch of DA:I DLC, BioWare sort of tries to have it both ways, introducing content that appeals to higher-level players while mostly existing to flesh out the universe a bit more. As with Mass Effect 2's Overlord and other content like it, it's the sort of DLC that makes for great Game of the Year Edition fodder, bulking up the game for those who are playing it for the first time without interrupting the flow of the story.
Unfortunately for people like me, who have actually finished Dragon Age: Inquisition, Jaws of Hakkon isn't quite as interesting despite the opportunity to explore a new area. True, it's fun to learn a bit more about BioWare's fantasy world, and I always welcome an added challenge. But for $15, I'd rather gain some extra insight into one of my existing party members, or even unlock a new character entirely.
One of the best examples of this approach to date is Lair of the Shadow Broker — a piece of content for Mass Effect 2 that offers an expanded role for Liara T'Soni, deepens her relationship with Shepard, and introduces some fun setpieces. Rather than being more of the same, Lair of the Shadow Broker plays around with the existing structure while putting the spotlight on one of the series' best characters. It's not nearly as long as Jaws of Hakkon, but it is far more meaningful in terms of building up the story and adding to the game as a whole.
In that light, Jaws of Hakkon feels like a welcome but not really essential addition to Dragon Age: Inquisition. If BioWare's previous track record is any indication, though, there's plenty more content on the way, at least some of which will hopefully address the rather large plot threads left dangling at the end of the core game. Consider Jaws of Hakkon an appetizer.