Dragon Age: Inquisition's multiplayer co-op is a loot fiend's best friend

Join your fellow warriors and kill stuff

I bet this wasn't what you were expecting from Dragon Age: Inquisition. Multiplayer? For real? Yep! It's happening, and I'm sure you have a lot of questions. Like: How could tactical RPG combat translate to a four-player co-op scenario, and why the HELL is Bioware wasting time on a multiplayer mode for a story-based, SINGLE-player title? Hey, hey, hey. Hold on there buddy. I've got all of the details on the new co-op multiplayer mode to help bring your worries to rest.

I had the chance to play Dragon Age: Inquisition's multiplayer mode during a recent visit to the Bioware offices, and I can tell you right now, it's actually pretty awesome. Like, I'm-going-to-be-spending-way-too-much-time-playing-this awesome. Its got the economy of Mass Effect 3's multiplayer with a ton of Dragon Age elements mixed in. There's a lot to show you, so let's jump right into it.

Fight through dungeons in a party of four

If you're familiar with Mass Effect 3's multiplayer, you're going to feel right at home with Inquisition's new co-op mode. After sitting through the matchmaking lobby (which allows you to select the mission and difficulty settings), you'll drop into a 20 to 30 minute mission with your group of four online companions. From there, every player controls a single character, leaving it up to your group to coordinate attacks and manually execute combat strategies.

Unlike Mass Effect 3's horde-style gameplay, however, Inquisition's multiplayer challenges your team to complete a randomized mini dungeon. You play as a member of an Inquisition strike team that will need to explore every room to find hidden chests filled with gold and items, and defeat all of the enemies contained within the level--including a massive boss at the end. This is no cake walk. Coordination between players and classes is essential. "What kind of classes?" you ask. Well...

There are multiple classes to choose from

Basically, any character type you're used to playing in the Dragon Age series is an unlockable class. You'll start off the progression system with a sword and board dwarf class, elf caster, and human archer unlocked (with nine total classes available at launch). Each of these classes has their own skill trees to unlock via experience points, special weapons to find, and armor to collect and customize. As you progress, you can unlock more specialized classes with unique skills, such as the two-handed weapon-wielding Reaver, fireball-throwing Elementalist, and stealthy Assassin.

Like Mass Effect 3's classes, Inquisition's level individually and share a loot pool. So, if you find an awesome shield playing as an Archer, you can equip it to your shield-bearing Legionnaire later on. It's always a good idea to keep more than one class equipped and ready for battle because joining a group in which all players are the same exact class is a surefire way to wipe. Variety wins the day in Inquisition's multiplayer.

Work with a balanced team to win

When it comes to class based co-op and parties, an RPG veteran's mind can't help but think of the holy trinity: tank, DPS, and heals. In Inquisition's co-op missions, you'll definitely have a huge advantage going into a dungeon with a balanced team, plus only certain classes can open special doors containing extra loot. But if you wanted to rock a party of three Legionnaires and a magic-throwing Keeper, you can probably pull off a victory in the easier difficulties (if your team is super good).

My experience with a balanced team went quite well. I rushed my shield-bearer to the front, holding up my shield to absorb damage and gained a boost to my armor. While I did my tank thing, ranged magic casters and archers behind unleashed their skills to put down heavy damage and heal my dwarf's wounds. The trinity worked like a charm--at least, until my group encountered tougher enemies, who promptly murdered us.

There are Mass Effect 3-style loot chests

Whether you finish a quest with your co-op partners or get brutally eviscerated by the demons of the Fade, you're going to get some gold for your efforts. What's that gold for? Well, duh, buying stuff. But you won't be handpicking the weapons and armor from some shopkeep or blacksmith. Inquisition's loot system is all about blind, random luck.

To get new gear, you can purchase loot chests that come in the small, medium, and large variety. These can contain temporary items like potions and buffs, or rare equipment pieces. The larger the chest, the more items you get, and the more rare the items can be. There's also the option to put down real money to speed up your looting progress. That said, you won't be able to buy any items in particular and there aren't any items you can't earn by just playing the game.

You can craft weapons and armor

Other than purchasing loot chests to get new items, you have the option to gather materials and craft your own weapons and armor, or improve your items with new sword hilts and armor reinforcements. In Inquisition's multiplayer quests, the gold filled chests you come across might include crafting materials and recipes (or you can break down unwanted items for materials). Once you get everything a recipe calls for, you can build your new item through the multiplayer menus in the matchmaking lobby.

In Inquisition's MP you can completely outfit your character from head-to-toe (with individual armor pieces that include boots, gloves, chest pieces, and head gear). Items have different classes of rarity and distinct looks, allowing you to truly customize the abilities and appearance of your characters. The crafting system definitely adds to the loot-monger appeal. I already see myself spending way too much time trying to complete an armor set.

Multiplayer doesn't intersect with the single-player game at all

In Mass Effect 3, players have to play multiplayer to pump up their Galactic Readiness, which affects the single-player story events. In Inquisition, however, there won't be such interconnectivity between the single-player and multiplayer modes.

Of course, there is some narrative behind the operations and characters in the DAI co-op, but none of that will bleed into the mechanics of the single-player game. So, any players who don't want to partake don't have to (which is a good thing because the single-player will probably take up enough of your time).

There will be free DLC

As if 150 to 200 hours of single-player gameplay wasn't enough. Bioware will also provide regular updates to the multiplayer experience. So, you can expect to see new heroes, levels, and items trickling in during the weeks and months after Inquisition's launch. And probably the best thing about the upcoming content: it's all free. No subscription, no season pass, no nothin'.

Will you join in on Inquisition's MP?

There you have it. Those are all of the details we have on Inquisition's multiplayer mode so far. What do you think of the series' plunge into the multiplayer space. Are you apprehensive? Excited? Let us know in the comments below.

Read more about Inquisition in our Dragon Age Inquisition Road to the Review and check out other titles coming later this year in our most anticipated games of 2014 list.