"So, listen. I've caught the hints. I get what you're saying. You want to ride The Bull. Can't say I blame you, but - I'm not sure you know what you're asking. I'm not sure if you're... ready for it." I tell him I am. "See, you say that," he replies, "but you really don't know what that means." Come on, I say, are we going to do this or not? He comes closer, leather armour creaking as it tightens around his battle-scarred muscles. He reaches up to pull my wrists together, pinning me to the wall. "Last chance." I tell him to go a little slower... and a lot harder. He pulls me roughly onto the bed, and... fade to black.
OH MY. If that left you feeling all steamy, then you wouldn't be the only one. Dragon Age: Inquisition's Iron Bull starts off as a witty yet slightly cold Qunari (that’s a huge, horned man-bull) warrior that towers imposingly over you and your entire party, but get to know him through the complex and engaging romance system and you'll discover the heart of a teddy bear underneath all that bravado.
More than that, though, Bull is one of the most interesting characters in Dragon Age, if not most fantasy RPGs. As a romantic interest, he begins as a casual fling and only ramps up the intensity once you tell him you want more. One of the men in his cohort is a transgender character, but if you act surprised by this fact, him and the rest of his gang will laugh at you for being weird about it. He makes sure you have consented before he continues with his sexy powerful sexy thing. He's unfazed by race, gender or sexual preference. He's caring, kind, yet kinky, and there's an extended gag about the generous size of his man/bullhood.
It's a huge step up from the standard romanceable characters in most games, which usually consist of two-dimensional partners, either straight as an arrow or pansexual enough to be interested in your character whatever magical being or alien race you are. Dragon Age Inquisition bucks that trend, because screw you, player - you're not the centre of everyone's world. Sexy mage Dorian likes men. Quirky archer Sera likes women. Solas only likes elven women. Deal with it, because that's what actual humans are like - not everyone will like you.
Though Dragon Age's gorgeously deep and emotional relationship system is as much a part of the story as the story itself, the lore that serves as a backdrop to the plot is a rich tapestry of incredibly detailed history. The amount of time, effort, research and creativity it must have taken to create such a realistically diverse world is mindblowing - there are subcultures within the larger society of the game.
Orlais, based on the opulence of pre-revolutionary France, has complex political intrigue which threatens to destroy their society; there is systematic racism against elves, with racial slurs ("knife-ear") that feel as raw as real-world ones; dwarfs are considered to be weird, lesser beings because they live underground, but dwarfs that dwell on the surface are shunned by their kind. It's fascinating to dip in and out of the codex, where all this juicy information is found, to reveal little secrets about the mundanities of everyday life in the world of Thedas, or larger intrigues that change your understanding of certain situations.
And thank god this game is on next gen, because the locations are stunning. From the dilapidated headquarters of the Inquisition to the rich, extravagant golds and blues of Orlais, there is no corner of Thedas that doesn't capture exactly what the developers and artists wanted you to feel about each place.
Crestwood, for example, is an area surrounding a town that begins as a dark, rainy, plague-infested place, as grim and grey as the stone cliffs that surround it. After completing a quest to drain the lake and defeat the demons within, the weather undergoes a dramatic change, turning the place from one of misery to a sunny, slightly more cheery (though still demon-ridden) area. The buildings and settlements are designed after the races that dwell there, and you will find anything from glorious, imposing Tevinter ruins and ancient Elven stone edifices to masterfully carved underground dwarven palaces as you roam the land.
Everything, from the locations to the characters to the amount of care and attention to detail given to the game, is unique, impressive and thoughtful. Everything has been considered - the styles of architecture, the general approach to leadership favoured by each character - to the point where Dragon Age Inquisition feels like one of the most well-realised, profound and exciting experiences you'll find in a game. That's why it's a nailed-on entry on our list of the best games ever. And even if you don't care about that and you just want to bone a 10 foot man-bull, you'll probably still get more than enough for your money, if you get what I mean.