If I haven’t said it enough, Dragon Age Inquisition is one of the best games I played last year. So when they finally announced a brand new story expansion I jumped at the chance to travel with my companions one more time. For those who want nothing more than that, Jaws of Hakkon delivers. Unfortunately, that is all this DLC offers. It’s an okay story with a mildly interesting area to explore but it certainly does nothing to shake up the world or create any impact on the story. In many ways it plays like a tacked on extra area, which it is.
Jaws of Hakkon has you exploring the area of the Frostback Basin, home to the Avvar, a tribe of shamanistic humans. The inquisition is sent there in hopes of finding the last resting place of the previous Inquisition leader. However, Inquisition forces are rebuffed in their attempts by a rogue group of the Avvar calling themselves the Jaws of Hakkon. It is clear that Bioware put a lot of thought into the Avvar as they are abounding in lore. In fact one of the better parts of this DLC is exploring the history of these people and how they fit into the wider world around them.
Once you land into the Frostback Basin you are presented with a similar quest structure from previous areas; Explore the wilderness, establish camps, and complete side quests. While most of the side quests are rote for the series a few stand out. I particularly liked tracking down an inquisition soldier fueled by rage at the death of a friend or helping an apostate come to grips with the spirit inside her. However, I was disappointed to see how many quests were copy and pasted from the original game, especially seeing a return of the Elf stones. In the main story these stones were used to open a secret vault in one of the areas, in Jaws of Hakkon they serve the same purpose, although with a smaller, less impressive area to explore. It felt cheap and I had to wonder if they couldn’t have at least created new assets to shake up the formula.
The Hakkonites are surprisingly challenging. Their Tanks have massive amounts of health, the rogues instantly target mages and ranged characters, and their Mages wield the power of ice; freezing and slowing down melee characters at will. The game also has no problems throwing massive amounts of enemies at you at a time. I actually enjoyed the challenge and enjoyed having to adapt to new strategies with my characters. Unfortunately, they, and a smattering of hostile wildlife, remain your only enemies throughout the 5-6 hour campaign. I would have liked to see a little more variety in the combat and a larger, diverse cast of enemies to fight.
The Frostback Basin has a suprising amount of diversity. You start in a lush jungle and you can make your way to a rocky coast, a dark and foreboading swamp, or head to the hills and cliffs of the Avvar’s home turf. The world was stunning and I was stopping in every new area to admire the vistas. I particularly loved the tree top bases as they afforded me a view of the massive trees and large twisting root systems of the Frostback forest.
The main story has a few twists and turns and I relished learning more about the original Inquisition. A big theme of the DLC focuses on how men can turn into legend and how much of the original story gets lost. However, the biggest issue of the DLC comes from where it is placed in the story. The Jaws of Hakkon takes place after the events of the first game, and after defeating an ultimate, world imperiling evil this DLC feels almost pedestrian for the Inquisition to care about. You have moved whole kingdoms, commanded the armies of two different countries, and slayed the most powerful beasts in Thedas; putting down a minor rebellion of a group of barbarians feels like a quest that was better suited for the midpoint of the original game.
The Jaws of Hakkon does nothing to shake up the world of Dragon Age Inquisition. If you, like myself, are just looking for more Dragon Age then this DLC delivers. However, if you are looking for more then you might want to find your adventures elsewhere.