I want something acknowledged right at the start of this review, that I was the ideal candidate for this new Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC, The Jaws of Hakkon. First, I love the Dragon Age series. I’ve played and enjoyed all the games, read all the books and graphic novels, I’ve even watched the movie. Second, my Inquisitor was level 20 (the recommended level for the DLC), I’m eager to keep playing, but I haven’t yet finished the main story. I don’t expect other players to be in as perfect a position as I was, you’ve probably either finished it or aren’t at level 19 or 20 yet. Basically I’ll try to account for everyone in this review, but the final big question will of course be “is The Jaws of Hakkon worth £11.99/$14.99?”
Some of the vistas are amazing.
The Jaws of Hakkon is set during the main campaign of Dragon Age Inquisition, so if you’re hoping for some post-games story content you’re out of luck. It features a new area called Frostback Basin which is comparable in size to some of the bigger areas in the game like the Hinterlands, loads of new quests and a few new enemies, with an overall story involving the search for the fate of the last Inquisitor centuries ago and a ruthless band of Avvar called, drum roll, “the Jaws of Hakkon”.
The main questline is pretty good despite a couple of times where it forces the player to traverse the entire area, and has some pretty spectacular moments. If you’re a fan of Dragon Age lore this DLC is made for you, and there’s also a crapton of writings and a lot of revelations regarding the original Inquisition and the Second Blight (the one in Origins was the Fifth). It’s also neat that fan favourite character Scout Harding is given a lot more to do, although she’s still not romanceable dammit. The quests are all pretty good and both attempt to keep things interesting and draw you in to the world a bit rather than just a few fetch-quests. Still if you’re hoping for any great new insight into Corypheus or some new epic Awakenings-style adventure you’ll be disappointed.
Expect a real challenge. Yes, I'm taking on two Fear Demons. I just killed a few more.
One pain I have to mention is actually getting in to the DLC. Once bought and installed there is no indication of where and how to play it, and the main menu just unhelpfully says “Buy The Jaws of Hakkon DLC Now!”. For reference: go into the game, go to the war table, and right at the very bottom left of the Fereldan map is the Frostback Basin. I didn’t even know it was called “Frostback Basin” until I looked it up online. Thanks for making things obvious, Bioware.
Furthermore as mentioned the minimum recommended level for entry to the DLC is 20, which is the “soft” level cap so bloody high. The Jaws of Hakkon is indeed very tough, with some of the hardest fights in Dragon Age Inquisition that are impossible to win unless you really think tactically. If you’re lower than level 18 or the type that doesn’t use the tactical camera in any fights you’ll struggle to take on the devastating opponents and get through the various tough quests of the Frostback Basin. Even the basic spiders are about level 23 and spit acid that eats straight through your Guard.
One thing that is undeniable about this DLC is that Frostback Basin is one of the most attractive areas in all of Dragon Age. It reminds me a little of Morrowind in that it’s mostly a giant overgrown woodland swamp, but it’s also very colourful with some jaw-dropping scenic vistas. I don’t usually gurgle about graphics so much but glorious design always trumps just having extra polygons or better textures, and Bioware have done a wonderful job designing the Frostback Basin. Not just in looks too, as there’s a real sense of verticality in the DLC mostly missing from Inquisition proper, meaning that sheer cliff-faces, high hillsides and even tall treehouses feature. It’s quite a delight until you fall off one.
Scout Harding gets a bigger role this time, and Professor Kenric is great too.
Despite all this, it has to be said that if you had problems with the design of Dragon Age Inquisition you’re not going to find any radical new changes in the DLC. Quests are good and generally avoid the “collect 12 crisp packets and get XP” mentality, and even the Fade Rifts here at least give truly worthwhile rewards. That said although there’s a lot to do much of it still falls into the usual Inquisition fare of finding shards, ‘Claim’ points, resources, Astrariums etc. If you’ve had enough of that, don’t even consider buying The Jaws of Hakkon. That said I side with Bioware’s defence: “if you don’t like doing those things, don’t do them”. For everyone else there’s definitely around 8-12 hours of gameplay here, which is longer than most games these days.
DRAGON AGE: INQUISITION - THE JAWS OF HAKKON VERDICT
So we get to the ultimate question: is The Jaws of Hakkon worth £11.99/$14.99? Compared to what’s just in the main game Frostback Basin is a minor addition to Inquisition, not basically a “quarter of the game” as the price suggests, so I’d have to come down on “no” by that criteria. That’s a silly price for DLC Bioware/EA, lower it to £8.99/$10.99 and we’re talking. Nevertheless, it comes down to preference. If you’re around level 20 and still playing and thoroughly enjoying Inquisition then absolutely get it, it’s a big new slice of tough, interesting content with lore that adds a lot to the world of Dragon Age. For anyone who’s finished the story, don’t expect any major new insight into the main plot, compelling shake-ups or any major additions barring the land and quests for it. It’s a good, fun, entertaining extra bit of Dragon Age Inquisition, and if that doesn’t excite you then, well, you don’t need it.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Scout Harding is a lot of fun, although the final fate of Inquisitor Ameridan is a very cool moment.
A big entertaining new chunk of Dragon Age, no more, no less.
Looks beautiful, very well designed, and very challenging.
Doesn't add anything to the main story or the gameplay.
A bit overpriced and with a surprisingly high barrier of entry.