Launching first on the Xbox One before arriving on PS3, PS4 and Xbox 360 in May, Jaws of Hakkon is the first expansion to the single player experience that Dragon Age Inquisition has to offer, and whilst it fails to deviate very much from the standard fade closing and fetch quests that comprise the bulk of the game, Jaws of Hakkon does manage to do just enough to warrant its price tag. But only just.
The expansion introduces an expansive new area that’s jam packed with dense forests and Cliffside paths, in fact, in comparison to the other areas featured in the game, Frostback Basin is quite possibly the most varied of all of them. Caves, swamps and massive, traversable trees are dotted across an area that can easily swallow up a good five hours of so of play. And, whilst I may not have found it to be immediately attractive, I soon found myself gazing up into the night sky at the myriad stars, or watching shafts of warm sunlight flickering through the gaps in the bough of a tree for what seemed like hours on end. Frostback Basin is indeed large, varied and beautiful, so it’s a real pity that the missions held within it are not quite so diverse.
The main storyline to Jaws of Hakkon sees the Inquisitor venture south into this part of the world to search for the final resting place of the previous Inquisitor, who has been missing for some eight hundred years of so. The area, as it turns out, is being overrun by the Hakkonites, a group of fanatics hell bent on reviving a long dead God within a new host body. There are many skirmishes to be had, but ultimately, the expansion sees players raiding the Hakkonite fortress (which wasn’t quite as well protected as I had envisioned), before going head to head with another gargantuan dragon sat atop an arena carved in ice and rock.
It is also worth pointing out that the Frostback Basin also plays host to another group of people, the Avaar; a group of mighty hunters who live among the peaks of a mountain range in the south of Thedas, and who also have a rather well realised history with the Hakkonites themselves, a past that serves the Inquisitor rather well in gathering enough forces to stem their growing influence in the area. Their well observed culture and traditions serves to ensure that the whole area seems more palpable than had been in the hands of a less talented developer, and plaudits must go to BioWare for that, their ability to craft interesting, unique worlds should never once be in question.
Putting the storyline aside though, the bulk of the gameplay is exactly as one would expect, with astrariums to find, shards to collect, and a plethora of run of the mill fetch quests, and it is this that truly prevents the Jaws of Hakkon from being the must have DLC that we have all been waiting for. What I should point out though, is that this content represents a fairly substantial increase in difficulty over the original game, and whilst I began this little escapade at level twenty-three, some of the enemies I encountered still made my battles with them quite elongated affairs, and this I most certainly did not expect.
Jaws of Hakkon is a fairly by the numbers piece of downloadable content, which certainly didn’t meet the lofty expectations that I had for it, yet simultaneously, it wasn’t entirely disappointing either. It’s certainly worth picking up to simply enjoy an additional slice of BioWare’s epic role player, but personally, I just wanted more, and this is something that I dearly hope BioWare will provide us with come the next instalment, which will hopefully a little more variation on the tired formula. With any luck, it might not be another five month wait for it either!