Inquisition is a good game, damn good, but it excels in every area except the ones that matter most. It's story is generic and fragmented; a hash of interesting set pieces and ideas stitched together by a bargen bin central plot totally lacking in tension or thematic weight.
It misuses the rich lore of the series and robs it of it's nuance by hastily tying together as many lose plot threads as possible, but neglects to ensure they are resolved in an interesting way. The Bioware boiler plate story has gone from an irritating framing device to a metaphorical strait jacket that reduces engaging and evocative story beats like the Templar Mage conflict and the Orlesian civil war to incidental vignettes; not only adding nothing to them, but eliminating all conflict and striking them barren of any future potential.
Imagine if, in the next season of Game of Thrones, some random asshole we've never heard of before rounded up a couple of minor characters from the previous seasons, formed a new faction, and then the entire season was spent watching them resolve every lingering plot thread in the story, one at a time, one per episode, and without involving any of the main cast. They defeat the wildlings, dethrone and execute all the corrupt and evil lords, and eradicate the White Walkers. They run into almost no trouble, basically nobody you care about dies or has to face dire consequences, and they accomplish all this seemingly thanks to other people plotting behind the scenes and good fortune via a deus ex machina magic artifact.
Can you imagine how monumentally fucking idiotic that would be?
This can be extrapolated for describing the issues with gameplay as well; there is a distinctive lack of tension that pervades all the games mechanics, with the admittedly notable exception of combat, which has been improved in some ways. But many of the roleplaying and branching story elements essentially consist of other people doing the Inquisitors work FOR them and giving them all the credit. When we do accomplish something on our own steam, the game is so toothless and forgiving that it refuses to incorporate almost any meaningful consequences. The worst thing I ever experienced was a minor and temporary setback.
In Inquisition, if you don't get along with your party members, they take their toys and go home. In Origins, they may not only leave, but try to fucking kill you. Because Origins had the potential for things to get fucked up, to go wrong, when you successfully manipulate a situation to your advantage, you feel like a silver tongued devil, even though those moments are much fewer and far between.
The entire Inquisition as a gameplay mechanic, especially shit like the war table, is fucking patronizing. The game is basically playing itself; how am I supposed to explore a world if everything I do is to advance a preconceived cause? If I can predict the results of exploring... Well it's not fucking exploration, is it? The story is fragmented, but the gameplay is as tightly bound as ever; that's exactly what you don't want in and open world game.
Last time I played Skyrim, I ran into an extremely low level quest with my high level Vampire Mage. It was that one in Solitude when that Argonian tries to trick you into helping him crash a ship so he can loot it. Now, this was probably intended for new players; so they can learn the ropes of the world, learn that not every character is trustworthy. But I was a pretty seasoned adventurer at this point, so I sized the whole thing up as a trap right away. I accepted anyway, because what the hell? I haven't fed for a little while.
These guys had no idea what they were signing up for; I felt like the Mephalia herself, twisting and subverting mortals for sheer amusement. So I do the quest, get to the betrayal, and proceed to systematically obliterate the entire band of robbers with a combination of lightning magic and fear curses, and feast on their blood. By the end of the encounter, the few survivors cut their loses and ran. I let them go; I have a reputation to uphold after all. Let them serve as an example of what happens when you cross a Vampire Lord.
The sensation of wickedness, power, and accomplishment was palpable.
This is what makes open world games unique; with the right combination of consistency and chaos, they allow players to construct a sense of self within the setting of the game. This is where the mechanics of Inquisition, many of which are carry overs from a different genre, fail as elements of an open world game. Bioware's habit of playing it safe, a template that's an annoying crutch in linear story based RPG's, amounts to a veritable death sentence, a silver bullet, for a genre that thrives on mystery.
I played Inquisition and enjoyed it, but only once; it doesn't have that quality of mystery and immersion that makes me keep coming back to Fallout and Skyrim; it doesn't have the dramatic tension and emotional engagement that keeps me replaying the Mass Effect trilogy; and it doesn't have the nuance and richness that compels me to revisit Origins.
It's like a classic Tragic Hero in game form; perfect in every way, except for the one that matters most; an example of Hamartia.