Dragon Age: Inquisition created by BioWare.
Images used for educational purposes only. 
The Wrath of Heaven

Frostback Mountains

- After the beginning cinematic you’ll wind up in an interrogation room, facing down a pair of potentially-familiar ladies named Cassandra and Leliana. This conversation will serve as an introduction to the dialogue wheel, a series of chat options that can (and will) impact your Inquisitor’s journey, and his or her relationships with other characters. Requests for more information typically appear on the left side of the wheel; actual decisions appear on the right. You only get one shot at these conversations, in most cases, so make sure you choose options that you won’t regret later.

- At the end of the conversation you’ll have the option to help Cassandra or admit that you have more or less no choice. If you want Cassandra’s approval of your Inquisitor to grow, agree to help her rather than acting stubborn. Eventually you’ll gain control of your Inquisitor; head north along the bridge. (You can jump off the bridge with no repercussions other than looking silly. I’ve tested it.) Eventually you’ll be forced down onto a sheet of ice…

- … and come toe-to-toe with two Lesser Shades. This will give you a basic overview of combat. We’ll go into combat in greater detail presently; for now, use your newfound weapon (suited to your character class, of course) to dispatch your Shade, then help Cassandra take out hers. Easy. In the aftermath of the battle, you can either offer to lay down your arms to satisfy Cassandra… or taunt her, and earn her dissatisfaction. Your choice. You’ll receive eight Healing Potions from Cassandra either way.

- Follow the icy path southeast, towards the waypoint on your map. You’ll find a few corpses along the way; loot them for some basic items for your new character and a bit of money. Once you reach a winding, frozen river you’ll run into more Shades, but nothing you can’t handle. Cassandra is great at Taunting and luring enemies to her should you have a rearguard character, such as a Rogue or a Mage, so let her wade into battle first most of the time.

- Check the end of this frozen river for more gold, then climb up onto the path to your left. The river continues ahead, and you’ll start running into Wraiths as well as Lesser Shades. They’re ranged monsters that aren’t much tougher than the Shades, and once a melee fighter reaches one they’re pretty much goners. Now’s a good time to become acquainted with Healing Potions, if you start to get low on health.

Cassandra tells the Inquisitor-to-be that the world's going to hell. Par for the course for this lady.
Cassandra tells the Inquisitor-to-be that the world's going to hell.
Par for the course for this lady.
- Climb the stairs on the left side of the river. At the top you’ll find another small melee in progress. Take out the Lesser Shades and you’ll hit a cut scene wherein you meet two more party members: Solas, a Mage, and Varric, a Rogue. Act friendly to earn their approval, and ask questions to satisfy Solas in particular. With their inclusion you’ll have a full party with a Tank (Cassandra), two sources of ranged support (Solas and Varric), and whatever role your Inquisitor fills. From this point on you can change party members if you wish.

- Descend into the valley to the northwest. Here you’ll get your first taste of Tactical Mode.

Tactical Mode

Harkening back to the first Dragon Age, Tactical Mode allows you to pause combat and take a closer look at things. Tactical Mode will allow you to move about the current battlefield, check out your current foes, see where your characters are and whom they’re attacking, and issue commands to your party. You can also pass time slowly without actually leaving Tactical Mode.

Though confusing at first, Tactical Mode is fairly simple. The most confusing aspect of it will be issuing commands to your other characters. To do so, highlight their picture on the left side of the screen, click the confirmation button (whatever it might happen to be), and click elsewhere on the battlefield. The character will then carry out the indicated action. You can order your characters to do the following:
  • Move to another location - click on the spot where you want them to move
  • Hold position at that location - double click once you’ve selected a destination
  • Attack an enemy - click on the target enemy
  • Use a particular ability on an enemy (look to the attack wheel in the bottom-right corner of the screen) - click the associated hotkey, then click on the enemy
  • Defend another character - click on the character
  • Interact with the environment - click on the environment (switches, torches, things like that)
When not given specific orders, characters will act and react based on a more extensive set of behaviours, known as Behaviors (American spelling!), that you can manipulate in the character menu. We’ll look at Behaviors more in another article, as they're fairly complicated. (Once you gain a level you'll be able to change your Behaviors.)

- With the frozen lake cleared of enemies you can explore a little. To the east along the lake you'll find a small cabin with various lootable items inside. To the west you'll find a burning house with more loot (to hell with flames, you're a hero), and if you go aaaaaall the way west you'll find a small encampment with four Lesser Shades. Take them out, then check the body here for a Lifeward Amulet. (Pretty sure this is here for everyone. Most loot is randomized.)

- Return to the lake and take the northern path, up the stairs. After a bit of trekking you'll find a Greater Shade and a few Wraiths. Tank the Shade while your long-range attackers snipe the Wraiths. Past here you'll find stairs leading to a plateau, upon which sits (floats) a Fade Rift.

A Fade Rift. These pretty disturbances will make your life hell.
A Fade Rift. These pretty disturbances will make your life hell.
Fade Rifts

Fade Rifts pop up a lot in Inquisition, and are major sources of all the trouble in Thedas. Your Inquisitor has the power to close Fade Rifts using his or her power, and you'll have to do so to stem the tide of demons flowing from the Rifts. This means wading into combat and holding off enemies while attacking the Rift using only your Inquisitor. You need to achieve a nice balance between engaging demons and closing Rifts, as later Rifts get harder and harder to close. Demons will continually spawn while near Fade Rifts; don't neglect their numbers just because a Fade Rift is almost closed.

- After closing the Fade Rift the nearby gate will open onto another bridge. Check on the left side of the bridge for a Supply Crate where you can refill your Health Potions, as well as a strongbox on the right side, then run down to the opposite end to find Leliana chatting with a bit of a jerkass. The conversation boils down to two decisions: either Charge with the soldiers or Take the mountain path.

Charge with the Soldiers

- Cassandra approves. Good for you.

- Make your way to the small camp at the top of the path where you start. On your right you'll find a strongbox with some minor loot; on the left... lovely.

- The rest of this path consists of a battle against assorted demons, including a group of demons known as Lesser Terrors. They're slightly stronger than Shades, but still not big deal. You have a few soldiers helping you here, but they're not terribly useful. Send Cassandra out to tank while your Inquisitor deals with the Fade Rift in the middle of the arena.

- You'll wind up outside in short order. There's a Fade Rift ahead, protected by a variety of demons, but you'll be supported by soldiers. Not a difficult fight, especially since you can stay well out of the fracas and still do plenty of damage. Be nice to the lieutenant in the aftermath to earn Solas's approval.

- Climb down the mountain path (look for ladders) and, eventually, you'll hit your destination.

The mountain path. So scenic. (I honestly just like the way this shot looks.)
The mountain path. So scenic.
(I honestly just like the way this shot looks.)
Take the Mountain Path

- Cassandra disapproves. Because of course she does. Varric approves, at least.

- Climb the ladders at the beginning of the path until you find a way into the mountainside. You'll have to fight off a Greater Shade and two Wraiths within. Draw the Shade out of the tunnel to avoid the Wraith's fire... or, at the very least, to pull them into a much closer range, so you can take them down more easily.

- Wander through the darkened tunnels, checking the small caches of equipment for assorted bits of minor loot. Eventually you'll hit a battle against a Greater Shade, a Lesser Shade, and a Spirit. Nothing too bad, though the stairs you have to climb can be a hinderance for ranged attackers. Once you take out the demons, head for the fire-lit ruin nearby to trigger a cut scene.

Temple of Sacred Ashes (or, uh, what's left of it)

- Regardless of your route you'll wind up at the same spot. Hunt around for loot, then head down into the fire-lit ruin nearby. A cut scene triggers, and you're joined by Leliana for a bit. You can't order her about, but she'll provide ranged support.

- Make your way down to the bottom of this huge area, to the base of the crystal. (Don't just jump down or you'll miss a Codex entry for Red Lyrium.) After a lengthy cut scene you'll get into a Fade Rift battle, and this time your opponent will be an enormous Pride Demon.

A Pride Demon. Demons don't get much nastier than this.
A Pride Demon. Demons don't get much nastier than this.
Pride Demon

The first boss in the game, the Pride Demon has a host of immunities, a resistance to electricity (sorry, Mages), and lots of health. It also has a bunch of nasty electrically-based attacks, both close-range and long-range, that will do decent damage to your team. Fortunately, you have two advantages in this battle: First, you have NPCs helping you, and second, attempting to close the Fade Rift will stun the Demon. Handy. Let Cassandra hold off the Pride Demon with the other characters while you focus on closing the Rift. Provide support on bringing down the Demon whenever necessary, and take out the occasional Lesser Shades that spawn to support the Demon. The Rift itself is your primary concern, and so long as the rest of your team doesn't go down, closing the Rift shouldn't be too difficult. Beating the Pride Demon will bring the Prologue to a close.

Part Three: The Threat Remains (Haven)