The world of Dragon Age: Inquisition is nothing if not vast; populated with collection quests, human (or Elf, or Dwarf, or Qunari) drama, and a story-driven campaign dozens of hours long. But the real hook for many RPG players is right in the games name: Dragons. The campaign itself will bring players face-to-face with a few, but some of the game’s best loot, best achievements, and best bragging rights lie in tracking, battling, and slaying the High Dragons of Thedas.
There are 10 such dragons, to be exact, ranging from electrically-charged lizards to classic fire-breather monsters. From the sands of one side of the world to the storm-ravaged coasts on the other. Taking them on shouldn’t be done lightly, but for those eager to prove their Dragon Hunting prowess, we’ve got all the information you’ll need to get started (and more than likely, finished altogether).
Prepare For Battle – Seriously
Games like Skyrim or even previous Dragon Age titles may have given the impression that taking a dragon down is a war of attrition; pack enough of a punch (and armor capable of taking plenty) and no dragon can withstand your will. BioWare took the challenge of crafting unique dragon battles to heart and that means a range of winged enemies capable of resisting potent attacks, and ending fights with a single strike if their opponent goes in blindly.
A few key facts to keep in mind in every fight: Cold beats Fire, Fire beats Cold, and Spirit beats Electricity. Stick with armor designed to resist a dragon’s strength and weapons meant to hit them where it hurts, and you’re off to a strong start. And since the developers gave the opportunity to send your entire party to attack a single limb, use it – a crippled dragon is easier to beat. Not that any of them will be easy, that is.
It can’t be overstated: knowing the dragon’s weaknesses and strengths will decide the outcome. If a dragon with resistance to Cold is the target, then weapons and armor runes not tailored to counter them could not just hinder your party, but outright harm them. In addition, some dragons will show a clear bias to either melee or ranged attacks – at times changing over the course of the fight.
We’ve done our best to give you all the information you need, so be sure to do your homework – since knowing, in this case, really is half the battle.
Type: Level 12 Fire
There’s a good chance that players who enjoy exploring every corner of the game world will see their very first dragon in the Fereldan Frostback. Located just north of the Dusklight Camp, a rocky passageway leads to a burned-out vista dubbed the Blood Cliffs – essentially a rocky, smoldering bowl – where the Frostback can be found nesting. As a Level 12 Fire Dragon, the Frostback will be the easiest to bring down through melee and Cold magical attacks.
Once the Frostback finally ceases its circling and fireball-bombing to land, simply attack it en masse. Once it’s lost a third of its health, the dragon will take to the skies for another bombing run, before landing and calling on a number of Dragonlings to aid it. If they’re all grounded, divide melee attacks between the Frostback and the Dragonlings; if the dragon is out of reach, it’s best to put ranged party members to work on it while melee dispatches the smaller enemies.
As the dragon’s health drops to zero, it can be expected to reach the highest point of the area (pictured above), so the party will need to ascend the rocky summit to deliver the final blows. Once defeated, collect the loot dropped, and be sure to head through the Northwest passage towards a seaside cliff – collecting all the Obsidian along the way.
Type: Level 13 Electricity
The Northern Hunter is just one dragon that is gated behind both main and side quests. Specifically, players will need to complete the Still Waters quest line in Crestwood – requiring them to drain the lake – before being able to access the dragon’s location (south of the Dam). Build up a resistance and remove Electricity buffs from your weapons (the Northern Hunter is vulnerable to Spirit attacks) and you’re likely at a high enough level to attempt the fight.
Given the Northern Hunter’s weaknesses, it’s wise to bring Vivienne to the battle, since she deals particularly strong Spirit damage – and can supply Barriers to the entire party before jumping into the fight. In fact, if sporting perks that allow her to generate Mana at a hightened rate and refill Barrier with every bit of damage dealt, Vivienne is capable of tanking the dragon singlehandedly as the rest of the party distracts; ideally staying clear of the dragon’s head.
Abyssal High Dragon
Location: Western Approach
Type: Level 14 Fire
Once the Western Approach has been scouted, a number of quests will need to be completed for Frederic – located at the Nazaire’s Pass Camp in the south – before the Abyssal High Dragon is unlocked. Once the Draconology, How to Lure a Dragon, Hunting Patterns, A Manuscript of Some Authority and Sharper White Claws quests are completed (and the traps for the dragon set), head to The Wastes in the south of the map, and prepare for battle.
We would recommend going into the fight with a pair of Mages and pair of Warriors (regardless of which your own Inquisitor falls into) for reasons that we’ll get to shortly. As one of the first truly challenging dragons to hunt, now is a good time to start targeting specific limbs. In this case, its frontal attacks (including a one-hit kill stomp) can be rendered moot by targeting the front limbs, eventually hindering its mobility, opening it up to additional damage.
Beyond a weakness to Cold, the only real trick with the Abyssal High Dragon is its ability to generate Guard. Its fire breath is easy to avoid, and the Guard shouldn’t give too much extra trouble assuming weapons are spec’ed for Cold damage. The dragon’s occasional wing attacks can be trouble – creating a ring of damage around it – but keep melee fighters within its area (but away from its tail) and ranged characters outside of it, and it won’t stand a chance.
Location: Exalted Plains
Type: Level 15 Electricity
To access the Gamordan Stromrider in the Exalted Plains, a few actions must first be taken. The War Table operation Clear The Rubble comes first, granting access to the Crow Fens region. Just south of the Fens Camp location (in the northern part of the map) an Operations marker will open the ability to Gain Access to Ghilan’nain’s Grove from the War Table. Once unlocked, head east, then north of the Fens Camp, and prepare for battle.
Given the hoops that must be jumped through to even access the Gamordan Stormrider, a few twists should be expected. As with the Northern Hunter, Spirit damage is the path to success, but the arena itself presents a new challenge. With water covering much of the location, the Stormrider’s electric attacks can be tripled by electrifying the water – and the fighters within it. And that fact is well known to the dragon itself.
The fight may require a bit more micro-managing than usual to keep your party on dry land, and Rogues and Mages should stick with ranged attacks for added safety. Before killed, the dragon will flee the scene, but remain vigilant: when it returns, it does so first with a ball of electricity to stun the party, followed by a divebomb that can wipe them out entirely if the player stops paying attention.
Location: Emerald Graves
Type: Level 17 Cold
Finding the Greater Mistral only requires a trip to the extreme north of the Emerald Graves (opened by completing the ‘Make Contact…’ mission from the War Table), but will require a very different combination than previous dragons. It’s an exaggeration to say that the Greater Mistral can be killed by a simple wave of Fire attacks, but take the meaning, and you’re on the right track.
When it isn’t trying to dispatch fighters with the ice breath (seriously, do your best to avoid it), it relies on a wing attack that deals damage to any characters at range. Weight the options accordingly: rely on potent ranged Fire attacks and prepare for its flapping, or rely on Warriors to stay close and deal maximum damage. Luckily, the dragon’s regenerating Guard can be dealt with swiftly by Fire attacks as well.
A handful of times in the fight, the Mistral will flee the scene, but do your best to track it. As it circles it will fire off ice bombs easily avoided as long as the party keeps moving in and out of the plentiful cover. On its last flight the Mistral may keep up the bombardment for much, much longer, but will eventually land to be finished off.
Location: Emprise du Lion
Type: Level 19 Cold
The Hivernal is just one of three High Dragons accessible in Emprise do Lion as part of the Breeding Grounds quest, but before players can tackle them, some construction work must be completed. Head to the east of the map, and follow the massive ravine south to the Tower Camp. To the east of the camp lies a broken bridge, which can be rebuilt by finding the Operation marker to Restore Judicael’s Crossing. Once completed from the War Table, players can cross the bridge, and try their luck.
This section of the game shouldn’t be tackled until players have reached Level 19 at least, but once ready to fight, ascend the staircase to the right of the bridge’s far side, and you’ll find the Hivernal waiting at its summit. Though it’s small, it’s difficulty puts previous sub-zero dragons to shame. For starters, it is more mobile than others on the list (consider using Traps to lock it in place), and while it possesses the same ice breath and circling attacks as the Mistral, the damage dealt upon landing means it is to be avoided at all cost until firmly grounded.
As other dragons on the list, the Hivernal’s wing-vortex-attack will pull ranged characters in close to damage. To counter, rush the dragon when it starts flapping, and don’t waste any ranged attacks; they won’t stand a chance of penetrating the wall of wind. When the dragon reaches half its health, beware: rearing up on its back legs means it will soon slam down, freezing close fighters in place to take the brunt of its melee swipes.
Location: Storm Coast
Type: Level 19 Electricity
Since the other dragons found in Emprise du Lion pack a more powerful punch, players who have reached Level 19 should probably choose to return to the Storm Coast to dispatch another dragon that may have been seen earlier in the campaign: the Vinsomer. First witnessed flying along the coast, then later attacking a Giant on the beach, doing battle with it means first unlocking the Red Templars on the Storm Coast mission from the War Table.
Once dealing with the Red Templars located along the southwestern peninsula of the area – concentrated in the stronghold known as Daerwin’s Mouth – players can take a rowboat across the waters to the aptly-titled Dragon Island. Head west of the landing point, and players will encounter the Vinsomer – essentially a more powerful version of the Northern Hunter found in Crestwood. Once again, Spirit attacks (and Vivienne in particular) are the way to go.
Keep the ranged characters to the Vinsomer’s flanks to avoid the electric circles slowing movement that launch forward from its head, and keep dishing out Spirit damage with melee fighters, and it should go as smoothly as its weaker sibling.
Location: Hissing Wastes
Type: Level 20 Fire
The Dragon Hunters who have made it this far on our list will know that each of the beasts pose their own unique challenge in combat. So when stumbling across the Sandy Howler in the Hissing Wastes (east of Cove Camp), the fact that it’s fast asleep should pose a major warning. The developers didn’t give the player’s party one free punch for nothing, and it’s best to make it count.
With a devastating fire breath and regenerating Guard, Cold weapons and fire resistant armor are a must. The Howler is mobile, mean, and when it reaches half its health, will let out a scream to stun the party – and call on backup. Taking on this dragon at night means the Dragonlings which come to its aid may be harder to spot, but can be handled quickly as the party attempts to finish off the Howler.
Follow the same strategies – attacking en masse when the Howler is vulnerable (flapping) and equipping the party with Barrier as ranged attacks are deflected – and the Howler will send out one more call for help in its death throws. Finish it off along with the additional Dragonlings, and the fight is over.
Location: Emprise du Lion
Type: Level 21 Cold
Returning to Emprise du Lion, the Kaltenzahn can be found to the northeast of the Hivernal’s platform, and will bring a more difficult battle along with it. At Level 21, it is highly recommended that a party of at least that much experience be assembled before tackling it. Boasting a Guard and ice breath that also leaves slowing effects across the battlefield, its vortex attack will pull ranged characters close while dealing damage. If there’s a time for melee Warriors to shine, this it it.
The brute strength of the Kaltenzahn means it will be more cumbersome when it takes to the skies to fire ice bombs at the party. Stay sharp, rely on fire weapons and attacks, and it’s simply a matter of time. When the dragon’s health is drained to approximately half (or less), it will once again flee, calling on Dragonlings of its own to join the fight. Players will need to dispatch them as quickly as possible for the final run, all while avoiding the Kaltenzahn’s bombing runs.
When you make it through that, the dragon will land atop a large wall of arches and begin bombing the battlefield anew. Deal a bit more ranged damage, and the Kaltenzahn will make sure it goes out with a bang: regenerating its Guard, stunning the party, and calling on more Dragonlings. Rely on the fact that victory is in sight, and another one of the game’s deadliest dragons will be vanquished.
Location: Emprise du Lion
Type: Level 23 Fire
At last, we come to the Highland Ravager. The most powerful High Dragon in Inquisition, and guaranteed to test even those players who strolled through the previous ones on our list. Unlike the other two found in Emprise du Lion, the Ravager is a Fire dragon, meaning Cold attacks (or Electric, at the very least) and fire resistant armor must be equipped on a team of Level 21-22 characters to stand a chance.
Once again, the Ravager will be sleeping when it’s discovered (to the extreme northeast of the area). It’s never been more important to make the first wave of attacks count, as the Ravager is deadly from the moment it rises. Having a powerful Warrior in the fight (Iron Bull) is a wise move, but any melee fighters should be shielded from the Ravager’s physical damage and short range swipes. Range may be a valuable resource as well, for reasons that should become clear soon.
Be on edge from start to finish, since the dragon’s fire breath will deal massive damage to anyone caught in its path. The Guarded Ravager has another trick up its sleeve, as rings of fire on the ground will indicate an incoming slam. As the dragon rears on its hind legs, move all characters out of the rings before impact or face serious damage to all affected. As expected, the Ravager will call on Dragonlings to help in the fight and re-Guard as time passes.
Unfortunately, as the fight gets closer to its end, it only gets worse. The Ravager will stun the party, call for backup and re-Guard every minute. We meant it when we said passing this trial will separate the true Dragon Hunters from the hobbyists. But keep a stiff upper lip, turn the Dragonlings into fuel for charged attacks, hammer down the Ravager’s Guard, and you just might succeed.
Now that we’ve passed some of our hard-earned wisdom on, we hope that the master Dragon Hunters in-the-making will be able to tackle these beasts with a bit more confidence. Each player is sure to find their own strategies to success, and no two players are likely to experience the same battle. But remember: preparation is key, and when in doubt, a tactical retreat means living to fight another day.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is available now for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.