This article will contain very minor spoilers for Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Dragon Age: Inquisition has been out for almost a week now, and legions of gamers around the world are getting a chance to experience what will undoubtedly be a contender for game of the year. Inquisition is full of the kind of gameplay and story touches that have made Bioware RPGs such tremendous successes over the past decade, and that includes a cast of characters and companions that rivals the best roster the studio has ever previously produced (which was in Mass Effect 2, in case you were wondering).
As you work your way through the many many many hours of gameplay which Inquisitionholds, you're sure to discover your own favorite team members to bring along with you on missions. I want to make one thing very clear though: if you don't recognize Sera as far-and-away the best character and breakout star of Inquisition, you're making a huge mistake. We weren't wrong when we placed her the highest out of all Inquisition characters on our definitive ranking of all the Dragon Age and Mass Effect companions.
Here are five reasons Sera is one of Bioware's best creations ever, and clearly the best character in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
1. She's Actually Funny.
Humor in RPGs can be a tricky proposition, but Bioware has always handled it more skillfully than most developers -- and Sera is the crowning comedic achievement of Inquisition. After starting her time in your party with a silly mission to steal breeches, Sera consistently produces the funniest moment of the game in a variety of different ways. Her on-mission banter with other party members is great, revealing elaborate pranks she's played on Solas (she doesn't like mages, you see) and her distaste for Cole (she calls him "it"). She also sometimes gets the name of the game's main villain wrong, adding in extra syllables or letters in a way that leaves it unclear if she's doing it on purpose or if she just doesn't actually know or care what his name is.
Sera's comic relief doesn't stop there though. If you're smart enough to bring her along with you to visit the Empress of Orlais on the "Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts mission," you'll be treated to the game's single funniest moment when your companions are introduced in the Grand Ballroom (I'm about to spoil the joke, so stop here if you want to experience it for yourself). After you and your other companions are announced in grandiose fashion before the assembled nobility ("The savior of the mages and leader of the Inquisition..." "Lady Cassandra Allegra Portia Calogera Filomena Pentaghast..." "Dorian Pavus, mage of the Tevinter Imperium...") it's Sera's turn. Only instead of "Sera," she's introduced, in Bart Simpson calling Moe's Tavern fashion, as "Mai Balzytch of Kourse."
In a section of the game that risks going overboard with seriousness and pomposity, it's the perfect time and place for a joke mocking the whole thing.
2. You'll Want To Take Her Everywhere.
With Varrick relying on his crossbow Bianca and Cole at his best focusing on the twin daggers which compliment his assassin skills, it's likely that Sera will end up without any competition for the best bows you find or craft along your way. Focusing on her archery skills and adding the ability to poison weapons will make Sera a powerhouse who can spread pain around the battlefield even without the extra special bonuses she'll get from the game's rare and unique bows.
Sera's Tempest specialization is a great fit for her archery skills as well, with boosts that can freeze or knock back anyone who tries to attack her. Combined with Leaping Shot, an archer Sera will have the skills necessary to keep herself out of danger while poisoning every enemy in sight.
Aside from her combat talents though, you'll want to bring Sera along with you just to see her reactions to your various adventures. As previously mentioned, not bringing her along to visit the Empress is a huge missed opportunity -- but you'll want to bring her on the other mission you can pursue at that stage of the game too ("Here Lies the Abyss") because at the end of that mission your team will end up in the Fade, and Sera hates it with a passion. Leaving her back at Skyhold means you'll miss out on her colorful string of curses when she realizes where you've ended up.
3. Her Personal Quests Are A Refreshing Change Of Pace.
Inquisition is a massive game with hundreds of quests, but a lot of those quests are, generally speaking, pretty similar to one another. You close rifts, wander the wilderness killing enemies, gather resources, or talk to people in fancy clothes. This isn't a criticism of the game, really -- the things you do are always fun, and thanks to the story context and the diverse settings your missions always feel suitably distinct -- but it is a fact that most of the quests you can choose to fulfill at the behest of your companions blend together into the same broad overarching categories. "While you're wandering around in the Emerald Graves, Inquisitor, can you please kill these specific dudes for me? Thanks."
Sera's personal quests, on the other hand, stick out as special in a way few others do. She asks you to send some soldiers to march through a specific town at a specific time, for mysterious reasons. She asks you to accompany her to meet a contact, and after you slaughter some mercenaries you can help her deal with the nobleman who hired them -- and who is more than willing to negotiate with you as the Inquisitor, if you stop Sera from killing him. Eventually, you even get the chance to run around Skyhold with her setting up pranks on your Inquisition advisors.
Sera's quests do exactly what good companion quests should do: offer a break from the main story and a chance to do things that actually feel different from what you're doing with the rest of your time.
4. She's The Subject Of The Best Tavern Song In The Game.
Inquisition has great music, both in the form of the orchestral score and the diegetic musicyou encounter in the game's taverns. And if you've heard Maryden Halewell the bard singing "Sera Was Never" in the Skyhold tavern, you've likely already recognized it as the catchiest song in the game, and one that will be stuck in your head for hours after you hear it:
In fact, it already has cover versions on YouTube!
(Full disclosure: this cover version is performed by my sister, and I may have insisted repeatedly and at great length that she record this song after I heard it in the game.)
If you read the book Sera keeps outside her room in the tavern, you can discover her thoughts about the song, which she implies is an effort by the bard to make a pass at her, but which she personally finds a bit creepy. In the real world though, this is a song that's only going to get bigger as more people encounter it in the game.
5. She Cares About The Little People.
As we wrote when we placed Sera 4th overall in our comprehensive Dragon Age and Mass Effect companion rankings, the character's Occupy Orlais Street philosophy is one of her standout characteristics, and she offers a perspective on events we've seen all too rarely in Bioware RPGs and in video games in general. Sera cares about the average people, the servants and laborers and bystanders who occupy the world of Thedas. Through her connections with the Friends of Red Jenny network she highlights the needs of these people who might otherwise be ignored, and she continues to push for her agenda as the Inquisition grows bigger and more powerful.
Sera's approval of the Inquisitor's actions hinges largely on how much you as the player seem to care about "the little guy." She's unconcerned with gaining powerful allies or the delicate needs of diplomacy if your actions involve ignorning the mistreatment of the regular men and women of the world. Too often in RPGs, large-scale slaughter of innocent but "unimportant" characters is ignored -- but that won't happen with Sera around. Sera is a champion of the miscellaneous NPCs of Dragon Age: Inquisition. She's there to remind you that even if that servant didn't have a famous voice actor, and even if his face looked generic and you've seen people exactly like him dozens of time throughout the game, he still matters.
Sera's priorities are distinct from those of the Inquisition itself, and will likely often clash with those of the player, but her presence in the game deeply enriches and complicates the overall narrative, and she offers an important alternate perspective on what it means to be a hero in a game like Inquisition.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below!