The Frostback Basin is a melting pot of varied environments, and it's arguably the star of Dragon Age: Inquisition's first expansion, Jaws of Hakkon. It's a gorgeous and vast location that features beaches, bogs, caverns, forests, jungles, mountains, and even islands made of ice. It's also bathed in a constant sunset, which is just the icing on the cake at this point.
The new map is a sight to behold, and it's arguably one of the game's best environments. It's certainly a joy to explore, with winding paths and serene rivers to follow as you cut your way through the add-on's main story, and needless to say, it's packed with plenty of quests to discover and complete as you go.
But first, the story itself. The Inquisition moves into the Frostback Basin in order to find out what happened to the previous Inquisitor 800 years ago. He supposedly died in this harsh land, although the ending of his story is shrouded in rumour and mystery. It's an interesting premise that's executed quite well, and some of the main quests are memorable, but it all seems slightly hollow until you reach a certain point in the plot where the pace quickens.
Indeed, a lot of the content on offer feels like filler, as you go about fulfilling side quests so that you can gain the favour of a local tribe of Avvar – bulky humans who are ancient in their traditions. A rival tribe – the Jaws of Hakkon – are on the warpath in the area, causing trouble and making nefarious plans, and, naturally, it falls to the Inquisitor and their party to sort things out.
Speaking of the Inquisitor, you get to make some decent decisions throughout the downloadable content, although it's worth mentioning that the expansion is very much a singular entity; what happens in the Frostback Basin doesn't really have an impact on the base release. That said, despite its quests that sometimes seem like busywork, Jaws of Hakkon does feel like it belongs in the tale of your Inquisitor, and the conclusion of your journey is satisfying enough.
So, when is it best to tackle Inquisition's first expansion? Given the levels of the enemies that you'll be facing, this is pretty much end-game content, so you'll want to make sure that you've got a beefy party before jumping in. You'll realise that this is particularly important when it comes to some of the DLC's more difficult encounters, which can prove to be brutal if you're unprepared. As such, it goes without saying that if you completed the game a while back and haven't booted it up since, there's a good chance that you're in for a rude awakening if you dive straight into this.
Despite its sometimes tricky difficulty, though, there's not really much of an incentive to find and do everything that the add-on has to offer aside from grabbing more experience points. Obviously, there are stories to be told with each optional quest and there are definitely a few cool battles to fling yourself into, but it's the loot that leaves a lot to be desired. In the five or six hours that it took for us to complete the DLC, we scavenged just three or four pieces of equipment worth using. Having said that, there are some powerful schematics to stumble across – but for the most part, even these proved underwhelming compared to our party's current gear.
At its usual price of £11.99/$14.99, Jaws of Hakkon is an expensive investment for anyone who isn't hungry for more Dragon Age: Inquisition. Invested fans will undoubtedly enjoy this new adventure, but there's no denying that it all feels a bit flat, despite its wonderful setting. Some great fights and a few good storytelling moments keep the expansion from seeming completely toothless, but it's just not as sharp as it should be.