We hope that you're not sick of delving into dank and ominous caverns, because Dragon Age: Inquisition's second expansion, The Descent, is a spelunker's wet dream. Taking the Inquisitor and their party down into the Deep Roads – a gigantic network of underground caverns that are home to countless types of dangerous beasties – the downloadable content's got the feel of an exciting expedition, but like the previous add-on, Jaws of Hakkon, it's difficult to argue that it's an essential purchase.
It's quite a departure from the aforementioned first expansion, though. The Descent is essentially one giant dungeon, and as such, it's a more linear slice of DLC, which benefits its narrative to some extent. After reports of earthquakes destroying precious dwarven mines, the Inquisition's called in to get to the source of the problem.
Of course, to find the source, you'll need to traverse the Deep Roads, which are home to hordes of darkspawn – destructive and mostly mindless monsters that are a constant threat throughout your travels. At times, you'll have to fight through wave after wave of these abominations, and it's these chaotic, bustling battles that actually turn out to be the highlights of the release.
The expansion manages to convey a sense of dread quite well as you go deeper and deeper into the uncharted darkness that lies below, but you're not alone in your endeavours. For most of the tale, you're accompanied by two dwarfs who fight alongside your regular party of four, while also dishing out the plot through reasonably lengthy stints of dialogue.
Sadly, neither of these new allies are fleshed out as well as they could be, but we suppose that's to be expected of a DLC that lasts around five hours. Valta is a scholar of sorts, and she acts as your guide during this particular excursion, while Renn is a gruff and blunt soldier who's brought to life by none other than voice actor David Hayter, who puts in a great performance with all of the snarling and grumbling that you'd expect from Solid Snake himself.
Both characters get the job done, but again, it's hard to truly care about them, especially when you've already become so involved with the game's main cast. In that sense, it's a bit of a shame that Inquisition's first two expansions haven't put more focus on the characters that we've already grown to adore – after all, your varied party members and your relationships with them are central to the core release.
Unfortunately for Valta and Renn, The Descent's storyline simply doesn't live up to expectations. While it does feature some undeniably interesting revelations and is well paced because of its somewhat linear structure, its conclusion feels rushed and almost wholly unsatisfying. The abrupt ending puts a real downer on the events that have transpired, and although you could argue that it's the journey which is most important, this one deserved a much better send-off.
It's a shame that proceedings don't pan out as well as they should, because the DLC does have its good points. For starters, the amount of variation that BioWare's managed to cram into what is essentially a really big tunnel is quite impressive, and there are some enjoyable discoveries to be made if you stray from the beaten path.
That said, many of these optional bits and pieces arguably just aren't worth your time. Again, as is the case with Jaws of Hakkon, this add-on is meant to be played around or after the end of the main game, but the loot that's on offer simply doesn't measure up. In fact, we found just two new armour sets that equalled the attire of our allies, while we didn't find a single weapon worth using. Disappointing, when you consider the DLC's pricing.
Dragon Age: Inquisition's second expansion is perhaps even less essential than the first, and that's a real shame given the add-on's intriguing premise. Even though there are a few beacons of light in the darkness, such as some meaty combat scenarios and stints of exciting exploration, The Descent is damaged by a disappointingly bad ending and too many underwhelming side quests. It's another expensive piece of DLC that doesn't quite justify its price tag unless you're a feverish fan of BioWare's latest.