“What is the best party setup?” I’ve been getting this question a lot so I figured I’d made a post. This is long overdue but later is better than never!
Before I go into the details, keep in mind that you don’t have to use the following party setup to beat the game on any difficulty. However, I do think this is the most effective party setup available in DA:Inquisition.
Tank (Blackwall) + Archer Rogue (Cole OR Sera) + Support Mage (Any mage companion) + 2nd DPS (Iron Bull/Vivienne/Dual Wield Cole or Sera)
Your Inquisitor character can go into any one of those slots depending on your class/spec. So for example I played a Tempest Archer on my first playthrough, so that filled the Archer Rogue position.
You have multiple choices for your non-tank slots which you can choose based on your personal preference. For example, I like Iron Bull so I chose him as my 2nd DPS, but the other companions work well too.
The tank/support/dps trifecta is our basic starting point. This is the core of pretty much any RPG game that involves multiple characters. Since we have an additional 4th slot, the obvious choice is to add a 2nd DPS character. Now let’s talk about every one of these roles in detail.
For the tank slot, nothing works better than a Champion spec warrior – this is why we choose Blackwall (or your Inquisitor character, if you are one of the few people that actually LIKE tanking). The champion spec gives you multiple tools to keep enemies focused on you and improve your survivability – the 2 main concerns of any tank.
For your first DPS, a ranged (archer) rogue is a no-brainer choice. Archer rogues survive MUCH better than melee dual-wield rogues, especially if you are using AI to control them, and have very high DPS. For this role I would choose either an Assassin or a Tempest-specced rogue (Cole or Sera), because Artificer requires manual control to do comparable damage.
The support mage fills a dual role in Dragon Age Inquistion – keeping your party alive with Barrier and Revival, and helping with Crowd Control and setting up Combos. You can get away with using a standard DPS mage and adding Barrier/Revival to his skills, but I recommend having a dedicated support mage.
You can use any mage companion for this role – you don’t need any specialization skills. Another reason I really like this role is because it works surprisingly well on AI.
For your 2nd DPS character, you have many options. You can grab a Reaver warrior (Iron Bull), a Knight-Enchanter mage (Vivienne), or a Dual-wield rogue (Cole or Sera). The choice depends on your personal preference – I wouldn’t say any one of these is “better” than the other. I personally prefer Iron Bull because Reavers have high single-target DPS, and with 2 Guard on Hit Masterwork items, Iron Bull can stay alive even on AI control.
Manual Control vs. AI:
Manually controlling characters is always better, but most of us don’t want to pause the game every 2 seconds to issue new commands to every party member. AI refers to letting the game control a character, instead of having you issue all of the commands. In my own experience, I spend about 90% of the time controlling my Inquisitor character, so the other 3 party members are mostly controlled by AI.
AI is an important consideration when setting up a party, because some specializations/builds work a lot better than others on AI. For example, the Artificer spec works poorly on AI because it requires you to go in and out of melee range constantly to make effective use of your skills.
As a final note, if you’re having trouble with your AI characters dealing low damage or being stupid, try changing their skill and target preferences. For example, setting certain skills to preferred (like Spirit Blade and Fade Cloak for Vivienne) and even disabling other skills can be helpful.
As you may have noticed there are several specializations/characters missing from this list. Here’s why:
The reason why I don’t recommend Artificer is because this spec requires manual control to work well – so you should only use it if you’re playing an Artificer as your Inquisitor, or are willing to constantly micro-manage Varric. Artificer can be played as either ranged or melee.
Rift mage is an effective spec for fighting multiple enemies, but is weak against bosses, because they are immune to the weakness debuff and the Rift mage’s CC effects.
Necromancer is also a fun spec, but it’s damage output is noticeably lower than Knight-Enchanter, or even a non-specialized mage.
The Templar spec suffers from the fact that it doesn’t fit any of our 3 roles very well – it doesn’t tank well, and is split between support and DPS. The only exception I would make to this rule is if you’re manually controlling a Two-handed Templar, which can fill the 2nd DPS spot.
Changing Party Members
To conclude, I’d suggest trying out different party members as you play through the game, because it gives you a better idea of what works, what you prefer more, and simply because its more fun. You can try out many different companions while still sticking to the above formula.
I went through many personnel changes before settling with my final group: Archer Inquisitor, Blackwall, Iron Bull, and Solas:
As always, this is all my personal opinion and I’m sure some will have their own idea of the best party setup. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!