Game-breaking bug: Mage stuck in empty fade stage in beginning of Dragon Age: Inquisition

I haven't been able to find anything about this bug on the web, nor have I been able to get ahold of anyone at Bioware. It's too bad of a bug to call just a "glitch" - you can't play unless you have a second computer to pull a working save from.

Update: This is apparently happening for others, and not just for Mage. See the comments section at the bottom of the page. I've updated the Summary.

Update 2: There is a new fix to try in the Fixes section!

Update 3: This is apparently a known issue, which they are working on, but I haven't seen them mention it since November 20. Try the fixes in the Fixes section below. More added Dec 12

There are no official Bioware replies in any of the topics.

Update 5: Sent an email directly to Mr. Schumacher requesting information on the bug (any known fixes, a planned patch, etc), and he has forwarded it to the proper people.

Update 6: This bug is still around, as seen here.

  • Newly-created Mage character is stuck in an empty fade stage (mountainous/fade-ish) area near Haven at beginning of game. This looks like it's the fade area you're in during character creation; your character is not moved forward into the cutscene in the dungeon.
  • Unable to save character, health bar at a small sliver, 8/8 health potions and 3 available spell talent points
  • Nothing to interact with, no beginning-of-game instructional text
  • Able to walk to Haven, and even to the Temple
  • Appears to be machine-specific; my machine's stats:
    • Intel Core i7 950 3.07Ghz Quad Core, 12 GB RAM, NVidia 750 Ti with updated drivers, game settings optimized through GeForce Experience, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, 1.2TB available disk space. Hard drive is a little under a year old - had to replace a failing one last Christmas.
    • Updated note: as a commenter pointed out, it doesn't appear to matter what the machine stats are as it is happening to both low and high end machines. It does seem to be PC-only, however.
  • Doesn't matter if the character is customized or if one of the defaults is used. Race doesn't appear to matter, either.
  • Making another class (rogue) worked fine for me; others are seeing this on warrior and rogue as well
These were my steps to reproduce:
Load up Dragon Age: Inquisition
Click Continue to get to the Main Menu
Choose New Game
Choices: Female > Human > Mage or Female > Elf >Mage. Import your world state from the Keep.
Intro starts: She stands up, then you are taken to character creation
Choose Head 5 then press Select (use the default)
Intro continues: wake up in mountainous area, run from many-eyed bugs, try to reach shiny lady, then collapse back in real world and your passed-out body is surrounded by 3 warriors, blades drawn.
Goes to loading screen.

Expected result:
Character should wake up in the dungeon.

Actual result:
Character wakes up in empty mountainous/fade-ish area.

Create your character on a second computer where it doesn't bug out, email it to yourself, download on the bugged computer and drop the save into your Save folder (My Documents > Bioware > Dragon Age Inquisition > Save). Load and play. You will need to create the save on a version of the game that is the same or less than the one you will be moving it to. For example, make the save on a Dragon Age Inquisition without Patch 2 installed, and you can move that to a DA:I that has Patch 2 or not. If you make it on a DA:I that has Patch 2 and the one you're moving it to does not, you will get an error that the save is not compatible.

Possible Fixes:
Try these fixes starting at the top of the list and attempt to create your character after each. We've had a couple of people fixed after doing the first two.
  • Try to trigger Origin to bring down cloud saves and overwrite your local saves (do a backup first!) by turning off cloud saving in Origin, create a dummy save, then turning it back on - or - if you have Origin cloud save on, move your saves out from the Save folder, open Origin, and that should trigger it. After creating your new character, move your backed-up saves back in. (Your saves are located in My Documents > Bioware > Dragon Age Inquisition > Save)
  • Using the 60fps fix for conversations has apparently caused this issue for some. If you have added this, or any, parameter/command line argument to your Dragon Age: Inquisition shortcut on your desktop, take it out. You can also try launching the game from Origin, as this bypasses the shortcut. There were other ways to put the 60fps change in besides the desktop shortcut, though, so any way you added it, back that change out, then try again. (see below for how)
  • Right click on the game in Origin and choose Repair Game. Let it finish then relaunch. (this fix courtesy of @poetsprince - thank you! :))
  • Be sure you have the latest drivers for your graphics card installed.
  • Try setting your graphics to "Low". This appears to sometimes happen when people try to run in a higher graphics mode than their machines can handle.
  • If you are trying this on an unpatched game, try patching the game. On PC, you right click the game in Origin and click Update. Prior to Patch 2, all games were forced to Ultra shader quality and it may have been too much for your machine to deal with. Once downloaded and updated completely, set your graphics to low and try again. If it works you can raise them back to a higher level if you wish.
  • Try skipping the cutscene after the character creator (press ESC repeatedly right from when the character creator starts fading out until it skips completely or you get a "Skip" button in the lower left, this may take a few tries to get right)
  • Try deleting the saves and profiles from My Documents > Bioware > Dragon Age Inquisition > Save (Make a backup first, then put them back in later)
  • From one of our many fine commenters below, angela_mchee, comes this suggestion that worked for her: If you have another character already, log in with it and trigger a cutscene (could be a conversation or something during a quest, whatever it takes to trigger an auto save). After the auto save, save and log out, and try again to make a new character. (thank you!)
To take out the command line argument(s):
If you added it through Origin:
  1. Right click on the Dragon Age Inquisition title
  2. Go to game properties
  3. Delete the command line parameter in the Command Line Properties box.
If you added it through the desktop shortcut:
  1. Right Click Shortcut
  2. Go to Properties
  3. Under target go to the end of the field and delete everything past DragonAgeInquisition.exe" (keep the last quote there and make sure there are no spaces after)
These fixes do not work for everyone. Let me know in the comments if you run into this bug and if the fixes worked! If none of these fixed the issue for you, go here and read about getting them your dxdiag file so that they can continue trying to fix it.

Longer explanation:
I first encountered this bug when I tried to make a mage character. All I really wanted to do was to get the save ready and set my Dragon Age Keep exported save back to my daughter's, as she doesn't understand the Keep as well as I do. Then I'd have that beginning save ready for when I wanted to play. The problem came when, after I went through character creation, she woke up after her collapse in an empty fade "stage". It looks like the mountain where you try to reach the white shiny lady. There are small pools all around, and around that are snowy mountains with the breach in the sky spitting out small meteors that hit the ground.

Dragon Age Inquisition Mage Stuck in Fade in beginning of game
The first time it happened, it just felt like a bug. I wasn't completely sure, so I tried wandering around a bit. I was not able to save, my health bar was at a small sliver, there was nothing to interact with and no instructional text. For the beginning of a game that just isn't right, but then again the Fade is weird and she was a mage, so there was always the possibility she just had to find her way out. I ended up blue-screening about 10 minutes later.

At this point, I tried tweeting out a general question asking if it was a bug. Didn't receive a reply from anyone.

The next day (Dec 1), I tried again. That first character had not been saved, so I created another. Same thing - ended up in the fade stage.

Dragon Age Inquisition Mage Stuck in Fade in beginning of game
The first time, I hadn't strayed too far from where I appeared, so this time I went through the snowy mountains to see if I could get to Haven. I came upon the bridge, which had been hit in the middle. Going to the right and down through the frozen river allowed me to get up the other side and continue. I made it to Haven, which was empty - nobody around. I could open a door or two, but there was nothing to interact with. At this point it didn't feel like the Fade anymore; just an empty town. The way directly to the temple was blocked by the spiky green glowing things growing out of the ground, so I found a roundabout way to get there. Bear in mind, this took a lot of jumping in just the right place at a lot of points, so I was pretty convinced by then that this was a glitch/bug. I wanted to see how far I could get.

I finally reached the temple and got all the way down to the bottom - and then couldn't get back up. The staircase I used to get down to the lowest level had been blocked by the spiky green glowy things. I ran around the entire circumference of the room trying to jump up to the level above and not having much luck - but I did finally hit an auto-save area, and after that I was able to save the game. I also noticed I had 3 talent points available, so I used those and also one of the health potions, hoping to trigger something to happen. I logged out, then back in, and the only difference was I then had a physical staff (I could 'attack' previously and it went through the staff animation, just without an actual staff). I didn't actually have one if I looked at the inventory screen, but there was one on my back after logging back in.

Just when I had gotten completely frustrated about being unable to get out of that downstairs area, a bright white Inquisition symbol appeared on the balustrade across the room. It looked like it was trying to show me where I needed to go, and after a few minutes I was indeed able to jump up near it and the way was open to backtrack upstairs. When I reached the glowing symbol, it faded. Very odd. It looked like one of the symbols you see when you can claim a landmark, just white instead of the slightly yellow one you see for claiming. I didn't think to get a screen shot of it.

Dragon Age Inquisition Mage Stuck in Fade in beginning of game Dragon Age Inquisition Mage Stuck in Fade in beginning of game

In any case, I took her back upstairs to the area where the burnt corpses are, and that's where she is stuck - can't get out anywhere.

I tried tweeting John Epler directly, with pictures of what I was seeing, but didn't get a response.

I then tried a third Mage, choosing the default appearance this time - I wanted to see if the character creator had anything to do with it, and also wanted to see if those talent points were there in the beginning, and they were. Also see the screenshot showing the inability to save the game.

Dragon Age Inquisition Mage Stuck in Fade in beginning of game Dragon Age Inquisition Mage Stuck in Fade in beginning of game Dragon Age Inquisition Mage Stuck in Fade in beginning of game

Dragon Age Inquisition Mage Stuck in Fade in beginning of game
At this point, I had made 3 Human Mages, so I decided to try an Elf. Same thing - stuck in an empty fade stage.

I then tried making a Human Rogue - which worked fine. She woke up in the dungeon like she's supposed to.

Since I hadn't heard from Mr. Epler, I went to YouTube and pulled up some videos people had made with their Mages. Every single one showed the Mage waking up in the dungeon. I viewed 3 to make sure (some people edit out parts). So.. it's definitely a bug.

Last night I asked my daughter about her play-through, as she played a Mage. She woke up in the dungeon, as well. So I tried making a Mage on her laptop and it worked fine - no empty Fade stage. I copied the Save directory before and after and I'm going to do a diff and see if I can just drop in the non-bugged Mage save into my Save directory. I'm hoping the DRM they are using doesn't interfere with that. I'll update this as soon as I try that.

So the bug appears to be machine-specific. The machine, and the fact that she created a Mage first and I created a Dwarf rogue first, are the only differences so far.

Her machine: ASUS Republic of Gamers G74SX-AH71
Intel Core i7 2670QM 2.2GHz Quad Core
Plenty of Hard Drive space
17.3-Inch Screen, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Updated note: (also stated above in the Summary) as a commenter pointed out, it doesn't appear to matter what the machine stats are as it is happening to both low and high end machines. It does seem to be PC-only, however.
After I verified it was machine-specific, I tried sending Allan Schumacher a direct message on Twitter. Both Allan and John have been on Twitter since I messaged them, but they must have missed them.

Update incoming: trying to drop in the non-bugged save I made on her laptop. I'll also update if I ever hear back from Allan or John.

Bug Updates:

Update 1:
Diffed the 2 sets of saves. There were differences in ProfileOptions and ProfileOptions_Profile, but it seemed to be more of a different scramble than any additional or different information. Went ahead and dropped in the save from my daughter's laptop and loaded up the game. Went to "Load", switched characters to Miss "TestName" and was able to load her up just fine and have her be where I saved her at.

Went back to my daughter's laptop and custom created some 'real' mages; one Human, one Elf. I'll drop those in this morning and make sure they do ok.

I'm also going to try taking out all saves and screenshots from the Bioware folder and see if that has any impact on a new Mage character, and going to try being offline so that it uses the default world state.

Update 2:
I finally got some time to fiddle with this again and Origin triggered a "your local saves don't match your cloud saves - what do you want to do?" on me, so I backed up my local saves and told it to bring the cloud ones down. There weren't any cloud ones.. lol.. good thing I made a backup. Anyway, something else must have triggered in Origin as after that it was fixed. I can no longer reproduce it. I'm glad in a way, but I'd kind of like to find out what caused it to begin with.

I got a message from @poetsprince that he had run into this bug and was about to talk to an EA Advisor. Turns out they had him run the Repair option in Origin and that fixed it for him. Good thing, too, as he didn't have a second computer to create the saves on if it came down to that. Hurray for finally getting to play!

Got another comment below from someone seeing this who is now seeing it making ANY character. There is a patch today (December 9) so hopefully this issue will be addressed.

Update 3:
Neither the patch nor the hotfix for the patch fixed this issue, and more people are showing up here with the bug. I've also discovered that this IS a known issue - they've known about it since at least November 20. If the fixes on this page do not work, go here and read about giving them your dxdiag file so that they can keep looking into it.

Let me know in the comments if you run into this bug. I've added fixes above in the page in the summary section, so let me know if those fixed you.

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Princess Stabbity,
Dec 15, 2014, 4:49 PM
Princess Stabbity,
Dec 15, 2014, 4:49 PM