These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Chancellor Roderick is a giant prick, and makes no effort to hide it, but it's a bit of a Tear Jerker when he dies following the battle of Haven. He redeems himself by showing the path to evacuate the civilians and in a later conversation, Dorian or Cole will remark that his last thoughts were how the Inquisitor restored his faith in the Maker.
Many fans who read The Calling dislike Fiona, but even they felt sorry for her when they saw what happened to her in theBad Future. Even saving the mages evokes some sympathy for her, since if Alistair is king, the quest ends with her being estranged from her only son, without either of them getting the chance to know each other as mother and son.
Angst? What Angst?: There are multiple opportunities for a Dalish! Inquisitor's clan to be wiped out in a chain of War Table missions. The Inquisitor does not appear to have any dialogue reflecting the loss of possibly all their family and childhood friends.
Sera. Some players like her trickster tendencies and the fact that she cares about the common people while others are subsequently put off by her abrasive personality, inability to see the big picture, and antipathy toward mages and "elfy" elves. She's so much of a Base Breaker, that even the Tropers writing in this YMMV section can't decide if she's a full-on Scrappy or not.
Vivienne. Some dislike her for her snobby attitude, ruthless pragmatism, and in many cases, outright bigotry. Her fans, on the other hand, love her Establishing Character Moment, her intelligence, foresight, and political acumen, and how wonderfully snarky she is.
Dorian. A section of the fanbase adores him for his attitude in regards to Tevinter and slavery as well as being a gay romanceable companion. However, others find his personality as annoying as Vivienne's due to his ego and constant complaining about how 'backwards' Ferelden and Orlais are. While it's generally agreed that his characterization and personal story lacks nuance in regards to his sexuality, some think that's a good thing and consider it a story and moral worth telling directly; others think that the cliche has simply been told too many times. See Anvilicious above.
Best Level Ever: The conclusion of the Here Lies the Abyss storyline. For starters, it has Hawke and a Warden character ally to stop the Grey Wardens who are being used by Corypheus to create a Demon Army, and the corruption within the ranks. That Warden character could be Stroud, Alistair, or Loghain depending on your choices. However, the climax is the Siege of Adamant, where your Inquisition forces besiege the Wardens and battle to stop Erimond from summoning more demons in a truly epic battle where many Wardens join your cause. It ends with a huge Wham Episode in the Fade about who really saved you in the beginning, your companions fears, and a moment where Hawke or the Warden character will sacrifice them self to Hold the Line. While other levels are good, this is amazing and on the scope of the final battle from Origins.
This game is either a well-done attempt by Bioware to fix problems seen in Dragon Age II and possibly a return to form with the return of multiple races, open world, tactical camera and having a relatively fulfilling ending/epilogue where your choices mattered in contrast to another Bioware game while simultaneously setting the stage for the next game, or it's an unimpressive attempt to cash in on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim with many fetch quests squandering the open world potential.
The romance options. Good? Unsatisfactory? Insufficient? A particular point of contention is the selection for straight male Inquisitors. On one side, some feel that the options aren't attractive enough in either personality or appearance, at least in comparison to previous installments. Another side views the numbers for (human and elf) females and feels that males got shafted. Others disagree on the attractiveness, and others still see the race restrictions more as a bonus for female characters than a detriment to male ones.
Despair Demons are powerful and obnoxious icy enemies with dangerous spells, including beams that can easily slow and kill a party member through multiple hits and ice mines than can appear under character randomly with little warning. They jump randomly across the battlefield, constantly setting up barriers every ten seconds or so, making it difficult to kill them. Unlike their fiery counterparts Rage demons, these things are actually immune to other ice attacks, meaning that a mage with an ice staff is left with limited options until the battle ends. They appear out of rifts in the first real area of the game, long before you're realistically powerful enough to defeat them.
This also helps reveal them as a Beef Gate. If you can't kill them, it means STAY AWAY FROM THAT RIFT.
Terror Demons are irritating foes that dive into the ground at random intervals to reappear directly under your characters, knocking them down an interrupting any spells or talents currently being used. After surfacing, they will launch an area of effect scream that both damages anyone nearby, but has a chance of leaving them "panicked" an unable to be controlled for several seconds. This is if often enough time for them to dive again to repeat the cycle. On their own, this is just mildly annoying, but they usually appear in pairs or with packs of other demons, including the above mentioned Despair demons, making them a significant hassle even for higher leveled players.
Disappointing Last Level: The final battle comes completely without any build up what so ever and is a very straight forward Get Back Here Boss with no really interesting gimmicks to it. Adding to that, the final boss isn't very difficult and instead of being a huge and epic siege or final battle, it's just your party vs the final boss and their Dragon.
Ear Worm: The developer created remix of "Mulatto Butts" known as "Qunari Butts" is quite catchy despite only being one lyric; "Vashoth-ass mama! Sten-ass daddy!"
Minor character Ser Delrin Barris, a supporting character should the Inquisitor side with the templars, has a rather large following. The fans enjoy his Knight in Shining Armor persona, his Go Through Me dare against corrupted Knight-Captain Denam, his The Men First attitude regarding his fellow templars and his Humble Hero reaction when you compliment him. Many fans wanted him to be a companion, a romance, or at least able to speak to you outside cutscenes.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Blackwall jokes with Sera that he stole all the Wardens' beards to take their power. Turns out he did not, in fact, steal the beard - but he did steal the real Blackwall's identity. He's actually a criminal named Thom Rainier.
At one point Varric will get annoyed at Hawke Tempting Fate while in the Fade. A funny exchange between two close friendsthat comes about five minutes before Hawke might perform a Heroic Sacrifice, trapping him/herself in the Fade to let the others escape.
Goddamn Bats: The Red Templar archers can whittle down your tank's health surprisingly quickly while they engage the melee heavy hitters, easily causing Total Party Kill if you're not careful, despite of their individual squishiness.
Wolves and hyenas are even more annoying. While relatively squishy, they are strong enough to whittle down a party in numbers, and you'll almost never see one alone. Worse, these beasts all have the "Perceptive" trait, meaning that if you get close to one, it and its entire group will attack at once. As they utterly invest every area they inhabit and move about maps randomly, you'll constantly have to deal with entire packs throwing themselves at you whenever you roam areas like the Exalted Plains or Western Approach. Did we mention that they just love to intrude if you happen to be fighting any other mobs in nearby as well?
The Gold/Item Duplicate Trick from the previous games returns, not only being much faster to execute that it was in Dragon Age ][ but you can now duplicate with only 1 item instead of needing at least 2.
For infinite influence points, all that is needed is Farris The Representative merchant in Skyhold, just outside of the stables. Buy one of his books, and switch over to your "sell" tab, and sell it back. Power and influence will be gained with each purchase, and no gold will be lost, provided Farris has the book when the merchant's window is closed. With 7000 gold for his most expensive books, this can be done really quickly
In the village of Crestwood, there is a locked door with an Amulet of Power for your main character. Loot only the amulet, then fast travel to Skyhold/somewhere else and then travel back and it will be still be there to loot. Similarly, next to Cole in Skyhold there's a chest containing an Amulet of Power and an upgraded hat for him, along with gold and a piece of random loot. As long as you leave at least one item in the chest, you can keep looting amulets at many times as you want. There is also one for Vivienne and another for Solas in the Emerald Graves, and one for Cassandra in the Fallow Mire. Every dragon will have one for each party member as well.
Ham and Cheese: Corypheus is one of the series' least complicated villains, but his hammy, over-the-top villainy is still a treat. It's a shame he only has maybe a handful of scenes.
Harsher in Hindsight: Blackwall's freaked out after Therinfall, and he says, "Of all things, a demon that wears someone else's face." Freaky enough, but when you consider Blackwall's backstory, that's exactly how Blackwall sees himself.
He Really Can Act: Most fans have been pleasantly surprised by Freddie Prinze Jr.'s range in his role of Iron Bull, after having voiced James Vega of Mass Effect 3 with his normal speaking voice.
Pretty much every announcement of a character with an exclusively monosexual romance path caused complaints from more... vocal members of the Bioware fanbase who were hoping to romance them without changing the gender of their Inquisitor.
The game being banned in India and neighboring countries by EA for containing homosexual content. Indian fans are not happy at this news and find it incredibly hypocritical considering that the first 2 Dragon Age games also have homosexual content but are legally available without having to jump through hoops to either import it, grab it via third party sites (meaning no deluxe edition) or use VPN.
Launcher of a Thousand Ships: In universe, during the Josephine romance arc. She can comment that several people are gossiping about her and the Inquisitor being together, and the Inquisitor asks who else the rumors say is with him/her. Josephine's response is: Cassandra, Leliana, Cullen, Dorian, Mother Giselle, Chancellor Roderick, four maids, several stable boys, and some guy named "Phillip" she's pretty sure doesn't exist.
Les Yay: The Inquisition's minstrel composed a pretty badass song about Sera, of all people. It's the only song she writes about a companion. Sera (who is explicitly a lesbian) is confused and bewildered by this, and thinks the woman must be hitting on her—but nothing ever comes of it, which probably just confuses her more.
Cassandra's constant stabbing of any books and maps that are within arm's reach;
"Cassandra Pentaghast: Protecting the world from a variety of inanimate objects since DA2"
After the PAX Demo had Cassandra demonstrate the ability to break into a Keep by demolishing its door with her shield, this has lead to several jokes about her being a human battering ram and one woman siege weapon.
After BioWare said they weren't making any Monty Python jokes after tiring themselves out in real life (specifically, "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" from Flying Circus), fans have started doing them. In-game, they did include one allusion to the infamous sketch, with a Drill Sergeant Nasty asking fresh recruits what the chief weapon of the Inquisition is ("Surprise" "Fear!" "Nice uniforms!"). There's actually a second allusion, too, but Played for Drama, of all things; if you choose the mages, your people will remark that "nobody was expecting us." This is your first clue that Alexius has been screwing around with time and has managed to derail history.
Aaryn Flynn's reaction to the E3 trailers. Has now received a Fandom Nod from the devs as of the video showcasing character and item creation.
The fact that a Jar of Bees is now a throwable weapon. And apparently works on everything.◊ And when used causes a status ailment simply called "bees". And its final upgrade is "And Some Wasps."
The mantras of people planning to romance different characters.
"Ride the bull!" (Iron Bull) Became an Ascended Meme "Scale the wall!" (Blackwall) "Storm the Casstle!" (Cassandra) "Sing the Seranade!" (Sera) "Getting cozy with Josie!" (Josephine) "Slam the Dor!" (Dorian) "Live the dream!" (Solas)
Let's just say that Dorian has gotten a lot of praise for his... err... ''salt shaker.'' (During your romance scene with him, there's a lingering shot of his naked ass, which caused the fans to swoon.)
The sex scenes in general have gotten praise for being much more explicit and daring than the previous games (including the Mass Effect series) without being gratuitous.
"Still in the Hinterlands" - The Hinterlands, the first open area the party reaches, is by far the largest of the areas and has the most quests (there's even more later in the game when part of the map opens up). Most players used to BioWare's "run around this starting area, collect everything, collect party members along the way, move on" ended up not realizing they were supposed to go and come back to there later, and that Val Royaeux does in fact end up being the short and easy party recruitment mission.
"WellShit." - For some reason, characters are quite keen on saying this whenever anything happens that isn't good. Best shown that a mission involving Varric is titled "Well Shit".
"Solas Approves" - Solas is incredibly easy to win approval from. Asking questions (aka initiating dialogue) will get you approval. Completing sidequests that help people (which is a lot of the side quests) will get you approval. At least one poster on the BSN has said he "bleeds approval".note The game actually says "Solas slightly approves" most of the time, but fans have dropped the adverb because it happens so often that it doesn't matter how slight that approval is; it adds up fast. It also adds a level of meta humor considering he butts head with Morrigan a lot, who herself was infamous for the "Morrigan Disapproves" meme.
Misaimed Fandom: Since the introduction of Dorian, the increase of Tevinter-supporters has been significant. They conveniently choose to overlook the fact that Dorian himself tells the player that current things in Tevinter are not admirable and that a lot has to change.
Moe: "Cole just needs a hug" according to several fans. He tries so hard to be helpful (even if he doesn't get it quite right) and is charming in his naivete about the world, provoking a Big Brother Instinct from fans and even some of the other characters.
Moral Event Horizon: Thom "Blackwall" Rainier regards his as twofold: ordering the murder of a nobleman's whole family and household; and abandoning his men to face punishment while he went into hiding under a false alibi as a Warden. It's up to the judgment of the player to decide whether this is truly irredeemable, however.
Narm: Corypheus's lop-sided face and shattered jaw in the ending.
Movran the Under. The father of the Avaar barbarian who picked a fight with the Inquisition in the Fallow Mire. His retaliation for his son's death to throw live goats at Skyhold (as in the building itself) and spends his sole appearance in full Large Ham mode.
Command, a spirit you meet in the Ruins of Old Crestwood. She is just standing around haughtily, commanding inanimate objects to obey her. Like all spirits, she is interested in Thedas because it can't be bent to her will like the Fade can, but since she's Command, she refuses to be denied. The results are hilarious to behold.
For players who chose to keep Alistair a Warden, you get all the fun, snarky, badass glory of going on a mission with both him and Hawke... until the very end, where you have to choose to sacrifice one of them.
To a more minor extent, the other possible party member accompanying Hawke could be Stroud or Loghain, if Alistair didn't remain a Warden. Stroud isn't as major a character as either Alistair or Loghain, but if he saved Bethany/Carver in II, the choice of sacrificing him could still be upsetting. Likewise, if the player sympathized with Loghain's motives in Origins, it could be upsetting to possibly sacrifice him here.
If you allow her to drink from the Well of Sorrows, Morrigan is bound to Flemeth for eternity, forcibly transformed into a dragon, and then severely injured in the battle against Corypheus's dragon. Ouch.
For players who recruited Sebastian and kept Anders alive, you find out that Sebastian kept his promise of raising an army to invade Kirkwall. The player has a choice through war room operations to support Sebastian's annexing of Kirkwall or to support Aveline's struggle to repel his army. Even after Hawke leaves Kirkwall, her/his choices haunt the city.
Romancing Solas? Have fun with that permanent break-up at the end! Romancing Blackwall? Enjoy watching your lover reveal himself to be a man who ordered the murder of an entire family, abandoned his soldiers, and absolutely loathes himself for it!
Fans of the Dalish Elves will end up going through the wringer since the last Act of the game hammers home that everything they believe about their culture is Based on a Great Big Lie.
Rewatch Bonus: Many conversations with Solas and Blackwall take on new meanings after learning that the former is an Elven God and the latter isn't a Grey Warden.
Warden Commander Clarel. From her Wrong Genre Savvy nature on the Wardens, to her Too Dumb to Live mindset of trusting a Obviously EvilTevinter Magister, most players can't stand her. Adding to it, she's also technically responsible for the death of Hawke, Alistair, Loghain, or Stroud due to her bright idea of blowing up the bridge she was on to hurt The Archdemon, resulting in the party being sent to the Fade.
The Hart mounts. The ungodly sound they make when you make them gallop.
The fact that research materials (which can be turned in to give bonuses against various enemies) are kept in the "Valuables" category can be quite frustrating.
When it comes to learning a specialization, you have to get the teachers from a mission. Not bad at all. The problem is that once you have them, you have to complete a Fetch Quest to get items to make something for them. You also need to kill unique enemies that are very hard to find and spawn in areas usually separated far from each other. It's boring, tedious and just time consuming.
Although it's since been discovered that you can take the Rare Stocks Perk and then simply buy all the quest items. Of course that still requires you to take several perks to even reach the Rare Stocks.
Tier-Induced Scrappy: Dorian is considered the worst mage companion in battle by fans due to Vivienne and Solas having specializations that are much more beneficial in terms of support/damage, and the fact that one of Dorian's necromancy spells can lengthen the process of closing Fade Rifts. (If he raises one of the rift's demons from the dead, the rift can't proceed to its next stage until the spell has run out, and it's not immediately obvious that the player should temporarily turn off the ability, or that the spirit can be prematurely dispelled). Doesn't help that Vivienne's specialization is a complete Game Breaker.
That One Level: The Hissing Wastes. A big ass desert with no towns, no plot progression, and no variance in terrain. Aside from Fade Rifts and Elder One henchmen, there is only one common enemy (which is easy to aggro and slow you down since you have to cross a ridiculous amount of desert). The fact that the characters lampshade how much they hate the place doesn't make it much better. And if that isn't bad enough the last stretch of the main subquest takes you into sleeping dragon territory, which is easy to wake up by default. Hope you saved.
During the Battle of Haven there's a section where you need to turn and prepare a Catapult to turn the battle. The problem is that every time you even so much as touch the wheel, a few enemies will attack. Since combat removes your ability to turn it, you'll probably just keep going to finish it. Doing that results in another wave, the one that would come after that, attacking too. Topping it all off, there is only one spot to resupply potions, so if you start it with a low amount, you have to suck it up and try. Then you have to fight a Boss In Mook Clothes while also being attacked by upwards of four enemies. It's ridiculously difficult at what could be called only a quarter of the game through.
In the Hinterlands, there's a sidequest that involves herding a lost Druffalo back to the farm where you claim your first mount. While you can get this quest as early as level 3, there's a Level 12 Beef Gate Rift between you and the Druffalo. Get past that and you have to deal with the Druffalo's A.I. constantly stopping to eat grass before it's willing to continue following you.
A number of players have realized they can use the invincible Druffalo, who will attack any enemies that attack you as an incredible tank allowing them to handle the level 12 Rift when they're around Level 5 or 6
In the Exalted Plains, there's a similar herding sidequest requiring you to lead a Golden Halla back to the nearby Dalish Camp. What follows next is an ungodly annoying attempt to force the halla to the camp by chasing after it and cutting off its current running path.
In the Hissing Wastes, the two main quests have you running around in a vast, empty desert going from one place to another with pretty much nothing to look at and only one NPC to talk to. The marquee quest (tomb raiding, in a nutshell) is a Puzzle Quest that requires you to first interpret sketch drawings of landmarks (with a prominent rock face as a reference point). Once you do find a tomb, you must then solve another minor "put this story in order" puzzle which summons demons every time you get it wrong. No surprise that this is one of the most searched-for DA:I topics on Google.
Not even a true sidequest, but the Emerald Graves has one very incidental challenge on the far east of the map. Basically, there's a very narrow beam leading across a sheer drop and with a tempting chest on the other side. Apart from being extremely awkward to traverse, it poses the hazard of having party members knock you off by running up behind you, so expect to die many times. And the reward? A lousy tier 1 weapon.
What happened to Bodahn and Sandal? Is Sandal a mage? What did he mean by "the magic will come back"? We might not find out for awhile, due to neither of the dwarves appearing in the game.
The Breach, which was teased as constantly spreading across the skies and releasing demons, is temporarily stopped in the first mission, and closed for good in the third. At least, until the very last mission.
Oddly enough Dragon Age Keep is guilty of this too. Seeing as Keep allows you to make the major choices freely, fans were expecting them all to have some form of appearance, the biggest being if you saved the Architect in Awakening. Instead, most of them are not referenced, and the ones that are? Mainly missions on the War Room so you can't see the results.
It's implied once you get Skyhold that you need to upgrade it and build up your allies in order to prepare for a epic final battle. Instead, the final battle is quick with no build up.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: The Elder One, Corypheus, whom Fiona first describes as "more powerful than The Maker". Outside of the Bad Future where the Inquisitor was "dead", he never ever lives up to this description. In a game that can easily take 60+ hours to complete, the main villain gets maybe 10 minutes of screen-time. When he even does appear, it's usually just him monologuing and making you wonder why people even think he's dangerous. None of his plans ever even succeed, as the heroes foil every single scheme, and the Elder One so staunchly believes that Nothing Can Stop Us Now that he doesn't even make an attempt to foolproof his plans.
Ugly Cute: Cole is *weird-looking* (see Uncanny Valley below), and being unflatteringly-dressed and unhealthy-looking draw attention to his more prominent facial features and odd expressions, but they don't detract from his obvious earnestness and he's sure got a pair of Puppy-Dog Eyes behind that hat hair of his.
Cole lives here: he looks almost like a normal young human, but his eyes are feverish, and his speech is bizarrely lyrical and alliterative. He makes off-handed comments that hint at psychic abilities, describing templars as "heavy with forgotten songs" and the Breach as "pulling, pushing out pain." He also can turn completely invisible at will, and you first meet him inside your own soul/mind if you meet with the Templars.
Some of the character animations can sink right here as it won't be a "complete" animation - such as only the mouth moving when laughing.
An In-Universe example has a journal talk about the Explosive Breeder tendencies of Nugs, while also mentioning how the author could never eat one - due to the fact that they walk on four legs and have hands. Dorian also makes reference to it in some banter with Varric.
Dorian: I had no idea Nugs possess such creepy little feet. The stuff of nightmares.
The Untwist: Anyone who played Origins will know that, at the very least, there's quite a bit that doesn't add up about Blackwall's story. The real twist is why.
Win Back the Crowd: While there's a vocal and significant percentage of the fanbase that decry this game (along with some arguably more legitimate concerns on PC and 7th gen consoles) as being unlike Origins and being associated with EA in general, there's a consensus that the game's an improvement over Dragon Age II for restoring many of the features of the first game, doing a better job of expanding the lore and mythos of the DA setting, and giving players an open world where your quests have an impact on the main story, and having a fulfilling ending compared to Mass Effect 3.
Alexius' son, Felix. He's a Nice Guy despite being a Tevinter Mage who's suffering from the Blight and watching helplessly while his father destroys the world trying to save him. And in the Bad Future, he ends up as a zombified corpse. Even if he succeeds in helping the Inquisitor stop his father, he still dies due to his Blight sickness upon returning home. At least he's Not Afraid to Die and is at peace with his fate.
Varric. His life is just a condensed ball of pure suck. But the best possible example of the trope is the moment you return from the Fade, if you chose Hawke to sacrifice him/herself. The look on his face, and the terrified way he says, "Where's Hawke...?" tells the whole story.When he breaks down and cries later, you can even hug him.
A lot of Harding's dialogue is delivered as if she's tired, distracted, or stressed. Combine this with her being incredibly nice and visually adorable and she gets into woobie territory possibly without even having a reason to feel bad for her.
Minaeve: The Inqusition's Head Creature Researcher unless she dies who was born to a Dalish clan, kicked out when her magic appeared, almost died of starvation in the woods, almost was killed by a mob until rescued by a group of Templars that gave her shelter, then she was taken to a Circle where she could finally be safe until she's thrown back into danger with the mage rebellions. She finally catches a lucky break when Cassandra picks her up for the Inquisition. By the time of game she has a very low view of herself and her skill as a mage and seems to be working as a means to distract herself from it.
Life can be VERY sucky for a female Dalish Inquisitor. No matter what, she learns that most of what her people believe is false and that their gods have abandoned them. Her clan may be scattered or killed because of her efforts to save them. Should she romance Solas, she also learns that her vallaslin are actually slave markings and then has her heart broken. She can get them removed right before the latter, but will be subject to nasty laughter from Sera and may be excluded from the Dalish later for it. This is what Cole has to say on her thoughts in that scenario—which is notably the only time he ever actually gets into any Inquisitor's head.
Cole:She is bare-faced, embarrassed, and she doesn't know. She thinks it's because of her.
Cole can still comment if she chooses to keep her vallaslin, though the details are slightly different. It's no less heartbreaking.
Cole:She feels her face, marked, marred without malice. She didn't know. She thinks it's why you walked away.
Hawke's status as one has actually gone up from the previous game. After being on the run for four years, it's clear that all of his/her failures during II have taken an irreparable toll on his/her self-esteem. Even Snarky!Hawke is considerably more serious and bitter. If s/he had a love interest in II, they are either already dead by his/her own hands, or s/he broke it off with them in order to protect them, leaving him/her even more alone than s/he already was near the end of II, with only Varric keeping in constant contact. On top of all of this, s/he feels personally responsible for the entire mess now occurring, having been unable to stop the Mage/Templar War from beginning and having unknowingly failed to kill Corypheus after awakening him.
Your Trainer, the Rift Mage trainer. A member of the Mages Underground who willingly gave up her own sanity in order to learn enough about Rift Magic to train you. The process broke her mind, and the only thing she seems able to focus on is that has to train you. It's the only purpose she has left. Picking any other mage specialization after learning that is a struggle.
Solas. Over the course of the game, his friend the Wisdom Spirit asks him for a Mercy Kill, he may be forced to leave his belovedto save her from whatever it is he has to do, and then after defeating Corypheus he leaves the Inquisition, home of the only non-spirit friends he has, because the Foci orb is broken and his plans are falling apart. The Stinger reveals he also absorbed the spirit/power/essence from Mythal-in-Flemeth's-body, whom he approaches as an old friend, because he feels the People need him and he needs her power. His backstory is no better: he apparently did lock away the Elven pantheon, but it was likely because they were oppressive slave masters and he thought all elves deserved their freedom, not just the elite. Unfortunately, freeing them from their elven masters simply caused the complete downfall of Arlathan and they're now often slaves to human masters instead. As thanks, he got a Historical Villain Upgrade and is remembered as a bogeyman in Dalish mythology. When he approaches them now, they rebuff him because he is an outsider even if they don't know who he really is. In an attempt to help, he gave the Foci to Corypheus to get him to unlock its power for him, as he couldn't do it himself. That resulted in the Breach and the events of the game, plus the untold numbers of spirits who were pulled through rifts and twisted into demons who killed even more people before being killed themselves. It really seems like Fen'Harel, the Dread WolfTrickster God of Rebellion should be renamed to "Elven God of That's Not What I Intended to Do". Perhaps part of the reason he's a popular romance option is because he obviously loves her and it genuinely makes him happy; fans want at least one thing to go right in the poor man's life. Though he kinda already borked that, too, fans are still hopeful that DLC will resolve the story on a happier note.
Cole carries this status over from his debut in Asunder. His backstory from the novel - his hard life as a spirit who took the form of a young apostate mage who was captured by templars and left to starve to death in a dungeon - becomes painfully relevant in his personal quest, as he encounters the templar who was primarily responsible for the original Cole's death, and while this quest can help him work through these issues, it's both incredibly sad and very chilling to see him fly into such a rage before recounting why. Even before this, it's obvious that he still feels anxiety in regards to letting people see and remember him, and he still feels ashamed and rejected by his last encounter with Rhys. Despite all of this, he tries desperately hard to help most everyone he encounters, feeling that he's happy as long as he's helping people. His woobie status is a primary reason as to why he's so beloved by the fandom, on top of being so sweet and endearing.