Making Short Work of the Hinterlands
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FIRST-TIME PLAYTHROUGHS! MANY SPOILERS!
Doing a lot of replays? Tired of wandering around the Hinterlands for hours before you can get on with the Main Quest? Wish there was a quicker way to get through the Hinterlands? This guide is for you!
Most of the credit for this time-saving sequence goes to the speedrunners here https://forum.speeddemosarchive.com/post/dragon_age_inquistion.html
They figured out the first few iterations of an optimal sequence that gets you to Redcliffe Village with enough Power to continue on with Champions of the Just or In Hushed Whispers. I've tweaked it a bit to pick up a few more agents, but it still is possible to run the whole thing in under two hours real time. Getting agents enables getting some Perks sooner than you otherwise would. I'm usually able to get the third slot for grenades, extra healing potions (after completing Champions of the Just and getting Sir Barris as an agent), and after opening Crestwood, Deft Hands, using only 3 perk points total!
The sequence below assumes you are familiar with all the Hinterlands locations, characters and quests. If you aren't, see the Hinterlands article in the wiki. There are also some map short cuts you can take, but they are too hard to describe, so are not included here. It would be easier to see in a video, which I'll make someday, maybe. Just try to figure out direct routes and loops that require the least amount of travel time, mostly mounted. With a mount, you can jump off cliffs and not take damage and sometimes that's the faster way to get from point A to point B.
1. Open the Hinterlands and arrive at Outskirts Camp. Skip through Scout Harding's greeting.
2. Jog to the house to the south and read the letter in it to get Blood Brothers. Then go to the Crossroads and fight the three waves of enemies
3. Skip through the dialogue/cutscene with Mother Giselle, get the quest to go to Val Royeaux, but don't go just yet.
4. Pick up the Shallow Breaths quest while you are in the Crossroads
5. Jog the path up to the Upper Lake Camp and make it. Pick up the treasure map.
6. At the western edge of the Upper Lake Camp area, face north towards the ruined fortress and follow the boulders down the cliff to the ground below, then skirt along the cliff wall to the left. Keep as close to the left-hand (south) wall as possible to avoid aggroing the Templar camp nearby.
7. Follow the curve of the cliff wall until you run into two Templar knights at a tent. Fight them, but don't let the battle spill over to the north and aggro the others.
8. Follow the path south, above the stream, to the Templar HQ camp. Defeat them and pick up Sweetish Fingers. Also follow the path south to the waterfall and pick up the treasure from the treasure map.
9. Return to the HQ camp and jump down to the water below. There are a couple places you can jump down with minimal damage.
10. Follow the stream on the western edge until you get to the broken bridge.
11. Head towards the Redcliffe Farms Camp, skirting around the wolves. You can avoid fighting them completely to save time. Stick to the right-hand (northern) hillside until they are out of aggro range, then beeline for the camp site and make it.
12. Jog to the farm house, talk to all three quest givers there. Pick up Farmland Security and Trouble With Wolves.
13. Pick up the free horse, you'll be using this mount for most of the rest of this sequence.
14. Ride to the rift just north of the farm, close it for Power.
15. With Farmland Security active, ride to the nearest location for the watch towers (Farmland Security), being careful not to aggro nearby apostates. Declare it.
16. Ride to the next closest Farmland Security location. You should be able to outrun the wolves, or avoid them by dismounting and skirting again. There might be random apostates in the watch tower spot, though, so either way you may have to battle. Declare it.
17. Mount and ride through the battle field towards the third and last Farmland Security. You should be able to avoid all battles if you stay mounted until the last moment. Run down archers if they are right in front of you to save some time.
18. Quickly remount and head around the eastern side of the hill. Bear slightly west of north, being careful not to run into the rift that is to the west, and head for the Druffy the Druffalo canyon. You might have to fight some apostates, but best to outrun them.
19. Dismount in the canyon, wave hello to Druffy but leave him be, and make you way back to the stream. Skirt the big nasty rift in the middle of the stream, you do not want to fight that one. Just stick to the right-hand (northern) hillside furthest from the rift and turn north when you hit the stream bank. Stay on the eastern side of the stream. Follow the bank until it leads to the location of the wolf pack.
20. Fight the wolf pack and the Terror demon in the inner cave. Make a circuit of the cave and pick up all the loot.
21. Fast travel back to Haven. The argument with Roderick cutscene needs to be skipped through before you can enter the Chantry. At the war table, start the Build Watchtowers mission with Cullen (48 mins). Fast travel to Val Royeaux.
22. Skip through the cutscenes. Pick up Belle as an agent. Get the Mysterious Arrow (Sera) and all the red hankies, and the invitation to Vivenne's estate and then head for the exit/entrance to trigger the cutscene with Fiona. Then travel to the Secluded Courtyard and pick up Sera.
23. At the end of the Sera quest, fast travel directly to Duke Bastien's estate and pick up Vivienne. The conclusion of this quest will send you back to Haven.
24. From Haven, enter the Chantry to trigger the cutscene, this is necessary to progress the main quest and open Redcliffe Village. You also pick up the quest for Blackwall from Leliana.
(OPTIONAL) If you want to pick up Blackwall now, fast travel to the Upper Lake Camp in the Hinterlands. Walk south and climb to the lake, then head west to the fisherman's hut across the bridges. Talk to Blackwall. Alternatively, you can do this after completing Step #48 in Redcliffe Village.
25. Fast travel to the Hinterlands Outskirts Camp. Mount and ride to the rift by the farm house almost due south. It's all wraiths. Close it.
26. Talk to the elf woman in the house to pick up Agrarian Apostate. There's also a loot chest around back if you want it.
27. Mount and follow the road to the east and stop at the worried scout. Pick up Strange Bedfellows.
28. Mount and ride to the site of the Dwarfson's Pass Camp. Make it. At this point, make sure you have Varric and Vivienne in your party. You will need them for agents. Set the Strange Bedfellows quest as active.
29. Ride to the southeast and as soon as you can, ride straight up the hill to the south towards the quest marker. Just at the top of the hill, at the weird totem pole, find the phylactery and letter to start the My Lover's Phylactery quest.
30. Ride to the quest marker. You should see an Inquisition scout fighting two Templars. HURRY! If you take too long, the scout will be killed. Kill the Templars and talk to the scout. Eventually, she tells the truth. Use the Varric option to get her as an agent.
31. Set Shallow Breaths as active. Ride to the gait of Winterwatch Tower and talk to Speaker Anais to pick up the Praise The Herald of Andraste quest.
32. Enter and climb the stairs to the immediate right. Follow the quest marker for Shallow Breaths, talk to Hyndel and get the potion.
33. Go down the ladder, cross the courtyard to the north and enter the doorway by some stables. Go upstairs and talk to Lord Berand to pick up Love Waits.
34. Go back downstairs and close the rift. Talk to Speaker Anais again and select whichever agent you prefer, I usually go with Secrets.
35. Fast travel back to Dwarfson's Pass Camp. Set Agrarian Apostate as active. Mount and head slightly north of east. You are going to make a big loop around that hill, completing quests as you go. Find the two Templars at the quest marker and defeat them. Loot them for the ring required by the quest.
36. Set Love Waits as active. Ride to the spot and search for a corpse. Loot the corpse to get a letter. You might encounter some random enemies.
37. Continue north and loop around the hill until you are back to the worried scout. Complete the Strange Bedfellows quest.
38. Mount and ride back to Winterwatch Tower. Find Lord Berand and tell him the bad news. Get him as an agent, your choice as to which type (ask him to join the Inquisition for Forces, tell him to go home for Connections).
39. Fast travel back to Dwarfson's Pass Camp. Ride back to the farmhouse to complete Agrarian Apostate.
40. Fast travel back to the Crossroads. Find the peasant and complete Shallow Breaths.
41. Still at the Crossroads, find Enchanter Ellendra and complete My Lover's Phylactery. Use the Vivienne option to get her as an agent.
42. Set Blood Brothers active. Mount and follow the east road then turn north to the quest marker. Avoid the rift in the ruined tower and head straight north up the hill to the round house. Fight some apostates. Loot everything and complete Blood Brothers. Also get a letter that starts Business Arrangements, you'll need this for another agent.
43. Mount and ride north to Redcliffe Village gate.
44. Fight the demons and close the rift.
45. Skip through the cutscene and remount, ride to the village.
46. Set Business Arrangements as active. Follow the quest marker to Tanner. Confront her and use the Varric option to get her as an agent.
47. Go to the tavern, skip through the cutscenes, move the main quest along.
48. Pick up Clemence as an agent.
You should be able to get to this point under two real-time hours. In a timing run, including load times, I was able to complete steps 1-48 in 1 hour and 27 minutes. At the moment of leaving the Gull & Lantern Inn, I had 21 Power.
The last remaining tasks are to complete Trouble With Wolves and Farmland Security, but if the war table mission hasn't completed yet, you can waste some time in the village. You can go to the Chantry if you want to talk to Dorian or just do some looting. Or you can pick up any Companions you haven't yet, like Blackwall and The Iron Bull.
You should also have enough power to start either Champions of the Just or In Hushed Whispers.
When the war table mission is finally finished ...
49. Return to Haven, accept the reward.
50. Return to Hinterlands Redcliffe Farm Camp. Ride to the farm, complete the quests, pick up Master Dennet as an agent, using Vivienne or any of the other methods to get him.
Awesome guide! Concise and to the point on everything!
Sweet. Hinterlands prelude is such a pain in the ass to get to the good stuff. Can't believe they placed Mount Everest in between the start and specializations/freedom of the meaningful game content. Under 2 hours is a big upgrade.