Cole - Assassin Archer Build

Cole - Assassin Archer Build - Dragon Age: Inquisition (DAI)

By zanuffas
Last updated:
In this post, I will cover how to best Cole Archer Build in Dragon Age Inquisition. It is one of the companions that specializes in Assassinations. He will be able to join you during one of the main story quests, the decision will be up to you!
The companion build is compatible with Nightmare difficulty, however, to pull it off correctly, be sure to have a good Inquisitor build

Cole Build - Assassin Archer

This part of the guide will cover how you should build Cole as an Assassin Archer. I recommend this build because it will ensure that Cole can survive more difficult encounters. Moreover, it will remove its weakest weakness: bad AI for Dual daggers.

Cole stats archer build

Remember that you will need to respecialize skills before making this build

Abilities - Early Game, levels 1 - 10

Although you may recruit Cole close to level 10, here is what I recommend when starting. First, get a bow for Cole, early in the game this is the best option. Second, invest in these skills according to the priority:

Order Skill Description
1 stealth iconStealth + Clinging Shadows Allows Cole to escape from enemies easily
2 poisoned weapons iconPoisoned Weapons + Infected Wound Early ability to increase overall damage you do with skills and auto-attack
3 long shot iconLong Shot Does 600% weapon damage if shot from more than 15 meters
4 first blood iconFirst Blood Passive skill that will increase damage if enemy health is full
5 death from above iconDeath From Above We take it mainly for progression
6 leaping shot iconLeaping Shot + Shot from the Shadows Fire spell is cheap and deals decent damage
7 explosive shot iconExplosive Shot + Shockwave Effective knockback skill to take out a specific target.

This way you ensure that Cole can survive encounters and does not die easily. The problem with dual wielding is that early in the game he may get hit a lot in melee range while not having good equipment.

Abilities - Full Progression

Here I will explain how you should prioritize what skills to invest in and when.

IMPORTANT: Get a relevant Amulet of Power for Cole to maximize the number of ability points

Order Skill Description
1 throatcutter iconThroatcutter Gives a larger damage bonus the less HP the enemy has.
2 hidden blades iconHidden Blades + Overkill One of the main Assassin abilities. It will hit the enemy with six hits each having 300% weapon damage.
3 i was never here iconI Was Never Here After killing the enemy Cole will enter stealth this ability will synergize well with the next one
4 knife in the shadows iconKnife in the Shadows Attacking from stealth will ensure that Cole deals critical hits
5 mark of death iconMark of Death + Lasting Mark This is a powerful ability if used on bosses. I recommend taking the Lasting Mark upgrade for AI to use. The other upgrade may go to waste if AI does not activate it properly
6 stealth iconStealth + Clinging Shadows A good ability when you need to escape enemies. Moreover, when you attack from stealth you will get guaranteed critical hits due to Knife in the Shadows passive ability.
7 caltrops iconCaltrops We take this mainly for progression
8 looked like it hurt iconLooked Like It Hurt Each critical hit will restore 10 stamina. An essential skill to have the stamina for all the skills
9 long shot iconLong Shot Archer skill to deal additional damage when attacking from long distances with Cole
10 death from above iconDeath from Above We take this mainly for progression
11 leaping shot iconLeaping Shot + Shot from the Shadows With the upgrade, Leaping Shot will ensure that Cole enters stealth. This way you will be able to deal more critical hits.
12 first blood iconFirst Blood Deals 15% more damage to enemies that have HP above 80%
13 explosive shot dragon age inquisitionExplosive Shot We mainly take this ability for progression.
14 explosive shot iconPincushion Each hit to the same enemy will increase the damage that Cole does
15 poisoned weapons iconPoisoned Weapons + Infected Wounds With this active skill, Cole will coat its weapons with Poison. This will make the bow do more damage.
16 fighting dirty iconFighting Dirty Poison will last 25% longer
17 Explosive Toxin If the enemy is killed while under the effect of poison, their bodies will explode releasing a cloud of poison.
18 gaps in the armor iconGaps in the Armor Increases Armor penetration by 25%

If you will have additional points left, feel free to take Toxic Cloud + upgrade for additional AOE damage.

Tactics and Behaviours

Let's take a look at how to set up Cole's behaviors in combat to maximize what it can do.

Cole archer build tactics

  • Disable - Caltrops and Explosive Shot (if you are playing with Friendly Fire on)
  • Set Preferred Poisoned Weapons. This way you ensure that Cole's poison explosion will activate after each enemy's death.
  • All others can be set to Active
  • You can also set Leaping Shot to Preferred. However, I have found that this way Cole leaves the battlefield too far. However, pick it up if it works well for you.

With these in mind here are some Behaviour recommendations:

  • Mana and Stamina reserve should be set to 0%
  • Targeting behavior - follow your tank.


Here is what Stats I recommend to best maximize Cole, in this priority:

  • Critical Chance - 40%+. Due to Stealth and Knife in the Shadows synergy Cole will do many critical hits already
  • Critical Damage - once you have reached the Critical chance threshold of 40%, concentrate on increasing this stat as it will scale your damage well.
  • Cunning - boosts critical chance (until 40% critical chance)
  • Dexterity - boosts critical damage
  • Attack - overall boost to damage

Items and Equipment

This section will cover some item recommendations for Cole

Masterwork crafting materials

If you want to take Cole's damage to the next level I recommend this:

  • Hidden Blades - will enable making additional DPS when this procs. These materials will activate it: Fade-Touched Ring Velvet, Fade-Touched Velveteen, Fade-Touched Plush Fustian Velvet
  • Abilities cost *% less Mana/Stamina -will reduce the cost of using active abilities. Materials: Fade-Touched Velveteen, Fade-Touched Ring Velvet, Fade-Touched Fustian Velvet

Weapons - obtainable

Unfortunately, there are no exceptional options for the bows. If you want to maximize Cole's DPS, you should invest in getting a crafted version.

Priority Item Description
1 tezpadams bane iconTezpadam's Bane Extraordinary bow, that provides 41 dexterity resulting in a 41% critical damage increase. Moreover, gives an effect that makes enemy bodies explode on kill
2 arrowwood iconArrowwood This bow is available during the Trespasser DLC. Gives 95% armor penetration. It is an interesting bow to try but you get it quite late in the game.
3 heartstring bow iconHeartstring Bow Obtained in Frostback Basin and provides adequate stats.

Weapons - craftable

Priority Item Description
1 elgarnan Enaste schematic iconElgar'nan Enaste Schematic Obtained with Trespasser DLC. Has adequate slots and most importantly explosive arrow effect.
2 Grunsmann's Bow Schematic iconGrunsmann's Bow Schematic Provides 3 offensive leather slots excellent to maximize either critical chance or critical damage
3 Bow of the Beresaad Schematic iconBow of the Beresaad Schematic Provides leather slots for maximizing critical chance and critical damage.

Armors - obtainable

Priority Item Description
1 stone stalker coat iconStone Stalker Coat This armor is a perfect match for this build as it provides a large boost to of 45 Cunning resulting in a much higher critical chance
2 the skin that stalks iconThe Skin That Stalks Obtainable only in the Trespasser DLC. Boosts Critical Damage, Critical Chance, and Attack.
3 Masterwork Prowler Armor iconMasterwork Prowler Armor This armor reduces ability stamina cost by 20% if not attacked for 5 seconds. This should be easy for Cole as he will be avoiding enemies most of the time.

Armors - craftable

Priority Item Description
1 superior prowler armor schematic iconSuperior Prowler Armor Schematic This armor has 23 utility leather slots if you include upgrades. Feel free to increase either dexterity or cunning based on what Cole needs more.
2 Sturdy Prowler Armor Schematic iconSturdy Prowler Armor Schematic This is a cheaper alternative to Superior Prowler Armor Schematic. It also gives less defense and 22 utility leather slots.
3 Stone Stalker Coat Schematic iconStone Stalker Coat Schematic Can be obtained from The Descent DLC. Has decent slots, but is worse compared to the options above.

Helmets - obtainable

Priority Item Description
1 stone stalker mask iconStone Stalker Mask Has both good bonus stats and armor rating. Can be obtained in The Descent DLC
2 helm of drasca iconHelm of the Drasca A decent mid-game option that gives a good boost to critical damage by increasing Dexterity.
3 unique Mask iconAmbassador's Mask Alternative to Mask of the Grand Duchess if you have a high critical chance (50%+)
4 unique Mask iconMask of the Grand Duchess Alternative to Ambassador's Mask if you have a low critical chance

Helmets - craftable

Priority Item Description
1 Superior helm schematic iconSuperior Skirmisher Hat Schematic The best craftable helmet that gives 10 leather utility slots and is easy to obtain
2 skirmisher hat schematic iconSkirmisher Hat Schematic A cheaper alternative to the Superior Skirmisher Hat Schematic. Has only 8 leather utility slots
3 Superior Adventurer Hat Schematic iconSuperior Adventurer Hat Schematic Costs only 182 Sovereigns and gives 7 leather utility slots. Get it if you are short on money.


Priority Item Description
- Amulet of Power Gives Cole a single ability point. It is consumed once you use it.
1 Malika's Guard iconMalika's Guard As Cole will not concentrate on flanking damage this amulet will greatly increase the overall attack power.
2 Superb Amulet of Dexterity This amulet will increase dexterity resulting in higher critical damage.
3 Amulet of the Rogue This amulet will increase both critical chance and critical damage
4 Superb Amulet of Cunning The amulet will increase the critical chance, allowing for a reduction of ability cooldowns.


Priority Item Description
1 Superb Belt iconThe Bind That Guides This belt boosts the critical chance. Only obtainable in the Trespasser DLC.
2 Superb Belt iconSuperb Belt of Staggering This belt will allow Cole to stagger enemies
3 superb belt of sunder iconSuperb Belt of Sunder Gives a chance to decrease the enemy's armor.


Priority Item Description
1 Superb ring iconThe Hand That Cuts You only obtain this ring in Trespasser DLC. However, it gives a +20% Critical Damage bonus
2 Ring of Slicing The rings boost critical damage by 10% and critical chance by 5%. It is one of the best rings for this build
3 Superb Ring of Critical Damage Gives +20% critical damage, equip it once you have a high enough critical Chance
4 Superb Ring of Critical Chance Gives a +10% critical chance. Great to boost it, if you have less than 40%
5 Superb Ring of Attack Boosts overall attack damage


I hope this Cole Archer in Dragon Age Inquisition will help you. It provides a good enough option for this companion to be able to effectively participate in combat and avoid dying too often.

Feel free to share your feedback in the comments


Post author zanuffas avatar zanuffas
Gamestegy Founder. I have been writing game guides and builds for 4 years. I like to push myself to create something wonderful for the readers!