BioWare Aiming To Fix Dragon Age’s Choices, Exploration

Also, I get something that I guess vaguely resembles a shirt this time

Dragon Age: Inquisition has pretty much stayed entirely under wraps except in order to briefly emerge and switch out its numerical nametag for a subtitled one. Also, it did the whole razzle-dazzle E3 trailer thing, but only the maddest of fans managed to decipher much from its cinema-tastic showing. For now, then, all we can do is snatch up whatever scraps might fall from BioWare’s silently slithering brood. But how? And where? Well, by offering OXM as bait to the RPG behemoth’s slavering jaws at PAX Australia, of course.

Word out of the convention is that BioWare’s looking to turn a few fundamental RPG systems on their heads for this one – hopefully for better, though I kind of fear for worse. Apparently, the game’s main goal is to feel like “our” story, primarily through decisions that matter a lot more than those of Dragon Age II. BioWare’s panelists explained that the scene from the E3 trailer with Varric surrounded by bodies and a village obliterated is only one possible outcome of a situation – not some climactic foregone conclusion. Choices will matter, and their outcomes will be big.

Environments, meanwhile, will apparently be highly “diverse”. Desert, swamps, mountains, grasslands, ruins, and snowy tundras were all mentioned. There will be plenty of dungeons both large and small, as well. And no, they won’t be Plato’s conception of the one true chair cave – aka, the real mightiest evil of Dragon Age II.

Perhaps most interesting, however, was BioWare’s on-stage waffling about how it’d like to reinvent its tried-and-true dialogue system. Writer Patrick Weekes and a few others expressed fatigue at the idea of more simple red-or-blue Mass-Effect-style choices, noting that they might have another outside force influence the process as well. Options on the table include various stats, certain companions, and avenues pursued earlier in conversation. (Admittedly, those sound to me like areas BioWare has explored before with persuasion stats and whatnot, but it’s good to hear that they’re hoping to take it further.)

So yes, Inquisition is eyeing a much bigger prize than Dragon Age II. That’s good news! However, I do hope that BioWare remembers to look backward as well as forward before while crossing this street. Origins’ broader strokes (big exploration, more customization) seem to be in, but the beloved series starter exuded a confident old-school charm on top of all that. Tons of extra dialog options and stories and secrets just waiting to be uncovered. I think a lot of players miss that richness. It’s not just about going big. You’ve got to have heart or it’s all meaningless.


  1. Grapeykins says:

    But if there was one thing DAII had in spades, it definitely was heart, and people still rejected it out of hand. I thought a theme of disempowerment was pretty neat, personally, and I firmly believe DAII had BioWare’s strongest cast of characters to this day. The banter between Isabela and Aveline alone sets it apart from their previous (and latter) efforts. Something that is worrying me is that in Bioware’s apparent desire to distance themselves from the most obvious failures of DAII, they will simply run back to the aesthetic blandness and narrative predictability of DAO in some desperate grab for fan affection.

    • TormDK says:

      I agree, I liked DA2 for what it was story wise.

      I’m pretty hyped to hear OGB will be included as part of the story line (If your Warden helped with the ritual), and I’m also happy to hear they are going along the same lines as The Witcher 3 with it’s staged environments.

      Still over a full year till it’s released though, so I guess we’ll just patiently have to wait for further information to be provided.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      I think DA II did have a lot of great ideas. Personally I thought their attempt to tackle the passage of time – it’s slightly episodic nature – was really very interesting and had great promise. Unfortunately, like nearly everything about DA II there was a lot of potential but the execution was months away from fully formed. The game felt to me as if it was kicked out the door whilst it was still in development.

      I would certainly agree that it had heart in spades though.

      As for this news, they are certainly saying the sort of things that my ear holes like the sound of. But then they always do but usually fail to follow up on those words with affirmative action. So we will see.

      • newc0253 says:

        I agree. With the exception of the swarming fights and the reused locations, I really liked what DA2 was trying to do.

        In fact, I thought the game was great right up until the third act when the game ignored all my choices in favour of railroading the plot:

        Me: I’m the hero of Kirkwall and a well-known, outspoken defender of Mage’s rights!

        Mages: He’s with Meredith! Get him!

        Me: wait, no – please stop attacking me and let me explain!

        [Dozens upon dozens of mages leap foolishly into battle and get slaughtered]

        Meredith: Remember how Arishok was an interesting villain? Well, I’m nothing like him! I’m the most shrill, one-note character possible!

        Sympathetic mage: Meredith accuses all mages of secretly using blood magic! I will now reverse a lifetime spent combating this myth by proving her right!

        • Malleus says:

          Yeah, the final part of act 3 only really works if you are pro templar. Also, they didn’t really give you too many reasons to be pro-templar with a mage character.

          Anyway, agreed with what you said. The trash mob wave combat and the copypaste locations were lame, and there were stuff about the story which they could’ve done better, but even with all it’s flaws, I really liked DA2.

        • bleeters says:

          It frustrates me immensely that Meredith’s backstory and justification for her character is something that’s only explained by her if you actually side with her at the start of act three. It actually adds some much, much needed depth to her as a person.

          But chances are hardly anybody ever sees it, because seeing it requires supporting the mad hat, crackpot ironfist dictator-wannabe who has done nothing positive up to that point, and who leads a force (templars) that the game practically yells at you are thoroughly unpleasant people.

          And then chapter three ended and they squandered all the potential her character had anyway.

        • Buteo says:

          Actually, it was hinted even before then that the “Sympathetic Mage” wasn’t that sympathetic. If you raided his room, you came across some notes from “O” written to the guy who murdered people and sewed them together.

    • mike2R says:

      I liked DAII’s more low key story too. It was just a nice change from the done to death saving the world thing.

      The problem I had with it was the same I had with DA:O – just far too much combat for my taste. I enjoyed the combat to start with, but it just totally outstayed its welcome as far as I was concerned and I ended up abandoning it despite wanting to progress the story.

      I’m not sure how common a complaint this was, though I have heard a few people say the same thing, so I don’t know whether its worth hoping they’ll alter the balance on this.

      • static4244 says:

        I absolutely agree. Dragon age 2 definitely had its problems (repetition of environments, repetitive random encounters) but the story and characters were great and the game play was way more interesting than da:o

        People really do like getting righteously angry about da2. Good to see there are still people on rps who have a sense of perspective. Oh, and I really liked the redesign for da2 as well. Made the game look much less generic.

        • PatrickSwayze says:

          DA2 had good characters?

          U WOT m8?

          It was a bag o shite through and through, bar Aveline.

          Emo Elf, Emo Wizard, Aren’t I squee fucking elf girl, slutty yet powerful pirate gurl.

          Total utter shite.

          • MrMud says:

            Aveline was really good though.

          • PatrickSwayze says:

            She was, but she was the only one.

          • jezcentral says:

            I thought the characters were the best thing about the game. The only one I dislike was Fenris, but it was because I didn’t like what he stood for, rather than because he was badly written or badly acted. IMO, obviously.

          • S Jay says:

            Agreed, the pirate lady was just a way to create another hot woman with some Morrigan-esque interactions (Morrigan was way better).

            The main fault I perceived on DAII when playing was basically this “I don’t care about any of this characters or the story or even my own main character”. I waited and waited for it to hook me as much as DAO – sadly it never happened.

          • Jimbo says:

            There was more to Isabela than that if you spent more time with her. She was actually incredibly insecure and her slutty yet powerful pirate girl persona was mostly just a front. If you know as many slutty yet powerful pirate girls as I do, having that come from a place of insecurity was actually quite observant on Bioware’s part.

            Varric and Aveline were ok – pretty by-the-numbers. Anders, Fenris and Merrill were terrible.

          • Grapeykins says:

            I’m sorry Jimbo, while I agree that there is more to Isabela than ‘meets the eye’ so to speak, that interpretation is a bit off the mark. Isabela isn’t insecure. She might be wary of intimate affections because of having troubled experiences in her past, but she is anything but insecure. There is a pivotal banter between her and Aveline where Aveline wonders why Isabela isn’t bothered by people’s derogatory preconceptions about her character and moral fibre. Isabela’s answer? “They don’t know me. I know me.” It’s a brilliant subversion of the ‘rogue with a heart of gold’ trope, because Isabela is actually just as hedonistic and uncouth as she appears to be – and she revels in it, without shame.

          • Bhazor says:

            “a brilliant subversion”

            … brilliant?

          • Jimbo says:

            Which is a very ‘insecure teenager’ answer to give. ‘I don’t care what anybody thinks of me!’ *secretly really cares a lot*

            And she’s right to say that people don’t know her. They don’t know because she always hides her real personality behind her slutty pirate act. It’s a defence mechanism to stop herself being hurt. The only subversion is that she actually does have a heart of gold and does want to be loved, despite acting like she doesn’t care about anything and just wants to fuck everybody. She’s scared and running away from somebody / herself almost the entire game, but as long as Hawke is supportive she always ends up doing the right thing when push comes to shove. Eventually she trusts Hawke not to hurt her and starts to show her true personality.

            It’s a similar arc to Jack in Mass Effect.

          • ThinkMcFlyThink says:

            Aveline was great, and I did really like Varic. I couldn’t stand anyone else, and they seemed to retroactively ruin Anders for me.

          • Jexiah8bit says:

            Thats funny, Aveline was the character I absolutely loathed. I cant stand cops of any sort, especially ones that think they know best.

        • Voronwer says:

          I rolled my eyes when I first met Isabela and saw her art. Then I actually played the game and she was my favourite character in the whole game by far. (And I love them all.) This is one of the few characters where the sexualisation works and adds to the character. It just makes sense. You can either judge her from the start and not give her a chance, or put a bit of effort in her and it’s so damn rewarding. This is how you can sometimes do it right. Yes, there was a lot of cleavage. Yes, there were no pants. But you know what? Isabela needs no stinking pants because she’s just that damn awesome.

          It makes me sad how easily players diss on her when she’s just such a rich character, but most don’t seem to bother to look a bit deeper. It’s a shame.

          ETA: Failed to respond in the right place, sorry.

      • Bhazor says:

        It was definitely a change. Unfortunately it was a change from a lame story into a crap story. Avoiding lame cliches and then writing a crap story isn’t an improvement.

    • Xzi says:

      Please, no. Please say you guys are trolling. If you’re legitimately defending DA2, on a PC GAMING SITE none the less, then there truly is no god. It was complete garbage by every measurable standard. If you compare it side by side with DA:O, it looks even worse. There are zero redeeming qualities with DA2 that weren’t present and present in a better state in previous Bioware titles. NONE.

      Even EA realized how bad DA2 was when they started trying to force free copies of it on people with other purchases only a couple months after its release.

      • Tendentieus says:

        Let me then offer you some salt to rub into your wounds, for I did like DA2’s set-up. One place, evolving over time with you in it, building up a new live and that kind of stuff. Made it feel more personal and natural. Combat was fine, more streamlined then the original which I personally favour.

        May Bioware burn for copy-pasting dungeons and the limited character inventory! The game was by no way great. It had its good and bad things which leave it with an overall average-rating.

        • Nick says:

          The combat was terrible and the place barely changed throughout the years.

        • Bhazor says:

          The combat was terrible, there was no strategy because enemies would just spawn out of the ether. No point scouting, no point planning ambushes, no point trying to outflank them because enemies would just appear behind you.

          DA:O wasn’t any great shakes either in this regard, but it was still better than that.

          I will say that the character levelling was greatly improved in DA2. But that’s only because the character levelling in DA:O was absolute rubbish.

          • Lorgath says:

            Amen to that, I tried to play DA:O again fairly recently as a fighter, but stopped fairly quickly as the character progression was completely mind numbing. Anything other than mage was completely uninteresting to me, but of course that might just be my play style. Shame really, because the Origin story of the Dwarf Noble I’d gone for was great. Got to be a right aristocratic bastard.

            Which leads to a good point – why the hell did they decide to get rid of the best part of DA:O in favour of giving you a dull generic person with paint on their nose? Less effort?

        • S Jay says:

          Combat was terrible and the story was supposed to be personal (building a life) but it was so shallow that I didn’t care. I remember there was some person (mother?) who dies in the very beginning and I am just thinking “why should I care about this character that I has zero meaningful interactions?”

          (I just needed to add to the chorus)

        • rapier17 says:

          But the place -didn’t- evolve with you, the city was utterly bland. The streets of that ‘packed’, ‘overcrowded’ city full of refugees were…empty! In the market place there’d be the vendors and 2D sprites at the edges. At no point at all did the city feel inhabited, it was just buildings – there was no life or soul to the city. As for it evolving… the area by the coast with all the paths going over the hills/cliffs etc. I romped my way through that area in Part 1. When I went back in Part 3 I found the body of an opponent I’d killed in Part 1 that took place several years earlier! That’s not it evolving, that’s just sticking ‘X years have passed, honest!’ on it. The entire game was an utter appalling mess of dire story telling & poor decisions. I loved DA:O greatly, it was a fantastic experience but DA2? Awful for me, absolutely awful. Plus, playing it with a Mage character, it was surprising to see Templars standing around bored whilst I cast spell after spell and they didn’t react.

          • alphyna says:

            Okay, I can absolutely live with people bashing the characters and the story, but the city I must defend.

            It’s great. The architecture is stylish (I really like all those V-shaped thingies). But most importantly, it’s not a defaulf fantasy city with rock castles, wooden houses etc. It’s a rather modern (though old-ish) European city, big and grey. It has this small echo which hints at an enclosed space. And to me, the lack of NPCs on the streets was a good thing. It gives this intriguing atmosphere of a rather prosperous but barely inhabited place. A great state in decline. Which is exactly what the game is about.

        • Inarborat says:

          But the city was BORING. If you’re going to set your game in one city, it is absolutely crucial to make it an interesting place and Bioware failed miserably in that aspect. Awful, dreadful game.

          In regards to it not being a “save the world” story, it basically is. They just replaced the world with a city.

      • Grapeykins says:

        Well, I guess you’ll just have to deal with it. I genuinely believe DA2 is a flawed but underrated gem. And infinitely more enjoyable than the bloated, cliché-ridden, occasionally inspired mess that is DAO.

    • Haysoos says:

      Ugh. DA2 was one of the most bland, souless games i’ve ever played. It’s characters were bad (Fenris still tops my list of “Worst written AND most annoying characters of all time”), it’s story was all over the place, it’s combat was woeful and it has barely any choices, and even fewer consequences.

      The game is just bad. So bad.

    • The_Great_Skratsby says:

      The irony is there was no disempowerment in that game. Your character is still the end-all be all of the game, party leader and city-wide slayer, who the entire plot of the game revolves around.

      A whole lot of interesting ideas and some terrible direction and writing coupled with a rushed deadline. I didn’t hate DA2 but it’s a good example of ‘everything not to do’ when developing a story focused RPG.

      • alphyna says:

        A leader and a slayer who achieves… what, exactly? Some fame and a house. Wow.

        In the end, there’s little he can change. He can kill the boss, and… what, exactly? The war has started, people are dead. Yay.

        Many call that C&C done badly. I call it trope subversion.

    • broomhilda says:

      Oh gosh, I don’t think I could disagree with you more on this one. DA:O’s cast had good characters and bad ones, but I found every single one of the DAII party members absolutely insufferable. Merrill and Anders were the worst offenders – one is so chronically stupid and twee that in any just world she’d have choked to death on her own spit years ago, and the other is seemingly determined to surpass Edward Cullen in the field of overwrought “Don’t love me, I’ll hurt you!” broodiness. The lack of player agency also means that Hawke basically follows all of these idiots around and watches them ruin their own lives, completely incapable of stopping them or convincing them to listen to his/her advice. I was 100% on board with the Arishok’s plan to torch the whole city because I hated all of my stupid friends so much.

      I’m curious how you think Isabela and Aveline’s dialogue is an example of good writing? I remember it mostly being Aveline calling Isabela a whore and Isabela making obnoxious innuendos like she does for a good 50% of her dialogue.

  2. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Meh. Bioware lost me at Dragon Age and all their dlc shenanigans/online verification. I suppose I could try and get over that when Dragon Age 3 comes out, but for now, at least I’ve given up on them.

  3. BTAxis says:

    I… I think I’ve lost track of which game is which.

    • S Jay says:

      Dragon Age Origins is the one with the witch. The Witcher is the one where witches are not that present. And in both of them, when witches appear, they can usually be romanced to awkward sex scene achievement.

      • Lorgath says:

        At least in the first Witcher they give you handy trading cards to remind you who you’re sleeping with at the moment!

  4. Talon2000uk says:

    I’m sorry Bioware but I’m waiting for The Witcher 3 thanks. As much as I loved Patrick Weekes’s writing in ME3 the direction the company has taken in the last ten years has made me incredibly wary of their products.

    I was burned with DA2 and was toasted to a crisp with ME3, I think I will give DA3 a wide berth.

    • Pich says:

      Yeah, same.

    • mouton says:

      “I’m sorry Bioware but I’m waiting for The Witcher 3 thanks.”

      While it is everyone’s right to like or dislike Bioware’s games, a lot of people in the comments make it seem there is one slot for RPGs and they have to choose. Ridiculous, if you ask me.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        For many people, that’s actually the case. Both The Witcher series and the Dragon Age series are known for being expansive, deep games which can devour dozens of hours. Many people just don’t have the time to play through two such enormous games, so it’s important for them to decide which one they’ll play first and which one they won’t play at all or will play much later.

        In this day and age, the most valuable currency to gamers isn’t money, it’s time.

      • Fataleer says:

        Hehe, Ridiculous I say!

        I deeply enjoyed DA:O. It had multiple backgrounds (which put nice twist on story, these different social perspectives), nicely written books, and great gameplay — pseudo-isometric and pause, with full control over party. It was very new for me (graphics, free floating camera, very social-based story), but gameplay-wise very familiar (RPGs with party and isometric cam, right?)
        Then came DAII and boy. I could not stand it. But I poured 5hrs into that and with complete lack of caring about it a passed it on to someone willing to pay.

        And then I discovered Witcher. DA seems childlike compared to Witcher. Dialogues for one, DA is very child-like good-neutral-disintrested-bad, whereas in Witcher is more of bad-worse-dont care-bad or worse? Also all the writing etc etc.

        Witcher 1 is awesome thing to compare with DA:O. Both on same engine, DA:O more polished visually, Witcher more polished gameplay-wise. I abso-fucking-lutely love potion cooking mechanic. (I know it is not new, I just love how Witcher executes it.)

        So yeah, with Witcher, last remains of interest in DA died. Who say they wil not return in 5 years time? …. I do!

        • mouton says:

          To each their own, I suppose. Both games are quite flawed, but I prefer DAO to Witcher, overall. Maybe because I played the latter in Polish, but half of the characters I didn’t care about while the rest I couldn’t stand.

  5. Pich says:

    New influence on dialogue: microtransaction! pay only 0.99 to force your opinion!

  6. mike2R says:

    Reply fail

  7. Hidden_7 says:

    People can have all sorts of opinions about all sorts of things. An opinion for every occasion! But the way they choose to express those opinions can also be problematic, and called out as such. That old “freedom of speech != freedom from criticism” chestnut.

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      Indeed. And if people use offensive language or display insulting attitudes, they can express themselves elsewhere. Zero tolerance on that sort of thing. Sorry for those who had replies deleted but best to get rid of the entire thread. Email me if I miss anything. I’m here all week.

      • Zelos says:

        Really though, what’s the thought process behind this? Suppressing any dissenting opinion is never a good thing.

        • Pich says:

          Welcome to the wonderful world of hugboxes.

        • tellrov says:

          Your rights end where my feelings begin.

        • zachforrest says:

          what about at a child’s birthday party?

          I would happily silence a pass the parcel dissenter.

          And that’s how you must view RPS.

          And yes, John Walker is the birthday boy, every day, forever.

          • realitysconcierge says:

            I wonder what his wish would be? :D
            This is supposed to be a reply to zachforrest, but the system just won’t let me reply to him :/

          • lowprices says:

            He would wish for either an end to mysogyny, or a proper Longest Journey 2. Probably the second.

            EDIT: Hmm, that was meant to be a reply. Has the reply function broken?

          • Talon2000uk says:

            Yep. :D

        • Nick says:

          There is plenty of dissenting opinion that isn’t expressed in a twattish manner that is fine. This isn’t a country its a PC Games blog, get some perspective.

      • bill says:

        Now I want to know what happened… :-(

        [edit] Don’t reply to adam’s post or you end up in bottom-of-the-thread comment limbo!

  8. InternetBatman says:

    They’ll have a long way to go to regain trust. I haven’t really heard them say anything outright that addresses their systematic problem: plot overrides the player. They might be taking strides though.

    • Zelos says:

      I’m confused. I thought bioware’s issue was poor writing and boring, oversimplified gameplay.

      • lizzardborn says:

        Not mutually exclusive. With ME series we got dungeon crawling without the fun, class based system that was just a coat of paint over spunkgargleweewee of the more generic kind. A universe with amazing potential without the option to explore at all. We got choice based system without the choices.

        And with DAO we got tactical RPG without tactical camera.

        Bioware have been the frontrunners of pushing production values higher without adding anything meaningful to a game.

      • InternetBatman says:

        It’s the same. In DA2 and ME3 the plot was criticized because it didn’t respond to players. The gameplay keeps getting simplified so people can see the plot. The supremacy of plot writers are hurting the other aspects of the game.

        • Bhazor says:

          No the mediocrity of the writers is what ruins their games.

          • gwathdring says:

            I tend to really like their character implementations and the voice casts they hire. That said, they don’t tend to make especially interesting decisions WITH those characters and their characters tend not to be especially well developed for all that they are, in my opinion, well implemented.

            The individual beats of their stories and characters tend to work perfectly well leaning towards, again, the well-implemented cliche rather than the well-designed novelty. But those beats conflict with each other and stumble around trying to figure out where to cram the game that’s supposed to be happening in. I don’t think the plot gets too much focus. I don’t think that’s the problem. I think the plot is just bad and it doesn’t give the mechanical design a proper structure to build on. There are levels even in clunky old Mass Effect 1 and ancient Neverwinter Nights that play gorgeously. The pacing and balance is exceptional, challenging, interesting. There are moments where the line-writting and scene-setting captures that same feeling, too. There are even moments where both come together.

            But then you meet the Reapers. Or the Rachnai. Then someone tries to EXPLAIN something to you. Then someone you were just casually chatting with tries to jump down your pants in a way that doesn’t feel right at all even though there are real people and good characters who could get away with doing that without it seeming forced or ham-handed. Then you turn in collectibles to help a continent-wide war effort. Then you come back from the dead because they couldn’t find a way to make three games in a row with a branching choice system without things getting completely out of control. And so on.

            In sum, I think they come up with mind-numbingly stupid plots and lean heavily on a sampler-platter ethos when drafting their characters and stories, but tend to tell those stories well and have skilled content writers working on the details threading together their rather horrendous mish-mash which ends up creating something that, in the context of a video game (a format that tends to generate momentum in spades) feels like it’s pulling you along really well until you stop and think for a moment, hit a mechanical bump in the road, or reach one of their critical-mass-of-stupid plot points.

            Their games are well produced and tend to do very little that is mechanically clever, but also tend not to screw up the mechanics too badly if at all. Where they really screw up the play of their games is in deciding WHAT you’re doing. Who you’re shooting, why you’re shooting. The context of the mechanics is where their game becomes most lackluster.

            But even with these criticisms, I want to add some external context. I enjoyed Mass Effect 1. I enjoyed NWN. I enjoyed Dragon Age: Origins. I enjoyed KOTOR. I think their games work. But they have top-of-the-line production capacity being poured into games that don’t feel top-of-the-line. And that’s definitely a problem.

  9. lizzardborn says:

    So they will reinvent the party/choise systems from the great bioware/black isle classics? That is good I suppose.

    I have a feeling that bioware believed in their own “they can do no wrong” legend but maybe we see some form of “bring down to earth and just ship excellent game” attitude of the team. Lets hope so. I am so tired of having to play party tamagochi with some game as an afterthought attached to it.

  10. PsychoWedge says:

    I hope they don’t take it in the direction of SW ToR. The dialogs they got there were the weirdest thing. In 75% of them the NPC said something, you got the choices in the wheel and then your character said something which didn’t make ANY sense without the short little sentence in the wheel added. So you had basically two people talking and only through the game interface did their talking become a normal dialog. It was really bizarre…

    • calendar_man says:

      Definitely agree with this. I completed 2 class missions and some of 3 others and the dialogue often feels “off” like its being passed through a filter and sorted before being slowly extruded from the other end. It almost never gives off the feeling of being a decent approximation of an actual conversation.

    • BooleanBob says:

      [Wait, so that isn’t how conversations normally work for you?] The world you inhabit must be an unsettling place.

  11. Continuity says:

    Ugh, I can’t get up enough enthusiasm to care. Bioware haven’t made a passable RPG imo since KOTOR and I don’t expect them to miraculously turn it around now.

    • Talon2000uk says:

      Hey, I’m the first to hate on what Bioware has become but I can’t agree with that both DOA and ME were awesome fun RPGs with real character and good story telling. It was only in DA2 and ME3 that the EA rot began to set in for me.

      That being said even ME3 had some great writing up until the last god awful, mind numbing, bollock gnawing, brain shredding, Spacemagicpaloza ten minutes. That was where Bioware murdered my inner child. Not that I’m biter or anything. :D

      • S Jay says:

        Fair point.

      • soulblur says:

        ME3 was a pretty good game. Not as good as ME2, but certainly not bad. Yeah, the original ending was a bit shite and nonsensical (and the revised version was more satisfying but still not particularly sensible). I would say that, credit due to them, Bioware makes at least pretty good RPGs most of the time. It’s just very hard to make a very good RPG these days, especially if you’re going to voice all of the dialogue.

        Am I alone in loving DA: Awakenings? It was fantastic. I’d thought that DA2 was going to be more like it (and kept expecting that, against hope, until the end scene of the game). Even DA2 had some good stuff going on, although the environments (all 3 of them) were not one of those. A lot of potential which failed to be fulfilled, and a fair amount of taking agency away from the player (in at least the Merrill and Anders storylines), which was incredibly irritating. So much so that immediately after playing it, I uninstalled it and haven’t looked back. In contrast to DA:O, which I probably played through 3 times.

        • Jimbo says:

          Awakening was better than Origins OC or DA2.

          • Talon2000uk says:

            Yeah I loved Awakenings. My character really felt like a Warden trying to rebuild the Order from the ashes of the first game. Such a shame they junked all that for the sequel and gave me Hawk Layer. :(

          • Lorgath says:

            What made Awakenings so good? I’ve never got round to playing it, and the prospect of having to go all the way through DA:O again puts me off at the moment (I know you can make a character for it, but it wouldn’t be the same).

          • gwathdring says:

            Really? I got tired most of the way through Awakenings. I thought it was fun and cool and flavorful, but I didn’t get this wonderful sense of a Warden rebuilding. I did like the noble audiences thing, and the advisors, but I don’t think it was BETTER than DA:O exactly. It had plenty of missed beats and boring bits, but it was overall shorter which obviously helped.

            The lowered stakes were nice, I’ll give Awakenings that. The characters were nice and well acted. But the overall feel was so similar to me that after all the time and character building I’d put into DA:O, I just didn’t have the stamina to make it all the way through awakenings especially since I could feel the ending coming and decided to finish off a bunch of side-quests. This one side-quest bugged out on me and can’t be finished and I troubleshooted that for a while in game and out of game and by time I gave up I’d killed what little momentum I had left. Now, a lot of that is my fault, and had that not happened I would have stuck through to the end. But I can’t say I ever felt dramatically more captivated by the best beats of Awakenings than by the best beats of Origins. That said, the best bits of both were REALLY good. There was a lot more space for blandness in Origins, though. It was just such a massive game.

        • FriendlyFire says:

          I’ll say it once more: Bioware are great at world building and character writing, but they absolutely suck at plot making. Why do we care about DAO? Morrigan, Shale, even Zevran, Leliana or Alistair. Why do we care about ME? Garrus, Liara, Tali, Mordin, Thane, Legion, Joker, EDI, Chakwas, Wrex and so on.

          Bioware are really, really good at making a cast of characters you care about and constructing fun interactions with them. They’re really bad at making an overall plot that ties it all together.

          • gwathdring says:

            Agreed. I’d add that they’re also bad at integrating mechanical systems into their narrative framework. It’s a very similar problem to the good writing bad plotting issue. They make nice mechanical packages … but see, the reloading and ammo thing? Those are *heat sinks.*

            We’re going to start a new game, so surely the character should begin as a mechanical blank slate! Ooh … that won’t make sense though … so let’s kill the character and bring them back to life as a blank slate!

            And so forth. They are afraid to let mechanics just BE because they are fun and they’re also unwilling or unable to properly integrate the mechanics with their narrative focus (see Paragon/Renegade). The result is kind of a mess, but usually still worth the time just not full price.

  12. realitysconcierge says:

    I wonder if this game will be impacted by the EA rule that every game they publish must have multiplayer, as well as if they’ll have micro-transactions. I just hope that it doesn’t have any crazy DRM.
    I think the lack of information about this game is an interesting change of pace compared to the amount of transparency we see these days for developing games.

    • Talon2000uk says:

      Crazy DRM you say. Let me introduce to Oh the horror! :D

      • TormDK says:

        or . ’nuff said.

        • Talon2000uk says:

          In theory your right. But as steam came first, works better for me and has some amazing deals I can tolerate it. Origin on the other hand, not so much. :D

        • TsunamiWombat says:

          Dissing Steam on the eve of the Summer sale. Hohoh.

      • realitysconcierge says:

        *recoils in TERROR*

  13. Laurentius says:

    For me making or breaking this game will be combat. Not a style or anything but just sheer number of it.
    DOA has too much combat ( Deep Roads, argh i’m not playing this game ever again), i didn’t bother with DAII just after demo and it’s ludicrous number of fighting just at the very start of the game, ME3 has way too much combat. So if this game will have waves after waves of enemies at every stroll and my character ends up being mass murderer then I pass.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      I admit that I am getting combat fatigue in most games and it seems to me that RPGs are the ideal forum to focus on other things. Personally I would like to see waaaay less combat and have that combat then take on far more significance.

      I’d like to be able to measure the body count in tens or less rather than thousands

      • Nick says:

        Having that as a option would be nice, but interesting and challenging encouter design isn’t a bad thing in RPGs, its just they seem to use filler generic npc groups more often than not.

        • gwathdring says:

          I’m ok with large-scale combat and the mow-down-hundreds-of-bads thing. I suspended that disbelief ages ago. But if you’re going to do that AND ask me to take your narrative seriously AND want me to enjoy your game as both a mechanical and narrative intrigue … you have to do better than Bioware at integrating the combat and the narrative.

          I remember being utterly perplexed when I fought Geth on side-missions in Post-End-Game play of Mass Effect 2 *just after* the whole to-do on the Geth hive ship with Legion’s help. I had been under the impression that we made some sort of (unethical) impact on Geth society and behavior but not a single thing changed about my encounters with the Geth.

          Bioware’s biggest mistake is having story decisions primarily affect STORY. My story decisions might change WHO I’m fighting or WHERE I’m fighting. And they often change WHETHER I’m fighting. But I rarely feel like HOW I’m fighting–or more broadly how I’m playing–changes based on story decisions and I NEVER feel like the story changes based on my mechanical decisions. The play never changes the story even when they story succeeds in convincingly changing play. The failure to create this back and forth utterly sinks Bioware’s idea of meaningful choices in a game for me and I end up feeling only moderately less led-by-the-nose than in a game with a more linear plot.

  14. Aydrian says:

    You know what, and watch out because this is a crazy idea, I’m going to get both The Witcher 3 and Dragon Age Inquisition! Boom! Whoa! There goes your mind am I right?

    And here’s an even crazier idea! I’m probably going to enjoy both of them! I know you’re thinking “How does anyone have the ability to enjoy more than one game from the same genre at the same time?” but I have serious skills developed over years of being an actual gamer with the mental capacity to not compare games as long as they’re both fun.

    But seriously, I don’t see why people are saying they’ll get The Witcher 3 over this one. Besides being on a budget, which I can certainly understand, there is not any logical reason to not purchase and enjoy both games. I know, people don’t seem to think that’s possible these days, but give it a try.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      I’d guess it is Bioware fatigue that causes these reactions more than anything else.

      • Aydrian says:

        Unfortunately, Bioware or pretty much anything about EA is the low hanging fruit. It takes absolutely no intelligent thought to complain about them, and the result is usually a thousand people responding favorably to all of the hate. It goes pretty much like this.

        Random Person: Hurhur, they’re going to start charging you for every conversation you have now.
        Vocal Haters: Yeah! Death to all DLC!!

        Random Person: Dragon Age 2 was worse than Dragon Age Origins and the Mass Effect 3 endings ruined the entire franchise. All their future games are now going to be terrible!
        Vocal Haters: Yeah! EA has ruined Bioware!

        Random Person: The Witcher 3 is going to be a lot better!
        Vocal Haters: Yeah! You should only buy one RPG and shun the other!

        Random Person: I actually think they’re trying to make up for their mistakes and are putting a lot more effort into Dragon Age Inquisition.
        Vocal Haters: Tch! GTFO fanboy!

        • dE says:

          Ah the good old RPS technique of picking up an isolated opinion, assume everyone agrees and then duck off and fire off a passive aggressive broadside from some unrelated position.

      • Bhazor says:

        Alot of people hate Bioware because they are big budget mediocrity that still get rave reviews and sell millions. Their gameplay, their writing, their art design and their technology is all completely mediocre. Yet whenever they release a game it gets rave reviews.

        Bioware is the perfect EA company, everything they make is “fine… I guess”.

        • Aydrian says:

          I always saw Bioware games as more of a character story. I actually cared about the characters in the Mass Effect and Dragon Age games. I didn’t want any of them to die, and I worked harder in Mass Effect 3 to save as many of my “friends” as possible. In The Witcher games I got attached to maybe three characters in all.

          When I inquire about character backgrounds and their lives they tell me about different cultures and customs and gradually give me information that makes me feel closer to the characters. In The Witcher games, it seems like every other character I meet is either a rapist, a sociopath, a mass murderer, or a backstabber. Sometimes all of the above! I want to kill 90% of the characters in The Witcher games because the world would likely be a lot better off without them.

          The story for the Dragon Age and Mass Effect games aren’t exactly complex, but it far excels The Witcher games in enjoyable, interesting characters that I don’t want to stab whenever they say something.

          • Bhazor says:

            Meaningless character dialog is about the one thing Bioware can do with any real skill. Complex nuanced dialog? Not so much.

            I’d argue the only reason people like their characters is because they are so inoffensive. Its a cast of little else but comic relief who queue up to give you a pat on the back or a hand in your pants or a one liner for anything you do. In contrast I *hated* some characters in Kotor 2, Alpha Protocol and The Witcher 2, not because they were annoying but because they were assholes. They were antagonists working against me, they were manipulative assholes who I wanted to fight and unfortunately they were often on my side.

            When Bioware tries to do emotional depth it’s far funnier than their attempts at humour. Which is unfortunate given how many of their character’s are comic relief.

            Anachranox is far better written than anything Bioware has been anywhere near.

          • Don Reba says:

            The Witcher games, it seems like every other character I meet is either a rapist, a sociopath, a mass murderer, or a backstabber.

            I really take issue with sociopaths being included in the list. Might as well have written: every other character I meet is either a rapist, a Jew, a mass murderer, or a backstabber.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            “The Witcher games, it seems like every other character I meet is either a rapist, a sociopath, a mass murderer, or a backstabber.”

            What does it seem like you are seeing when you look at this ink blot?

          • kud13 says:

            let me guess: you haven’t read the Witcher books, have you?

    • Talon2000uk says:

      There are a lot of reasons why I would buy something from CD Project Read over Bioware:

      Why I will by Witcher 3

      1) Support for a Developer who champions the PC.
      2) Support for a Developer who puts there players above profit.
      3) Support for a Developer who gives real freedom of choice in their RPG
      4) Support for a Developer who have constantly improved there products after each release.
      5) There games are fricking awesome. :D

      Why I wont by Dragon Age 3

      All of the above except the opposite. :D

      • Aydrian says:

        1) Exclusivity should never be encouraged. One of the few reasons why I like EA is because they try to release their games on as many platforms as possible. I’m a PC gamer myself, so I do enjoy that they’re one of the few developers who doesn’t screw over the PC community, but Bioware hasn’t done that either.

        2) CD Projekt is in a very comfortable position right now. Basically, all they need to do is keep up with all of the stuff that gamers say they hate then make a public announcement saying they won’t do those things. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not. Is it pandering? Yep! But mark my words, when they make a mistake, and trust me they will it’s inevitable, people are going to turn on them just as quickly as they did Bioware.

        3) The Dragon Age games had far more freedom of choice than either of The Witcher games, and the save transfer system was much more detailed. There are things you did in Mass Effect 1 that had consequences in all three games. The main different when you transfer a The Witcher save over to the sequel? Minor at best.

        4) I won’t argue with that, but lets make something clear: They’ve released two games. You’re being just as premature about The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk being awesome as you are about Dragon Age 3 being bad.

        5) The Witcher 1 was an average RPG that people mistakenly labeled as hardcore because it was a difficult game. Difficulty does not make an RPG hardcore. The Witcher had A LOT of annoying aspects that people strangely choose to overlook all the time. The sequel improved upon the original in every conceivable way. The Witcher was okay, The Witcher 2 was freaking awesome. Don’t jump the gun just yet.

        • Grapeykins says:

          This human understands. I like you. And I do find it rather suspect how uncritical people are of CDPR. Remember how, for a time, they would send letters demanding money from suspected pirates of the second Witcher game? Sure, they ultimately decided against pursuing that course of action, but the fact remains they felt perfectly comfortable about doing it before the fanbase got wind of the practice.

          • engion3 says:

            Yes, I bring this up in every Witcher article and no one seems to remember.

          • aryman says:

   you think, that “no DRM” policy means: “please don’t buy our game, download it from torrents”?
            2. did you hear about any false accusation from CDP Red?

        • aepervius says:

          I don’t necessary disagree with your other point, but this one strike me as odd :

          “1) Exclusivity should never be encouraged. One of the few reasons why I like EA is because they try to release their games on as many platforms as possible. I’m a PC gamer myself, so I do enjoy that they’re one of the few developers who doesn’t screw over the PC community, but Bioware hasn’t done that either.”

          You call that exclusivity, I call that specialization. When you go for all platform, you go for the *common* lowest denominator. And then you are forced into a specific UI/control scheme, level design, graphics and so forth. All sort of compromise you would not necessary had to do if you stick to a single platform.

        • Talon2000uk says:

          My Rebuttal Sir.

          1) I agree completely that exclusivity is a bad thing for gamers, I can’t tell you how much it chafes that I can’t play PS3 and Xbox exclusive on my preferred platform of choice. Hell I bought an Xbox 360 just to play ME1 when it was an exclusive and didn’t regret the purchase. That being said I think there is a difference between exclusivity and championing the PC as a platform and that is what CDP do. While you can’t buy the original Witcher on Xbox, the project was cancelled to make way for The Witcher 2, where CDP stand out for me is they don’t just push out bad ports they use each platform for its strengths.

          2) Agreed however I’m more hopeful than yourself that this situation will continue. With the next gen of consoles basically being PCs with controllers, I see the gap between our chosen platform and consoles narrowing all the time. Not saying CDP can’t screw up but I’m hopeful they wont.

          3) Hmm not sure I agree with you there. There are whole sections of The Witcher 2 that are different depending on your choises. I loved DAO for its choices, but when I played DA2 nothing I saw in game reflected anything I had done in the first game. ME has more in the way of choice that carries over I agree, but as all those choices came down to Red, Green or Blue in the end I think that kind of negates them. :D It will be interesting to see if anything carries over into The Witcher 3.

          4) Thing is I can only go on past experience, Yes CDP only have 2 games under their belt and Bioware have a lot more. But Bioware’s last two games have for me been sub par and CDP’s last two game have been great. Maybe The Witcher 3 will suck, it is their first foray into open world, but judging by the improvements between 1 and 2, I hope 3 will continue the tradition and be amazing. Certainly everything I have seen so far suggests it will be, but as ever I will not pre-order and will wait for the reviews.

          5) That was exactly my point, every game they make is better than the last one and each one they make they improver after release. No gun jumping here. I just don’t have any faith in Bioware under EA. I do still have faith in CDP and for that reason and the others mentioned I’m more excited for their new game than for Bioware’s.

        • Inarborat says:

          1) Totally agreed! But, when you get absolutely minimal effort ports like what Bioware has done with both Dragon Age 2, Mass Effect 2 and 3, you have to appreciate a studio like CDPR that puts forth the effort on all platforms. And I might add with a much smaller budget than an EA game. I mean, even small indie devs are able to add native 360 controller support for their games yet Bioware can’t? Ridiculous. I also am not a fan of completely crucial lore being held from games as Day 1 DLC. From Ashes was a crock of shit that Bioware somehow didn’t receive much deserved flack from the the press (big surprise).

          2) Is it pandering if that’s how the company actually feels and conducts their business? I’d say starting their own DRM free gaming service is proof their beliefs are more than mere pandering.

          3) I’m guessing you didn’t play or even notice the choices in either Witcher game? The consequences of your choices in the Witcher games have far, far more impact than any Bioware game ever. In both Dragon Age and Mass Effect the choices and consequences are minor at best and, choices be damned, Bioware thought so highly of their writing they completely override all previous choices. The save game transfer from DA I to DA II was completely comedy when it overrides your choices because that’s the story they want to tell. I beheaded Leliana yet she shows up in DA II??? WTF. So much for emotionally engaging, your choices matter gameplay and narrative.

          4) Fully agree! Gotta play a game before judging it. I’m extremely wary of any Bioware game going forward after how awful their run of DA II / SWTOR / ME 3 has been. Three strikes and you’re out, Bioware. I’d expect the same from someone who didn’t like either Witcher game.

          5) Agreed! But, I think you’re leaving out how much criticism the combat in The Witcher 1 received.

          About the illegally downloading letter thing….I seem to remember a huge backlash to which CDPR listened and ceased those actions. Backlash well deserved and the proceeding fanbase forgiveness as well.

      • S Jay says:

        Grammar nazi, anyone?

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        The Witcher games and Dragon Age: Origins were made for me. Dragon Age 2 was not made for me. I don’t suspect the next DA will be made for me. The next Witcher will. That’s all I need to know. No criticism about Dragon Age, it’s just made for someone else.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      I’m buying The Witcher 3 because CDP is a company that understands its user base. They release free DLC, they’re constantly updating and fixing their games, they release DRM-free versions of their products, and they have a better idea of the direction the entire industry should be going ATM. Outside of their botched “sue everyone” attempt at combating piracy, they are a top-notch company.

      EA, on the other hand, consistently screw their customers over. They charge too much money for underwhelming DLC, they can’t be bothered to patch the most basic issues with their games, their experiments with DRM keep getting more and more restrictive, and they treat their user base like idiots and criminals.

      Besides, I thoroughly enjoyed both Witcher games. All the Dragon Age games just fucking suck.

  15. Logeres says:

    A joke about Plato’s Theory of Forms in a DA article? You deserve a cookie, Nathan.

  16. Metalhead9806 says:

    My issue with Dragon Age II was the lack of a tactical feel to the combat… they decided against that nice Baldur’s gate type combat seen in DAO and went with some God of war like system that was ultimately shallow and less satisfying in my opinion.

    Have they announced a return to the old combat system? If not this game is still a pass for me.

    • S Jay says:

      Yeah, there was “gamepad-friendly” written all over it. DAO combat is so much better.

  17. aepervius says:

    “Apparently, the game’s main goal is to feel like “our” story, primarily through decisions that matter a lot more than those of Dragon Age II.”

    the simple fact they are *still* comparing to DA2, as opposed to arching back to DA:O, shows that I am not in the targeted market segment.

    My wild guess : it will be more DA2 than DA:O and more for the “dude bro” action gamer than for the RPG player.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Unless they mention DA2 because it was not as well-received among their usual playerbase as DA:O was. In which case it’s more of a ‘Okay, we get the message, we will do better next time’ thing. I’m sceptical of what the resulting game will be, but it could be they’re trying to change tack.

  18. Lambchops says:

    I’ll probably end up waiting for a review before playing to get a sense of whether they fixed DAII’s most egregious problems (copy paste dungeons, countless wave of enemies removing any sense of tactics, having some great ideas on how to present their story and how it was to develop only to throw it away on a “this guy went all evil for no reason why don’t you battle the nasty monster” cliched nonsense).

    I enjoyed both of the DA games. Weirdly despite being overlong (hello Deep Roads) t only felt compelled to replay Origins, simply because the Origin system led to a different experience second time around (DA II offered no compelling reason to put up with its flaws a second time).

  19. Frenetic Pony says:

    So there big idea to advance dialogue in a series that started out with a far more complex view of the world than just good and evil… is to make the good and evil dialogue choices more interesting?

    What an utter failure of ambition and imagination.

  20. Viroso says:

    Remove the big choice moments, is how I think they can improve things. That sounds dumb, I know. But the problem with these moments is that you’re not choosing to choose. I know that sounds even dumber.

    What I mean is, let the player decide when to choose, let the player crate their own big choice moments, just let it feel natural instead of feeling like a straight road with an occasional forked path.

  21. Screamer says:

    I hope they remove the “all characters can be romanced” BS. Just because I’m nice to a perfectly straight dude, he all of a sudden wants to dry hump me with his cloths on????

    • dE says:

      I don’t much mind the option being there, but what really pissed me off was the huge loyalty penalty for rejecting these offers. This could have been made less bad if Biowares vision of romance wasn’t that of a hormone supercharged teenager. Just because my character listened to someones problems, like you know good friends do, doesn’t mean they’d want to screw my character and fall in love.

      “Hello, I think you might be a nice person, maybe you can help me”
      “What? I’d like to buy a potion actually…”
      You have lost 30 Loyalty Points with random shop merchant. As a result, the prices were raised by 15%.
      “Uh, about that potion?”
      You have lost 20 Loyalty Points with random shop merchant. You will no longer be able to purchase goods here.

  22. oceanclub says:

    Am coincidentally playing DA2 right now after picking it up cheap in Origin sale. I recall the demo turned me off and the initial hour of the game with insta-waves of enemies turned me off again. I’m past that and now in the city and things are getting more interesting but it’s disappointing the enjoyable tactical combat of DA1 has been removed. Have no idea what Bioware were thinking there.


  23. aliksy says:

    I’d like to see them make an interesting and complex system for non-violent conflict resolution. Combat has all of these special moves, stats, combos, etc etc, but dialog is usually “pick from 3 options that are likely the same for everyone!”

    Of course, this is by EA/Bioware, so I probably won’t get it at all. Are they still avoiding Steam?

  24. fdisk says:

    Is Emily Haines playing Morrigan in this one? I’m OK with this!

  25. Eschatos says:

    Pretty much every RPG dev ever says something like this. I’ll believe it when I see it.

  26. Homu Homu says:

    I will just wait for Project Eternity instead, considering Bioware’s recent track record.

  27. Dariune says:

    Ah I see EAWares marketing department, the only adequate department, is once again doing their job admirably.

    However, I still stand by my opinion that it is very unlikely that we will see anything good come from Bioware … or EA.

  28. Ender7 says:

    Isn’t this the same thing they say about any new game that they make now. Oh, we listen to the fans and made changes. It’s totally different this time, we swear, just give us one more chance. Bah, I do not care, it will be another origin exclusive, so even if I was crazy enough to give eaware another shot, I do not buy any games unless its steam or gog release. However, Let me make a few predictions

    1, origin exclusive
    2, mandatory online multiplayer and social features that nobody wants or asked for, which is used as DRM and a way to advertise mincrotransactions/dlc.
    3, Day one DLC that is cut IMPORTANT content from the game you will need to know what the hell is going on (shadowbroker?, prometheans?)
    4, Everybody is bisexual. Nothing wrong with SOME characters being bi or gay, but everyone is just over the top lazy and breaks immersion.
    5. The game will be more movie than actual game to get the cinematic experience.
    6, They will AGAIN forget they are supposed to make an RPG and focus on action, action, action!
    7, Choices will not matter again. They might have some minor choices here and there, but the big stuff will be all roads lead to the same ending or the endings will be pretty much identical.
    8. Stupid three dialog choices that are good, snarky, and sorta bad. What you will say will be stupid one liners. (the price of voice acting) I miss the old RPG’s where we had actual many choices of dialog and actually had a lot to read/say.
    10, will get perfect scores from bribed gaming media sites no matter how bad it is.
    11, Can only be human

  29. rebochan says:

    Am I still stuck playing a stupid generic human because they thought a half-baked Commander Shepherd was a better way to follow up a game that made being able to play as one of many races and origins it’s chief selling point?



    One-two punch of DA:II and ME:3’s rotten ending crushed any love for Bioware out of me :P

  30. Inarborat says:

    I’ve heard this before “decisions that matter” and I seem to remember my decisions not mattering.

    I was willing to give DA III a shot, after reviews and gamer impressions of course, but once I learned the core theme is Mages vs. Templars..again…for a THIRD time? I’m out. They really need to purge their writing staff and their creative leads.