Eyes On: Dragon Age – Inquisition

Sometimes you realise it’s just a tricky situation for a developer. You want to show your game, but you’re a year away from finishing, and you’ve got a year’s worth of press to rustle yet. So what do you show? You pick between a few reveals, a lot of what people were expecting, and a healthy dose of ambiguity. And so it was for BioWare’s first reveal of in-game footage from RPG epic Dragon Age: Inquisition. Everything we learned is below.

There was something that went unsaid throughout the whole of the presentation. The name of a game that you’d imagine would be quite relevant. “Dragon Age II”. For some reason it didn’t come up. While BioWare have never openly acknowledged that it was an expansion pack stretched breakingly thin to be a disappointing sequel, there was no subtlety about Inquisition being presented as the sequel to Dragon Age: Origins. Set many years later, and casting you as a brand new character, they promised it would share some characters, but not many, and continue some stories, but not many. Instead the pitch here appeared to be one of a mostly wholly new tale to be told in the setting they spent ten years crafting.

We heard the buzz phrases. “Vast fantasy world” was said at least twice, while “The game we’ve been striving to make since we began the series” was thrown out near the start. But the odd thing was, it sounded as if they meant it, too. BioWare are bruised at the moment. Fan feedback has been, shall we say, eccentric of late, and the triple whammy of Dragon Age II, Mass Effect 3’s ending brouhaha, and the relative disappointment of The Old Republic’s performance, can’t have done good things for morale. But there’s something important about Dragon Age. It was a game that marked a moment for the company, a final step away from licensed IPs after Mass Effect cleared the scifi decks, from a time when decisions had to be run past the likes of the scary coastal wizards, or human neckbeard George Lucus. They were entirely within their own creative freedom. It now feels like an important flag, and they’re waving it once again.

Tales of Grey Wardens and blights are in history now, with the world facing a new threat – a Fade Rift. The Fade is the magical realm that exists alongside our own, filled with horrors and abominations. It is the place with which mages are most in touch, and hence why mages are so feared and vilified in the world. And now it’s torn open, and all manner of beasties are pouring in. And that’s trouble.

However, rather oddly, little seems to be being done about it. Each clan of people, each enclaved race, seems extraordinarily wrapped up in their own disasters, and none is able to tackle the Fade troubles as well. And BioWare were keen for us to know that this just seems a little bit too convenient. So you, whomever you might decide to be (and this time out that can be Human, Elf, Dwarf or new to Inquisition, Qunari), are heading up a new Inquisition, to Get. Shit. Done.

This doesn’t mean, I was promised by producer Cameron Lee, that the game will be about solving the issues of each race and then having them join an army to fight the larger evil. That would have felt awfully familiar, but we’re assured that’s not what’s happening here. What is happening, of course, we have no idea. Because of that year-away thing I mentioned. So instead we’re asked to get excited about the sizes of things, and how the maps are going to be so big we’ll need horsies to get about. We weren’t shown horsies, however, so instead watched a chap jogging down a very pretty, very long grassy path, on his way from one moral dilemma to the next.

The section shown to us took place in Crestwood, within the familiar settings of Ferelden. This area, described as being “medium sized”, although later said to be a lot smaller than another “medium sized” area, takes about fifteen minutes to run across. And within the Frostbite 3 engine, certainly looked lovely. Well, lovely for the tail-end of the current console generation limiting a PC’s options kind of lovely, which is still very lovely. What we were shown was in fact playing on a PC, and indeed the game will be released for the next crop of consoles, but this very early alpha footage certainly wasn’t showing off anything that especially blew me away. Then again, we’re told that much is due to change. But then again again, we’re always told that. Still, lovely.

Crestwood was under multiple threats. A Fade Tear (tare, rather than teer) had opened up nearby, and needed dealing with. Meanwhile a bunch of baddies were sailing in by boat, and sieging the town. And a keep that’s strategically important to you was looking likely to get taken. A choice was presented, and the player was asked to decide between saving the keep, or the townspeople. BioWare – the scoundrels – chose the keep. On the way past we saw the awfulness taking place in Crestwood village, the people getting slaughtered, and a dwarf in our company – one Varric Tethras – was appealing to our humanity to change our minds. BioWare – the libertines – walked on. We were told that these decisions would have impacts not only on our relationships with companions, but also on the world as we progressed. It certainly seemed to have an impact on the citizens of Crestwood and their continued plans for breathing.

Keeps are rather important, as it happens. Whether they’re as important as an entire town of innocents is up to you, but they play a significant role in what precariously encroaches on strategic tactics. As you gain control of such places, you can choose what they’re for. You might set them up for military training, and give a real emphasis on that to how you play. Or you can set them up essentially as mines, rooting out sulphur, for alchemic mage business. Or they can rebuild stuff, like a shattered colossus apparently, which I’m told is good for morale. It seems that how you tailor these will affect the type of approach you take to the game, although the complexities of this don’t yet seem quite clear. And getting into one seemed to offer a range of choices too, with apparently multiple ways to approach your conquest, some depending upon the unique talents of your crew. And when one of your crew appears to be DA2’s Cassandra Pentaghast, those can be some pretty unique talents.

And yes, you can relax back in your seat. The combat has its vital strategic elements back too. I’ve waited a thousand words to tell you, just like BioWare waited about 30 minutes into their presentation before putting my mind at ease. The ridiculous choice to limit the paused combat and party commands from DA2 is history, and it’s all back as it should be here. But boy, did they push their luck with that. My notes about combat read, chronologically:

“Combat appears to be VERY generic, real-time.”

Then later,

“Can pause combat, but looks perfunctory.”

Until finally,

“Tactical mode back! Top-down if wanted.”

Phew. That earlier combat they showed was very ordinary third-person melee bashing, and had me properly worried. However, having seen a battle orchestrated by an overhead flying bird sergeant (it is my assumption that all overhead battle instructions are given by a bird with military training), I looked back on the bashing and was rather glad to have it as well.

You can play as any member of your team, which looks like it will contain up to four, and control their every actions down to the footstep, or leave them to use their common sense and attack as they see fit. Whether the full-on programmable AI tactics of DA1 will be in there we didn’t see, but I’d be surprised if they weren’t. As it was, what we were told would have been a lengthy and difficult fight in real-time was seen of swiftly by giving precise instructions to each team member, including sending Varric around the side to flank the enemy.

Throughout, what BioWare most wanted to tell us, but weren’t prepared to show us, was just how significant your impact on the world can be. “Tough, hard-hitting, with long-lasting consequences” they said. Packed with “dilemma” they said. “Complex choices” they added. “What kind of leader do you want to be?” they appealed. Trying to nail this down a bit more with Cameron Lee, it seems this means that they’re aiming to embellish on the studio’s biggest talent here: letting you vary the way you’re going to experience the story they were going to tell you either way. It’s just this time out, they’re suggesting those variations might be more significant than we’ve seen before.

And at this point, I think, it’s worth noting the name. ‘Inquisition’ is a pretty loaded word. Most people’s minds will go immediately to Spain’s previous approach, and if you can get past the Monty Python references, it takes you to a pretty ugly place. But Lee was keen to point out that an inquisition doesn’t have to go that way. As he puts it, “you can be an arsehole, or be really cool.” Dragon Age’s The Inquisition was originally created thousands of years ago, to address a serious issue back then, but over time it seemed it weakened, and then in the ultimate abandoning of its independent status, became part of the world’s religious organisation, the Chantry. And then went away. You’re now bringing it back. Times are terrible, and your character has head enough. Or to put it in Lee terms, “You just go, fuck this, going to do something about it.” How you go about it, it seems, should define the nature of your inquisitory ways.

What else can I tell you? You’ll no longer auto-heal between battles. That’s rather significant, really, and belies an attempt to give the combat more gravitas – an effort redoubled when they say that health potions won’t be in plentiful supply either. Locations won’t scale to your level, so wander somewhere tough and you’re going to get slaughtered, and need to look elsewhere. And the world is partly destructible, which they showed off in a couple of ways. Firstly, a combat sequence inside a keep had a few enemy archers stationed on an overhead bridge. So taking out the bridge supports during the fight saw them fall to their deaths. And taking some initiative seems effective too – when approaching Crestwood we saw enemy boats arriving into port, so when passing the docked ships, firebombs were found in the inventory and used to set them on fire. That would prevent a tougher battle later on, we were promised, as it meant those ships wouldn’t be able to deliver reinforcements. Oh, and dragons.

At this point the game’s interface was obviously designed for a console (despite, as I say, being demoed on PC), but strong promises were made that the PC’s would have a completely unique design by next Autumn. It makes sense to ensure the game can be operated via the simplicity of a controller, and then have the complexity added back in for us after. They nailed that with DA:O (somewhat screwing the console version, leaving out the pausable battles!), so there’s no reason to think it won’t happen again here.

Conclusions can only be hopes, at this point. We were told enough for me to ramble on this long, but none of it gives a clue as to whether it will be good. Because of course the reality of playing a Dragon Age game is as much having a long conversation, faffing about in your inventory for a bit, and then visiting a library, as it is epic battles. When demoing such a game, with someone else making the decisions, the emphasis tends to fall on what is – ultimately – one of the less important aspects of how you’ll play the game. The rest, the meat, is still promises. But with three years going into it, on top of the already vast, vast stretches of details and lore that already exists, they’ve at least this time given themselves the time and money to face the task. It’s pretty clear they care very much about getting it right, and that they’ve listened and learned after the misfire of DA2. But we’ve a year to wait to find out how it will all come together. I’m left optimistic, but uninformed.


  1. Aaarrrggghhh says:

    That… that just sounds too good to be true!
    If they pull that off… all will be forgiven!

  2. Premium User Badge

    Earl-Grey says:

    Looking forward to this, I’m sure it will be lovely.
    Slightly apprehensive about the apparent weight placed on The Fade, though.
    The excursions into The Fade in Origins were, in my opinion, soul crushingly dull.
    -dull and far, far to long.
    I’m sure they’ll provide a more interesting demonic dimension this time around. Right?

  3. Penguin_Factory says:

    Looking pretty cool. This is definitely on my radar.

  4. Tei says:

    I hope they make a interesting world and story, that is what I liked more from the first one. I bought the second one, too, but bad bland and never finished it.

  5. LordNeidhart says:

    The game looks lovely, and I am somewhat looking forward to it now, but…
    …what the dickens is that woman on the far right wearing on the fifth screenshot?
    Is that… is that supposed to be A MAGE!?

    • Jackablade says:

      Maybe she’s an actress who they rescued from a beseiged performance of The Ring Cycle.

      • Tuor says:

        Could be, they just finished that here in Seattle. (The Seattle Opera does it on a fairly regular basis, and it’s a Big Thing here.)

    • RedViv says:

      That’s a Viv, and thus part of our lustrous inherently weird hive mind. Do not resist.

      Seriously though, you can customise companions appearances this time around and get Vivienne into something else if you want to. But the oddness of her outfit seems to be acknowledged in-universe.

    • BarneyL says:

      Everyone knows a female mage’s power eminates from her cleavage and therefore that region of the body must remain open to the air for spell casting to occur.

    • Screamer says:

      Oh ffs. Seriously dude?

  6. SirKicksalot says:

    “The ridiculous choice to take away the paused combat and party commands from DA2”

    DA2 had pause and party commands.

    And what’s a Korcari? Maybe a Qunari?

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      Presumably someone from the Korcari Wilds? But I’d never taken them to be non-human. But yes, Eurogamer are reporting it as Qunari.

    • Fiyenyaa says:

      Yeah, the combat in DA2 was essentially the exact same system as DA:O with a faster pace and no fully-zoomable camera. You most certainly could pause it and issue orders.

      I am also unrealstically excited about being able to play as a Qunari. They were definately one of the more interesting areas of the Dragon Age world to me.

      The only bit of criticism I might level is that I really wish Bioware would stop doing “the world’s gonna end, yo. You gotta stop it, yo” stories.

      • Malleus says:

        “I really wish Bioware would stop doing “the world’s gonna end, yo. You gotta stop it, yo” stories.”

        They already did that in DA2.

        • Fiyenyaa says:

          But they’re doing it again now by the sounds of it :(

        • RedViv says:

          What else would you do? Get milk?

        • 9of9 says:

          You mean in DA:O? Let’s not forget that DA2, for all its shortcomings, does at least have the honour of being kinda the only Bioware game that’s not about that.

          • luukdeman111 says:

            That’s what he meant… DA2 Already DID stop with the end of the world story…

            Also, I liked DA2…. *runs and hides*

  7. alphyna says:

    “The ridiculous choice to take away the paused combat and party commands from DA2”
    I’m sorry, what? DA2 did have all that. The only difference from DAO was that you couldn’t queue commands, but, well, you could write neat tactical algorithms just like in DAO or rely on micromanagement.

    Also I’m a bit weirded out by everyone commenting on the improvements of visual style. DA2 was stylish; here I see something as generic, bleak, and uninteresting as in DAO. Which would be totally fine since the franchise has every right to take on new directions (or return to previous ones), but man, leave Varric out of this. He’s supposed to be cool.

  8. Brayduck says:

    Those Fade Tear thingies sound a lot like Oblivion gates.

  9. somnolentsurfer says:

    “They nailed that with DA:O(..), so there’s no reason to think it won’t happen again here.”

    Well, except DA2, of course. I’ll believe the PC controls and tactical view stuff when I see video of it, given they basically said it’d be there in DA2. I want to believe, but, you know…

    Of course, I’d also like for it not to require Origin. Hmm…

  10. Thursday says:

    Regarding various takes on inquisitions: I’ve only got a hazy memory of the details, but I learned somewhere that the Spanish inquisition was actually a major step forward in due process that had a pretty big effect on legal codes thereafter. Of course, certain kinds of heresy still got you burned to death after your innovatively fair-ish trial…

    I’m just hoping that Bioware’s statements about the nature of inquisitions mean that we’ll actually be doing some investigating, rather than the usual MMO quest decision of cutting someone’s head off based on which side has the more politically correct hearsay.

    • tnzk says:

      It’s more the Roman Inquisition than the Spanish Inquisition, but yes, both Inquisitions, which were practical applications of Canon law, have had a much greater effect on modern legal practices than they are given credit for.

      After all, who in the secular world would want to admit that the Catholic Church actually did some good in the world. It would undermine the modern myth we’ve created for ourselves.

      • ShEsHy says:

        And what myth would that be? (an actual question, not sarcasm)

        • Thursday says:

          At a guess, I’d say the “myth” is that most people think of the Catholic Church mainly in the context of the worst excesses of the inquisition, and the more misguided crusades. I’m not a big fan of how they handled some stuff, but I also think they aren’t fairly judged by history as it’s usually taught.

          For example: the Catholic church and its monasteries were almost solely responsible for preserving knowledge otherwise lost when the Roman Empire fell, and sponsored most scientific research during the dark ages, but are mainly remembered for the Galileo SNAFU.

          If we really want to nerd out, I could compare this to the chantry vs. mages problem with DA2. I would have preferred a more nuanced choice that portrayed each side as flawed but generally positive organizations with plans beyond “murder everyone with magic”, or “let’s all become murderous abominations to defend ourselves”. If the Templars had a function beyond being jerks, I might actually feel like siding with them, or maybe I just want an option to side against the idiots leading both sides.

          • His Divine Shadow says:

            well put. I find it quite disappointing how in every piece of historical fiction the authors always predictably take a jab at the church these days. most often for mistreating women it seems. I wonder why – do they feel they absolutely must follow the zeitgeist to the letter, or is there an actual semi-explicit censorship in the media, so you can’t have racist or homophobic (which is the new racist) stuff for instance, and similarly you are not allowed to portray the church in a generally favourable way.

  11. Marshall Stele says:

    “… or human neckbeard George Lucus.”

    I was mildly offended for no valid reason, and then chortled.

    Looks like the dialog wheel is back, though. Not a fan, but I might be able to live with it. I wonder if Bioware has a trademark or copyright in it — that might explain why they keep using it over complaints?

  12. serioussgtstu says:

    People played DA:O without pausing combat and while using a controller?

    I don’t think I give console folks enough credit.

  13. evilhippo says:

    No way in hell am I parting with money to these guys after the steaming pile that was DA2. The old Bioware is gone and claiming otherwise is wishful thinking.

    • denthor says:

      I’m in the same boat, DA:2 was the biggest let down in recent gaming for me, could not even finish it. Such a drastic turn away from DA:O, which seemed like it was a commercial success. There is no way they’ll be getting one iota from me until i’ve played the game for a couple of hours.

      Actually does anyone know if DA:O ended up outselling DA:2?

      • Locust says:

        I’m not sure it’s still the same now but DA:O had almost twice as many sales as DA2 by the 10 week mark.

        I’d be happy if this game were somehow BioWare’s comeback, because I really did love DA:O and I pretty much gave hope on the franchise along with Mass Effect after the direction BW took. I’m just hoping that they’re too afraid to cut corners and release bad games now due to their performance and reputation recently.

    • Azradesh says:

      So even if it turns out to be really, really good, you aren’t going to buy it because the last game wasn’t?

  14. Iamerror says:

    Despite suffering the Internets furor I really enjoyed Dragon Age II and saw it as an improvement over the original in a number of ways [less generic story, more interesting, if less tactical combat, better art style].

    On paper this is probably the game I’ve wanted from the series all along, a mismatch of the action-heavy combat from DA2 with the tactical styling of the original and a less generic Bioware narrative than that of the original. Of course games are rarely all they’re written to be, but this has definitely left me excited.

    • denthor says:

      Whilst i can understand some people enjoying the differences DA2 provided (im not one of them), i just cannot get why people prefer the DA2 art style. I know its subjective but seriously they went full retard on some designs: darkspawn look like clowns, the elves are just freaking weird and flemeth looks like the protagonist from the power rangers.

      • Iamerror says:

        There’re certainly some weak designs [Flemeth and the Darkspawn primarily] but I don’t see why small aspects of the game [Flemeth is a footnote and the Darkspawn rare] detract from everything Dragon Age II did well from an artistic perspective. It was less generic than that of Origin’s [and utilized color to greater effect] whilst maintaining a style that felt a part of that world.

        I also don’t see the problem with the Elves, their appearance is fairly similar to those in the original game.

      • alphyna says:

        “the elves are just freaking weird”
        Which is precisely how they’re supposed to look, since elves are not pointy-eared humans, but a different race. Weird creepy elves are an awesome idea, and I find it really sad that BioWare is backtracking here.

        Flemeth, on the other hand… yeah, no justification there. But at least she does have a design, while in DAO NPCs are awfully generic.

    • Kadayi says:

      Never understood the DA2 hate. Beyond the repeat Dungeons and a wobbly decision in the end (why first enchanter why?) game was pretty enjoyable. I thought the characters were much more interesting than those in the first game, and having a named protagonist benefited the dialogue. In DA:O the verbal dancing around your lack of a name beyond ‘grey warden’was cringeworthy at times.

    • RedViv says:

      So far, Inquisition seems to pick up the good ideas from DA2 and actually use them well this time around. Which is just what they needed to do. Because, and I won’t tire repeating it, DA2 was good but really rushed.

      And the art direction seems just lovely. Far better than the generic fantasy art mash-up of Origins. Do hope they have locations that utilise negative space as nicely as in the previous game – given that the land is under attack by the realm of dreams, there certainly might be opportunities for the truly bizarre.

      • Kadayi says:

        That ‘rushed’ meme has been doing the rounds for years, but the game wasn’t so much rushed as a victim of its console success (originally the composer said he felt he rushed the music, and the Chinese whispers of the internet translated that into the entire game being rushed). DA:O sold more units on the 360 than on the PC, so designing a version that was optimal for the 360 was the truth of things (the DA:O 360 version was pretty ropey by all accounts). The fundamental flaw with designing for the 360 is DVD size limitations. MS up the licensing charge for multi-disc games considerably to incentivize developers to keep game sizes down (after all that extra charge comes straight out of your profits). Subsequently it’s why the DA2 install was about 6.45 GB compared to the 14 GB of DA:O, and why the high rex textures were a separate download. Having to squeeze the entire game into that 6.45 GB is also the reason for a lot of the repetition as well, because you’re having to weigh up your asset management of all your game files. With Bioware they favour lots of unique dialogue. The flipside is you look at say another single disc game like Skyrim…loads of assets (though a lot of repetition as well), but lots of ear aching repeat dialogue.

        • RedViv says:

          Most of the design, and not technical, flaws come from elements that could have easily been solved with more time – and have been so in Origins. Two years, if that, are not quite enough time for a branching 35-hour game, especially when you rework the art and assets at the same time.
          And yes, Inon Zur only said that the soundtrack was a rush job – but the reason given is that the higher-ups pushed hard for an early release date.

          Though really, we’re arguing semantics now. Whatever reason for the lacking polish and implementation of actually quite nice ideas – it could have been done better, and hopefully will be this time around.

          • Kadayi says:

            Most existing franchises operate on 18 month to 2 year development cycle.With DAIII, they’re clearly taking more time, but in large part a lot of that might be down to the move to the Frostbyte engine and getting people familiar with it.

  15. seruko says:

    All I hear is “Blah blah blah” buzz words and bullshit. Same as last time.
    Same as ME 3 and DA 2.

    • RProxyOnly says:

      Yep. Second verse, same as the first.

    • Jenks says:

      There are plenty of people who will lap it up, buy it, and then pretend it’s a good game.

  16. ffordesoon says:

    You could pause in Dragon Age 2, couldn’t you?

    I mean, I’d check, but that would probably involve installing and playing it again, which I don’t want to do. But I swear to God you could pause it. You just rarely had to.

    Dunno about the console versions, though I can’t imagine how they could possibly work without pausing.

    Anyway, I’m glad the tactical mode and what seem to be full sentences are back, and sad the dialogue wheel is also back. I hope all of them will be better. In particular, I hope the combat will be something I want to do this time, rather than something I feel I’m being forced to do to get to the next plot bit.

    I fully expect to be forced into combat, of course; this is a Bioware game. But neither of the previous games’ combat rose above the frictionless Baldur’s-Gate-2-by-way-of-WOW design. Both games’ combat systems had their respective strong points, but the actual encounter design was generally pretty lame in Origins, and outright crap in DA2. Someone needs to explain to Bioware that giving big enemies more HP doesn’t make them more challenging, just less enjoyable. I mean, I’m sure somebody has already, but they’ve designed the encounters the exact same way twice in a row. Clearly, they need a reminder.

    I’m rooting for the DA team, though. There were a lot of terrific ideas in both previous DA games, and I quite liked the first one and Awakening(s?) despite their numerous deficiencies. I hope this is the one that comes together for them. Getting raked over the coals for these last couple of years seems to have motivated them rather than demoralized them, and I hope that translates to their best game ever.

    I will not, however, hold my breath. Not yet. I need to see a lot more before I get genuinely excited. But I am not going to condemn them yet either, as many people above and below me will have no doubt done in between the time I began this post and the time I finished it.

  17. Sharlie Shaplin says:

    The two things I hated most about DAII, the ridiculously paced combat with enemies spawning out of thin air, making party tactics and formations feel redundant. Also the story, well not so much the whole story but more the mages and templars aspect. It seemed like every mage turned into an abomination the second you started trusting them, making aiding them or their plight seem pointless. I do feel a little more positive about Dragonage inquisition after reading this article however, I am willing to wait and see. Would also need to overcome my ingrained dislike of EA and Origin though.

    • MarkB says:

      Agreed. I actually really liked DA2 but enemies spawning out of thin air was a terrible idea. In my opinion it hurt the game much more than the recycled environments did. It is particularly terrible at the start. When you only have one or two skills using them prematurely can get you into trouble if there are lots of enemies left, but there is no way to know how many enemies are left since they spawn from nowhere.

      I liked the story alot, the way it was set over an extended period of time was really cool and I loved that the stakes were smaller. Somehow trying to work my way up from refugee to champion was much more compelling than saving the world.

      The “every mage turns into an abomination” thing was a huge issue though (best demonstrated by a certain second to last boss (I was on the mages side after all, why would that be necessary?)). It comes off like they were desperate to find a reason for people to side with the templars, so they made tons of mages turn into abominations to justify the templars behavior.

  18. stkaye says:

    You had me at “you can be a Qunari”.

    You had me at “you can be a Qunari”, John.

    • RedViv says:

      Though it would be more accurate to say we can play kossith, as anybody can be Qunari. It’s just a religion. *ducks behind lore books again*

      • Aaarrrggghhh says:

        Now you ruined it for everybody… I hope you are proud of what you did!

      • Noviere says:

        Of course, no one in DAO/DA2 has ever used the term kossith; I don’t even think the kossith use it. To 99.9999% of the people living in Thedas, kossith ARE Qunari. It’s basically meta knowledge.

      • stkaye says:

        I would like to be able to join the Qun in DA:I. And really mean it.

  19. Flea says:

    I really want this to be good.

    DA:O was one of my favorite games of all times, please be good.

  20. RProxyOnly says:

    Does no-one else think that ‘Dragons as enemies’ is a completely played out trope by now?

    I personally can’t think of a duller ‘addition’ to a game these days.

    Dragons.. meh…. damn you Bioware… At least in Skyrim (I own it but I’m not the biggest TES fan) there was a portayal of intelligence. I liked Beths dragons.. Biowares protrayal of them is ridiculously 1 dimensional now, didn’t they actually learn anything from BG… They now come off as pantomime villans.

    • dE says:

      There’s some truth to that. The dragon I dreaded most in games was Lofwyr. A dragon smart enough to run a megacorporation and a crazy powerful one at that. But you know, if you think you can do better… go ahead and try:
      link to choiceofgames.com

      • RProxyOnly says:

        Some of that kind of characterisation was what I was hoping for from the new Shadowrun.. I was so disapppointed.

        Your link, however,…LMAO.. that was quite funny. It’s well done. ;)

      • Molay says:

        Thank you for that link, I had quite a fun time with it. It’s been a long time since I played these types of games – too long, actually :)

    • Dowr says:

      And Skyrim’s dragons weren’t one dimensional?

      And dragons are basically flying Iguana’s that breath fire and… sometimes talk. Not much you can do with ’em.

      • RProxyOnly says:

        That’s not true at all, Dragon’s used to be more characterised as dangerous BECAUSE of their might, both brawn and brains.. It’s only recently that they have reverted to the more known boring knight fodder.

        Obviously the Skyrim dragons weren’t some whole new characterisation… but they ‘showed’ inteligence.. even when new Bioware TRY, their dragon’s actually come off as brainless exagerations.

        No, no-one has it just right yet, Shadowrun has admittedly come closest, in my view… but the Skyrim ones were at least a step forwards.. Bioware are running backwards so fast, a fall is inevitable.

        • Kyrius says:

          For all it’s worth, you should check the dragons in the warcraft universe… They certainly aren’t just iguanas that fly and have a skill named fire breath. And before someone says WoW is shit, I’m talking about the books.

    • Noviere says:

      How do they come off as pantomime villains? In Thedas, they aren’t villains at all. They are just huge, deadly, predators.

    • Disillusion3D says:

      Great link!
      It’s a very pleasant dragon simulator ;-)
      (This was meant to be an answer to dE)

  21. shagohad says:

    look! its thoros of myr

  22. Kadayi says:

    The DA team is a separate development team from the ME team. There’s likely some technical cross over, but in terms of the lead stuff, it’s headed up by different people.

    • Iamerror says:

      If you want ‘hardcore’ RPG’s you probably shouldn’t look to AAA titles because yes, of course they’re going to cater to a wide range of players. Is that quote really supposed to be shocking?

      • Iamerror says:

        One need only point to Mass Effect 2 / 3 sales to make a counter-argument [also The Witcher 2, Skyrim, Two Worlds 2], but I’m sure we both know sales figures are heavily influenced by a wide variety of factors that go far beyond mere ‘casualization’ and that these games being designed to appeal to a wider audience is certainly not the sole reason they sold greater numbers than their previous titles.

        On a side note your comment is a classic strawman. I didn’t claim producing a game for a wide audience was a positive or negative aspect, nor did I mention sales, merely that it is common within AAA development and hardly a shocking technique as you attempted to imply.

      • Iamerror says:


        At the end of the day simplifying RPG mechanics within these series [and that includes older school developers like Spiderweb] is an extremely common occurrence across all titles [even occurring in titles like Bioshock Infinite and DMC].

        The fact you used a quote about ensuring a AAA title was appealing to all types of players [specifically those new to RPGs] as some sort of negative slight against Bioware, and the overall absurdity of that complaint given the nature of the franchise we’re discussing is all I wished to point out.

    • Kadayi says:

      I am amused by this notion of endless meddling. What workplace reality do you live in?

  23. Nick says:

    So it has oblivion gates?

  24. ScruZer says:

    this game is powered by DICE’s Frostbite 3. Bioware has never had such powerful engine to work with before.

    • Dowr says:

      Based off Eurogamer’s preview, I can tell they’re making good use of the engine.

    • Azdeus says:

      Yeah… I’d rather have mods.

    • mouton says:

      So, being part of EA does have its good sides after all.

    • RProxyOnly says:

      A pretty game doesn’t make a good game.. and good games, these days, seem outside Biowares purview.. ok admittedly that is subjective.. however it’s quite a popular subjective view, especially among Biowares older players…. Their games these days are braindead.

    • Aaarrrggghhh says:

      Powerful, but a pain in the ass to work with according to Victory Games.

  25. crinkles esq. says:

    But Lee was keen to point out that an inquisition doesn’t have to go that way. As he puts it, “you can be an arsehole, or be really cool.”

    Sorry, but this sounds like every Bioware game ever made. “Choose A to destroy town, choose B to give everyone in town a new car!!” Gamers have long anointed Bioware with undeserved praise for their narratives. They write no better than teenage fantasy novels, and provide a similar depth of player choice.

    • RProxyOnly says:

      Bioware’s narrative was NEVER any good, even back in BG days… it WAS however the best we got, so they got a pass, even lauded, for it because no-one else was doing it………. However more devs pay attention to narrative now, and it is better for it.. but Bioware haven’t evolved, they still write the same generic garbage, the only difference is they’re not entitled to a pass for it these days.

  26. strangeloup says:

    The thing that stuck in my mind was that they spent ten years making the setting. TEN YEARS.

    It’s in large part generic and in the rest, dull as ditchwater, with maybe a couple of little bits that aren’t from the Big Bag of Fantasy Tropes. How did that take a decade?

    Admittedly, I played the hell out of DA:O and DA2, despite not thinking very much of them, because at the time I had an X360 as the only thing that could run recent games, and RPGs were slim pickings.

  27. imhotep says:

    Seems glorious. Looking forward to it. But imagine David Gaider’s dialogue coming out of their mouths… I just hate this Penny Arcade style, always will.

  28. Jabberslops says:

    It’s too bad the game is using Frostbite 3 Engine. It means a very high probability of there being no mod support. The most you can hope for is new DLC. This is a problem of any game using the Frostbite Engine and also one of the reasons I won’t be buying anymore games that use Frostbite Engine.

    • Joe-Gamer says:

      Me as well, a pretty game pales in comparison to a moddable one.

  29. Strangerator says:

    “You’ll no longer auto-heal between battles. That’s rather significant, really, and belies an attempt to give the combat more gravitas – an effort redoubled when they say that health potions won’t be in plentiful supply either. Locations won’t scale to your level, so wander somewhere tough and you’re going to get slaughtered, and need to look elsewhere. And the world is partly destructible”

    This all sounds pretty good… no auto-heal between battles is very old-school. It makes every battle, even a definite victory, more important. If it’s an easy fight your goal should probably be to take little to no damage. Of course, if mana regenerates and healing spells exist, then this change was unnecessary and will lead to frustration. They’ll need to take out mana regen too if they want this change to have a positive impact on the game. Otherwise.. you will sit and manually heal everyone up and then wait for mana regeneration, which becomes a chore.

    No level scaling! Another thing so rare in games today that reading about this makes me want to do dance a jig.

    Destructible terrain may or may not be important, but it’s a nice little add.

  30. TheBarringGaffner says:

    So, any chance of this not being identical to every other Bioware RPG? I also find it hard to believe that they spent 10 years on the Dragon Age setting, considering that it’s just a bunch of fantasy cliches thrown together.

  31. MarkB says:

    Being able to play as a Qunari is pretty awesome. I wonder how they will make that work? After all a Qunari heading up an organisation previously associated with the Chantry is pretty weird.

    • njolnin says:

      Remember how different playing a Blood Mage was in DA2? What should have drastically altered certain events barely mattered at all. In the same way, it’s really, really hard to envision Bioware going the extra mile to make a Qunari play out any different at all. It should be a substantially different experience, and if (but, really, when) things play out almost exactly the same, it will only diminish the lore behind them.

      • MarkB says:

        Hmm, good point. Doing justice to a Qunari main character would require a massive amount of extra work. Like I said above simply coming up with a justification for a Qunari leading the inquistion would be really hard. While I suspect you are right it would be amazing if they did the Qunari properly. It would be really cool to approach all your decision making through the lens of the Qun or instead you could just go tal-vashoth and completely destroy your relationship with the Qunari.

        While I doubt they will do it complete justice I hope they do enough to not completely screw up the lore as the Qunari are the most interesting thing about the setting as far as I am concerned.

  32. tobascodagama says:

    Evil things from an alternate reality shaped by the dreams and emotions of sentient beings are coming through into our world.. And they’re able to possess magic users, of course. And so an Inquisition is required to keep the magic users in line and fight the evil things.

    Basically, BioWare reinvented Warhammer Fantasy, then?

    • Hematite says:

      And why not? They were just ripping off Warcraft anyway.

      • RedViv says:

        u wot now mate

      • The Ultimate Clone of The Ultimate Warrior says:

        That’s it. NEVER! Warhammer was released in the 80’s. ONLY DER WARCRAFTS WER DER RIP OFFS! Leave before I begin to froth at the mouth. It’s a problem of mine.

  33. Megakoresh says:

    Graphics looks like Skyrim’s ENB mod with HD texture pack. I hope they can get it up to snuff later on to release. I mean it looks good, but in 2014 you’d expect stuff like Tesselation, volumetric lighting and physical particle effects to be the standard in a AAA game. Not that much of it matters anyway, I just want to see that jump in fidelity after 8 years of stagnation.

    Well, all in all looks promising. Especially excited about the combat and strategic element. I posted a thread on their forums about how awesome it would be to have 2 modes: 1 for full action third person and one for tactical DAO kind of combat. It looks like this might just be it, which is great. Leading an entire faction of your own and making strategic choices is also a great decision if they can pull it off properly so it doesn’t interfere with other elements (Dragon Commander, I am looking at you!).

    I am a bit disappointed at the lack of words on DA2. People DID NOT hate it for the story approach or characters or setting! They hatred it for the copy-paste! They hated it for the auto dialogue! For the lack of interaction with your companions! Take those away and DA2 is an awesome unique game. It has a lot of humour, something so rare in these type of games. It has a personal story, something just as rare. In my opinion it deserves as much attention in terms of connection with the next game as Origin does.

  34. Laythe_AD says:

    Yes, but Planescape: Torments biggest strength in part was the very high quality of it’s writing. It’s not a quality Bioware have ever matched. What have you done to change that? Otherwise, all this chatter is fairly irrelevant.

  35. ocelot113 says:

    “Tales of Grey Wardens… are in history now,” – gg Bioware. Bringing back the Grey Wardens in a meaningful way was your only saving grace.

    • Noviere says:


      • ocelot113 says:

        Really? The Grey Wardens were the crux of Dragon Age. The fight between Templar and Mage, and then the Grey Wardens that were neutral and had a cultish aspect to them. It was just a necessity to the tug of war dynamic between the Templar/Mage conflicts. Without them, you were FORCED to choose like in DA2 which made the story bland because there was no investment in principle or morality just this side or this side.

        • Noviere says:

          They don’t need Grey Wardens in order to make the player neutral in the Mage/Templar conflict. The Inquisition has been described as being separate from the Chantry, Templars, and Circle of Magi. It is concerned with stopping the demons spilling out of the Fade.

          • ocelot113 says:

            Apparently, you had no attachment to them (or never played DA:O) so it’s no use debating this as you are totally fine with them ditching the backstory of DA:O.

        • Faceless says:

          I remain sceptical of this new entry, but just because the first game focussed on Grey Wardens does not mean every other instalment should, too. The franchise is called Dragon Age, not Grey Wardens. It chronicles the events within the century known as the Dragon Age. That includes the rise of the Grey Wardens, the Templar/Mage conflict and the massive tear in the Veil.

          They’re not the ‘crux’ of the franchise just because the first game had them.

          • ocelot113 says:

            You are wrong. lol they are just my favorite part of DA:O.

          • dandaman098 says:

            I personaly don’t care about the grey wardens but do care abouy my character the casteless dwarf rogue who made anora queen and who had a demon spawn with morrigan after ronancing with her. I only care about my grey warden being the character so bioware can make my character’s decisions affect everything and because my character is probably the most baddass person in in the DA world and it would effect morrigan being one of the important parts of they game even more. Though every possible scenario is alot to ask for.

  36. GamesInquirer says:

    It looks like their character modeling has improved a bit.

    Hopefully everything else has, too.

    I doubt the tacticam makes it any less of an action RPG. But it can be a good one.

    Also, you guys can view the full presentation too.

    And this direct feed video.

  37. Faceless says:

    The name of a game that you’d imagine would be quite relevant. “Dragon Age II”. For some reason it didn’t come up. While BioWare have never openly acknowledged that it was an expansion pack stretched breakingly thin to be a disappointing sequel…

    While it’s true they never used that exact wording (but then again, that would have been an utterly pointless and self-defeating admission), they did admit Dragon Age II failed in many aspects, which they are hoping to address in the next instalment, so in that sense that statement is factually incorrect. Many decisions they are making are a direct consequence of DA2’s shortcomings. Just because they don’t flagellate themselves at every opportunitydoesn’t necessarily mean they’re not aware of their failures.

    See: link to youtube.com

  38. Myrdinn says:

    The biggest problem I have with Dragon Age is how generic it is. For some reason Bioware shied away from the AD&D licence, just to create their own almost identical world with elves and trolls and dragons. With it comes almost all the fantasy tropes from those ‘other’ franchises, which IMHO is a huge gigantic waste when creating a new franchise/world. The magic stuff going on (with the Veil and magus academy etc) was sort of interesting until it got ruined by terrible level design (I friggin HATE that veil part) and uninteresting choices. With that said, the story never felt really ‘epic’ to me, partly because of the lack of choices determining how the story moved forward. I remember being really baffled at the end of DA2 when so much random shit happened, totally dismissing everything what happened before. What’s the point of making choices when we always get down to the same ending?

  39. Stevostin says:

    I am usually making joke about “when will they release the previous one, because it’s not on steam so it doesn’t exist” but maybe this should be taken more seriously. It’s pretty abusive that origine copies are sold on every online shop BUT steam. Will this last forever or is there a chance that one day I can play another EA game ?

  40. Werthead says:

    Having played DA:O, AWAKENING and DA2 for the first time recently, I was interested to see how the games would stack up to BioWare’s other offerings and to each other. I’ve been hearing non-stop for four years how amazing DA:O is and for two that DA2 is a horrendous piece of crap and BioWare should be firebombed for making it.

    What I found is that the two games are pretty comparable in quality, with different strengths and weaknesses:

    DA:O has a bigger play area, is longer and gives you more choice with equipment. It has also has a horrendous inventory system, is jam-packed with repetitive fetch or kill-quests, has some quite excruciating, exposition-heavy dialogue and some of the worst voice acting I’ve ever heard in a professionally-made video game (Claudia Black, of course, is awesome). The camera control is weird: the overhead view is great for melee but for ranged combat is useless, as enemies can attack from way outside visual range. The over-the-shoulder view is great for ranged combat but useless for melee, so as a result you have to keep swapping between them. The concluding battle is absolutely rubbish and the game allowing you to choose your party is undermined by Morrigan and Alistair being so important to the story’s end (if, like me, you didn’t use them much it felt pretty odd that the ending turned on them so much). There’s also the fact that there’s a lot of interesting worldbuilding elements – the Qunari, the Mage/Templar conflict etc – but it’s all relegated to the codex. Ingame, these elements are not really expanded on at all. The plot – save the generic world from the generic evil and a generic traitor general – was generic to the point of tediousness. The pacing was downright bizarre (the unstoppable darkspawn horde stops for no apparent reason after their crushing victory at Ostagar and will politely wait 50+ hours whilst you unify the land against them). On the plus side, the combat – though heavily flawed by making it impossible to form bottlenecks in passages as enemies can just push past your characters – was entertaining and exploring and looting was fun, if highly repetitive. Shale was also hilarious, if a little bit too heavily influenced by HK-47.

    DA2, on the other hand, is set in just the one city with very few explorable areas and the constant re-use of the same indoor and underground environments to represent every dungeon, building interior, cave and section of Deep Roads in the entire game. This got beyond tedious very quickly. Combat was a lot worse, with enemies spawning right in the middle of your party just as it appeared you were about to win. The inventory was better in the sense it was easier to get rid of junk (the benefit of the small areas was that you were never more than a minute or so away from a store) but worse in the sense you couldn’t customise the other characters’ gear at all. However, the writing was a lot better, the characterisation was stronger, the addition of companion quests meant that you were encouraged to use all the different characters at least once in the game, the voice acting was somewhat better and the game’s focus on one city and using that city to explore a lot of cultures and societies surprisingly worked (in a medieval fantasy take on BABYLON 5 kind of way). DA2 explored the Qunari and what makes them in a much more thorough and entertaining fashion than DA:O, despite you not having a Qunari party member this time around. I also felt that Anders’ ‘betrayal’ was an unexpected but generally well-supported plot twist. The rest of the endgame is weak (the leader of the mages going nuts and attacking you for no reason; all of the mages abandoning decades of training to use blood magic at the drop of a hat), but it’s better than DA:O’s endgame. I particularly liked the Harryhausen-esque animated statues. I’d still say that DA2 was something of a failure, but not a lot moreso than DA:O.

    Tl;dr – DA:O has moderately better gameplay but DA2 had better writing and characters. Stick the DA2 characters and story in the DA:O engine with different dungeons and interiors, and you’d have something special. AWAKENING – which actually is a melding of the DA2 storytelling ethos with the DA:O engine – is actually my favourite part of the franchise to date.

  41. yuri999 says:

    “Times are terrible, and your character has head enough.”

    John you’re a big pervert. This seems like a major Freudian slip huhuhuhu…

  42. kdz says:

    “While BioWare have never openly acknowledged that it was an expansion pack stretched breakingly thin to be a disappointing sequel”
    I can’t agree with this statement. To me Dragon Age II felt like a full, big-ass idea of a game confined by a narrow development time to be something that might have as well been an expansion pack.
    I also wish BioWare got rid of the dialogue wheel. In 2007 it was a fantastic idea (let’s make conversatoins more fluid and cinematic!) that they simply have not implemented correctly (which essentialy led to conversations becoming “always choose the option in the upper right/left corner”).

    • dandaman098 says:

      I prefered selecting from a list like in DA:O or KOTOR as it was never told you how people would react and whether it was a good, bad or neutral decision by glowing red or blue