‘Dragon Age 2′ Forced BioWare To Be ‘More Ambitious’ With ‘Inquisition’

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Dragon Age 3 Inquisition Name Change

After years on top of the fan and game developer community, the past few have been less than kind for BioWare. With The Old Republic failing to reach the goals many had for the Star Wars themed MMO, Dragon Age 2 disappointing some of the developer’s most devoted fan base, and Mass Effect 3 courting even more controversy, the pressure is on to deliver. And that means the team behind Dragon Age: Inquisition is swinging for the fences even more than they had planned.

Even a casual observer of the video game development scene knows that overwhelming pressure is par for the course, but the launch of next-gen consoles has added yet another layer. If claiming to be a ‘next-gen experience,’ developers can’t simply keep up an established standard, but exceed it in one way or another. As the first BioWare game to hit the Xbox One and PS4, Inquisition will not only chart a course for Dragon Age‘s future, but Mass Effect as well.

Speaking with PC Gamer and Gamespot, executive producer Mark Darrah confirms his team is effectively filled with pioneers. A thrill, to be sure, but one which comes with unavoidable risks:

“Henry Ford has a famous quote. If we asked people what they wanted they’d ask for a faster horse. There’s a certain amount of truth to that… Part of our job is to go out into the wilderness to go farther beyond what the players have seen, what they’ve played and essentially light a torch so they can see what could be and then hopefully they’ll want what we’re presenting. That can be uncomfortable. That can result in concern because obviously what they’re comfortable with, what they’ve played before isn’t completely what we’re delivering.”

While Darrah’s comment might make the task of shaping a new generation of Dragon Age sound like a complete unknown, fans have been able to see BioWare’s DNA in the upcoming adventure for some time. Stunning and varied game environments, an increased emphasis on player choice, and even a completely new take on character relationships are all in store – but fans have reason to remain skeptical.

We have little desire to revisit the issues many fans had with Dragon Age 2: a game criticized by many for featuring a less ‘epic’ storyline, an increased focus on action-based combat, and reduced customization. Darrah has previously spoken about his desire to right those wrongs in the eyes of fans, now confirming that DA2 pushed the team to recapture the studio’s past magic:

“Dragon Age 2, we decided we want to try something, to try to do very different storytelling, something much more personal, something much more tightly constrained. No chosen one, no clear overarching threat. I don’t think it was a perfect success, but that was intentional. A lot of the other changes that are perceived, the overall scope of the game or the perception of the combat getting a lot simpler or waves and things like that… That was supposed to be more evolutionary. I think we just overreached. We pushed too hard.

“Because of Dragon Age 2, Dragon Age: Inquisition is having to be a lot more ambitious, to address those concerns and really try to get back much more to the roots of the franchise. Much more about tactical combat and a higher level of deliberate difficulty. More clear overall story, with the moral choices still in there, but much more in vein of Dragon Age: Origins style storytelling. You’re right to ask. The goal wasn’t to revolutionize the series every single time, but Dragon Age 2 forced our hand to a certain degree.”

Dragon Age 3 Delayed To Focus On Fixing The Old Republic

There’s no shame in acknowledging past mistakes or flaws, and all things considered, BioWare’s fans are likely to forgive and forget if Inquisition returns to the top form of Origins. The recently released story trailer for Inquisition confirm a new threat and villain, and the team is already promising more authority and influence than ever before. While the team maintains that the tale of DA2 hero Hawke is not necessarily finished, the fact that Inquisition places the game’s entire world on the brink of destruction may have some concerned that the end of the series as we know it is in sight.

According to Darrah, fans have nothing to worry about:

“Dragon Age was never intended to be a trilogy. We’ve always really looked at Dragon Age as the story of a world as opposed to the story of a character. That’s one of the reasons why we change characters between games. So, no, this isn’t the wrap-up of a trilogy. We have an overarching story arc. We are going somewhere with the storytelling. But this game isn’t a conclusion.”

With that question out of the way, the promise of the most ambitious Dragon Age game to date means significant improvements to one of BioWare’s signature story elements: romance. With the story trailer seeming to tease a return appearance of past love interest Leliana, and Alistair confirmed to be returning as well, should fans hope to rekindle an old flame?

“If you’ve had a character in a previous game that was a romance option typically we won’t bring them back because they carry a lot of extra baggage with them… The player might get angry as well. ‘But they’re in love with my previous character forever and ever and ever. How dare you?’ I think there’s validity to that. You can start to cross off a few characters because of that. We often don’t bring back characters, at least not as followers, if they were previously romance options. You might see them. Alistair comes back because we can do cameos and have them have an influence on the story.

Dragon Age Inquisition Leliana

“I think we’ve become trapped by that, the word ‘romance.’ I think friendship is… Some of what we would traditionally call romances in Dragon Age: Inquisition are falling more into that camp where… they’re more in that friendship area.”

We’ll let fans process that disappointment in their own time, but are encouraged to hear that building stronger friendships – not just romances – with party members is a higher priority this time around. After all, even the elements of Dragon Age 2 that didn’t upset fans can be improved upon with some time and energy.

What are your hopes for Inquisition? Does it come as a relief to hear that correcting the mistakes of the past is top priority, or did you find Dragon Age 2 to be a step in the right direction? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Dragon Age: Inquisition releases October 7, 2014 for the PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: PC Gamer, Gamespot

TAGS: BioWare, Dragon Age, Dragon Age 2, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Electronic Arts, PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

  • Jeff

    I am supremely optimistic about this game. However, given Bioware’s track record, this optimism does not extend to preordering. I will wait for release to see if it’s any good.

  • Dave

    Same. Not gonna get me a third time!
    Besides, all the pre-release reveal is to hype up the game anyway.

  • Cariannis

    “Henry Ford has a famous quote. If we asked people what they wanted they’d ask for a faster horse.”

    Henry Ford also believed that people didn’t need red or blue cars. Then again BioWare only believes in red, blue and green endings so I guess Henry Ford is the perfect person to quote.

  • cidgrad

    I read the PC Gamer interview and Bioware seems to have a fundamental misunderstanding about why a lot of people hated DA2. It’s not b/c the story wasn’t epic enough, it was simply an all-around bad game that ruined the brand. Instead of acknowledging this, Darrah says they “overreached” with DA2? Please. Reminds me of bands that release the one “experimental” album then blame fans for not being capable of appreciating it.

    Here they are once again, relentlessly teasing pictures of Morrigan now like they did with Flemeth for DA2. Meanwhile, Darrah talks about how they aren’t bringing any romance-able characters back as any more than cameos, but don’t worry: you’ll be able to do bromance activities with Varric. Gee, thanks. Maybe it’ll be like GTA4 and Varric will pester you to go bowling with him every five minutes. And then there are the threats that Hawke’s story “isn’t done yet”. Ugh.

    It’s also surprising that Darrah trashed the decision to allow players to bring their Warden back to life in Awakening if he died in the main game. So out of the host of problems we can identify with DA2, that’s the one thing Darrah specifically highlights as a “stupid” decision they shouldn’t have done?

    *sigh* Not holding out much hope for this one.

    • Imateria

      DA2 had one major flaw that accounts for everything else wrong with it, EA wanted a new game out really quick to cash in on the good will of Origins and gave them only 18 months to make it (whilst knocking out DLC for Origins). The result? everything was under done from the writing to the gameplay to the locations.

      This time around they’ve had 3 1/2 to make this game so they have no excuses. Thats not a free pas but from everything I’ve seen from this game so far, it looks like they’ve fixed many of DA2’s problems so I’m hopeful for a very good game.

      • cidgrad

        I completely agree with you about the root cause behind DA2’s problems. Unfortunately, I’ve never heard anyone from Bioware or EA say it. I’m pretty sure they pre-approve all the questions in these interviews, too, because I’ve never read one where the interviewer asks anything good like, “So who approved the decision to reuse the same two maps for every dungeon?”

        • Imateria

          I think Laidlaw answered that at the time by saying you never get enough time to make everything unique and do everything you want, an obvious gloss over a notable problem.

          I don’t think we’ll ever get them to admit it, but it doesn’t take a genius to realise that making an in depth RPG from the ground up with all new mechanics in only 18 months isn’t on.

  • http://ctanderson.deviantart.com/ Christuffer

    I liked Dragon Age 2, loved it even. I didn’t have a problem with anything the game did, albeit I did think the reused environments were a little cheap. That being said, I have a reputation for my idealistic ways…where I don’t see the flaws in Dragon Age 2 really being a big deal at all, it ruined the entire experience for others. I don’t know, I haven’t played a Bioware game yet that didn’t instantly become one of my favorites, they’re my favorite developer by far.

    As long as Dragon Age: Inquisition delivers on the story, I will be good.

  • FiachSidhe

    and when all the above stances fail, hide behind “artistic integrity” and insult your playerbase with added middle finger endings.

  • jecn

    i too had no problem with DA 2 …of course the same dungeons sucked but outside of that it was a very good game..i think inquisition will be very good as well since they didnt rush it like da2 or me3…(i think whole me trilogy was the best story telling we had in gaming in the last console generation)lets give BW a chance..dont preorder it wait for reviews like u would a movie…do ur research if your gonna worry about being burned by EA or BW again..

  • Suzuki

    I personally disliked DA2 for several reasons, but I did not hate it. I can say that after I played DA:O, DA2 was a huge disappointment for me.
    First the re-use of environments, it made me bored really really fast… Second (even though so many people love them) I disliked all characters, except Varric, I found them annoying or overbearing, highly contrasting with the fun mix of personalities on DA:O.
    The lack of customization of the character (even though so many fans complain about the little options when it comes to cosmetics)and of the armor were something I didn’t mind much but that if more choices existed it would make a positive difference.
    Also changes that made a difference to me:
    We never saw another Qunari like Sten again and all the Elfs faces changed from one game to the other.
    Anders personality was very likable on DA:O Awakening but in DA2 it changed so much I could not even believe it was supposed to be the same character.
    The non-availability of other races besides human.
    Finally, some people killed Leliana on DA:O but she was alive and kicking on DA2. Ok, she may seem that she died but she didn’t, that’s their pretext… But I find it utterly lame, is like someone said “let’s do a big shocker and kill a great character!! YES!”, then “Omg we need this character again, meh let’s just use some excuse”. C’mon if you don’t want her to die in the first place don’t make this possible… You can just create another cool character.
    However the worse for me was the ending… DA:O has more a bigger variety regarding the ending of the game (even if some are just nuances) but you can feel that your choices mattered. In DA:2 no matter what you choose the ending is practically the same with only the slight difference that if you’re on the side of the templars you become viscount and if you’re in the side of the mages you have to flee. Even if it makes a difference in future games it makes no difference in DA2. Concerning your choices, also whatever you do what happens to the Qunari is always the same, I wish there would have been the possibility for establishing a peaceful alliance with them…

    So DAI seems like it will be better and I do hope so because I loved DA:O and want another game like or even better than it, so please Bioware don’t mess it up!

    • cidgrad

      You hit pretty much everything. I’d only add in how DA2 completely ruined the entire mage/Templar dynamic which was set up in great detail during DA: Origins. Furthermore, whenever you try to side with a mage in DA2 they end up saying, “Eff this, I want to become a possessed demon! Yay!” and then you have to turn around and kill them, as well as all the Templars. Even the head mage does this in the final battle! It’s not only idiotic but seems to prove that hey, maybe all the mages really do need to be locked up in a tower.

      And Hawke’s sister walking around Kirkwall for years with a giant mage staff on her back in plain sight XD