Few game genres have seen as much heated competition and innovation in recent years as the triple-A RPG, with even the most conservative estimates admitting that BioWare’s plans didn’t go exactly as they’d hoped. But with Dragon Age: Inquisition going next-gen – and being given extra time to make the development team’s vision a reality – hopes are quickly rising.
The studio has remained tight-lipped about Inquisition to this point, releasing little more than brief gameplay clips and developer diaries. But thanks to a 30-minute gameplay walkthrough from Finland’s Digiexpo leaked online, fans have their first look at BioWare’s first step into the next generation. If customization and emphasis on freedom was in doubt, this video should take care of that.
Showing off the studio’s brand new approach to NPC conversations, combat effects that will physically reshape the battlefield, and the chance for players to customize their stronghold as the leader of the Inquisition, this video may not eradicate concerns of the community – but it will certainly blow many RPG fans off the fence.
The video begins by dropping players into the area of Crestwood, the largest area the team has built thus far, but still not the largest environment in Inquisition. As has become the general rule for next-gen sequels to major RPG franchises, the developers claim the area is larger than the entirety of Dragon Age 2, and the draw distance alone helps back up their claim.
The slight tweak to conversation wheel also shows that BioWare is leaving no aspect of their core gameplay unchanged. In the past, players had occasionally been horrified to find that their chosen dialogue option resulted in serious gameplay ramifications that were either unintended, or poorly explained beforehand. That isn’t to say that forcing players to deal with the choices they’ve made is being cast aside, since that dynamic has quickly become one of BioWare’s signature traits.
The developers reiterate during the video that permanently locking off content due to player decisions is still very much a priority. In this video, leading a group of soldiers to their death forever changing the Inquisitor’s relationship with Varric (a returning dwarf character from DA2). However, the additional information offered for mission-specific orders should hopefully make players aware of exactly what decisions they’re making, even if the lasting impacts aren’t knowable.
The video represents the longest and most expansive look at Inquisition that we’ve seen so far, with far too many improvements and potentially game-changing tweaks to name. Ranging from a seriously redesigned Inventory Menu to the natural light cast from an equipped flaming sword, it’s clear that BioWare’s promise of taking fan feedback and criticism to heart wasn’t just lip service (the return of a ‘tactical view’ for fans of dungeon-crawling RPGs is sure to be a prime example).
The ability to affect both enemies and objects with magical attacks – sabotaging enemy ships with a fire spell, in this instance – could not only change the shape of a battlefield over the course of a fight, but erase even more barriers between players and the art assets placed alongside them. It’s still early, but that decision to make most areas and objects accessible seems to be the most obvious change to the core level design Dragon Age fans are used to.
But on a small scale, the ability customize your own stronghold along different lines (economy, trade, military strength) and walk seamlessly from one environment to the next could hold serious promise for the depth of systems being implemented behind the scenes. Add to that the return of playable races, and the possibilities seem endless.
Hopefully this footage implies that BioWare will roll out some HD gameplay and developer diaries in the near future, but for now, what do you make of the changes being made? Has this footage proven to you that BioWare is returning to form with Inquisition, or are you still hesitant? Sound off in the comments.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is expected to release in Fall 2014 for the Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
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