How Dragon Age: Inquisition is learning from BioWare’s mistakes
We’ve seen dragons. In fact, games™ has seen lots of dragons. But aside from the scaly beasts that’ll rain fiery death across the vastly expanded continent of Thedas, BioWare has kept gamers in the dark about the next entry in its Dragon Age saga.
Sitting down with producer Cameron Lee, games™ gets a better a look at the world of Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Dragon Age 2 was a very different beast to Origins, and Inquisition looks closer to the original, but what key things have been brought from both games?
We started out by looking at how players used and what they liked about Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2. We also look at what the market’s doing too because it’s been so long since those games; when you’re planning a game that takes three or four years to make you have to look ahead and try to predict what might happen.
We did look long and hard at everything, not just at what the core fans want but also what other fans who don’t necessarily talk to us on the forums or on Twitter and we can gauge a lot of their reactions through the telemetry data that we get.
How did that affect an area as large as combat, for example?
The combat in Dragon Age: Origins was very different to its sequel. In Inquisition, even if you’re running around fighting rather than using the tactical view the combat is slowed down, there’s more weight to the animations and impact to the hits.
We’ve brought back the tactical view for all platforms we’ve improved on it so you can follow your party of characters, zoom in, pan it and get a good feel for the environment as well as hovering over enemies to see info about them, their strengths and weaknesses and stuff like that.
Even the action combat is more strategic because you can chop and change at will between characters so you might take your archer up to a cliff face to give him a tactical advantage but the enemy AI is going to react to your strategy by laying traps down and trying to manoeuvre around you.
The sense of scale is enormous and there’s clearly an awful lot to explore but at the same time you have this storyline that suggests a sense of urgency is required. How do you balance those two seemingly opposite notions?
The world is incredibly open now; it’s a really big game. The story that we’re telling spans different nations so what we’ve done is take areas of those nations that make sense of the story and made massive open areas for them.
Because they’re themed for the story we’ve been able to do is introduce conflicts into those areas, so even when you’re just running around exploring you’re getting that sense of conflict and a glimpse of the consequences of what you’re not dealing with in the world.
Our world master system understands where you are in the story and the decisions you’ve made so even if you’ve been completely ignoring the story, which you can, you’re going to see fade rifts everywhere, Templars and Mages battling each other, a civil war underway and as you start to bring stability to this world you’re going to see the world master system adapt and change what’s happening around you.
Releasing in November, there is a small alarm bell ringing that it hasn’t been widely available to play. Even at E3, so close to launch, it was a presentation only. To allay the doubts and concerns of DA fans out there, what’s the thinking behind that decision?
It’s a really simple answer, it’s really hard to convey the context of the RPG, characters, story and concepts if people just get their hands on it and play it for five minutes. They’re missing the context, so that’s why we did it this way.
What we’ll probably do next year is an open theatre style booth – or the next time we do a Dragon Age game – so that people can see it in action but that’s really all it is. We have been doing behind-closed-doors for people to get a feel for it, but that’s a more intimate one-to-one experience with someone talking you through it.