Dragon Age 4: Go Bolder, Not Just Bigger

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I recently replayed a pretty thorough runtrhough of 2014’s Dragon Age: Inquisition and let me just say that the game definitely stood the test of time these past few years. Inquisition is easily the best game in the series- managing to successfully implement the strategy of Origins and the action focus of DA2 while also providing a lovely narrative and plenty of lore and exploration. I find it highly comparable to The Witcher 3 in many ways and all of them are good, so despite my personal belief that Wild Hunt is the better game, Inquisition all but ensures that Dragon Age remain one of my favorite series ever.

Although we recently got a fourth Mass Effect game and it wasn’t quite what fans should have expected or were clamoring for, I have high hopes that when a fourth Dragon Age title eventually releases sometime after Anthem or any other in-house projects are completed, it will be yet another stroke of fortune for role-playing gamers. The ending of Inquisition and specifically the Trespasser downloadable expansion largely set up the theoretical next title and certainly both the state of Thedas as well as the conflict inevitably to come. Why, with your very last decision you decided whether or not the Inquisition should remain unchanged and unopposed or whether it should be altered in any way. Beyond that, you even decided to seek redemption for the Dread Wolf Fen’Harel and the Elven people or to condemn them and do battle in the future.

Each of the three expansions within Inquisition do a good job of continuing the intricate tapestry of a story that Dragon Age has been known for as well as establishing unique and new characters on a level playing field with already-known factors. The Descent ushers in a whole literal new world near the Deep Roads and Orzammar while Jaws of Hakkon introduces players to the Avvar culture as well as the story of the first Inquisitor, the Elven mage Ameridan. In both Jaws of Hakkon and Trespasser we begin to see the true nature of the conflict with Corypheus throughout the majority of the main game as well as the underlying Elven presence consistently there.

This blog has obvious spoilers so if you haven’t treated yourself to the lengthy but worthwhile experience that Inquisition is then fly you fools.

Solas is the Dread Wolf, also known as the moniker Fen’Harel- notably similar to Fenrir of Earth’s own mythology, also a wolf. He is a likeable and respectable foe to have and while he may or may not be the Inquisitor’s ally and friend he will undoubtedly be an antagonist in the future, if not a direct enemy in his quest to tear down the Veil and bring back the Elven age of old. In doing so he will destroy the modern age of Thedas as it is currently known and that of course does not bode well for Hawke, the Grey Warden and Hero of Ferelden, or any other characters we’ve built or known along the way. Dragon Age 4 could very well be the last of the series and close the book on many things while leaving others happily unknown.

I want to see the series continue to be as bold as it has been with Inquisition but I also think the size and scope of Inquisition is the perfect fit for a game. I want to see even more narrative exploration and ideas and lore if possible. Give me as much context as needed and make as many references and jokes as you want, I’ll even stand to see some tie-ins from previous choices and the lovely World State generator and save files. I want this to be the most expressive and expansion title yet from the series and most definitely not to fall into the same trap as Mass Effect Andromeda. We shouldn’t see the conflict with Solas coming from an already known perspective such as the Inquisitor or the Grey Warden or Hawke, although that’s not to say we shouldn’t work with them or be able to see their presence as well.

I want to be a relative unknown persona in Thedas and yet still be able to take part in the quest, much like JRR Tolkien establishes with his Fellowship in his lore and mythology as well. One part of many but one integral nonetheless to the completion of the quest to destroy the ring and free Middle-earth from Sauron’s clutches. I want to be able to craft my character and shape my destiny and then form some unruly band or another and whether it be on the Divine’s orders or somebody else’s or even my own, to go out and seek to resolve the would-be Elven and agents of Fen’Harel war on the world. We already know some of the proposed details of this next adventure in terms of what should be coming and what has been teased but I can’t wait to see how every little detail continues to play into the larger scheme of things.

We learned so much throughout Inquisition: for example, all of the old gods (those that actually even were gods and not mages or mortals) were typically spirits or the flip-side of demons from the Fade, not quite the deities they’re perceived or believed to be. As the Inquisition would lead us to believe at the end of DAI, the battle begins with the chaos breaking out between the Qunari and Tevinter Imperium- the Inquisitor him/herself marks the Imperium on the map as the place to begin. While once more a mortal conflict will draw the attention of others whilst the immortals and ancients fight over larger scale things such as world destruction and rebirth, all conflicts will inevitably tie together in the long run. Just as Jon Snow ponders the coming Long Night as the Seven Kingdoms find themselves battling for the Iron Throne, so too will Thedas have to focus on multiple aspects of a multi-faceted battle.

Suffice it to say, this isn’t merely a post about everything I think Dragon Age 4 should be- it’s just a word to the wise. If Bioware is as smart as they typically seem to be, then they should recognize that Inquisition worked and all they have to do is tweak the formula and give us more than before, much like they did with DAI after DA2 and Origins. Instead of going bigger in every aspect- keep the world size the same or make it larger, it matters not, just don’t make the player character any more important or it’ll border on being unrealistic. The scope and scale of the central conflict itself is just as grand as before- the entire world is at stake in one way or another. There are so many difficult decisions to be made and certainly all the endgame decisions in DAI will have some dire consequences as well. I’d love to see that all and more, but I want the time to be right. Take your time Bioware, I can wait and I can remember. Cheers.

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