It's on the horizon, in just a few months, Bioware (and their EA masters) are releasing what can make or break the Dragon Age franchise. And frankly, I'm on the fence about it.
If you’re a fan of RPGs, then the odds are pretty good that you’ve at least heard of Bioware’s Dragon Age franchise. At the moment, the franchise has two released games, a number of novels, an anime film, and more. A third game is on the horizon, with an October release date set and trailers constantly being released in order to stir up excitement.
This writer is a massive fan of the first title in the series. Dragon Age: Origins is one of my favorite games, and possibly my favorite RPG (yes, even beating out Skyrim). I adored the setting, the music, the storyline, the characters, and the gameplay, in my mind, DA:O hit just about every note correctly. It was one of the few games where I felt like I could actually create my own character, with a distinct personality. I could play as a religious noble, praising the Maker when I could and damning the mages I came across, or a racist Elf, hating the humans that oppressed me and letting them struggle when hardship hit them.
When I played Dragon Age II, I was disappointed in so many ways. The storyline seemed dumbed down, the characters were a lot flatter, and the combat had become so simple it made me gag. As for the player character, I went from having the chance of creating a distinct person to being given the choice of being a super nice guy, a funny guy, or an asshole (some real original ideas there). Despite critics giving some strong feedback, Dragon Age II faced a lot of backlash from the players (y’know ,the people who actually buy the games), and has received over a thousand negative reviews on metacritic.
And the problems with Dragon Age II is why I’m so nervous about the newest title, Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Bioware made it a point to acknowledge that so many of their fans were disappointed, and even asked us to tell them exactly where they, in our opinion, went wrong. Supposedly (though we’ll have to wait and see) they made sure to avoid the things that outraged us the most. According to Word of God, we won't be seeing the reused environments, and there's supposed to be a return to the more tactical combat that was prevalent in the first game, with much less emphasis on button mashing.
So far, Dragon Age: Inquisition is looking mighty fine. The trailers are getting me super pumped up for it, the characters seem pretty detailed, and the storyline has regained the dramatic feeling that Origins had. We’re being promised that the choices we make with our characters are going to have some major impact, and that our choices from previous games will have big parts to play too.
Sounds good right? Well there’s a lot more riding on it then just my hopes.
If Inquisition resonates well with fans, Bioware is going to be able to take the Dragon Age franchise even further. They’ll be a company that actually talked with their fans and reacted according to what they wanted. We can look forward to a possible fourth Dragon Age, as well as more work in the universe.
However, if Bioware fails to deliver what they’re promising (and they’re promising a lot), it can spell death for not just the DA franchise, but players’ faith in the company.
Inquisition is being promised to add so much more to the franchise. The romance (a trademark of many of Bioware’s games) has been overhauled, with a greater emphasis on conversations and decisions and less of a focus on gifts. Armor customization is making an appearance, as well as the opportunity to capture and control a number of keeps that you’ll be able to use to further the Inquisition's cause.
Unfortunately, it tends to be best to take what game developers say with a grain of salt. Take the Fable series for example. Molyneux, the creator, promised the world multiple times with the games, saying that your decisions would impact the world, and people’s opinion would vary depending on your past deeds. At best, these promises were greatly exaggerated, and the fact so many promises fell short tended to take away from what could otherwise be considered a relatively strong game (Fable 3 excluded).
So yes, I’m pretty nervous about Dragon Age: Inquisition. Bioware, who have far more hits than misses in my opinion, is promising a much better experience than Dragon Age 2, and if they deliver, I’ll be happy for the rest of my life (or at least until the next sequel). A successful game means one of my favorite franchises can keep going, but a bad one means that it’s two misses in a row with the Dragon Age franchise, and that may mean it’s time to start bringing out the coffin.
Got anything to say about Dragon Age: Inquisition? Looking forward to it? Refuse to buy it? Can't way for some of EA's fantastic DLC (I just gagged writing that)?