Dragon Age 4: everything we know so far about the open secret of a sequel

Dragon Age 4
Image credit: BioWare

They say good things come to those who wait and we’re hopeful that will be the case for Dragon Age fans who are patiently hanging on for news of the fourth instalment in the franchise. 

After being an open secret for so long, Dragon Age 4 has now been confirmed by executive producer Mark Darrah and we’ve even been teased by a minute-long trailer. 

At the moment we’re cautiously calling the game Dragon Age 4 but this title isn’t confirmed and the series’ naming pattern makes it hard to predict for certain whether we’ll be looking at a named or a numbered game. 

[Update: The EA Play conference at E3 2019 came and went without any mention of Dragon Age 4. There's the possibility that it could appear at Microsoft's press conference at the show, but we wouldn't hold our breath, RPG fans...]

What we do know, though, is that Dragon Age is definitely coming so we think it’s only appropriate to keep an eye on the latest news and begin piecing together a picture of what the game might look like when it finally takes flight. As such, we’ve put together this this hub of news and rumors to keep you on top of the latest happenings from the land of Thedas. 

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The fourth instalment in the popular RPG franchise, Dragon Age
  • What can I play it on? Not confirmed but it's likely to be Xbox One, PS4 and PC
  • When can I play it? At least a couple of years away 

Dragon Age 4 trailers

The Game Awards 2018 had plenty of reveals but one of the biggest was a teaser trailer for Dragon Age 4. At only a minute long, the trailer doesn’t give much away but the hashtag TheDreadWolfRises as well as the appearance of Inquisition’s Solas is enough to pique any fan’s interest. 

You can watch the teaser trailer below:

Dragon Age 4 release date

Despite the fact that the game’s development has long been a very open secret, Dragon Age 4 has only just been officially announced by BioWare. But, even now, BioWare isn't ready to say much about the game.

"Hey everyone, we have been working on a new Dragon Age game for quite a while now and I am pleased to finally tease the existence of this project," said Mark Darrah, executive producer on a BioWare blog post. "While we won’t be sharing any details for now, I can tell you we have been building a new team around a core of Dragon Age veterans, people I’ve worked with on Dragon Age, Jade Empire, and some of whom I’ve worked with since the Baldur’s Gate days.

"I’m so excited to show you more!" 

Back in May 2017, writer Alexis Kennedy revealed that he was working on a part of the game’s story in an interview with Eurogamer. This part of the story, he revealed, is “well-segregated from other parts of the game”. At this point in time, the game was still clearly in the very early stages of development. 

A later report from Kotaku suggested that some of the Dragon Age development team had been pulled off the title to focus on creating Anthem which would understandably cause delays to the game's development. 

In addition, a report by Venture Beat suggests Dragon Age 4's release date is at least three years away and a title for the fourth installation hasn't even been chosen yet "according to sources familiar with the studio".

Basically, it looks like Dragon Age 4, if that is its real name, is still early in its development and it could be a while before BioWare open the curtains on any kind of release window. At the moment we’d expect the game will release on PS4, Xbox One and PC but it’s hard not to note that preparations for the next generation ramping up and it’s uncertain whether consoles such as PS5 and Xbox Two will be here by the time Dragon Age 4 is released. 

Dragon Age 4 news and rumors

Live Service elements may be included but they aren't likely to be like Anthem

Back in January 2018 a report from Kotaku suggested that Dragon Age 4 could include live elements, stirring some fan concern that this could mean an always-online multiplayer approach. 

However, in Kotaku’s most recent April 2019 report it’s been suggested that while Dragon Age 4 game could potentially include Anthem-like live elements, it won’t simply be “Anthem with dragons”. One developer told Kotaku:

“The idea was that Anthem would be the online game and that Dragon Age and Mass Effect, while they may experiment with online portions, that’s not what defines them as franchises. I don’t think you’ll see us completely change those franchises.”

This suggests that any live plans for Dragon Age aren’t likely to take the form of a shared online world exactly like Anthem’s and will still be suited to the single-player adventuring Dragon Age is known for. 

In a tweet in January 2018, Casey Hudson also stated that the “live” elements being considered are actually ways of continuing the game’s story after the main story has been completed. 

A big take away from Kotaku’s report is that at this early stage in the game’s development, as with any game, very few things are absolutely set in stone, with another developer stating: “They have a lot of unanswered questions. Plus I know it’s going to change like five times in the next two years.” 

So, regardless of what Dragon Age 4’s live elements look like now they could change drastically over the next few weeks, months or even years.

Official announcement
After years without an update, BioWare officially announced during The Game Awards 2018 that it will be returning to Thedas in a new Dragon Age title. 

The Game Awards 2018
According to a report by Venture Beat (and understood to be correct by Eurogamer), we expected an announcement regarding Dragon Age 4 during The Game Awards 2018. 

What that announcement turned out to be, interestingly, was the game's first 1-minute-long teaser trailer that re-introduced Fen'Harel, the elven god of betrayal, and Solas from Dragon Age Inquisition. 

We didn't get any gameplay or story details but, for now, the confirmation from BioWare is enough to keep the hype train chugging.

Roundabout confirmations
Regardless of whether or not BioWare had confirmed it, Dragon Age fans were pretty certain that another game was going to be in the works. Partly because they had faith in the power of their sheer force of will and partly because over the last couple of years there have been hints from BioWare that something would indeed be happening. It’s the secret that was never really a secret. 

The most recent non-official confirmation has come from executive producer Mark Darrah, who tweeted in January 2018 that he’s working on both Dragon Age as well as BioWare’s next big IP, Anthem. 

Though he’s now left the company, BioWare veteran Mike Laidlaw was tweeting that there was still another couple of games in Dragon Age series yet back in mid-2017. Even before that, Alexis Kennedy became the writer that launched a thousand headlines after comments he made in an interview with Eurogamer were taken as a semi-official confirmation of the game’s existence and his place in it. 

In the interview Kennedy teased that he's been "given considerable autonomy to work on a storyline bit of lore which is well-segregated from other parts of the game.“ 

”I don't want to exaggerate the degree of the chunk [I'm writing],“ Kennedy he was at pains to add. ”It's nothing that grandiose, but it is distinct. It's a bit of lore which has not been addressed much to date in Dragon Age.“

Story and character
Every game in the Dragon Age franchise has had a heavy emphasis on story and character and fans will be glad to know that Dragon Age 4 isn’t likely to be any different.

After Mark Darrah tweeted that he was working on the game, BioWare general manager Casey Hudson chipped in with his own elaborative tweet. In this tweet he said it was “too early to talk details” but the game would be “story & character focused.”

It’s not clear whether this will be a brand new standalone game or whether it’ll continue on directly from Inquisition. Certainly, the end of Inquisition's Trespasser DLC suggests there is a story thread to follow with Solas, which would see the Inquisitor chase the elf down to stop his plans. The teaser trailer from The Game Awards 2018 also hints heavily that this will be the case.

We already know there are writers working on lore and side quests, following Alexis Kennedy’s interview with Eurogamer in 2017 in which he confirmed he was working on a part of the game that’s “well-segregated” from the rest and focuses on some lore that’s not been widely addressed. 

Kennedy, who has worked on titles such as Sunless Sea and Fallen London, said the subject matter would not be surprising to those familiar with his work. To us this implies that his quest (or quests) will include thoughtful choices, themes of tragic love and desire and an underlying sense of unease. 

New live elements
In the January 2018 Kotaku report on Anthem and Dragon Age, it was mentioned that sources had informed Kotaku that Dragon Age had been “rebooted” in order to implement more “live elements” into the game.

Naturally, there was some fan panic in response to this given EA’s increasing penchant for service-based games. Fans expressed concern that BioWare was going to take the Dragon Age series down a Destiny 2, always-online multiplayer route. 

That doesn’t appear to be the case, however. In his tweet, Casey Hudson also stated that the “live” elements being considered are actually ways of continuing the game’s story after the main story has been completed. This is something we’ve already seen in games such as Assassin’s Creed Origins

Things we'd like to see

A world like Dragon Age: Inquisition
We hope that the next Dragon Age game has a map similar to the one in Dragon Age: Inquisition, by which we mean we hope it's big and open without being overwhelming. It was the perfect follow-up to the closed and repetitive maps of Dragon Age 2 and we’d like this approach to continue. 

Explore more of Thedas
There’s one very notable part of Thedas that players have yet to be allowed to explore and that’s the Tevinter Imperium. Once the most powerful nation in Thedas, the Imperium is a shadow of its former self. Its history, stratified social structure and maintenance of a magocracy would make it an immensely interesting and different part of Thedas to allow players to explore, while allowing the franchise to continue to explore themes of social injustice, power and prejudice.  

The fact that the area is references throughout other Dragon Age games is enough to make us think it’s a viable setting for Dragon Age 4. However, the ending of Dragon Age: Inquisition’s Trespasser DLC makes us think it even more likely, as it sees the Inquisitor stab a dagger into a map of the Imperium with a vow to track down Solas.

Solve that cliffhanger
Our previous point brings us to this one – we’d really like that Solas storyline to continue to be explored. He’s the perfect focus for the next game and the player’s approach to him is the perfect narrative crux. 

(Image credits: BioWare)

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