Dragon Age 4 is coming, that we can be sure of as, after several years of being one of the most open secrets in game development, it has been confirmed. When it’s coming, however, is another matter.
BioWare has been working on a highly-anticipated follow-up to Dragon Age: Inquisition for several years now and while we do get a tidbit of information every now and then, solid facts on the game are still rare.
Though we're calling it Dragon Age 4, a recent trailer for the game appears to suggest that the series might defy its own naming conventions with its fourth outing and simply go by the title Dragon Age. Regardless of whether it does decide to forego the number 4, however, the trailer points to the game still being a sequel that will bring back characters from Dragon Age: Inquisition and previous titles, including Varric and Solas.
Now that it's 2021 and the new generation of consoles is well underway, we’re hoping that the regularity of Dragon Age 4 news drops will increase, though a recent report has suggested it could be 2022 before the ball really starts rolling on that front. In the meantime, we’ve collected all the confirmed news and juicy rumors so far for your perusal below.
A recent report might have given us an insight as to why Dragon Age 4 wasn't present at EA Play Live 2021. Read on to find out more.
Dragon Age 4: cut to the chase
- What is it? The fourth installment in the popular RPG franchise, Dragon Age
- What can I play it on? TBC but it's likely to be on the next generation of consoles Xbox Series X and PS5 as well as PC.
- When can I play it? TBC but 2023 or later seems most likely
Dragon Age 4 release date
Despite the fact that the game’s development had long been a very open secret, Dragon Age 4 was only officially announced by BioWare a couple of years ago. Since then, BioWare has kept its cards pretty close to its chest and neither a release date nor a release window has been confirmed.
"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!"
EA's 2019 earnings call (via Eurogamer) had a note about Dragon Age 4 that suggests we won't see it released for a couple of years yet. During the call, the company's CFO Blake Jorgensen said that the game "probably comes after fiscal '22". This lines up with a 2021 report from GamesBeat's Jeff Grubb, who claims that multiple sources familiar with the project have said the game is on track for a 2023 release.
Basically, it looks like Dragon Age 4, if that is its real name, won't be with us for another couple of years.
Given its release date seems to be some way off and a Gamescom 2020 clip made mentioned of "next-generation technology", it's likely that Dragon Age 4 will be a release for PS5 and Xbox Series X as well as PC.
Dragon Age 4 trailers
The Game Awards 2020 brought hungry Dragon Age fans a brand new CGI trailer to enjoy. Though it still doesn't reveal very much, it does feature the characters Varric and Solas as well as some extremely pretty locations that we will likely explore when we can finally become the new hero of Thedas.
At Gamescom Opening Night Live, we got a behind-the-scenes video with the developers at BioWare who are keen to start talking about their plans for the fourth installment of the game. Take a look for yourself below:
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:
"I suspect you have questions..." #TheDreadWolfRises pic.twitter.com/oT7L6LOFKADecember 7, 2018
Dragon Age 4 news and rumors
Reportedly on track for a 2023 release
Just as BioWare said, Dragon Age 4 didn’t make an appearance at EA Play Live 2021 with an official update but a recent report from GamesBeat could offer some explanation as to why.
GamesBeat’s Jeff Grubb claims that multiple sources familiar with the project have said the game is on track for a 2023 release, though EA is not willing to reveal a release window just yet and has declined to comment on the report. According to the report, EA held back from providing a Dragon Age 4 update at EA Play Live 2021, to enable it to “get the game into position to begin marketing in earnest”, likely in 2022.
The report also corroborates Bloomberg's report from earlier this year that BioWare has decided to drop plans for a Dragon Age 4 live-service model, instead opting to build the new Dragon Age as a single-player experience, like its predecessors. GamesBeat does, however, suggest that Dragon Age 4 could have an online multiplayer element, similar to Dragon Age: Inquisition.
A 2023 release window would line up with previous comments from EA, such as a 2019 earnings call in which the company’s chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen stated that Dragon Age 4 “probably comes after fiscal '22”, meaning the earliest we could see the new Dragon Age is April 2022 - when the next fiscal year begins.
Dragon Age fans have been living on crumbs of concept art and the latest features what appears to be the Antivan Crows. Dragon Age 4 executive producer, Christian Dailey, shared the new image on Twitter with an accompanying message that reads, “sorry for no EA Play news this year but please know that the team is heads down with a lot of momentum and making great progress. We are excited to share more when the time is right. Please stay safe and have a great weekend!”
Hi Friends – sorry for no EA Play news this year but please know that the team is heads down with a lot of momentum and making great progress. We are excited to share more when the time is right. Please stay safe and have a great weekend! @SerGoldman @dragonage pic.twitter.com/eveXFbJtgYJuly 2, 2021
Based on the insignia in the corner of the image and the clothing of the characters, the art Dailey shared features the Antivan Crows, an organization of thieves, assassins and spies with a long, important and bloody history in Antiva and Thedas as a whole.
Return of the Grey Wardens?
Dragon Age fans have been treated to a hint that the Grey Wardens will make an appearance in the game. The tease came in the form of an image of the game, tweeted by executive producer Christian Dailey.
@SerGoldman I got you! Is this the right amount of pointy and gray?Happy Friday all. I hope everyone is staying safe and doing well. :) 🐉⚔️🛡️🐉 pic.twitter.com/LbAmD1SKGRApril 30, 2021
New character concept art
Brace yourself for another piece of Dragon Age 4 concept art. BioWare Austin Executive Producer, Christian Dailey, tweeted the art out in March 2021 with the message “Happy Friday my friends - I hope you are all staying out of the rain! Stay safe. Have a great weekend!!”. The image shows a mage standing in a rain-drenched alley, wielding a staff carved to look like a snake.
@SerGoldman perfect!Happy Friday my friends - I hope you are all staying out of the rain! Stay safe. Have a great weekend!! pic.twitter.com/ViYBms8GngMarch 20, 2021
Unfortunately Dailey didn’t provide any more context on the image but given the dearth of Dragon Age 4 information, it’s welcome.
According to a report from Bloomberg, Dragon Age 4 is going to be an entirely single-player experience after a recent pivot in development.
The report claims that Dragon Age 4 had been designed with a heavy multiplayer emphasis, but has transitioned to a single-player only game in recent months following “a recent multiplayer flop” – heavily implying that Anthem’s decline and failure partially caused the pivot in Dragon Age 4. But it wasn't just the failure of Anthem – the report cited the success of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order as a motivation to return the game to a solo focus.
While this isn't definitive, the report noted that the 30-person team dedicated to the Anthem overhaul was re-tasked to work on Dragon Age 4, showing increased focus on the game.
This report has also been corroborated by GamesBeat's Jeff Grubb who claims in a July 2021 report that "BioWare is building the next Dragon Age as a single-player narrative adventure, just like the previous entries in the series", though he doesn't discount the possibility of an online multiplayer like Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Set in Tevinter
It looks like, as long-suspected, Dragon Age 4 is going to be set in Tevinter, if a recently released BioWare book is anything to go by. As spotted by Eurogamer in early 2021, BioWare: Stories and Secrets from 25 Years of Game Development confirms that Tevinter is the setting for Dragon Age 4.
This will make it the first time players will get to visit Tevinter, which was set up as the next location at the end of Dragon Age: Inquisition’s Trespasser DLC. According to Eurogamer, the book also hints that Dragon Age 4 will take us to other locations, too, as Antiva City, the capital of Antiva, is also shown in the book.
The Game Awards 2020
As teased by BioWare, The Game Awards 2020 brought a brand new Dragon Age trailer (scroll up to watch). The CGI trailer was extremely pretty but it didn't reveal too much more about the game. What it did confirm, however, is that Dragon Age 4 will see the return of Solas from Dragon Age: Inquisition as well as the beloved Varric who fills a narratorial as well as companion role in the series.
It also confirmed that players will return to Thedas as a new hero, "the kind of hero they'll never see coming", according to Varric. As the new hero, players will have to "Forge a courageous fellowship to challenge the gathering storm. Friendship, drama, and romance abound as you bring striking individuals together into an extraordinary team. Become the hero and light the beacon of hope in their darkest moments."
Judging from the locations shown in the trailer (and previous rumors and the ending of Inquisition) it looks like we'll may finally make the journey to the Tevinter Imperium, Thedas' ancient country ruled by magisters, though this is still to be confirmed. The trailer didn't show any gameplay or confirm any kind of release window, but we're likely going to have to wait some time for anything like that.
The trailer suggested that the fourth game in the Dragon Age series is going to drop subtitles and numbers and simply be released as Dragon Age but this remains unclear.
Casey Hudson and Mark Darrah leave BioWare
In what could be perceived as a blow to the development of Dragon Age 4, Casey Hudson, the general manager of BioWare, and Mark Darrah, the executive producer on Dragon Age, are departing the studio. BioWare and Darrah have reassured fans that the Dragon Age franchise is still in good hands with Christian Dailey who will replace Mark Darrah.
Gamescom 2020 gave us an update Dragon Age 4 with a behind-the-scenes video (scroll up to watch) featuring the development team at BioWare.
Although there weren’t too many specifics, the video gave a rousing look at some voice recording footage, some in-development game footage as well as interviews with developers. At the beginning of the video General Manager of BioWare Casey Hudson mentioned the game is still in "early production" but added that the studio is making use of "next-generation technology" in the development of the game. Developers also mentioned that Dragon Age 4 will have “new things” and “new places” and chance to “interact with people who live and grew up in these spaces as well.”
The game will explore “what happens when you don’t have power, what happens when the people in charge don’t address the issues” and will allow players to form “close relationship with game characters” who will be “loved or hated”, with a particular focus on the divisiveness of Solas.
An update from Mark Darrah
Producer, Mark Darrah, posted on Twitter regarding Dragon Age 4 again, this time with more of an aim to provide clarity on the game's progress than to tease fans. In his tweet, Darrah confirms that work on Dragon Age 4 is still underway and that progress is still being made. However, he also notes that, no doubt due to the coronavirus pandemic, the development team is having to work from home and that this is "harder".
I realize that most of you are here for Dragon Age news and there hasn't been a lot of that lately...Let me just run down some things I an say:1. We are working on the next Dragon Age2. Yes we are working from home3. Working from home is harder 4. We are making progressJuly 22, 2020
Many development teams have been forced to work from home during the pandemic and shifting working processes has the potential to cause some development slow-downs or disruptions for studios. Darrah hasn't given any insight into how this "harder" way of working has impacted the team behind Dragon Age 4 or progress on the game, but fans will no doubt be glad to know that progress is still being made.
EA Play 2020
It was largely quiet on the Dragon Age 4 front during EA Play 2020 but it's possible the game wasn't completely absent. A montage of images was shown while EA chief studio officer Laura Miele discussed how “Generation shifts are an opportunity to push beyond the boundaries of gaming as we know it today, and this time is no different,” adding that “Our studios are taking their crazy, ambitious ideas, and making them real.”
Miele then moved onto BioWare specifically, saying that the studio "imagines and creates worlds where you become the hero of your own story. And we're using this next generation of technology to make those fantasy worlds your reality.”
The images shown during this elaboration on BioWare's next-gen plans were not explicitly tied to a specific game but they certainly look like they're from Dragon Age 4, largely because of what appears to be the presence of red lyrium, which appears often in the Dragon Age universe, usually to cause trouble.
EA October Earnings Call
EA's recent earnings call (via Eurogamer) had a note about Dragon Age 4 that suggests we won't see it released for a couple of years yet. During the call, the company's CFO Blake Jorgensen said that the game "probably comes after fiscal '22." This would mean that the earliest the next Dragon Age should be expected is April 2022. That would mean around an eight year gap between entries but fans will no doubt be happy to wait if it means getting things right.
If the silence around Dragon Age 4 since its initial teaser has left you feeling nervous for the game's future, worry not as BioWare's Casey Hudson made reference to the game's ongoing development in a BioWare blog post.
The post went into more detail on games like Anthem and Star Wars: The Old Republic, while Dragon Age 4 came under the "super-secret" category so not much can be said. Hudson did, however, say that "one of our projects has a large and growing team in Edmonton working through pre-production, and based on the progress I’m seeing, I can confirm that indeed the Dread Wolf rises." It's not much but it is confirmation that progress on Dragon Age 4 is still being made.
Fernando Melo departure
On the heels of Anthem's lead producer, Ben Irving, Dragon Age 4 lead producer, Fernando Melo has left BioWare. Melo worked on Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2 before being appointed lead producer on Dragon Age 4 (codenamed 'Morrison'.)
In a thread of tweets, Melo explained that he is taking "time to disconnect" after 12 years at BioWare and in an email to his colleagues he said that "Morrison is well underway to becoming the definitive Dragon Age experience" which bodes well for fans.
(1/4) Today was my last day at BioWare. After 12 years.. that's a heck of a lot of feels. :)Tonight I got to write my name up at our local pub, alongside many other amazing peers over the years, and it reminded me of a lot of folks no longer here that I miss dearly. pic.twitter.com/MFQELPM2jrAugust 17, 2019
Live Service elements? Not likely
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.
Then, in April 2019, Kotaku reported 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.”
The suggestion was 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.
Since these reports, however, Bloomberg has claimed in 2021 report that development has once again pivoted and that Dragon Age 4 is planned to be a single-player experience, dropping any plans for heavy multiplayer emphasis following the disappointing performance of Anthem.
The Game Awards 2018 - 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.
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 - confirmed
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 - and the fans were right.
One non-official confirmation came 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.
Halfway through my trip to Barcelona!I’m here showing Anthem internally to EA. I am EP of BOTH DA and Anthem working with @Bio_Warner as Game DirectorAnthem’s up next but there are people hard at work on both franchises and I look forward to sharing more in the futureJanuary 24, 2018
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.
There is no planned ending for DA. There is an evolving plan that tends to look 2 games ahead or so. https://t.co/6Tp1lP6d5GAugust 8, 2017
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 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.”
Reading lots of feedback regarding Dragon Age, and I think you’ll be relieved to see what the team is working on. Story & character focused.Too early to talk details, but when we talk about “live” it just means designing a game for continued storytelling after the main story.January 25, 2018
It seems that the game will continue on from Inquisition's Trespasser DLC in some senses given the appearance of Solas and Varric in its teaser trailers, though the 2020 trailer has confirmed that players will step into the shoes of a new hero rather than the Inquisitor.
We've known for some time that writers are 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.
Dragon Age 4: what 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.
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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