Dragon Age 4 is still years away most likely, but every games industry event brings us a new glimpse at the world of Thedas.
Such was the case at Gamescom Opening Night Live that was held on Thursday, August 27 where we heard from the developers at BioWare directly on what they're planning for the fourth installment in the franchise.
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.
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 on the next generation of consoles Xbox Series X and PS5 as well as PC.
- When can I play it? Nothing is confirmed but it's probably a couple of years away
Dragon Age 4 trailers
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 release date
Despite the fact that the game’s development has long been a very open secret, Dragon Age 4 was only officially announced by BioWare until a couple of years ago. 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!"
A report by Venture Beat in 2018 suggested Dragon Age 4's release date is at least three years away (from the time of publication) and a title for the fourth installation hadn't even been chosen yet "according to sources familiar with the studio".
In addition, 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".
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.
Dragon Age 4 news and rumors
An update from Mark Darrah
Producer, Mark Darrah, has 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 ongoing 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.
Quiet on the anniversary
After teasing by Mark Darrah, fans were hoping for some Dragon Age 4 related news on Dragon Age's 10th anniversary on December 4 but nothing substantial was forthcoming.
Darrah's teasing tweets on Dragon Age Day featured "redacted" screenshots from Dragon Age 4, though they were so redacted that nothing was visible. Funny? Yes. Disappointing? Also sort of yes.
Ok a real screenshot.Slightly redacted. pic.twitter.com/LpioHFI6f9December 4, 2019
This was followed by the dashing of yet more hopes during the 2019 Game Awards. After the game's announcement trailer launched at the awards in 2018, some expected more news to come at the same place in 2019 but this wasn't the case.
As we move into 2020, it's expected that at least at some point this year, we'll hear (and see) more about Dragon Age 4.
In a sign that the Dragon Age community is a tinderbox of anticipation, a few tweets from Mark Darrah have set the entire thing alight.
Building on the aforementioned teasing from BioWare that some kind of anniversary reveal is incoming, the executive producer has posted a series of tweets with images and nothing but the caption "Dragon Age" with varying punctuation. The images range from a forest path, to a polygonal spider to what looks like storybook/manuscript art.
Dragon Age! pic.twitter.com/09hx2pwYi5November 27, 2019
Anniversary celebration reveal?
The Dragon Age series marks its 10th anniversary this month, and developer BioWare is teasing that it's got a whole day of celebrations planned just for the occasion on December 4. We're hoping a Dragon Age 4 official reveal will be part of the celebrations.
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
Setting to be teased by new short story collection
Dragon Age: Tevinter Nights is a new set of tales by a handful of BioWare authors, edited by Dragon Age's current lead writer, Patrick Weekes. He took to Twitter to clarify his position as editor of the new collection, and to give a shout out to those involved:
Hey, all: this isn’t accurate. It is NOT a novel by me.It IS an anthology of short stories set in the Dragon Age universe, featuring @eplerjc, @bbattye, @CourtneyWoods, @Sylvf1, @el_cormier, and many others! We cannot wait for you to see them! https://t.co/xLijSP7ngSJuly 20, 2019
Beyond the authors working on the book, there's little to go on so far as to what the collection will contain. However, its title "Tevinter Nights" seems a certain tease as to where the Dragon Age franchise is headed next.
Each Dragon Age game so far has, more or less, focussed on one region or area of the continent of Thedas, in which the games are set. So, Dragon Age Origins introduced Ferelden, Dragon Age 2 focused on the single city of Kirkwall, and Dragon Age: Inquisition spanned the Orlesian Empire.
Regularly referenced is the Tevinter Imperium, an area where magic is less strictly policed than in other realms of Thedas, with its mage population often seen as antagonists in the Dragon Age universe.
The title of the new short story collection adds weight to the rumour that Dragon Age 4 will be set in the Tevinter Imperium. Not only has BioWare previously used books to set up forthcoming locations and characters in its games (Weekes, for instance, wrote a book called "The Masked Empire", which was published prior to the release of Inquisition and introduced ancillary characters and quest lines), but also Dragon Age Inquisition's final DLC scene saw the player character Inquisitor stab a knife into the heart of the Tevinter Imperium on a map.
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.
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 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.”
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’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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