Some fans weren’t thrilled about developer BioWare’s Dragon Age II. The big complaint? It didn’t feel epic. From what I saw today, Dragon Age: Inquisition is not going to have that problem.
BioWare is showing off a live demo of its upcoming role-playing game for the first time at the Electronic Entertainment Expo tradeshow in Los Angeles today. For the first time, we learned that Inquisition is breaking from past Dragon Age games by giving players an open world to explore. BioWare creative director Mike Laidlaw explained that if you see a mountain in the background, you can walk to it. It was right then that I started to feel like Dragon Age: Inquisition is looking to borrow some ideas from one of the biggest RPGs of the last 10 years: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
“The open world is larger than all of Dragon Age: Origins,” Laidlaw said of Inquisition. “And you can go anywhere that you see.”
Previous Dragon Age games weren’t exactly linear. You could explore large locales and maybe choose the order in which you do things, but Inquisition is wide open — like Skyrim. The game also presents sidequests in a similar manner. At one point during the demo, a woman starts talking to the hero and explains that some evil dudes killed her husband and stole his ring. You can accept a quest to help her out and add it to your log.
“We had to do a fair amount of work, but [Frostbite] definitely was an opportunity to go open world,” Laidlaw told GamesBeat.
It makes sense that BioWare and publisher Electronic Arts would want to add open-world elements to Inquisition. The genre is home to some of gaming’s biggest hits. That includes releases like Skyrim, Grand Theft Auto V, and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.
But Inquisition doesn’t feel like Skyrim in a bunch of key ways. Like in other BioWare RPGs, you’ll have a massive party of characters that all impact the story. Your character also isn’t a blank slate. In combat, you can also drop out of real time at any point to control things in a tactical mode. This gives you an easy interface to issue commands to your party.
In other ways, though, BioWare is also borrowing elements from other open-world games.
Several regions make up the world of Inquisition. As you explore those areas, you’ll come across groups of enemies and strongholds that you can overtake. If you do, the region will reflect this change. You might see more of your banners as well as people friendly to your cause in these places. We’ve seen gameplay systems like this in things like Assassin’s Creed and Saints Row. It’s just one of the ways that BioWare is trying to make Inquisition feel larger and more alive.
Dragon Age is obviously at a turning point, but BioWare is saying that it will keep all the stuff that players love while exploring new ideas that haven’t appeared in Dragon Age before.
“More than anything, we’re going to be true to what we’ve done,” said Laidlaw. “From the interaction in the story and so on, but we also wanted to look at open world and make sure that everything feels purposeful.”