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Friday, 25 September 2015

Editorial: Five Wishes for Dragon Age 4

Editorial: Five Wishes for Dragon Age 4

We're all waiting for the announcement for Dragon Age 4 with baited breath, and everybody has their own idea of what they'd like to see in it. There are even some people who want to see the Inquisitor return as a protagonist, because apparently we're playing Mass Effect now.

In our infinite wisdom, we at Fission Mailure have decided to bestow upon you all our highly important views on what Dragon Age 4 should feature, in this handy and short wishlist.

1. Krem as a companion.

It's all but confirmed at this point (unless the Inquisitor is just stabbing a map of Tevinter for fun) that Dragon Age 4 will be set in the Tevinter Imperium, much to the delight of fans who have spent three games hearing about it without ever getting the chance to see it. Dorian, who returns to Tevinter at the end of Trespasser, will almost certainly be a prominent character in the game, either as an adviser or as a party member, but you know who else is from Tevinter?

Krem, the most prominent member of Iron Bull's mercenary company, the Bull's Chargers. A non-magical commoner from the magicratic (what is the term for 'ruled by mages'?) Imperium, Krem would give us a viewpoint that's entirely different from that of nobleman Dorian.

It's not as if it would be difficult to get him back either: The biggest barrier would be the choice to let the Chargers die during Iron Bull's companion quest, but the player never actually sees them die, and never sees the bodies either - and while other people do, the Chargers were killed by Venatori, making it entirely possible for the bodies to have been burned, frozen, mangled, or all of the above beyond recognition.

Jennifer Hale has an excellent working relationship with Bioware too, so having her return to play Krem would be no problem - but even if she couldn't, it wouldn't be the first time that Bioware has recast a role.

2. More influence over the world.

Despite playing as a massive behemoth organisation, it often feels like the decisions you make in Inquisition aren't having any actual impact on the world. 

You can help out the refugees of the Hinterlands and funnel as many resources as you can get into Redcliffe, but the areas will still be exactly the same when you return; no matter who you side with in the Orlesian Civil War, Val Royeaux and the Exalted Plains will remain the same as they ever were; keeping or banishing the Grey Wardens will have approximately zero effect on gameplay. No matter whether you side with the mages or the templars, Corypheus' army will remain about roughly half mages and half red templars. The world is oddly static.

Give me decisions that will have changes on gameplay. Let me be able to see a concrete effect on the world around me, for good or for ill. Give me semi-random encounters that become more likely the more certain conditions are fulfilled. Have my foes change their behaviour and the make-up of their forces in response to what I do.

In brief: If you're going to give me influence over Thedas, make it influence that I can see in motion. While Fable III is a terrible game, this is at least one thing it did right, having the decisions you make as king cause stark differences to the environments around you, along with affecting how the random people you encounter think of you and interact with you. And that's a six year old Peter Molyneux game. 

3. More massive battles.

You know one surprising thing that was lacking from Inquisition? Massive set-piece battles. We had a few in the form of Haven, Adamant, and the Arbor Wilds, but they always felt weirdly lacklustre, less like pitched battles between the forces of good and evil and more like background noise to the Inquisitor's own struggle.

It is possible to do battles - hectic, frenetic, vast-feeling battles - well, and good examples of such can be found in the oddest places (the video game version of The Return of the King does it especially well, bizarrely).

Give us large numbers of units clashing on screen, and a constantly changing list of objectives to achieve to turn the tide of the battle in our favour. Give us battles with multiple stages, where we're besieging a gate, storming a castle, and then holding and defending it from reinforcements as we wait for our own forces to come and back us up. 

A pitched battle is fertile ground to be clever with gameplay, working in elements of capture-the-flag, survive-for-x-amount-of-time, escort quests, and combat, and if so inclined, Bioware could produce something really special.

4. Some answers about Weisshaupt.

Weisshaupt, and the turmoil going down there, was one of the mysteries left at the end of Inquisition, with Hawke (assuming they survive) heading off to the Grey Warden fortress and with all news coming out of it stopping shortly thereafter.

Trespasser doesn't give us any answers as to what happened there, and it's entirely likely that we'll never know - letting plot threads go forgotten is something that Bioware has done before in this series (remember that Blight potentially brewing in the Anderfels that was never mentioned again?), after all.

But if there's a chance, I'd like to see the Weisshaupt question answered - as exposition or, for preference, as a story quest in Dragon Age 4. 

If it means we get to visit the fortress itself, all the better, although as I recall it isn't anywhere near the Tevinter Imperium.

5. Better political intrigue. 

Oh, Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts, I was so looking forward to you and you were everything I hoped you wouldn't be. It sounds amazing on paper: Political intrigue, the Great Game, court manipulations, backstabbing, a masked ball - but the quest is widely regarded as the worst one in Inquisition.

Dragon Age 4 will be a chance to rectify that, giving us some political intrigue with some actual bite to it, and it'd be lovely if we could see that worked into the plot more, instead of being limited to one story quest.

Give us political alliances that meaningfully impact the rest of the game, give us treachery within our own ranks, give us real differences between using diplomacy or force or espionage that influence gameplay, bring back the judgement mechanic and have it have a real impact  - and yes, give us a party we can attend where everyone is hiding knives in their petticoats and betrayal behind their smiles. 

More political intrigue. Better political intrigue.

1 comment:

  1. Weisshaupt is literally right next to Tevinter