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Dear BioWare… Lessons for Dragon Age 3

/ Nov 30th, 2012 16 Comments

Dragon Age 3: Inquisition

[This editorial was written by Kathrine Bryan.]

Details have recently begun to emerge about Dragon Age 3: Inquisition, which is set to be released in late 2013. Dragon Age 3 will be powered with a new engine, Frostbite 2. Players will assume control as a human, just like in Dragon Age II. Back-stories will be available, though they will not be playable. Customization is supposedly going to be much more extensive than in Dragon Age: Origins. The developers have said the next game will be more French, which leads one to believe it will take place in a region gamers have not explored yet: Orlais. For fans of the series, they will be able to see what happened to some of their Dragon Age II followers, implying that they’ll learn the fates of several characters. The game will allegedly have more variety and space, similar to open-world games such as Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The developers have also promised not to recycle environments, and decisions will have more impact than in the first two games. The few screenshots that have been released are stunning. Overall, with the limited information that is available, Dragon Age 3 looks promising. The game is facing fervid anticipation and high expectations. In order not to let the fans down, BioWare must deal with some issues that have plagued the series.


Dragon Age: Origins reeled in gamers with well-developed characters, tons of personalization options, great voice acting, and an interesting combat system. The game also has solid storytelling, which has become the hallmark of BioWare games. Origins offers a variety of options on how to complete the main Warden’s storyline. Gamers can play as a human, elf, or dwarf, and choose from several back-stories that affect the game and determine their first quest. It’s the type of game that players can play over and over again, and the story’s conclusion is enough to make the game a great stand-alone tale.  Dragon Age: Origins, however, is not perfect. The graphics leave something to be desired. The Warden is silent, and dialogue options are chosen from a box with lines of text than can be a pain to read. The game also had plenty of bugs that could be utterly frustrating at times.

Dragon Age II tried to smooth over the few bumps present in the original game, but instead it introduced more problems into the series. Dragon Age II presents faster combat, and the AI is a little smarter. BioWare’s signature dialogue wheel was introduced into the game, and the main character, Hawke, has a voice. The graphics are also an improvement. The framed narrative of Varric telling the history of the Champion is an interesting approach to storytelling within a game, as was the choice to depict Kirkwall over many years. However, these positive changes are marred by new faults. The dungeons are excruciatingly repetitive because of the recycled environments. Many of the personalization choices were removed. No longer can the player tinker with the party’s armor, and the gamer is stuck within the confines of Hawke’s linear origin story. The player has to play as a human, and skill trees are fixed. In addition, the game’s difficulty levels are off-balance. Beloved characters from Dragon Age: Origins only appear briefly, and the game concludes with a huge question to add to the many unanswered ones fans already had before. The game feels like it was rushed and simplified as if to release the game as soon possible while targeting the broadest audience it could.

In order to redeem the Dragon Age series, BioWare must look at the mistakes with the last two games and fix them. As inspiration, they should examine the Mass Effect series. Mass Effect 3 answers questions from the previous games, and it brings characters like Liara and the Virmire survivor back into the loop after cameos in Mass Effect 2. The gameplay and graphics are sharper. The developers learned from previous errors, and they took away the hilariously hard-to-control vehicles and tedious methods of obtaining minerals. Each mission feels like something important is at stake. Though some may complain about the ending, the reality is that Mass Effect 3 is by the far the most polished and satisfying game of the trilogy.

So what can Dragon Age learn from Mass Effects path? Bring back the favorites. Welcome Alistair, Zevran, Leilana, Morrigan, Isabela, Fenris, Anders, and others back into the party. Dragon Age could also learn from the romance options offered in Mass Effect 3. Dragon Age II, without any DLC, offered four characters that could be romanced by any gender Hawke. While it is a nice idea to allow everyone to romance who they want, it feels less authentic than the multitude of unique options in Mass Effect 3. The biggest lesson of all that Dragon Age 3: Inquisition needs to absorb is that the game must be well-rounded and satisfying. Questions must be answered. How does the war between the templars and mages progress? What happened to the heroes of the past two games? And just what have those pesky darkspawn been up to during all of these years?

BioWare should take their time developing Dragon Age 3. If the originally designated release time doesn’t work, push it back. It’s for the best. Both Dragon Age games have their fair share of bugs and other flaws that could have been polished over. Fans have been waiting anxiously, and to serve up a sloppy game would be ill-advised. It’s the first game to be made by BioWare after the departure of its founders, and it would be a bad omen to step off on the wrong foot. Some gamers are already irked about how Mass Effect 3 ended, and nearly everyone was disappointed by Dragon Age II. However, the fans should have faith. BioWare has said that they would be open to their comments and ideas, and it seems like they are on track to make a game that addresses everyone’s concerns. Hopefully, Dragon Age 3 will satisfy the fans’ hunger and redeem BioWare in the eyes of their detractors.

[This editorial was written by Kathrine Byran, sorry for any confusion.]

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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