Dragon Age 4, a small glimpse: new concept art from BioWare

Dragon Age 4, a small glimpse: new concept art from BioWare

Dragon Age 4, a small glimpse

Already central to the current activities of BioWare, the new chapter of the RPG series has gained further prominence following the cancellation of Anthem Next. a rearrangement for internal resources, with the Anthem developers entrusted to the Dragon Age team. Strengthened by additional resources, the development of the expected production continues without the public having for now had the opportunity to take an in-depth look from the game, still lacking the rest of a definitive title. Over the last few months, however, the BioWare team has enjoyed offering small glimpses of their activities, through the publication of some concept art.

An unpublished image has, for example, now been published by Christian Dale y , Executive Producer at BioWare Austin. Available directly at the bottom of this news, the concept art was packaged by Matthew Goldman, Creative Director at the software house. The image immortalizes a woman equipped with a magic stick and a pirate-style outfit, for a design that overall does not seem to draw steampunk tones. What do you think?

No details are currently available on the nature of the gameplay of the title, but according to Jason Schrerier's indiscretions, after initial indecisions EA would have decided to focus on single-player for Dragon Age 4.

Dragon Age 4: Everything we know about the next RPG in Thedas

Dragon Age 4 was, for several years, one of the most open secrets in gaming. After the ending of Dragon Age: Inquisition's final DLC made it very clear that the saga of Thedas was far from over, we've been expecting another Dragon Age game to follow it. BioWare spent years dodging any official confirmation that the fourth game was in the works, but now BioWare have said in no uncertain terms that they're working on the next Dragon Age game, though we still know precious little about it from two teaser trailers, a behind-the-scenes video, and some concept art. 

We still haven't actually gotten a proper look at Dragon Age 4's gameplay, or heck even a title, but BioWare have begun to sprinkle out teasers more frequently starting in summer 2020. While we keep waiting for a proper unveiling, here's everything we know about Dragon Age 4's story, a possible release date, trailers, characters, and more.

What is Dragon Age 4's release date?

We don't have a release date for Dragon Age 4 yet. There are still a lot of things we don't know about the game. We do know that it's likely still quite a ways off. In August 2020, then general manager Casey Hudson described Dragon Age 4 as still in 'early production'. 

In BioWare's September 2019 Update on its blog, Hudson, amidst news about Anthem's future, said '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.' The good news is that BioWare is no longer allergic to publicly acknowledging they're returning to Thedas. The bad news is that Hudson mentioned this quasi-unnamed project was still in pre-production at the time. For games the size that BioWare makes, this means there's still a long road ahead.

Dragon Age was also referred to during EA's October 2019 earnings call. The information was brief and pretty non-committal but according to CFO Blake Jorgensen, the next Dragon Age game 'probably comes after fiscal [2022],' meaning after April 2022. Jorgensen also cautions that they don't often make such predictions multiple years in advance. It's hard to say whether 'fiscal '22' is an ambitious estimate or an extremely cautious one so we'll just have to wait to hear more. 

Here's the newest teaser trailer for Dragon Age 4

Dragon Age 4 trailer - Minrathous

(Image credit: Electronic Arts, BioWare)

During The Game Awards in 2020, BioWare showed off a new teaser trailer for the next Dragon Age game. Sadly, we still don't know its official title, though the new trailer does at least seem to confirm one returning character: dwarven archer Varric Tethras who was a party member in both Dragon Age 2 and Inquisition. Aside from that, the trailer also confirms that, as is Dragon Age tradition, BioWare will be picking up a new protagonist for the next game. Oh, and it's seriously pretty. The series seems to be getting even further away from its grimy Ferelden roots into some of the more grand and colorful magic of the world.

Dragon Age 4 won't be a live-service game like Anthem

In early 2018, Kotaku reported that Dragon Age 4 had been rebooted as a 'live' game to better fit with EA's push for 'games as a service' that could continue to generate revenue after initial launch sales.

However, as of 2021, Dragon Age 4 has reportedly ditched all multiplayer elements to stay a singleplayer experience. This news came shortly after BioWare announced plans to cease work on Anthem, the live-service sci-fi game that they'd been attempting to overhaul after its poor reception in 2019.

We don't know exactly what plans for Dragon Age 4's multiplayer were before this decision, but it's safe to say now that it definitely won't be an online-only game like Anthem.

Based on what BioWare has historically done well, this seems like a good decision. Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age: Inquisition both had multiplayer modes that were actually pretty decent, but singleplayer stories remain the focal point for both series.

What is the setting of Dragon Age 4?

Dragon Age 4 - Minrathous

Minrathous, the mage-run capital city of the Teviner Imperium. (Image credit: Electronic Arts, BioWare)

Tevinter—it's official. We'd been operating on this assumption for years now, given the less-than-subtle ending of Dragon Age Inquisition's final DLC, a 2019 report about the game's development, and the short story collection called Tevinter Nights from 2020. BioWare has finally confirmed it in their huge studio history book 'Bioware: Stories and Secrets from 25 Years of Game Development'. 

At the very end of the book, looking towards BioWare's future, a section called 'Tevinter Bound a sneak peek at the follow-up to Inquisition' lets on that this is definitely the main setting for the next game. 'The game, helmed by executive producer Mark Darrah, will take players to Tevinter as the events of Inquisition and Trespasser threaten to forever change Thedas.' Darrah has since left BioWare, replaced by Christian Dailey, though the rest is presumably current information. 

Tevinter has yet to appear in a Dragon Age game properly, though the country run by mages is often mentioned and we've had several party members from up north. The glimpse of Tevinter capitol Minrathous that we saw in the 2020 Game Awards teaser had an almost cyberpunk feel to it with the colorful urban nighttime and floating central segment.

It's possible that, like Inquisition, Dragon Age 4 will not be only set in Tevinter and will visit other nations as well. BioWare's studio history book includes some of the same concept art that we've seen in their behind the scenes video from summer 2020. Among the small selection of artwork chosen for the page are the Necropolis in Nevarra and an Antivan Crow assassin, suggesting that we could be visiting both locations as part of the story. Oh, and the Deep Roads, too. We're probably not escaping a Dragon Age game without a visit underground.

What will Dragon Age 4's gameplay be like? 

Dragon Age 4 archer

(Image credit: Electronic Arts, BioWare)

It will certainly be an RPG, or so one would assume, but beyond that any real details about Dragon Age 4 are still very hush. From Kotaku's report on the first version of Dragon Age 4, codenamed Joplin, 'a large chunk of Joplin would center on heists. The developers talked about building systemic narrative mechanics, allowing the player to perform actions like persuading or extorting guards without the writers having to hand-craft every scene. The goal was to focus as much as possible on choice and consequence, with smaller areas and fewer fetch quests than Dragon Age: Inquisition.' 

Game development is a highly iterative process, especially so at BioWare, according to Kotaku's reports on both Dragon Age 4 and Anthem. Dragon Age 4 has definitely changed staff and has likely changed vision as well now that it's known internally as Morrison. It's still possible that BioWare is attempting to make a smaller, denser open world for Dragon Age 4 after player critique that Inquisition's open world felt somewhat empty. 

In a post to BioWare's blog following the teaser trailer from December 2018, Darrah wrote that '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.' While that may just be a way to reassure players of the quality the team will produce for Dragon Age 4, it might also mean that BioWare is looking to channel its earliest cRPG roots for its next game.

So is Dread Wolf Rises the title of Dragon Age 4?

It could be, or it might just be a statement about the plot. Whether or not the game is named after our friend Solas, he will certainly be playing a pivotal role, it seems. 

Dragon Age 4 will be a story about having no power

In the Gamescom trailer, lead writer Patrick Weekes described how Dragon Age 4's story will diverge from Inquisition. 'For the game we're working on now, we want to tell the story of, 'What happens when you don't have power?' What happens when the people in charge aren't willing to address the issues?' Weekes said.

From the sound of it, Bioware is aiming for the story and its characters to feel a little less important to the world than in Inquisition (at least at first). Dragon Age games have typically followed the rise of a seemingly inconsequential hero to a position of power, though it almost sounds as if Dragon Age 4 will follow a character who never breaks into Thedas' traditional power structures.

What other teasers and trailers are out there?Image 1 of 3

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(Image credit: BioWare)

The Gamescom 2020 Opening Night Live show gave us a look at some of the early production of Dragon Age 4. The video shows off concept art, some 3D environments, a bit of voice acting production, and some gameplay prototypes. It's a bit too early to count anything seen as true Dragon Age 4 gameplay, but getting a look at the process is something at least. Dragon Age might still be far out, but the trailer successfully sells the excitement of returning to Bioware's fantasy world.

In June 2020, EA didn't mention Dragon Age by name during EA Play but did make some allusions to it. 'BioWare 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,' it said, while sharing some 3D environment clips that sure look like they included red lyrium.

The very first teaser for Dragon Age 4 was during The Game Awards in 2018. It was a very brief video with voiceover from Solas, the Dread Wolf himself, who we're definitely assuming will Dragon Age 4's antagonist.

Which characters will return in Dragon Age 4? 

Dragon Age 4 a new hero

(Image credit: Electronic Arts, BioWare)

SolasOne character we know will play a part in the events of Dragon Age 4 is the Dread Wolf himself. Solas has been featured in both teaser trailers so far and his relationship to the greater struggles of Thedas means he's not going anywhere any time soon.

Varric TethrasBeloved party member and storyteller Varric narrated the second teaser trailer for Dragon Age 4, so we assume he'll be making an appearance too. He was a party member in Dragon Age 2 and Inqusition. Will he be in the fray for a third time, or staying on the sidelines like Inquisition's advisor characters?

Who else? Dragon Age has a history of reusing characters, like Alistair who was a companion in Origins and returned for appearances in the two sequels or Leliana who shares a similar trajectory. It's safe to say that we'll see some more familiar faces in Dragon Age 4, but which ones?

So far BioWare has committed to hanging up its protagonists between Dragon Age games. Each adventure comes with a new hero, though the Grey Warden and Hawke do have the ability to cameo in Dragon Age: Inquisition. It's possible we might then see an appearance of The Inquisitor in Dragon Age 4, but they'll likely not be center stage. 

Flemeth, like Solas, is either elven legend or a god going by many names, who has seemed to be an underlying force in the overarching plot of the series. It seems likely that she will make an appearance as well.

Another old friend that may make a comeback is Fenris, the Tevinter elven warrior from Dragon Age 2. He was the star of a Dragon Age comic called Blue Wraith in 2020. It's hard to say whether Fenris appearing in a comic is setting him up for a cameo in Dragon Age 4 or for retirement as a character. Previous party members showing up in supporting Dragon Age media have gone both ways in the past. 

Tevinter mage Dorian Pavus seems like another likely candidate given that he headed back to his homeland in Inquisition's final DLC. He made a quick appearance in the Tevinter Nights stories. Some of the concept art shown during the behind the scenes video in summer 2020 sure looked like that familiar mustached mage too.