Transparent excuse to talk about Dragon Age 3

Wired has an article up today headlined “BioWare: Next Dragon Age Will Draw From Skyrim.” I have… mixed feelings! I love Skyrim. It’s fun as shit and exploring is genuinely fun; it’s always exciting when that chord plays and “MARKARTH DISCOVERED” or whatever pops up on the screen. But ultimately I don’t find it very interesting; I’m not going to write five (or even one?) posts about it when I’m finished playing it. It’s just a good time burning undead and looting dungeons and killing dragons.

I expect more from Dragon Age, especially after DA2. I expect deep characters and actual politics and not a little bit of tragedy. I expect playing a Dragon Age game to be like reading a good medieval fantasy novel, not a Lord of the Rings knockoff or someone’s D&D novelization.

This part intrigues me:

The story of Dragon Age II took place across a decade-long span in the city of Kirkwall, allowing players to see how the city and characters evolved over the years. Muzyka hinted that the next Dragon Age game could take that narrative structure and apply it to a variety of areas, rather than a single city.

I ~LOVE~ the idea of a game taking place over the course of a decade. I was excited when Assassin’s Creed 2 did it, but that game didn’t do much with it. In DA2, it suffered from poor/rushed implementation. No, the guy saying “I’ve been waiting here all day!” for six years is not clever commentary on bureaucracy. But the idea itself is brilliant. If we could concretely see how the world changes based on the events the protagonist is involved in, that would be just fantastic. I just worry that by making a huge world map, larger than DA:O and DA2 combined, it will be impossible to implement the kind of detail that this would require.

Not to mention, I hope characterization doesn’t suffer–it’s what I play DA for. Overall, I just think that sacrificing depth for breadth (face it, it’s impossible to do both; there has to be a balance) is a bad way to go, or at least the way that most other games go. Seeing a game go the Majora’s Mask route and make a small but deep world is something I would love to see more games try, even if it doesn’t completely succeed on the first try.

Also on my wishlist: a canon female protagonist. Both games and all three books have canon male protagonists and it would be really nice if there were some important female heroes in Thedas. (And a rainbow unicorn I can ride to work, while we’re making outrageous requests of Santa Claus.)

What do you want to see in DA3? Where do you want to go?

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13 thoughts on “Transparent excuse to talk about Dragon Age 3

  1. I will totally take this transparent excuse.

    Okay, so there was the Fifth Blight, and then ten years later is when Cassandra’s interrogating Varric, right? Just making sure. So even if Ferelden was politically stable after the events of DAO/Awakenings, you’re going to be running into instability soon — neither Alistair nor Anora is likely to have children, meaning that you’re 10 years into a reign with no heir and no legitimate standard line of succession appearing.

    Meanwhile the Free Marches and possibly the rest of Thedas have been sucked into a more-or-less all-out civil war along the mage/templar issue. Hawke and The Hero are both mysteriously absent from the scene for Narrative Convenience reasons (that also allow them to have been killed or whatever. Even though my Warden is married to Alistair and Warden-Commander and generally hoarding power herself. Whatever). Now there’s a list of known threats, in Orlais, Tevinter, and the Qunari. So I expect some combination there to be external antagonists, along with general massive political instability.

    The thing, though, that I loved about both games and ESPECIALLY about DA2 is the character writing. I want Aveline and Isabela to be in everything forever (and maybe also Fenris no comment) and of a DA3 isn’t all about strong character stories I will be very very sadface.

    • This is really unorganized random interjections as I thought of them while reading your comment, sorry:

      Instability in Ferelden is especially an issue with Alistair as king, since he is not long to live because of the whole Warden thing. (Another reason to make Anora queen–at least she can have babies and will be around for a while >.> )

      I’m reading Asunder now and it is aaaaalll about the fallout from the Kirkwall rebellion. I’m only a few chapters in though so it will be interesting to see what the setup for DA3 looks like.

      The whole “Hawke disappeared, just like the warden” bit is soooooo annoying. The thing that irritated me most about DA2’s story was all the teasing about upcoming stuff that they clearly hadn’t really worked out yet and were just buying time about. I really hope they have some kind of Master Plan (and I’m sure they have a general DIRECTION) but game development being what it is, I don’t know…

      I love all the characters from Origins and 2, I really want them to continue to be important to the story (Wynne is in Asunder!!!!!!!!), but since basically everyone but Varric can die I’m not sure they would be able to do that. They will probably limit it to cameos and keep them out of the main plot, which is really disappointing, especially when it comes to the DA2 companions whose fates are completely up in the air at the end, with no home and no hints as to what they’re doing next. Also I want to play Hawke and Anders running around being revolutionaries together lol =(

      • My understanding about Bioware’s intentions with the Dragon Age series is that they are more interested in the world than a single story line. Unlike Mass Effect, which is clearly Shepherd’s story, Dragon Age is a story of a world bigger than the people who live in it.

        Ultimately, I think that’s good for the kinds of stories they want to tell in these games. It’s hard to talk about complicated social justice concerns compellingly when the PC is so awesome she can permanently change long-established institutions just by her sheer awesomeness.

        The bad part of this is we don’t follow up with all the previous characters. The good part of this is we get to meet awesome new characters.

  2. I want to be hopeful.

    You could have a party similar to the last two games but have their ‘homes’ or character quests be Orlais, Tevinter, Ferelden, the Free Marches…wherever the Qun live. It would play out exactly like DAO but with a nominally larger map, and therefore a convenient plot reason why nothing you have decided in prior games would affect anything beyond the odd cameo appearance in the locations you visit.

    As far as the effects of time mechanic in DA2…it was just really sloppy. I feel like it would have taken so little in terms of window dressing. Deleting or changing the man outside the Viscounts office is an obvious example. I think changing out the merchants over time would be another obvious way. They did an awful job of masking when they were recycling a dungeon as well.

    • I feel like it would have taken so little in terms of window dressing.

      Yeah, it really would have. In Act 3 there are a few changes in the Docks because of what happened with the Arishok, but that’s it. I want more detail!

      • Your comment about the Qun and the docks made me think: another really big missed opportunity was to use the open areas in all the zones to give a feel of the growing tension in the city.

        Especially at the Gallows, there could have been a sense of heightened security by showing *less* bystanders and stalls. Having less official sellers of magical items outside of the Gallows or at all.

        Having mages lounging around the courtyard and at the same time telling you how tightly they are controlled seems like a fumble in storytelling. Easiest thing would have been to have them not even been in the courtyard anymore and have Thrask there to tell their side. Or have more and more of the sellers be tranquil. That was another problem we were told was rampant but barely saw.

      • Yes, there was a lot of missed opportunity to add detail like that. Or like having random incidents in the Gallows, a Templar having to deal with a mage who is acting out. Or whatever. Anything except this completely static area!

      • Sometimes I feel the same way about DA2 as I did about the Heroes season 1 finale. IF ONLY! If only they had had the time, if only they’d had the budget to make it perfect, OH WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN

        #melodrama

  3. I too want them to focus on making interesting characters, though to be honest this is by far the thing I’m least concerned with. It’s what they do at Bioware.

    In terms of realistic expectations, I’d like them to not make “gameplay” mean “slaughter some mooks”. Or if it does, I’d like to see the game address it as a moral question rather than a few lampshading jokes.

    I’d also like to see there be consequences for the choices you make, which really ought to be the reason they would do it over a decade.

    I think it would be very cool to have the mage playthrough feel very different than the warrior/rogue playthrough. Perhaps you can’t use magic in templar-controlled areas. So doing a quest that would be easy for a warrior/rogue (just kill everyone to get the ImportantItem) becomes harder for a mage (can’t use magic without attracting all the templars in the city).

  4. I agree with the previous poster about having class specialization be tied to in game decisions. Having the Arcane Warrior class be unlocked by finding the soul gem in the Brecilyan Ruins was brilliant.

    Having your NPC companions teach classes to you once you became “besties” was okay… but a little overplayed. I mean, one class doing it would be okay (like Morrigan being the only Shapeshifter you ever actually talk to, this makes sense) but every character but Wynne and Sten doing it? That’s just a little overboard. I mean, don’t we run across enough Crows in DAO to have one of them teach us the ropes?

    All that aside, I think the overall suggestions on here are good. While not all of them are easily attainable, at least Bioware should have a good “To Do List” for DA3 or even a DA2 expansion.

  5. Their not really over thinking it, their just trying to help make two great games even better! 🙂 I personally, Loved the romance in both of them, but think they could have expanded on that a little. Make you actually feel like your character is in a relationship, and make it more like the first one as to, If you cheat on them their gonna get pissed. Also, ACTIONS NEED TO EFFECT THE OUTCOME OF THE GAME MORE! IF I DECIDE TO BE A MAGE HATING JERK, AND IM MEAN TO A MAGE, THEN THAT MAGE BETTER GET MAD AT ME, INSTEAD OF LOOK AT ME WEIRD AND CONTINUING ON WITH THE CONVERSATION. They changed that a lot in DA:2, but i just think i would be a little madder than they make them. I mean i dont want you to loose a quest over being mean to someone, i just want you to be punished for being mean more than the person saying, “You’re an ass, here’s your money.” xD There’s obviously more i can say here, but at the moment i cant really think about them. I hadn’t seen anyone bring those up yet, guess im just a negative Nancy, Haha.

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