Bioware has outdone themselves once more releasing a sixteen minute video of gameplay for Dragon Age: Inquisition. If that did not get the fans excited, well they also sent out several beautiful panels of artwork to go with it.
A few days later, they released another fourteen minute clip of game play. And they will keep doing it up until their October release date, because they know: we’re addicted. So how did this backwater game become one of the most anticipated games of the year?
Because Bioware created a universe that was beyond our normal spectrum of fantasy. It is a gritty, un-pretty world, where magic is considered the gateway to demonic possession. Magis are hunted by Templars and locked away in Chantries. Of course, they are persecuted in the name of the religion. Of four known races, only humans seem to be somewhat stable, though every country in Thedas suffers from political intrigue.
Elves are assigned to alienages, ghettos, and treated as servants or slaves. The free elves, known as the Dalish, are caravan travelers who stay away from the human cities. As for the dwarves, they are stuck in a caste system rife with political intrigue… oh and they never want to leave their mountain. If this was not bad enough, your beloved Ferelden is under attack, and you have once choice—fight or die. The game allowed you to make friends and lovers out of your party members. You could choose three separate races, several different story starts, and three different classes. The game offered high character customization, battle tactic customization, and skill trees. But, that was only Origins.
In game two, named Awakening, you get to see the more political side of being a Grey Warden. Even though the second game is more akin to DLC, Bioware gave you a brand new set of diverse characters to meet. It did not offer the same customization as Origins, but it also only offered about twenty hours of game play.
A few weeks after the actual Dragon Age II was released, there was a very evident visceral response to the game. The game play was stymied. Blame quickly was set on the fact that that Bioware was releasing the infamous Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG and Mass Effect 3. It garnered a mere 4.4 user score compared to the Origins 7.8 and Awakening’s 7.6.
As a player, you saw a very limited sandbox, kiddie pooled size), and repetitive alleyways and buildings. But, we made fantastic new friends in Varic, Fenris and Sebastian. We met the questionable Merill, and were reunited with fan favorites Isabella (Origins) and Anders (Awakening). And the biggest disappointment? They only allowed you to play one race, vastly cutting down on any replay.
So, why do fans still adore Dragon Age?
Despite their lackluster response to public outcry, claiming that Dragon Age 2 still received high scores from many critics, and that the game sold quicker than Dragon Age: Origins, Bioware came back with vengeance. They listened to what the fans loved, and breathed life into the universe of Dragon Age and our beloved characters.
Over the following years, Bioware has continued to add to hold our interest. David Gaider released A Stolen Throne, The Calling, Asunder, and The Masked Empire (Last Flight to be released in September). The stories expanded the universe before Origins, and then brought us up to speed on what was happening after Dragon Age 2. If you plan on playing Inquisition, I’d highly recommend reading Asunder and The Masked Empire. Orson Scott Card, for IDW comics, released a six-part comic series following the story of a magi and Templars. Darkhorse Comics and Bioware, written by lead David Gaider released another six-part comic series, Dragon Age: The Silent Grove, following our beloved Alistair, now King Alistair of Ferelden, Varic and Isabella on the search for his father, Maric Theirin.
Funimation along with Bioware also released an anime-style movie, Dawn of the Seeker, which follows Cassandra as she investigates the Orlesian Chantry. Cassandra appeared first in Dragon Age II and will appear once more in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Of course, we cannot forget the fan made film; created by Felicia Day, Dragon Age: Redemption is a six-part web series following characters in the world of Thedas. While this is not a Bioware release, it really shows how voracious the fans are for the series.
Two months to go before the official release of Dragon Age, and it is more than evident that Bioware is silently apologizing for their mistakes. If you take a look at their most recent releases, you can see evidence of fan-loved elements. They have gone back to basics, bringing back the interaction system that was so famous in Origins. I am fangirling a bit over the fact that you can hug another companion and play as Qunari. Finally, we get to play as Qunari!
Bioware has not only brought back the larger sandbox that Origins had, but from trailers and teasers it looks like it will be more akin to Skyrim or Assassin’s Creed. They have continued their tradition of beautifully animated scenery and lively characters. And, They are bringing back many fan favorites, including Leiliana, Cullen and Varic. New elements to the Dragon Age series so far, include day to night, horse riding, and Focus (the ability to slow time down to land more effective attacks). Oh, and if you were wondering? Dragon Age: Inquistion’s world is by far larger than Origins.
With all of their hard work, Bioware has quietly apologized to their fans, and promise a fantastic experience with Dragon Age: Inquisition.