New Age Dawning: BioWare to think seriously on Dragon Age 3?

Sandal's big secret to be revealed next game? If its in Orlais, he'll certainly be there, with more 'Enchantment!' PHOTO COURTESY OF BIOWARE

By Alexander Leach

This is a bit old, but since I’ve done a lot of Bioware-related stuff and I kinda want to talk about this: executive producer Mark Darrah of BioWare put out an open letter saying he wants to hear from the fans as to what they wanted for the third incarnation of the game.

Dragon Age II wasn’t well-received by fans – reused level maps and bugginess aside, the city-centralized plot and revisting old areas (as opposed to different levels having the same maps) put people off after the army-raised, monolithic evil of the first game. While I didn’t hate the second game in the least – its major sin is that it wasn’t as good at the first, and hyperbole blew out of proportion what was a fun and slightly-faster paced game – it’s not nearly as replayable as the first.

With the Baldur’s Gate re-release for the iPad hinted at release this summer, players have a chance to look at some of the past games BioWare is associated with. Baldur’s Gate I and II got me through my summer after first year when I was working in my hometown, and I consider them to be quite well-written games. I fully expect this to ignite a slew of suggestions for potential Dragon Age 3 features.

There are three main things I want to see.

Army of (more than) One

Personally, I would like to see Dragon Age return to the army-management field, as it did in the first game. That was the largest omission in the second – it was such a striking part of the first game, and made the endgame feel even more impressive for the military support you had. Given how DA2 introduced larger fights, and how Hawke’s leadership was a central theme, it could easily have been introduced. The ending of DA2 sets this up well, with the Seeker’ organization; I’m hoping that was planned on BioWare’s part, and they carry it through.

In addition, I’d like to see more dialogue options and events based on directing military forces, with party members leading the war effort. I think that might be the Suikoden fan in me talking – the first two games are probably my favorite JRPGs of all time – but it will only reinforce immersion and the sense that you’re in charge of the war effort.

Make your Character

I actually liked Hawke as a character concept. Taking the idea they had for Sheppard and making a character with a few voice-acted, fleshed out options worked out well in DA2, despite any other problems. That said, I’d like them to go back to the original game’s style, where you can define race and backstory, because they can have the best of both and it would help immerse the player.

Western RPGs are based around the idea of creating a centralized character, customizing them, then shaping the world through their actions. Bioware’s traditional style caters to this, even if the character has some set background elements – Knights of the Old Republic comes to mind. The universe reacts to you, and changes with your choices, both in character creation and in the game itself. DA’s backstories influenced dialogue and events.

There’s nothing saying that the radial dialogue and voice-acted main character can’t be done with multiple races and backstories. They already did it in Star Wars: The Old Republic, and that’s an MMO.

Follow Through

Lastly, Bioware shouldn’t ignore Dragon Age II and what it has set up. The darkspawn were a huge part of the first game, and they showed up prominently in the second – but they weren’t the core of the plot in DA2, and they shouldn’t be in 3. I haven’t played the DLC in DA2 that pertains to the darkspawn, but that seems like a decent place for them – as a side-story, detailing the current developments in the horde, including the sentient darkspawn and the Grey Wardens dealing with them.

The mage war, while not the best executed, has amazing potential. I’d like to be choosing sides in the war, gathering allies from either side, and in turn dictating national policy as an independent force. Circle sanctums under siege, Templars going rogue, and the Chantry losing popular support – these are all fun and cool developments.

If it’s set in Orlais, this would be even more prominent, particularly if there’s some overlap with Fereldan.

Still eagerly awaiting

Well, that’s my lecturing blog post. Maybe I’ll link it on the Bioware forums or something, but at least I hope for some comments from the readers who catch my URL in their browsers. I await BioWare’s attempt regardless, to see how they choose to do it.

They’ve surprised me pleasantly before.

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