That ear-splitting screech you hear, that’s me screaming about new Dragon Age 4 information. While the 4-minute short played during yesterday’s Gamescom opener didn’t reveal any gameplay, story, or character information, nevertheless the keenest of Dragon Age stans (i.e. me) will have caught more than a few hints about what to expect from BioWare’s fourth entry in the award-winning Dragon Age series. Here’s what’s absolutely, definitely going to in Dragon Age 4. Maybe.
You will confront Solas.
While Dragon Age: Inquisition ended with you fighting the darkspawn Corypheus for the fate of the continent of Thedas, the true villain later revealed himself to be none other than that smooth-pated, smug-ass sonofabitch Solas (with apologies to the Lavellans who loved him—you deserve better than him, queens!). Solas, an ancient elven god also known as the Dread Wolf, wants to restore Thedas to a time when elves were immortal and ruled the world. To do so, he intends to tear down the Veil, the mystical barrier that separates the Fade—a land of magic, demons, and the dead—from the living world, with such an event bringing about catastrophe and destruction to all non-elven peoples. Dragon Age 4 will no doubt set you on the path to confront Solas—a plot point borne out in a tidbit of dialogue from Solas’s own mouth. Listen here:
Dragon Age (and its space-opera sibling Mass Effect) has always been about player choice affecting the people and the world around you. No doubt players will be given the choice to either scramble the egg or assist him in establishing a new elven world order.
The story will take place in the Tevinter Imperium.
The last DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition, Trespasser, ended with the player-character stabbing the infamous map table right in the heart of the Tevinter Imperium, an empire in the north of Thedas. So far, players have not been able to visit the distant empire where mages—rather than templars or wardens—rule, but I highly suspect that we’ll finally get the chance to explore that mystical kingdom based on this quote from lead writer, Patrick Weekes.
“We wanna tell a story, what happens when you don’t have power,” they said. “What happens when the people in charge aren’t willing to address the issues.”
Unlike elsewhere in Thedas, in the Tevinter Imperium mages are not treated like third-class citizens. Instead of being feared, hated, and sent to a Circle—a dormitory/prison where all mages are confined once their powers manifest—mages are the elite. They are the citizens, they make the laws, and they rule their empire with a tightly controlled caste system that governs mage and non-mage alike.
The mages of the Imperium are described as arrogant and power hungry. According to Thedosian church lore, it was the mages of the Imperium that abused their magical power and unleashed the first Blight upon the world. The Tevinter Imperium is also one of the only places in Thedas that permits the practice of slavery. In the Imperium non-humans and non-mages are sometimes enslaved and always a disenfranchised, second-class citizenry. Weekes’s quote about a powerless underclass and rulers who ignore the plight of the oppressed definitely suggests the Imperium as the setting of the story.
Dorian’s Back! And he’s brought friends!
Dorian Pavus, one of the most beloved characters from Inquisition, might make a return appearance in DA4. While it’s very rare for a companion in one game to be a companion again in another (kudos to you, Varric!) it’s not uncommon for companions and even player-characters to make cameos in subsequent games. The Grey Warden Alistair (or Loghain) and the Champion of Kirkwall Hawke both appeared as NPCs in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Leliana and Morrigan from Dragon Age: Origins also showed up to lend assistance to the Inquisitor as non-companion NPCs.
Scanning the Gamescom vid, my keen eye noticed a character in the background of one of the pieces of concept art that looks suspiciously like our heartwarming, mustachioed mage, suggesting that he might appear—or, even better, might be a companion again! The video also showed two clips of voice actors with their character names—a woman named Bellara voiced by Jee Young Han and grey warden Davrin voiced by Ike Amadi. Could they be mere NPCs or actual companions? I don’t know, but let’s look for their characters when the game comes out.
You won’t be the Inquisitor again.
Go to the dragonage.com website and the page will ask, “The world needs a new hero, will you answer the call?” before a button prompts you to sign up for the Dragon Age newsletter. (Which I did because I am hopeless when it comes to Dragon Age.) “New hero” implies that we will not be playing the old hero, the Inquisitor from Inquisition. That’s honestly a bit of a bummer.
There is a personal history between Solas and the Inquisitor that’s lost playing a new character. In Inquisition, he was one of your companions. The player developed a friendship with him, or an ill-fated romance if you played as a female Elf. If he is to be one of the villains in the next game, it makes sense then for BioWare to continue developing that relationship by having you play as the Inquisitor again…so you can hunt that duplicitous bastard down and make an omelette out of his head. But I digress. Dragon Age has never let you play the same protagonist twice. So it seems unlikely for BioWare to break with tradition, and the Trespasser DLC (where the bastard cut off your character’s enchanted arm) did a good job of ending the Inquisitor’s story.
One day soon, the dawn will come.
Since the Dragon Age 4 portion of the Gamescom event was mostly concept art and BioWare employees giving general statements about how hard they’re working on the game, there’s a chance everything above is total speculative garbage. But, after five years without a Dragon Age game, speculative garbage is all I have—that and fanfiction. The Dragon Age community has been running on nothing but scant information and our own (extremely powerful) imagination. If everything I’ve guessed here turns out not to be true, I can live with that, happily even, because by then I’ll hopefully have the actual game.