A Spoiler-free Appraisal of Dragon Age 4

A Spoiler-free Appraisal of Dragon Age 4

While neither BioWare nor EA have announced a release date for Dragon Age 4 (DA4) or even confirmed that the RPG is in development, the next installment of the franchise is almost inevitable given the success of 2015’s Inquisition; in fact, with the release order of the previous three titles in mind, the world is perhaps overdue an announcement about DA4.

With two years between Origins and the launch of on-rails adventure Dragon Age II, and three between the second and third entries in the game’s canon, 2018 looks like a logical release date for the fourth title. But what form will BioWare’s fantasy epic take? Will Varric make his third appearance in a row? Will we ever get to romance Sten?

Dragon Age Inquisition (76)” (CC BY 2.0by MrRiddell

Gary Gygax
The appeal of titles like Dragon Age is eternal. Some of the first games to ever see the light of day were swashbuckling adventures, like Rogue (1980), Zork (1980) and Ultima (1981), all of whom owe their existence to Gary Gygax’s Dungeons and Dragons (1974). Today, the genre has a prestige that goes well beyond console and PC gaming.

The presence of Golden Dragon on the website of casino brand Betway, is a good example. A 3-reel, 5-payline slot machine, Golden Dragon includes some of the more popular RPG tropes (gold coins, swords, shields, and the eponymous dragon as a “wild” symbol). It can also be played for free on Betway’s website.

As the epitome of the modern RPG, the Dragon Age franchise isn’t disappearing anytime soon, so let’s take a look at how a fourth outing in the Blight-torn, monster-ridden world of Thedas might go.

An obvious disclaimer here: in the absence of any official news from EA and BioWare, everything written below is pure speculation.


 

Dragon Age Inquisition (3) (CC BY 2.0by MrRiddell

Powder Keg
Thematically, there’s a lot to be said for DA4 as a continuation of Inquisition. The introduction of the Tevinter Imperium in the third game seems especially significant given that they’re antagonistic to Ferelden and Orlais. Tevinter is also a bit of a powder keg, a fallen magocracy using unpredictable magic (like time travel) to accomplish its more nefarious whims.

It’s possible to pull multiple scenarios from the above. While an invasion by Tevinter is the obvious one, it’s perhaps not powerful enough anymore to threaten the rest of Thedas. However, a conflict with its neighbor, Nevarra, isn’t beyond the realms of imagination, especially if stoked by Qunari influencers, a group Tevinter has been warring with for more than 300 years.

Accepting the events of Inquisition’s Trespasser DLC, there’s a new antagonist on the block with a powerful connection to the Fade, the realm of demons and human dreamers. The wall separating Thedas from the Fade – the Veil – is weakening, something the player bore witness to in Inquisition’s Fade Rifts. The wholesale collapse of the Veil was also predicted by Sandal in DAII.

Therefore, the most likely scenario is the removal of the one barrier separating humans from demons, a conflict with Trespasser’s god in ascendancy, all set against the backdrop of political strife in Tevinter.


 

Dragon Age Inquisition (25)” (CC BY 2.0by MrRiddell

Grey Wardens
It’s perhaps too early to bring the series’ world to its knees though. Prior to his departure from BioWare, the game’s creator, David Gaider, said that Dragon Age was designed as a seven-game universe. So in DA4 there’s an opportunity to ignore the modern canon and explore significant events in the franchise’s past.

As a final point, a game about the Second Blight (set hundreds of years before Origins) could provide both the opportunity to visit the so-far unexplored northern half of Thedas (the Grey Wardens, the first line of defence against Blights, are headquartered In Weisshaupt Fortress in the Anderfels) and provide greater context around the Tevinter Imperium, which was almost overrun by Darkspawn. 

It’s probably too close to the plot of Dragon Age: Origins to ever see the light of day but it’s worth stressing that there’s no reason why the game’s canon has to go forward in time with each successive installment, especially with such a rich history to explore.


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