Behind the teaser that we saw at The Game Awards, the game concept is rumoured to be significantly different than what BioWare planned.
After Anthem’s development post, Kotaku has come through with another post, and this time, it’s about Dragon Age 4. Remember that teaser that we saw in December? The one where Dragon Age did not get named, as the game is in early development?
Why is that? Because in October 2017 or so , Dragon Age 4‘s development got rebooted. Until then, a small team was supervising the development, led by Marc Laidlaw, the creative director (who has left BioWare since – we’ll get back to him later), and his right hand was Mark Darrah, the executive producer. They began work shortly after launching Dragon Age: Inquisition’s Trespasser DLC. The new project’s codename was Joplin.
According to the developers that talked with Kotaku, this game was a smaller scale than Inquisition to do things right. For development tools, they planned to use the updated versions of what they had for Inquisition, and the player and their decisions would have been emphasised. Each action would have had a consequence! Our character would have been the leader of a group of spies in Tevinter Imperium, and we could have used multiple ways to perform the heists from bribing the guards to involving them or even use the brute force method.
However, BioWare didn’t want to make animations for each approach, which is why they would have baked them into the game’s mechanics (potential AI animations). The development had to be put on hold in October 2017 to finish up Mass Effect: Andromeda. Then, during Anthem, it happened again, and there, the original concept got scrapped, which is why Laidlaw has left BioWare, followed by a few veterans as well!
Electronic Arts is also mentioned – apparently, the publisher wanted to push its Games-as-a-Service (GaaS) model, which is seen in Battlefield V as well. This is a potential reason why the design priorities have changed in BioWare. It means that Dragon Age 4 (or its rebooted format) would be a similar online-focused title as Anthem. (Its current codename is Morrison.)
If it’s all true, all we can do is shake our heads – how much would you want to bet that BioWare publishes another denying post, followed by an internal email? We have seen that with Anthem previously, lol.