It means the new Dragon Age is now playable from start to end; BioWare is moving reasonably in development.
Gary McKay, BioWare’s general manager, has highlighted in a lengthy blog post why reaching the alpha milestone is important to them. Here’s (most of) his blog post:
“Hello! In my last blog in February, I talked about the next Dragon Age game entering the production phase. We’ve come a long way since then, and the team is delighted to announce a huge step forward in the development of the game you now know as Dragon Age: Dreadwolf: We have just completed our Alpha milestone! Up to this point, we’ve been working hard on the various parts of the game, but it’s not until the Alpha milestone that a game all comes together. Now, for the first time, we can experience the entire game, from the opening scenes of the first mission to the end. We can see, hear, feel, and play everything as a cohesive experience.
Now What? Of course, the game’s development is still ongoing, but Alpha is one of the most crucial game development milestones for several reasons. First and foremost, we can now turn our sights toward bringing the visual fidelity to its final form and iterating on gameplay features. The big question is, “Where do we focus our efforts?” To answer that, we solicit feedback from several sources, including our Community Council members, who each have unique perspectives and experiences, our quality verification team, and extensive internal playtesting. Gathering feedback from multiple sources gives us the most significant insight into where we need to spend more time improving the experience.
Additionally, we can now evaluate the game’s pacing, how relationships evolve, the player’s progression, and narrative cohesion—essentially, how the story comes together. We can take the story we’ve written and see if we’re expressing it well through the characters, dialogue, cinematics, and, ultimately, the player’s journey. Now that we can do a complete playthrough, we can iterate and polish the things that matter most to our fans. Hitting Alpha was the culmination of so much effort from the entire team, and we used this milestone as an opportunity to come together and celebrate. We held a hybrid-style event with people onsite while others joined remotely, and the team showcased their work to everyone at BioWare. We even took some time to do something fun and non-work related—a virtual escape room where we had to work together to help someone on camera find their way out. It was a great time, and no matter where our devs are, it’s important to share these moments.
Now that we’re finally able to experience the entire game, my favourite part is the characters. Whether followers, allies, or villains, they’re woven into the game in ways that take a concept that’s always been a part of the Dragon Age DNA—stories about people—and push it further than ever before. The characters help contextualize the world and the stakes, and I can’t wait until we’re able to start discussing them in depth. It’s also exciting to finally bring our fans to parts of the world that we’ve previously hinted at but never been able to fully explore—like the city of Minrathous, the capital of the Tevinter Empire. We’ve talked about Minrathous in previous games, and now you’ll finally be able to visit! It’s a city built on and fueled by magic. How that has come through in its visual identity, and what that looks like in comparison to previous cities we’ve visited in Dragon Age, are pretty spectacular.
As I mentioned earlier, the Alpha milestone is a significant one for us, but there’s more work to be done. We also want to continue being transparent with you, our community, and keep you updated on what we’re crafting,” McKay wrote. We’re skipping the rest about their other in-development games, which are irrelevant to us.
So Dragon Age 4, which has been rebooted several times before, is progressing nicely, and BioWare is optimistic. That’s important to have confidence in the studio, which has seen its reputation tarnished after Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem…