Dragon Age is a role-playing game currently in development by BioWare, a name which is typically associated with high quality. Dragon Age has been in development for what feels like an eternity. Originally following a style similar to that seen in Neverwinter Nights, the game has come leaps and bounds since then, and is now running on a new engine called Eclipse.
Fans of rope-playing games will be pleased to know that BioWare describes this as a ‘spiritual successor’ to Baldur’s Gate, a series which defined what makes a great RPG still to this day. This comparison can be seen clearly as the game follows the same style of party based gameplay, similar fantasy setting and real-time combat with the ability to pause and tactically plan attacks. The game is viewed from an over-the-shoulder perspective allowing you to openly control your four person party, holding the main protagonist along with three characters selected from a large pool.
Something which has surprised many, in this time of internet domination, Dragon Age will have no support for multiplayer, even though the game (as with Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights) is a co-op player’s dream. The reason behind this, as no doubt with Mass Effect too (also by BioWare), is to focus on introducing the players to a long franchise. By getting the players immersed into the lore on a one-to-one level the franchise can grow in anticipation for future instalments (which one can only hope allow multiplayer!).
With this focus on introducing players to the games lore, it is no surprise that the game is subtitled ‘Origins’ and focuses on telling the story of each available class. So far six origin stories have been confirmed: Human Noble, City Elf, Dwarf Commoner, Dwarf Moble, Mage and Dalish Elf. Whilst it is not known how deep or varied these origin stories will be, it is expected that the origin stories will introduce you to the main quest in a different manner, with a different attitude and personality throughout the game, which have an effect on the game as a whole. If this is the case, then the level of replayability could be overwhelming, something which is fantastic given the role-playing nature of having so many varied ways to play a single game.
Whilst little is known on the storyline of the game, is has been described as a ‘dark, heroic, fantastic’ story that will be told on an epic scale with mature themes. Given that many trailers have shown a plethora of gore, death, sex and brutality, expect the game to carry a high age certificate and amass the typical media hysteria.
One impressive aspect of Dragon Age is the spell combat, which has been demonstrated time and time again in preview trailers. As typical with games of this nature there will be spell based classes, with the usual arsenal of spells, such as fire and frost. Something new however is the impressive engine running these spells, as spells can work together or against one another. For example an ice blizzard will put out a fire, and fire spells can ignite grease – all spells available to the player. Not only this, but terrain can be used to divert and avoid spells, where standing behind a pillar for example can prevent you from getting set alight from fire streaming out of a mages hands.
Currently set to release late October, Dragon Age is certainly one to keep an eye on. If BioWare are successful in bringing in this new IP, free from ties of the Dungeons and Dragons attachment that Baldur’s Gate had – this could be a very successful franchise, hopefully for many iterations to come.