The New Dragon Age Game Looks a Lot More Like Mass Effect, and Maybe That’s Okay

The New Dragon Age Game Looks a Lot More Like Mass Effect, and Maybe That’s Okay

Nailing down an identity for Dragon Age has always been difficult. BioWare’s dark-fantasy RPG serieshas evolved from being its more traditional RPG offering—compared to how it changed wider genre with the impact of Mass Effect back in 2007—from game to game, taking on different tones, aesthetics, ideas of narrative scale. But it has, for the most part, always been mechanically driven by more traditional RPG combat. That is, until now.

Today, after many, many (many) years of waiting, BioWare lifted the lid on the fourth Dragon Age game, The Veilguard, a successor-sequel to 2014’s Dragon Age: Inquisition. Fans have been imagining what a fourth Dragon Age could look like as the developer trickled out tiny snippets of information in the years since it first announced the sequel—originally titled Dreadwolf for one of its primary antagonistic forces, Solas, the ancient elven mage/trickster god that was a major party character in Inquisition—in 2018. While several ideas about its story were already known, very little in terms of what the game would ultimately actually look or play like were unknown until now.


Dragon Age: The Veilguard | Official Gameplay Reveal

The answer is… well, it’s an awful lot like Mass Effect. Dragon Age’s aesthetic is still there of course in the 20-minute gameplay sequence released today—lots of demons, lots of magic, lots of darkness, and a character art style that’s not quite as stylized as some fans had feared after an earlier character trailer this weekend introduced The Veilguard’s cast of heroes. But mechanically The Veilguard definitely looks like it takes pages from Mass Effect, a series that eschewed a lot of its own mechanical underpinnings as it evolved to focus on more third-person shooting action. Obviously, in a fantasy setting, there’s less guns and more magical spellbolts and arrows, but it’s clear the inspiration here definitely leans more toward character action rather than strategically paused tactical combat.

It wouldn’t be the first time Dragon Age has taken inspiration from its sci-fi sibling, of course—it’s basically been doing that ever since Dragon Age 2. But The Veilguard certainly looks like the one to take the most inspiration so far, a move that might raise the hackles of people who liked a more distinct gameplay differentiation between the two series. But for people who come to BioWare’s games for narrative or cinematic decisions, or roleplaying of different sorts—the ability to shape your character’s choices and identity, the way they interact with and speak in the world—all that stuff still seems to be well and intact, and written previews for Veilguard that released alongside the new footage all still suggest those things are a keen focus, from a robust character creator down to elements fans of BioWare games would expect, like romanceable party members.

Presumably, given what we’re seeing here is a very early glimpse, Veilguard’s moment-to-moment gameplay between the traditional conversations and dialogue choices will evolve into something a little more involved—more abilities, more skills; there are, at least, just like Mass Effect still had by the peak of its evolution into an action game, experience points to gain and levels to earn. But given that it’s likewise been a very long time since a Mass Effect game came out—there’s not been one since Andromeda in 2017, and while there’s one on the way it’s much, much further off than Veilguard’s fall 2024 release date—it will be interesting to see, even if it now looks more like a fantasy Mass Effect than ever before, what Dragon Age could bring to the table and put as its own mark. A series that, after its launch, has felt like it has had to act as a mirror in some regards to its sci-fi counterpart will get the chance to put its own step forward on their shared evolution of what BioWare’s RPG games have become in the last decade and a half, and that’ll be as interesting to see as just where this latest world-threatening story takes us.

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