The lights are on
According to the announcement last month, Dragon Age III: Inquisition is coming in late 2013. For fans, this represents equal parts apprehension and hope; the game could correct some of the serious mistakes found in Dragon Age II, or it could stray even further from its roots. Before it was even announced, BioWare talked about the game bringing the "best from both games" together, but what does that mean? Here are a few areas where the upcoming sequel can learn from the past and look toward the future.
In an age where series like Assassin’s Creed and Elder Scrolls set new bars in presenting living, breathing cities, Dragon Age seems painfully out of date. Granted, Dragon Age doesn’t aim to deliver the same type of open-world experience. However, after strolling through Skyrim and thriving recreations of renaissance Italy, the static and sparsely populated cities of Thedas seem hollow.
New ArchetypesI’m not going to use this as an opportunity to rake Alistair or Anders across the coals, but the archetypes in your party could use a serious revamping. The Sensitive Male, the Tough Vamp, the Wisecracking Construct, the Alcoholic Dwarf – these can all be put to bed. Some concepts from the series have definitely stood out (I loved Justice), but fewer easy choices would help build a more sympathetic cast.
No CelebritiesWhen you include an entire character (even if it’s just DLC) built solely to appeal to a celebrity’s fanbase, it just feels cheap. Don’t do it.
Good VillainsLoghain was awesome. The Arishok was awesome. BioWare has demonstrated that it can create compelling, multifaceted antagonists. I don’t know why this trend would stop in Dragon Age III, but I hope that the central villain takes a prominent role throughout the story (like Dragon Age: Origins) rather than being inserted at the end (like Dragon Age II).
Armor CustomizationNo matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find a single piece of armor in Dragon Age: Origins that didn’t make my mage look like a dingus. Dragon Age II helped matters a bit, but took away the ability to manage most of your party’s gear. I want the next installment to give me more control in making my hero (and companions) look cool. This has already been indicated as an area of focus for Dragon Age III, so I’m eager to see the team’s solution.
Moral AmbiguityThis is something that Dragon Age: Origins nailed. Though Dragon Age II strayed a bit, the series could easily get back on course. Letting players make meaningful decisions that don’t necessarily feel good or evil establishes a unique tone for the series. The conflicts don’t need to be about gallant knights versus vile necromancers – everyone just has different motivations, and no one ever thinks of themselves as evil. More nuanced characters and opportunities to explore their choices would help drive this point home.
Bring Back TacticsThe combat in Dragon Age II felt more like an action game than an RPG – a major problem for many fans considering the highly tactical pause-and-play emphasis of its predecessor. Maybe a battle system based on old-school PC titles isn't the answer, either, but the team at BioWare needs to do something to reintroduce the importance of strategy. More importantly, it needs to feel natural in the Dragon Age universe; the series can only flail around so long searching for an identity in combat.
Balance The Skill TreesCharacters should be able to grow in interesting ways. Each of the two previous games does some things right in this area. Dragon Age: Origins had deep skill trees, but all of your characters of a particular class felt too similar. Dragon Age II gave individuals unique powers, but the skill trees didn’t have enough depth to really draw me in. This is one area where the third game could land in the middle and leave me satisfied.
That DogI loved that mutt.
That's it for my list. Share your wishlist for Dragon Age III: Inquisition features in the comments below!
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