Dragon Age 4 is the long-awaited next episode in the Bioware fantasy RPG series, and it looks like EA is finally ready to share a bit more about the game. We've been waiting six years since Dragon Age: Inquisition, so you'll excuse us fans if we lost our mind at the new cinematic trailer shown off at The Game Awards 2020 in December.
In the lead-up to Dragon Age 4, we've been keeping track of all the news, concept art, and rumors doing the rounds so you can stay up to date. Ahead of the cinematic trailer, we got a behind-the-scenes look at the game with oodles of concept art and even some very brief glimpses of footage during Gamescom Opening Night Live. Here's everything we know so far about Dragon Age 4.
Dragon Age 4 behind-the-scenes look
During Gamescom Opening Night Live, Bioware gave us a helping of Dragon Age 4 goodness with a behind-the-scenes look at the next adventure. Set to land on next-gen consoles with no concrete release date just yet, Casey Hudson introduces the video by saying that the team "has been imagining new ways of using next-generation technology to bring the world of Dragon Age to life", and also confirms that the game is currently in the early stages of production. Yes, we still have to wait it out for quite some time yet, but it's exciting to know a next-gen Dragon Age game is on the way.
Hearing from various BioWare developers working on the game, the video gives us a look at how the team are creating this new adventure, complete with some gorgeous concept art and very brief glimpses of game footage showing off different vistas and locations. I'm also convinced one piece of concept art features Dorian Pavus underwater (because we absolutely need more Dorian), and if we end up going to Tevinter as the ending of Dragon Age Inquisition suggests, it would make so much sense.
We also get lots of interesting tidbits from the developers, offering some insight into the direction of our return to Thedas. Lead writer Patrick Weekes says that Dragon Age 4 will tell a story that explores, "What happens when you don't have power?" and, "what happens when the people in charge aren't willing to address the issues?" This could mean we'll fill the shoes of someone who's an underdog of sorts who does what the people in charge aren't willing to do. For now, we can only speculate, but it does make our imaginations run wild - especially if you think about what happened in the Dragon Age Inquisition Trespasser DLC.
Dragon Age 4 2020 teaser
More recent signs of life for Dragon Age 4 came in the shape of dark and delicious concept art revealed during a next-generation montage at EA's summer event, EA Play Live. The game wasn't even mentioned by name, but in a section introduced by EA's chief studio officer, Laura Miele, she did namecheck Bioware.
"Bioware imagines and creates worlds where you become the hero of your own story, and we're using this next generation of technology to make those fantasy worlds your reality."
You can see those Dragon Age 4 teaser images below.
Dragon Age 4 won't be coming until April 2022 at the earliest
In a fiscal yearly earnings call for EA's Q2 2020 report, chief operating and financial officer Blake Jorgensen said Dragon Age 4 will "probably" release after the studio's fiscal year of 2022. What this means is the most likely release date window won't be until April 2022 at the earliest. Yes, we're still in for quite a wait for our return to Thedas, but hey, at least it's coming.
The first official teaser Dragon Age 4 trailer hints at what's to come
As part of the many reveals at The Game Awards 2018, we finally got a teaser trailer for Dragon Age 4 - though we still don't have an actual game name just yet. You should watch the brief glimpse above, but the gist is that #TheDreadWolfRises, with an ominous greeting from Solas, of Dragon Age: Inquisition fame:
"So, you found me at last. I suspect you have questions."
If you're not intimately familiar with Dragon Age lore, the 'Dread Wolf' moniker refers to Fen'Harel, the Loki-like elven god of betrayal who has (spoilery) ties to Solas and features prominently in Inquisition's epilogue DLC, Trespasser. Most interestingly of all, the trailer prominently features a red lyrium idol, and it's not just any idol. Those of you who played Dragon Age 2 might recognise it. The idol plays a big role in the corruption of Kirkwall's templars. Now, if you fancy dipping into the second installment in the series anytime soon, skip past the next section because it contains some *hefty spoilers*.
In the first act of Dragon Age 2, you go into the deep roads with Varric and his brother Bartrand in a bid to recover lost dwarven treasures and make your fortune. You stumble upon an ancient dwarven thaig filled to the brim with red lyrium, and sitting upon a pedestal is the very same idol we see in the trailer. The idol corrupts Bartrand, and causes him to turn his back on his own brother and leave him for dead in the deep roads.
Later on in Act 2, Varric asks you to go and confront Bartrand in his mansion in Hightown for his personal quest. You find out that the idol has poisoned his mind, and makes him "hear a song." As a result of the idol's corruptive power, the dwarf forced his servants to feed on the lyrium, and the proceeded to cut it off them while they were still alive. It's pretty awful, to say the least. After confronting and fighting Bartrand, you find out he sold the idol to a woman, who turns out to be none other than Kirkwall's Knight Commander, Meredith. The red lyrium drives Meredith to take her fight against the mages and magic to extremes and all but tear apart Kirkwall.
Now, from Dragon Age 2 we know red lyrium is very, very bad news in the world of Thedas. In Inquisition, if you side with the mages early on, you'll be catapulted into a future scenario where Corypheus is wreaking havoc. And what makes an unfortunate comeback? Yep, you've guessed it: red lyrium. You meet Fiona who appears to have red lyrium growing out of her, and she says Corypheus has been growing lyrium in living people and harvesting it from their corpses.
From the get go, lyrium courses throughout Inquisition, so naturally it makes sense that it's still a problem in Dragon Age 4. Since we know just how corruptive it can be, we also know it must hold untold power. And in the wrong hands... just what will it do? It looks like our old egg friend Solas might be getting his hands on it. The flash of a mural in the teaser as seen above shows what looks like a wolf beast with three eyes and an elf either side of the idol. The Dread Wolf rises right, so what if he does so using the idol? What does that mean for Thedas? We all know what Solas is planning to do, so it can't be good news.
Some eagle-eyed fans have already picked apart every inch of the trailer and explained their theories in impressive detail. If you want to take a deep dive into the trailer, this theory on reddit is quite compelling.
Mark Darrah shares a tiny square "screenshot" of Dragon Age 4
Ok a real screenshot.Slightly redacted. pic.twitter.com/LpioHFI6f9December 4, 2019
On Dragon Age Day, fans everywhere celebrated the world of Thedas and expressed their love for all things Dragon Age. It was a joyous day for fans of the series, and of course we hoped that a tiny nugget of news might drop about Dragon Age 4. Enter BioWare's executive producer Mark Darrah who shared a screenshot of Dragon Age 4... the only snag is it's "super redacted" and doesn't really show much of anything at all. It was all in good humour of course, and while Darrah's antics might not reveal much, it does keep us talking about Dragon Age 4.
In the top right corner you can make out a square image with what looks like a bit of sky and some tree branches. There you have it folks, Dragon Age 4 may have some trees and sky. What a tease.
It looks like Dragon Age 4 takes place in Tevinter
In a new BioWare book, the studio seemingly confirms the Dragon Age 4 setting to be Tevinter, a so-far uncharted region of Thedas.
BioWare: Stores and Secrets from 25 Years of Game Development mostly details BioWare's storied history, but Eurogamer managed to pick out a pretty key detail of the next Dragon Age adventure. One entry reads in-part: "the long-awaited follow-up to Dragon Age: Inquisition … will take players to Tevinter as the events of Inquisition and Trespasser threaten to forever change Thedas."
We've suspected this to be the case since Tevinter was heavily alluded to at the end of Dragon Age: Inquisition Trespasser DLC, but it's good to have (semi-) confirmation. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean the entire game takes place in Tevinter, but it's safe to assume we'll be spending plenty of time there throughout Dragon Age 4.
Solas invites us to tea
Happy 5th Birthday, Dragon Age: Inquisition. pic.twitter.com/mTIRc5HfDMNovember 18, 2019
To celebrate the 5th anniversary of the launch of Dragon Age: Inquisition, BioWare posted a picture of a happy birthday card penned by Solas himself. Although it was a reminder that it has been quite some time since we saw the world of Thedas (sobs wildly), it was great to see a little something from the studio that keeps us excited about Dragon Age 4. "Tea soon?" could be taken in two ways: Either Solas is being a big meanie and giving us an empty promise of a nice cuppa in future - which stings all the more when you consider he doesn't even like tea - or its a clever way of saying a teaser could be on the horizon soon. If it's the latter, we'll have our kettles at the ready for a piping hot update.
"The Dread Wolf rises"
The news front for Dragon Age 4 has been pretty quiet, but rest assured, it's still on the way. In a blog post in September, BioWare game director Casey Hudson posted an update about all of the latest news from the studio, including everything from an Anthem update to an office move. Most importantly, though, Hudson also mentioned that "other big projects" are coming along, and dropped another nod to Dragon Age 4.
"We have several other big projects in the works. I wish I could tell you more about them, but they’re mostly super-secret right now," Hudson wrote. "I can say however that one of our projects has a large and growing team in Edmonton working through pre-production, and based on the progress I’m seeing, I can confirm that indeed the Dread Wolf rises."
See that, the "Dread Wolf rises." Oh, Hudson. What a tease. Dragon Age 4 will likely remain "super-secret" for quite some time, but just knowing it's moving along and still happening is enough to keep our excitement very much alive.
Dragon Age 4 may feature "live service" elements, but won't be like Anthem
"The idea was that Anthem would be the online game and that Dragon Age and Mass Effect, while they may experiment with online portions, that’s not what defines them as franchises," one developer told Kotaku. "I don’t think you’ll see us completely change those franchises."
Casey Hudson went on to say that Dragon Age 4 will be story-led and character-focused though, and although it's still "too early to talk details" - as explained in a tweet in Jan 2018 - "when we talk about 'live' it just means designed a game for continued storytelling after the main story."
"Dragon Age games shift more than other games," one developer said. Another said that "I know it's going to change like five times in the next two years."
Despite Dragon Age boss Mike Laidlaw leaving, you don't need to worry
And that's despite Mike Laidlaw leaving too. Laidlaw's been at BioWare for 14 years, but in October he announced he was leaving the company. During his tenure there he's worked on games like Jade Empire, Mass Effect and, you know, just the entire Dragon Age series, even serving as Creative Director on Dragon Age: Inquisition.
But fear not, just because one of the main guys making Dragon Age 4 has left, it doesn't spell the end of the series. Laidlaw spoke to a fan on Twitter and confirmed the Dragon Age team already had ideas for a "theoretical" Dragon Age 5.
"There is no planned ending for DA," he said, in response to a question asking if the fantasy role-playing series once had a set conclusion. "There is an evolving plan that tends to look two games ahead or so."
There is no planned ending for DA. There is an evolving plan that tends to look 2 games ahead or so. https://t.co/6Tp1lP6d5GAugust 8, 2017
Alexis Kennedy, of Fallen London and Sunless Seas fame, is involved... and TALKING
Although EA Games hasn’t officially announced Dragon Age 4, it’s nice to know that it’s coming. A semi-official reveal came from one of the writers on the game, Alexis Kennedy, who’s comments sparked ‘Dragon Age 4 confirmed’ headlines all over the place. He admitted the game was in its early stages during an interview, where he also gave us a few little hints as to what role he’s had on the writing team.
“What I can say is I have been given considerable autonomy to work on a storyline bit of lore which is well-segregated from other parts of the game, which makes sense with me being remote,” said Kennedy to Eurogamer. Kennedy is based in the UK compared to the rest of the team at BioWare Edmonton.
“And yes, if you’ve seen a lot of my work before you will probably not be surprised by the choice of subject matter. It’s familiar stuff.”
His previous work includes the brilliant Fallen London and Sunless Sea, both choose your own adventure/RPG titles with dark tones. No doubt Kennedy’s input into Dragon Age 4 is going to be of similar ilk.
He didn’t give much else away in his interview, but if Kennedy says the game was in its early stages in May 2017, we’re going to be waiting a while for a Dragon Age 4 release date.
However, Alexis Kennedy has been talking again; this time to VideoGamer.
"I'm going to tease what I can without, I think, annoying anybody," said Kennedy. "My other half, who is also my co-founder [Lottie Bevan at Weather Factory], said to me a year or two ago 'AK, are all your games about death?' and I said 'Well, kind of'. I'm just a big old goth. And BioWare put me on working on whole chunk of lore and backstory for the faction in the game that you would think of if were thinking big old goth. You know, if you were interested in death."
He went on to say this particular faction is in a game that "might be Dragon Age with a number after it". Cheeky.
"I think anybody who knows anything about Dragon Age lore can make some pretty clear deductions from that," he added.
Tevinter Imperium anyone?
Dragon Age 4 wishlist
Until we get our hands on a brand new scaly adventure or receive some official news, I’ve got plenty of ideas as to what the Dragon Age 4 gameplay and story should feature.
Here are the five top things I’ve got on my Dragon Age 4 wishlist:
1. The return of Solas
If you’ve played the excellent Dragon Age: Inquisition Trespasser DLC, you’ll know that it finishes with somewhat of a cliffhanger revolving around the renegade elf, Solas. In case you missed it, the DLC ends with the Inquisitor planning to pull together a new group of allies banded together from outside Orlais and Ferelden in order to track down Solas. He already has a great knowledge of the Inquisition, so that’s why there’s a need for a brand new crew. But depending on whether you’ve chosen to stop or redeem Solas, will no doubt depend on how you tackle the next part of the story.
That just happens not to exist yet… Until Dragon Age 4? Because Trespasser leaves you with such a Solas-focused cliffhanger, there’s little doubt in my mind that Solas is going to be at the centre of the next game.
2. A little jaunt in Tevinter Imperium
That Trespasser cliffhanger also showed a very important moment that could give away the potential setting of Dragon Age 4. The DLC finished with a dagger stabbed right through a map of Tevinter Imperium, which is an area of Dragon Age‘s world of Thedas, right next to Solas’ camp.
You might dismiss that as a wanton whim from me, but Tevinter Imperium just happens to be an area of Thedas that hasn’t yet been explored. Coincidence? I think not. Tevinter is the oldest human country within Thedas and it’s ruled by a powerful magocracy with leaders that are known as the magisters, who are the most powerful mages. If that doesn’t sound like an awesome place to set Dragon Age 4, I don’t know what does.
3. Better connections with our party members
Of course, a lovely world and a worthy foe is all good, but a Dragon Age game would be nothing without the characters you share your journey with. BioWare has such a talent when it comes to building believable and lovable characters that I actually want to be able to make more connections with them in Dragon Age 4.
Mass Effect, BioWare’s other major game (aside from the upcoming Anthem, that is), regularly features loyalty missions that allow you to build a stronger bond with your party members. Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect Andromeda are both games highlighted for such a feature, and it’s definitely something that would work for Dragon Age 4.
4. More control of how the story flows
From talking to fellow Dragon Age fans and reading online forums, it’s clear that there’s a demand for gamers to have more control over their destiny in Dragon Age 4. Back in the early days of Dragon Age, the decisions you make and your actions all have consequences. But consequences that actually affect the way the rest of the story pans out.
Like in Mass Effect, early Dragon Age games indicate that your choices make a difference to the game’s story. It isn't quite Telltale’s ‘they will remember that’ prompt, but it makes you feel as though there is more player agency than there is in more recent Dragon Age. Dragon Age fans - myself included - think that your choices should be given a little more weight for Dragon Age 4.
5. Take a world of inspiration from Inquisition
My favourite game in the Dragon Age series so far has to be Inquisition and that’s in part down to its open-world structure. Its blend of exploration, side-quests and expertly crafted immersive narrative leads you through its vast world like a Dragon Age game hasn’t quite pulled off before.
Other Dragon Age games prefer to focus on interconnected hub areas, but for a world as rich as Dragon Age’s it makes more sense to me to continue down the open world route started with Inquisition.
What would you love to see in Dragon Age 4? Let us know what you think by tapping the 'see comments' button below.