Though game developers like Ubisoft face criticism from fans who want to see more playable female characters in well-known franchises such as “Assassin’s Creed,” Canadian video game studio BioWare has been incorporating strong women into its games for years. That’s just one of the many cool features of upcoming installment “Dragon Age: Inquisition,” which will launch Nov. 18 for the Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PC.
The third major addition to the “Dragon Age” franchise, it is the sequel to “Dragon Age: Origins” and “Dragon Age II.”
In BioWare’s first game, “Dragon Age: Origins, players were able to select either a male or female character and choose from three races -- human, dwarf, or elf. Each variety came with its own background and story, and changed how the game played out. Now, “Inquisition” producer Cameron Lee says there are even more character variations to choose from.
“Everything, from the hair, to the face, the lips, eye color, what makeup you have, there are billions of combinations,” Lee told IBTimes during an Electronic Arts, Inc. holiday preview on Wednesday. BioWare is a subsidiary of the Redwood City, California-based developer and publisher. “There are four different races in the game. We don’t force you to play a pre-defined character. You can pick your gender, pick your race.”
“Inquisition” is a huge game, and Lee estimates it will take around 150 hours to complete. It will take place on the fictional continent of Thedas, the same location from the series’ two previous games. The title will be significantly larger than its predecessors, with one map being four to five times larger than the entire setting of the original franchise game. The title also spans two different countries that are based on England and France.
“It’s a big open world RPG, and you’re playing as the inquisitor. You form this organization called the Inquisition, to uncover the truth about what’s happened with this big breach in the sky,” Lee explained. “It’s really about creating a massive and immersive world you can explore.”
During a 30-minute demo, we got an idea of just how massive “Inquisition” really is. Though we were only shown a small side quest, and sadly, no dragons, the open world seemed endless, with swampy marshlands and woodland areas to explore. The developers put a lot of work into the minute details of the game, from creating different, believable cultures to producing realistic in-game textures. The BioWare team has been working on “Inquisition” for four years.
“There’s deserts, there’s swamps, there’s snow-capped mountains, the artists even traveled to different areas. Some of the guys even went to different locations to get textures for all of the plants,” Lee said, zooming in on the green leaves of a tree branch. “When you look at the detail in some of these trees, these are all real pictures that have been turned into textures.”
Creating a world that drew on elements of fantasy but also seemed believable proved to be challenging for the BioWare team.
“We spend a lot of time to make sure that the cultures we have, the different factions, the countries, the histories are all reflected in the art,” Lee said. “So, when you’re in a particular area that’s controlled by a specific faction, you should see that in their architecture and what the people wear.”
Crafting will also be an important aspect of “Inquisition,” and there are hundreds of different combinations, from various metals to clothes to leathers. You can take these objects back to your castle, where alchemists and blacksmiths can create potions, poisons, weapons and armor for you and your team.
The massive dragons are one of the coolest elements of the “Dragon Age” series, and Lee says they modeled the movements of the giant creatures after large cats. There are 10 dragons in “Inquisition,” and players will have to face three at one time during a more advanced level.
“Dragons are huge, they’re so big you have to target individual limbs to take them down. They do damage, will destroy buildings, pounce around on the battlefield. In this game, we wanted the dragons to be more mobile,” Lee said.
With so many cool features, it looks like “Inquisition” will be an amazing game, and we’re looking forward to its release next month. What do you hope to see in the game? Leave a comment below.