It is an open secret that a third game of the Dragon Age franchise has been under development. BioWare, or EA if you will, announced the title officially earlier today. As of current, there isn’t much info on Dragon Age Inquisition out there, other than the game is on the third year of its development cycle, and it will be running on DICE’s Frostbite engine. The game is set for a late 2013 release.
If you have read my piece on the Mass Effect 3 ending fiasco, you will know for a fact that I am no longer a fan of BioWare. The Canadian studio’s recent games have been major disappointments in my eyes. Mass Effect 3 aside, Dragon Age 2 has achieved relative notoriety for its over-simplified combat system, not to mention the one-dimensional story arc. Personally, I was never fond of the gameplay in BW’s games. I bought the games for the sake of experiencing the stories. I went as far as to use a trainer to beat Dragon Age 2. Do I have the right to complain about the franchise’s gameplay? Not really. It’s just not my cup of tea, but it did raise some concerns from some long-time RPG gamers.
Storyline-wise, I wasn’t particularly drawn to the universe of the Dragon Age franchise. But then, what do I know? I have never played the first game of the series, which according to fans, is a far superior game. Either case, Dragon Age 2 was a huge let down for me when it comes to the plot. Choices do not matter much in the game. Characters aren’t all that likable or memorable for that matter. The battle between people who are born “different” and intolerant assholes is a story told by many; just read the US history. Feminists being demonized; people of a certain skin tons being screwed over; homosexuals being looked down upon. It’s just another story from the same cookie cutter. The conclusion doesn’t reflect too many of your choices, but then there weren’t options to begin with. In short, DA2 was a flop critically.
As for the Frostbite engine, I like what it’s capable of doing but it is overused. Almost every single EA game involves Frostbite 2. Obviously, it started with Battlefield 3, then Need for Speed: The Run, and now the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare wannabe in Medal of Honor: Warfighter, as well as Need for Speed: Most Wanted. Not to mention the upcoming Army of Two and Command and Conquer as well. It is ridiculous. Undoubtedly, these games have stunning visuals, but they lack in personal identities. Great graphics are not limited to gritty realism. You can try something cartoonish, like No More Heroes or even Team Fortress and accomplish striking visuals. Furthermore, timeless classics can withstand the test of time not because they have great visuals, but rather a revolutionary gameplay and a truly memorable tale. One of my favorite games of all time is Crash Bandicoot. The game’s graphics suck by today’s standards, but I don’t care for one bit, simply because the key components are done right.
Publishers need to understand graphics portion of a game is severely overrated. This is evident in the fact that Obsidian managed to raise 1.5 million dollars to make a game which won’t have mind-blowingly stunning graphics in a matter of days. Hell, Call of Duty never had jaw-dropping visuals and still managed to outsell anything out there, simply because it has an addictive gameplay. Packaging is not substance in the end of the day, and developers need to see the truth. Gameplay and plot (if applicable) is where the heart should be at.