If you've played through Dragon Age: Inquisition and the concluding DLC, The Trespasser, you'll know that the adventures in Bioware's fantasy world are far from over. In fact, it begs for a continuation. And given the tantalising tease Bioware made recently, we may soon get an announcement. All signs point to a reveal around the time of E3 next summer. With that in mind we've had a think about what we might see in the next game, and what we'd like the studio to bring to the fourth main instalment in the series (warning: this article contains serious spoilers).
A New Hero?
This is the most likely scenario as this is what has happened in the past. It's also a great way of inviting in new players, the Inquisitor's job is done; time for a new hero to rise from the ranks. That's what makes sense given the heritage of the series, but given how personal the likely scenario for the next Dragon Age is going to be (going up against Solas), perhaps we shouldn't take it completely for granted.
If there's a new hero, which does seem likely, we certainly hope that the Inquisitor is taken care of and included somehow. If the story ends up taking the direction we expect, it would be strange not to see him or her again, especially considering there's always some sort of crossover between titles, and past heroes often return and make a cameo appearance.
Hub structure or Open World?
If the marketing team at EA had their way we're sure the next Dragon Age would be fully open world. It's something that still gets people excited (or does it?), but honestly we're not sure it is necessary. Dragon Age: Inquisition offered a mix that allowed for the sort of structure you get from a hubworld, with new areas opening up as you go, while offering many open world tropes in its larger areas.
We hope that Bioware continues along this path, perhaps building even larger and more dense and varied areas, but we're not sure they should go for a completely open world experience. If they can carry the idea of "best of both" further, that would be ideal. However, we don't want them to scale down any of the complexity of the world and its mechanics. The Mass Effect series has been streamlined too far away from its RPG roots in some ways, and Dragon Age would not benefit from this.
Given the relationship between the cast of Dragon Age: Inquisition and what is most likely going to be the main villain in the next Dragon Age game (unless Bioware serves up something entirely unexpected, of course) we expect many of them will make a return. This creates a dilemma. While we'd love to see most of them come back, one of the main appeals of any Bioware game is to explore and get to know new companions. Perhaps some of them will appear in other roles, though, so we can have a bit of both. By the sounds of it though we're getting a new band of companions, at least for the most part (see The Trespasser DLC for more info).
Much of what you've learned about the Elves over the course of the Dragon Age series has been turned on its head by events towards the end of Dragon Age: Inquisition. And it is very likely that the next game will deal with Solas, the past of the Elves, and the Veil.
Of course, Bioware could shock us by taking an entirely different direction, but that's what makes sense to us at this point. It feels like we've been drip-fed pieces of information and misconceptions over the course of three games, and perhaps the time has come to deal with it head on. This scenario could also set the stage for the game to offer areas outside of Thedas for the player to explore.
The impact of decisions in Dragon Age: Inquisition
The way you dealt with the decisions you faced in Dragon Age: Inquisition had a massive impact on how that game ended for the various characters. If you decided to let the Inquisition live on, how will that affect the world you'll start with in the fourth game? And what about your decisions regarding Solas - who we assume will play a central part in the new game, possibly as the main villain?
Of course, the easiest route would be to create an event that in a way makes your previous decisions fade into the background. Could Solas' plan already be unfolding as the next game starts? It is also possible that Bioware has a twist in mind for the main character, something that will automatically alter their/your perspective.
Perhaps most importantly, Thedas and its people must show the impact of our decisions. This is something we're completely confident that Bioware will pull off, and we're excited to see the ripple effects of our actions and decisions.
This is probably the area where the next Dragon Age could do with the most improvement. While there was more of an open world structure to the last game, the narrative overlay could do with an overhaul of some kind. It's not that that the writing was lacking, it's just that it could do with better implementation. Make it feel more cohesive. It's pretty obvious that Bioware are working out how to best combine the generic side quests with more narrative driven ones, but CD Projekt Red has shown that the player doesn't need to be made to feel that difference. After all, it's all part of one great adventure.
Dragons played a huge role in the last game, but what kind of role will they play in the next? Frankly, after Skyrim and Dragon Age: Inquisition, we're not overly excited about fighting more dragons. Now if they could have another role here, that would of course be more interesting...
Bioware has been hinting at an E3 reveal, or perhaps rather an EA Play reveal if EA chooses to do their own thing once more. If that's the cast then a 2018 release would seem likely, and quite frankly we cannot wait.