We’ve probably all spent way too much time allowing the most massive RPG in memory to devour our lives by now. Game of the year? Maybe. I put nearly a hundred hours into Dragon Age: Inquisition before finishing the story and am still not anywhere near clearing all of the side-quests. I haven’t even unlocked all of the areas yet. This game is BIG in every possible sense. Consequently, it’s also full of the variety of lore and memorable characters that we come to expect from this developer. BioWare could easily take some of the less-explored concepts they put in this game as minor diversions and expand them into something really amazing. Let’s look at a couple possibilities.
It’s a little insane that I’m already snowed under by the incredible amount of content in this game and I’m already crying “moar” but I kind of am. Some of the cooler and more creative aspects have left me wanting to fill in the blanks and further immerse myself into the world of Thedas. Following Dragon Age II, we got the animated Dawn of the Seeker film which kindly filled in the back-story of Cassandra Pentaghast, and Felicia Day’s Redemption web series about her DLC character, Tallis. Both were pretty cool. I definitely think the latest story opens up some very interesting avenues that are screaming for a continuation.
The first thing that came to mind when considering a spin-off was a prequel chronicling the rise of the Bull’s Chargers. While hanging out with the Qunari spy/mercenary Iron Bull, he introduces you to his crew of misfit badasses headed up by the snarky Krem and including an aloof Dalish elf (creatively named Dalish) and a dwarf sapper, among others. While the meeting is a brief character moment in an epic story, it combines with Krem’s tavern tales of past Charger glories to outline a really interesting picture. One that could use some expanding on.
A game where you could play as Iron Bull and the Chargers in their formative years could function almost like a playable medieval Guardians of the Galaxy. The diversity of the crew and charisma of their leader alone make it a sure win, but what form should it take?
Stand-alone or episodic DLC would be easiest route since they already have the game engine built. Throw in some new locations, flesh out some of Bull and Krem’s stories, and it would be a great addition to the Dragon Age universe. A television or web series would be great too. It feels like there’s too much there to cover in a single film.
One of the best missions in Inquisition was “Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts”, where the player finally gets a chance to play The Game that Leliana is always on about. Basically, the Game in question is politics and espionage, so you have to keep up appearances at the Empress’s masquerade ball and say all the right things while attempting to bend other players to your will by gathering incriminating information and manipulating them through any means necessary.
The mission was a really great break from the usual “go there, find/kill that” missions (although there was plenty of finding and killing) that are the bread and butter of RPG’s and it forces you to think before you speak. I actually had to reload a save because I went through my usual routine of exhausting every conversation option and then realized that I had told everything I knew to the people I was supposed to outwit, which was moronic. I really love the idea of challenging RPG tropes this way and making the player think before they act in order to succeed instead of simply doing everything that’s put in front of them. I think making a full game out of this concept would be amazing.
A role-playing game that’s about more than running around killing stuff for a hundred hours? OUTRAGEOUS! But Inquisition really put the idea in my head that this could be a really great thing. To do away with the focus on combat and massive worlds and instead really focus on subtle characterization, decision-making, setting, and even fashion would be a brave new world I’d like to explore. Deciding who to dance with, who to blackmail, and who to kill and how would be great, as would building a network of informants and spies to help do the dirty work. Leveling up your social skills for new dialogue options, gaining different boosts from your fashion choices, people reacting to your reputation and past deeds; these are all things that have been done in games before to some extent, but never combined into a primary focus.
Not only would this be a breath of fresh air for the genre, but I think it could be something that appeals more to female gamers more as well. The game could work as a prequel starring Leliana in her days as a bard of the Orlesian court, but the best option might be an all-new character during that same time period in order to leave the option for endings more wide open. “Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts” has several possible endings depending on the player’s choices and the thoroughness of their investigating, so a blank slate for the player to impose their will on the social scene in any way they see fit would be good so as to not step on the toes of canon.
So there’s two options for BioWare to expand on the immensity that is Dragon Age: Inquisition that I’d love to see happen. There’s so much left to explore in the universe of Thedas; the societies of the Qunari and the Dalish, for instance. We’ve seen a lot of glimpses, but Dragon Age is a bottomless pit of lore that constantly begs for more expansion. What aspect do you think warrants its own spin-off game/film/series?