Dragon Age 4 as Live Service

Jason Schrier is on a bit of a roll of late with the BioWare inner-sanctum access articles. The latest is a look at the history and likely future of Dragon Age 4. That future including the perhaps worrying ‘Live Service’ descriptor, on top of the further worrying decision to use the Anthem code-base.

It would be hard to fault anyone for giving up all hope with that combination alone. My initial gut reaction was… not the most positive either. But I think there are some mitigating factors here that at least leave the doors of chance open for an enjoyable title at the end of all this.

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey — Also a ‘Live Service’ Game

Dragon Age 4 would not be first Live Service single-player game. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is proof that it can be done well. AC:O released as a complete package in its own right. The Live Service element tied in through (admittedly small) weekly-ish events/content drops, and the odd larger content drop even outside of the DLC content.

Admittedly it did also contain some less-than-savoury monetisation in the form of cosmetics in a single-player game where you can’t even show them off. And then of course there was the rather infamous XP Booster. A $10 transaction in order to permanently boost your earned XP by 50%.

At least for first play through, if you were doing at least some degree of the side quest content, it was by no means a necessity. Your process kept up with the level-gating fairly well. If you, however, preferred to beeline just the main story… Weeeeell… The $10 option was always there.

In any case, I digress, the point was Live Service doesn’t have to mean a game held together with sticky tape and glue that possibly gets better over time. It also doesn’t have to mean an online-only experience with a perfunctory story experience tacked on and in the way of the ‘game’ side of things.

Jason’s article reports BioWare’s Casey Hudson as saying, “Reading lots of feedback regarding Dragon Age, and I think you’ll be relieved to see what the team is working on. Story & character focused. Too early to talk details, but when we talk about ‘live’ it just means designing a game for continued storytelling after the main story.”

If we are to take Casey at his word, then there is some hope that DA4 will be more AC and less Anthem.

…Excepting of course for the code base commonality…

What gives me some inclination toward hope here is that DA4 is (again, post-reboot) in preproduction. There are some years yet before we should expect to see the title ship. In that time, they should be able to do a lot with the groundwork laid over the past 12-18 months.

I guess we’ll have to see. But at least there is potential light at the end of this tunnel. And possibly further work done by the DA4 team can be used as improvements in Anthem’s own branch of the code too.

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