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.

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.


Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.


Asmiroth · April 12, 2019 at 1:28 am

Did you like DA:I? I liked the story & companions but really disliked the mechanics. Felt like BioWare’s take on a solo-MMO, just filled with inane quests. (one of my pet peeves of MA:A as well – that AI quest in particular…). The setting/story bar was raised so much by things like Zelda, Horizon:Zero Dawn, and God of War… makes you wonder how this will play out.

AC:O was a similar thing. The setting/story was neat. The mechanics were quite boring, and simply a list of mini-quests (except elephant hunting, that was something!) I didn’t get why you’d want to buy a Chocobo-camel skin…

Given the fires going on at BioWare, I’d really be curious as to who in their right mind would want to work on this now, or how they plan to attract the necessary talent. Insert “this is fine” meme.

    Naithin · April 12, 2019 at 7:31 am

    DA:I’s main story quest line I quite liked, the side quests were universally dull as dishwater. They were 100%, as you said, like a SP MMO. Although you’re not wrong either about the raising of the bar in story in games since then.

    AC:O I liked quite a bit though actually. The side quests were admittedly of mixed quality, but a decent portion of them were at least ‘OK’ with a fair few moving into the ‘Good’ category, something DA:I just didn’t achieve.

    Casey’s second response (link below, although you’ve likely seen it) to the first Kotaku article was a bit more positive at least, still.. Talk is easy. We’ll just have to see. I’m certainly remaining skeptical of this and any future BioWare efforts for now, but just think it isn’t *necessarily* all doom and gloom.


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