Dragon Age 3 won't reuse levels, will feature follower customisation
Bioware used a PAX East panel a few days ago to talk about their plans for the next Dragon Age, which still isn't technically announced, even though Bioware have been dropping hints about it on and off since May last year. During the panel, hosted on Gamespot, Dragon Age lead designer, Mike Laidlaw managed to navigate this strange realm of marketing doublethink to talk about the team's plans for the sequel without ever actually saying the words "Dragon Age 3."
The talk centred around three bits of fan feedback, all of which Bioware are planning to address. The main requests from players were as follows: "Stop reusing levels. Decisions that matter. Equipment for followers."
"Boy, those three came up," said Laidlaw. "Those three came up quite a bit."
It's not clear where Dragon Age 3 will be set yet, but it certainly won't be Kirkwall. "We're looking for variety, we're looking for space, we're looking for scope, we're looking for something cool, forgotten, hidden and lost," said Laidlaw. "If we really need to go somewhere urban, let's make sure it's not Kirkwall. Maybe let's go somewhere new, somewhere a little more ... French."
The panel didn't give away any story specifics, but Laidlaw hints that decisions made in previous Dragon Age games could have significant knock-on effects in the new game. Laidlaw also showed Bioware's ideas for customisable followers. The main challenge, he explained, is to allow players to add and remove armour pieces without ruining the unique visual identity of each character.
Using some concept art to provide examples, Laidlaw demonstrated the middle ground that Bioware are currently aiming for. He moved a chestplate between two different characters and showed how the design of the plate could adapt to fit the style of each warrior, retaining their silhouette and signature style. He argued that the strong visual identity is necessary to help players identify better with the heroes in their party, and to make those heroes easier to pick out on a busy battlefield. He also mentions that the team are looking at letting players customise the colour and material of party members' clothing.
Everything shown at the talk was very much work-in-progress, but it's a promising sign that the developers are paying close attention to fan feedback. Bioware have been doing a fair bit of that recently. They recently announced that they'll be releasing some Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC to clarify the game's controversial ending.