Dragon Age: The Veilguard leads say it will be 'mission-based' rather than open world, with no fetch quests or busywork: 'You're not going to be gathering shards in the Hinterlands'

A lineup of heroes from Dragon Age: The Veilguard.
(Image credit: EA)

After years of concept art teasers and news of personnel changes, the next Dragon Age is finally real and imminent. While many of us on the team aren't yet fully sold on Dragon Age: The Veilguard, a recent Q&A with some of its senior staff indicates that they're keen to respond to one of Dragon Age: Inquisition's biggest criticisms.

When asked if The Veilguard would be open world, game director Corinne Busche replied that, "We've gone back to what we believe delivers the best, most curated, intense narratives." Busche characterizes The Veilguard as being "mission based," but with players able to come back and revisit areas. "You can go back, solve mysteries, do some really great side content⁠—not fetch quests, not grind quests⁠—some really great side content. But I want to be clear it's a really curated, handcrafted experience.

"We spent a lot of time listening to what you all said. And of course everyone has slightly different tastes, but you're not going to be gathering shards in the Hinterlands. Everything is built with intention."

The Veilguard's creative director, John Epler, added that "Anything other than handcrafted quests just felt like it would be a disservice to the game we're building."

PCG news writer Joshua Wolens' observation that The Veilguard looks as much like Mass Effect as it does Dragon Age seems even closer to the mark now: a "mission based" structure certainly sounds like how Mass Effects 2 and 3 were laid out. While I share PCG online editor Fraser Brown's RPG sicko sense of mourning for the crunchier, more tactical Dragon Age we saw in Origins, this more Mass Effect-y pacing definitely sounds like a better fit for the series than what Inquisition tried ten years ago.

It wasn't just the running around (with or without a horse that didn't actually make you move faster) looking for shards, fetch quest tchotchkes, or those awful little crafting resource nodes that wore me down in Inquisition, though that MMO-y design was bad enough that PCG UK editor-in-chief Phil Savage had to exhort us all to leave the damn Hinterlands ASAP

The version of Thedas in that game was also just utterly desolate and empty. That wound up being a great fit for a few areas like the haunted desert of the Hissing Wastes, but it also left the few settlements we saw like a reprised (and decidedly lacking red cliffs) Redcliffe or the alleged imperial metropolis of Val Royeaux feeling cramped and dead.

The Veilguard's Minrathous already strikes me as a more vibrant, exciting place like Kirkwall or Denerim in Dragon Ages past, while Mass Effect's mission structure was always great at making the galaxy feel bigger than what you saw. I remain, as ever, cautiously optimistic for Veilguard, which is set to arrive this fall.

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.

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