In Dragon Age: The Veilguard, your companions earn skill points as you rank up their 'Relationship Level'

Dragon Age: The Veilguard trailer
(Image credit: BioWare/EA)

The great Dragon Age drip-feed of mid-2024 continues. Recent revelations have included the fact the long-awaited fourth game in the series will be entirely offline and won't have microtransactions, will be mission-based rather than open world, and will have difficulty options granular enough you'll be able to turn off death entirely.

The latest note via Game Informer explains that each recruitable companion will have a "Relationship Level" that can be leveled up, and each time you do they'll earn a skill point. That level isn't just for measuring the strength of romantic relationships either, and can be improved by helping characters overcome difficulties and solving their personal quests. 

As game director Corinne Busche put it, "relationships are key, not only romance but friendships. We wanted to lean into not just the relationships the characters have with you but the relationships they have with each other. It's a found family, and at the end of the day, they need to trust they all have each other's back."

It sounds like companions in The Veilguard will have much smaller skill trees than the player-character too, with only five abilities on them. I expect a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth over that, but if those abilities are actually useful and not a bunch of passive bonuses, five is frankly enough. Especially if you switch up who is in your party on the regular, which is something I like to do so nobody feels left out.

As for companions' combat effectiveness improving the more they like you? That was part of Dragon Age all the way back in Origins. As their approval ratings went up, each NPC would get a bonus to their core stat—Alistair would earn a higher constitution, Morrigan would get better at magic, and so on. The Veilguard seems to be picking up that baton, and will also continue the series' tradition of having dialogue options broken up into varieties like sarcastic, friendly, direct, and flirty. I look forward to learning everyone's favorite flavor of dialogue and then, if it isn't sarcastic, annoying the hell out of them with constant my snarking.

Another interesting note about Dragon Age: The Veilguard's relationships is that companions you don't romance may pursue them with each other. This was a feature of Dragon Age: Inquisition and Mass Effect 3 that added some fun scenes where you could overhear a burgeoning romance between your buds, and I'm glad to hear it's coming back. It's something I missed in Baldur's Gate 3, if only so my shipping of Wyll and Karlach could come true.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.