Dragon Age 4 was, for several years, one of the most open secrets in gaming. After the ending of Dragon Age: Inquisition's final DLC made it very clear that the saga of Thedas was far from over, we've been expecting another Dragon Age game to follow it. BioWare spent years dodging any official confirmation that the fourth game was in the works while executive producer Mark Darrah continued his tradition of using Twitter to share fan works and make cryptic statements to tease fans.
Now, BioWare have said in no uncertain terms that they're working on the next Dragon Age game, though we still know precious little about it from a short narrated teaser trailer, a behind-the-scenes video, and some concept art. We still haven't actually gotten a proper look at Dragon Age 4's gameplay, characters, or heck even a title, but BioWare have begun to sprinkle out teasers more frequently as of summer 2020.
While we keep waiting for a proper unveiling, here's everything we know about Dragon Age 4's existence, a possible release date, trailers, characters, and more.
Here's a behind the scenes teaser for Dragon Age 4
The Gamescom 2020 Opening Night Live show gave us a look at some of the early production of Dragon Age 4. The video shows off concept art, some 3D environments, a bit of voice acting production, and some gameplay prototypes. It's a bit too early to count anything seen as true Dragon Age 4 gameplay, but getting a look at the process is something at least. Dragon Age might still be far out, but the trailer successfully sells the excitement of returning to Bioware's fantasy world.
Here are the first images from Dragon Age 4
EA didn't mention the next Dragon Age game by name during EA Play in June, but they did make some allusions to it.
"BioWare imagines and creates worlds where you become the hero of your own story. And we're using this next generation of technology to make those fantasy worlds your reality," it said.
They didn't say that these are screenshots of Dragon Age 4 in development, but if that isn't a bunch of red lyrium I'll eat my boots.
What is Dragon Age 4's release date?
We don't have a release date for Dragon Age 4 yet. There are still a lot of things we don't know about the game. We do know that it's likely still quite a ways off. In August 2020, general manager Casey Hudson described Dragon Age 4 as still in "early production".
In BioWare's September 2019 Update on its blog, general manager Casey Hudson, amidst news about Anthem's future, says "One of our projects has a large and growing team in Edmonton working through pre-production, and based on the progress I’m seeing, I can confirm that indeed the Dread Wolf rises." The good news is that BioWare is no longer allergic to saying the words "new Dragon Age game" in public. The bad news is that Hudson mentions this quasi-unnamed project is still in pre-production. For games the size that BioWare makes, this means there's still a long road ahead.
Dragon Age was referred to during EA's October 2019 earnings call. The information was brief and pretty non-committal but according to CFO Blake Jorgensen, the next Dragon Age game "probably comes after fiscal ," meaning after April 2022. Jorgensen also cautions that they don't often make such predictions multiple years in advance. It's hard to say whether "fiscal '22" is an ambitious estimate or an extremely cautious one so we'll just have to wait to hear more.
Here's the first teaser for Dragon Age 4
The two things we know for sure from the teaser released during the 2018 Game Awards are "The Dread Wolf Rises" and that Solas, the Dread Wolf himself, should be making an appearance.
So is Dread Wolf Rises the title of Dragon Age 4?
It could be, or it might just be a statement about the plot. Whether or not the game is named after our friend Solas, he will certainly be playing a pivotal role, it seems.
Which characters will be in Dragon Age 4?
Dragon Age has a history of reusing characters, like Varric Tethras who is a companion in both Dragon Age 2 and Inquisition, and cameos like Zevran who shows up in a Dragon Age 2 quest after being a party member in Dragon Age: Origins. It's safe to say that we'll see some familiar faces in Dragon Age 4, but which ones?
So far BioWare has committed to hanging up its protagonists between Dragon Age games. Each adventure comes with a new hero, though the Grey Warden and Hawke do have the ability to cameo in Dragon Age: Inquisition. It's possible we might then see an appearance of The Inquisitor in Dragon Age 4, but they'll likely not be center stage.
One character we know will play a part in the events of Dragon Age 4 is the Dread Wolf himself. Solas's voice is heard in the first teaser trailer for the game and his relationship to the greater struggles of Thedas means he's not going anywhere any time soon. Similarly, it would be a shock if Flemeth doesn't make a return as well. Flemeth and Solas, both elven legends or gods going by many names, seem to be central to the overarching plot of the series.
Another old friend that may make a comeback is Fenris, the Tevinter elven warrior from Dragon Age 2. Dark Horse recently announced another Dragon Age comic featuring Fenris called Blue Wraith. It's hard to say whether Fenris appearing in a comic is setting him up for a cameo in Dragon Age 4 or for retirement as a character. Previous protagonists showing up in supporting Dragon Age media have gone both ways in the past. Tevinter mage Dorian Pavus seems like another likely candidate given that he headed back to his homeland in Inquisition's final DLC.
Lastly, will we see Commander Cullen or King Alistair again? Both have made at least some appearance in all three Dragon Age games so far. Will they continue the trend?
What is the setting of Dragon Age 4?
Dragon Age 4 almost has to take place in Tevinter. The mage-run society with the diverging branch of the Chantry has been the mythical boogeyman throughout the series. Not only did the final Trespasser DLC for Dragon Age Inquisition end with the Inquisitor stabbing Tevinter with a dagger (not at all subtle), but there have been plenty of very promising signs leading us to the northern country since then.
Back in April 2019, Kotaku published a report on the history (and future) of Dragon Age 4's development. Among other details, it found that the original incarnation of the next game, codenamed Joplin at the time, was set in Tevinter. "You’d play as a group of spies in Tevinter Imperium," the report says.
That version of Dragon Age 4 was subsequently cancelled as BioWare's Edmonton branch pivoted to assist developing first Mass Effect Andromeda and then Anthem. Dragon Age 4 has since been resurrected under the new codename Morrison. It's possible that the new codename comes with a new location, but setting the next installment of the series in Tevinter feels like a foundational element that likely would not have changed.
Most recently, several Dragon Age writers collaborated on a collection of short stories called Tevinter Nights.
Dragon Age 4 will be a story about having no power
In the Gamescom trailer, lead writer Patrick Weekes described how Dragon Age 4's story will diverge from Inquisition. "For the game we're working on now, we want to tell the story of, 'What happens when you don't have power?' What happens when the people in charge aren't willing to address the issues?" Weekes said.
From the sound of it, Bioware is aiming for the story and its characters to feel a little less important to the world than in Inquisition (at least at first). Dragon Age games have typically followed the rise of a seemingly inconsequential hero to a position of power, though it almost sounds as if Dragon Age 4 will follow a character who never breaks into Thedas' traditional power structures.
What will Dragon Age 4's gameplay be like?
It will certainly be an RPG, or so one would assume, but beyond that any real details about Dragon Age 4 are still very hush. From Kotaku's report on the first version of Dragon Age 4, codenamed Joplin, "a large chunk of Joplin would center on heists. The developers talked about building systemic narrative mechanics, allowing the player to perform actions like persuading or extorting guards without the writers having to hand-craft every scene. The goal was to focus as much as possible on choice and consequence, with smaller areas and fewer fetch quests than Dragon Age: Inquisition."
Game development is a highly iterative process, especially so at BioWare, according to Kotaku's reports on both Dragon Age 4 and Anthem. Dragon Age 4 has definitely changed staff and has likely changed vision as well now that it's known internally as Morrison. It's still possible that BioWare is attempting to make a smaller, denser open world for Dragon Age 4 after player critique that Inquisition's open world felt somewhat empty.
In a post to BioWare's blog following the teaser trailer from December 2018, Darrah wrote that "we have been building a new team around a core of Dragon Age veterans, people I’ve worked with on Dragon Age, Jade Empire, and some of whom I’ve worked with since the Baldur’s Gate days." While that may just be a way to reassure players of the quality the team will produce for Dragon Age 4, it might also mean that BioWare is looking to channel its earliest cRPG roots for its next game.
Is Dragon Age 4 going to be online-only like Anthem?
In early 2018, Kotaku reported that Dragon Age 4 had been rebooted as a "live" game to better fit with EA's push for "games as a service" that could continue to generate revenue after initial launch sales. After the report, BioWare's general manager Casey Hudson clarified that "live" didn't necessarily have to be at odds with what players love about Dragon Age games.
In Kotaku's April 2019 report, another source says that "Morrison’s critical path, or main story, would be designed for single-player and that goal of the multiplayer elements would be to keep people engaged so that they would actually stick with post-launch content."
BioWare certainly won't be immune to whatever monetization strategies EA enforces. We can hope that the BioWare team manages to fit those goals into a form that doesn't feel at odds with the single-player-first experience we expect from a Dragon Age game.
As promised, Executive Producer Mark Darrah is doing a lot of silly prodding on Twitter
We're very aware that Mark Darrah's Twitter account should be taken with salt so consider this your warning. As just one of many silly stunts to get rile up fans, Darrah spent November 27th in 2019 just tweeting "Dragon Age" over and over with various punctuation, images, and gifs.
Darrah also made sure to poke fun at the fact that news sites would pick up on his antics and report them. So we did. Consider the ball back in his court.