Dragon Age Dreadwolf Hits Alpha-- What's next?
Dragon Age: Dreadwolf hit its Alpha milestone in late October 2022, sending a new tremor of excitement through the Dragon Age community. (Hitting Alpha means that the game is officially playable from start to finish, though it will still need a lot of polishing before it's ready for an audience.) Although Bioware has kept many official details under wraps, the recent news has sent fans clamoring for more updates on the anticipated followup to Dragon Age: Inquisition. For reference on the timeline, Inquisition was released in November 2014, almost eight years ago.
Here's what we know about Dreadwolf's development, story, and more.
Dragon Age Dreadwolf Story, Gameplay
Dreadwolf had two project phases: Joplin and Morrison.
Joplin was Dreadwolf's first project stage, and early reports and comments on Joplin stated that gameplay focused on heists and coercion. Players were to be involved with Tevinter spies, and there was a stronger focus on action with consequences than in previous Dragon Age games. Compared to Inquisition, there would be fewer fetch quests, players could make persuasion or extortion checks against NPCs, and gameplay would take place on a more dense, compact map.
Joplin was scrapped in 2018 and replaced with Morrison. Dreadwolf also changed teams during its development, almost ensuring that the game was moving in a new direction. It seems some elements of Joplin carried over to this iteration of Dreadwolf, such as the setting, though we'll have yet to see how much they keep of the original project.
Many critiqued Inquisition for the expansive emptiness that pervaded most of the map, so I hope that Bioware preserves some of Joplin's ambitions in scaling the map sizes down and emphasizing more intricate, dense urban exploration. I also think that allowing more dialogue checks would ramp up the RPG elements of Dragon Age and be a welcome addition to the series.
Regarding Dreadwolf's narrative and protagonist, details are fairly scarce. The game has a confirmed setting of the Tevinter Imperium; that said, I wouldn't be surprised if Dreadwolf takes a page from Inquisition's book and has multi-country destinations into previously unexplored parts of the world, such as Antiva and Nevarra. There will likely be yet another Deep Roads section to the game, as is common in Dragon Age installments. While official details about the protagonist aren't out, it is safe to say that they will follow the same pattern as previous main characters in that they begin from humble origins. It's TBD how much a player can influence the background and details of the protagonist. Bioware may force players to play a specific race, like they did with Hawke in Dragon Age 2, although it seems more likely that players can choose their race and class and have their origin stories predetermined by narrative demands. Dreadwolf will be a single-player experience and will not have any live service elements.
People have speculated which companions and notable NPCs will return in Dreadwolf. One obvious (and guaranteed) contender is Solas, the Dreadwolf, who appears to position himself as the next antagonist. Varric Tethras will most likely be in Dreadwolf as a companion to the protagonist. Others have speculated that given the setting and prior storylines, Dorian Pavus, Fenris, and Morrigan are strong candidates for a screen return. It is also possible that we'll get past player iterations, such as The Inquisitor, returning to the screen.
Dragon Age Development and Release
Bioware spent many years dodging questions on Dreadwolf's development timeline, and they've continued avoiding public comments about the next game. Bioware released a teaser video for Dragon Age 4 at the 2018 Game Awards, and at Gamescom 2020 the team released a behind-the-scenes video. Dragon Age 4's official name, Dreadwolf, was unveiled at the 2020 Game Awards, and fans were given even more of a look at the game.
Bioware has avoided confirming a release date. That said, different reporting bodies have claimed that Q4/Winter 2023 is a strong possibility for a release window. Dreadwolf's predecessor, Dragon Age: Inquisition, was released roughly six months after hitting Alpha, so we'll have to see if Dreadwolf follows a similar timeline.
For those who want to keep their ear to the pavement about potential updates, news, and more: Netflix is releasing a Dragon Age anime called Dragon Age: Absolution set in the Tevinter Imperium with a narrative focus on a series of slave uprisings. While Absolution will not be canon, it may have some tie-ins thematically with Dreadwolf or provide some clues as to what Dreadwolf contains. Absolution releases on December 1st. "Dragon Age Day" is on December 4th, so many fans are hoping for more official news on Dreadwolf's progress that day.
I have a lot of nostalgia for Bioware's games and I've enjoyed the Dragon Age franchise a lot, so I'm excited to see what is on the horizon for Dreadwolf. I also applaud Bioware for taking their time with development, although I have my fingers crossed for a 2023 release.
Are you invested in the Dragon Age series? Drop your thoughts on the upcoming Dreadwolf game in the comments!