Ex Dragon Age Boss: Inquisition’s World Was A Bit Hollow, Now I Would Make It More Like The Witcher 3

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May 27, 2018
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You might remember that about seven months ago, longtime Dragon Age boss Mike Laidlaw announced his departure from Bioware.

In a recent lengthy chat with Eurogamer about the Dragon Age franchise as a whole, Laidlaw talked extensively of all the games he worked on, including the latest chapter, Dragon Age: Inquisition.

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The game turned out to be a critical and commercial success when it launched in November 2014, grabbing several Game of the Year awards (though admittedly 2014 didn’t offer many noteworthy contenders) and quickly becoming Bioware’s most successful launch in history.

However, the weaknesses of its open world regions became more visible a few months later, when CD Projekt RED released The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt. Now, Laidlaw admitted that Dragon Age: Inquisition’s open world was a little hollow and in hindsight, he would make it more like The Witcher 3’s deep and engaging secondary quests.

We recognized it was a little hollow.

I love the way The Witcher 3 put more cinematic, more heavy story quests into those open worlds in order to even out the pacing and do it in a way players responded to super positively. Whereas in our case, it felt like there were two phases of the game: there was the stuff in the open world which, again, the writers did a great job of theming each zone so it had like, oh, this is the one where there was an expedition that went missing and it’s all full of notes, but it was never quite the same as the level of intensity you got when you went back in time and rescued Leliana from Redcliffe. Those were heavily cinematic. So, I think it was a bit jarring due to being inconsistent.

If I could go back I’m sure we’d look closer to The Witcher 3 – in the hindsight that I’ve seen The Witcher 3. Even we knew it was living where it was and we hadn’t balanced our budget in our deployment of stuff properly in the same way hindsight would have led me to do.

Laidlaw also didn’t shy from addressing the features cut from the PAX Prime 2013 demo.

I feel very bad about that PAX demo that had some features we eventually had to cut. I feel very bad about that… That’s the reality of development. It’s certainly the reality of, oops, you’re on five platforms and two of them are significantly older than the other three. There were some really good ideas in there and I wanted to see them, but at the same time they were not fleshed out and proven enough.

The next Dragon Age game is reportedly already in development. While Bioware’s focus is now on Anthem, after that game’s release (now scheduled for March 2019) it is likely that the number of developers working on the next Dragon Age, where players will have to face off Solas himself as Fen’Harel, will increase. At this rate, though, it’s possible it will be another cross-generation title just like Dragon Age: Inquisition.

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