Dragon Age Inquisition went gold on Friday ahead of its release later this month and GamesIndustry interviewed executive producer Mark Darrah about the legacy of Dragon Age 2, how Skyrim changed RPGs, and the multiplayer-only game it started out as.
The game includes a co-op multiplayer element which was only revealed in August, long after the game's initial announcement, but Darrah says Inquisition actually started life as a multiplayer-only title code-named Blackfoot.
"We actually had a project code-named Blackfoot which was the first game we had that was looking at Frostbite," Darrah remarks. "It was a Dragon Age game, multiplayer only, that was in development before Dragon Age 2 came out. That became the core of what became Dragon Age Inquisition, the techlines, more than any of the development, so we've actually been looking at this a long time."
It's unclear how much of Blackfoot made it into the final product, but Darrah says Inquisition's co-op is "an attempt to attempt to get that feeling back", of playing RPGs with others. He points to the story co-op of Baldur's Gate as an example, but adds that this is "much more bite-size".
Later in the interview Darrah also discussed the impact of Dragon Age 2 and said that BioWare looked at the feedback would decided not to be "enslaved" by it. There were many adverse reactions to the second game, and Darrah admits that some elements of the game were bad ideas.
"Dragon Age 2 had a lot of experiments in it, some of which I'm glad we did but some of which were very big mistakes. Dragon Age 2 had some very experimental storytelling in terms of the very personal story, not a big, threatening overarching villain. I'm glad we did that but those are all very challenging from a storytelling perspective."
Inquisition is releasing a year after the PS4 and Xbox One launched and on a new engine, Darrah says that in some ways the game's development is closest to the first Mass Effect for Xbox 360, but says that the RPG which has perhaps altered the genre most dramatically in recent years is one not made by BioWare, but by Bethesda.
"Skyrim changed the landscape for role-playing games completely. I mean Oblivion probably sold six million units, basically that range, Skyrim sold 20 million. So that, to some degree, changes everything.
"Now the expectations of your other fans, they're changing too. People age, they typically have less time for games, so it changes their expectations in terms of gameplay segments. It also results in some nostalgia. so they may become even more firm in their attachment to previous features. Now suddenly you have 15 million people that have basically had the first RPG they've ever played as Skyrim. They have totally different expectations of what storytelling is, what exploration is, and I think exploration is really where we've seen the biggest change."
Dragon Age Inquisition is set for release on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One on November 18th in North America, November 20th in Europe, and November 21st in Ireland and the UK.