Dragon Age 4 is coming, that we can be sure of as, after several years of being one of the most open secrets in game development, it has been confirmed. When it’s coming, however, is another matter.
BioWare has been working on a highly-anticipated follow-up to Dragon Age: Inquisition for several years now and while we do get a tidbit of information every now and then, solid facts on the game are still rare.
Though we’re calling it Dragon Age 4, a recent trailer for the game appears to suggest that the series might defy its own naming conventions with its fourth outing and simply go by the title Dragon Age. Regardless of whether it does decide to forego the number 4, however, the trailer points to the game still being a sequel that will bring back characters from Dragon Age: Inquisition and previous titles, including Varric and Solas.
Now that it’s 2021 and the new generation of consoles is well underway, we’re hoping that the regularity of Dragon Age 4 news drops will increase. With EA Play 2021 now confirmed, an update on the game’s progress might not be far away at all. In the meantime, we’ve collected all the confirmed news and juicy rumors so far for your perusal below.
[Update: EA Play is going ahead in 2021. Read on to find out more.]
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The fourth instalment in the popular RPG franchise, Dragon Age
- What can I play it on? Not confirmed but it’s likely to be on the next generation of consoles Xbox Series X and PS5 as well as PC.
- When can I play it? Nothing is confirmed but 2022 or later seems most likely
Dragon Age 4 trailers
The Game Awards 2020 brought hungry Dragon Age fans a brand new CGI trailer to enjoy. Though it still doesn’t reveal very much, it does feature the characters Varric and Solas as well as some extremely pretty locations that we will likely explore when we can finally become the new hero of Thedas.
At Gamescom Opening Night Live, we got a behind-the-scenes video with the developers at BioWare who are keen to start talking about their plans for the fourth installment of the game. Take a look for yourself below:
The Game Awards 2018 had plenty of reveals but one of the biggest was a teaser trailer for Dragon Age 4. At only a minute long, the trailer doesn’t give much away but the hashtag TheDreadWolfRises as well as the appearance of Inquisition’s Solas is enough to pique any fan’s interest.
You can watch the teaser trailer below:
“I suspect you have questions…” #TheDreadWolfRises pic.twitter.com/oT7L6LOFKADecember 7, 2018
Dragon Age 4 release date
Despite the fact that the game’s development has long been a very open secret, Dragon Age 4 was only officially announced by BioWare until a couple of years ago. Since then, BioWare has kept its cards pretty close to its chest and neither a release date nor a release window has been confirmed.
“Hey everyone, we have been working on a new Dragon Age game for quite a while now and I am pleased to finally tease the existence of this project,” said Mark Darrah, executive producer on a BioWare blog post. “While we won’t be sharing any details for now, I can tell you 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.
“I’m so excited to show you more!”
A report by Venture Beat in 2018 suggested Dragon Age 4’s release date is at least three years away (from the time of publication) and a title for the fourth installation hadn’t even been chosen yet “according to sources familiar with the studio”.
In addition, EA’s recent earnings call (via Eurogamer) had a note about Dragon Age 4 that suggests we won’t see it released for a couple of years yet. During the call, the company’s CFO Blake Jorgensen said that the game “probably comes after fiscal ’22”.
Basically, it looks like Dragon Age 4, if that is its real name, won’t be with us until 2022 or later.
Given its release date seems to be some way off and a Gamescom 2020 clip made mentioned of “next-generation technology”, it’s likely that Dragon Age 4 will be a release for PS5 and Xbox Series X as well as PC.
Dragon Age 4 news and rumors
EA Play 2021
EA has confirmed that its annual summer games showcase, EA Play, will be going ahead in 2021. Rather than its usual June position alongside E3, this time the show will take place in July, specifically July 22.
EA Play Live is coming back July 22nd. Save the date! pic.twitter.com/qh9OOGhPTmMay 11, 2021
Now, EA hasn’t confirmed which games it will actually talk about during the show (more details on EA Play are expected closer to the time) but that means there is at least a chance that Dragon Age 4 will make an appearance at the show. Dragon Age 4 wasn’t a particularly big presence at EA Play 2020—it made an appearance in a segment on next-gen tech—so we’re hopeful that this year it’ll get a little bit more of a focus.
Return of the Grey Wardens?
Dragon Age 4 is the game of small but significant teases and the latest is a hint that the Grey Wardens will make an appearance in the game. The tease came in the form of a new image of the game, tweeted by executive producer Christian Dailey.
@SerGoldman I got you! Is this the right amount of pointy and gray?Happy Friday all. I hope everyone is staying safe and doing well. 🙂 🐉⚔️🛡️🐉 pic.twitter.com/LbAmD1SKGRApril 30, 2021
New character concept art
Brace yourself for a new piece of Dragon Age 4 concept art. BioWare Austin Executive Producer, Christian Dailey, tweeted the art out in March 2021 with the message “Happy Friday my friends – I hope you are all staying out of the rain! Stay safe. Have a great weekend!!”. The image shows a mage standing in a rain-drenched alley, wielding a staff carved to look like a snake.
@SerGoldman perfect!Happy Friday my friends – I hope you are all staying out of the rain! Stay safe. Have a great weekend!! pic.twitter.com/ViYBms8GngMarch 20, 2021
Unfortunately Dailey didn’t provide any more context on the image but given the dearth of Dragon Age 4 information recently, it’s welcome.
According to a recent report from Bloomberg, Dragon Age 4 is going to be an entirely single-player experience after recent pivot in development.
The report claims that Dragon Age 4 had been designed with a heavy multiplayer emphasis, but has transitioned to a single-player only game in recent months following “a recent multiplayer flop” – heavily implying that Anthem’s decline and failure partially caused the pivot in Dragon Age 4. But it wasn’t just the failure of Anthem – the report cited the success of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order as a motivation to return the game to a solo focus.
While this isn’t definitive, the report noted that the 30-person team dedicated to the Anthem overhaul was re-tasked to work on Dragon Age 4, showing increased focus on the game.
Set in Tevinter
It looks like, as long-suspected, Dragon Age 4 is going to be set in Tevinter, if a recently released BioWare book is anything to go by. As spotted by Eurogamer in early 2021, BioWare: Stories and Secrets from 25 Years of Game Development confirms that Tevinter is the setting for Dragon Age 4.
This will make it the first time players will get to visit Tevinter, which was set up as the next location at the end of Dragon Age: Inquisition’s Trespasser DLC. According to Eurogamer, the book also hints that Dragon Age 4 will take us to other locations, too, as Antiva City, the capital of Antiva, is also shown in the book.
The Game Awards 2020
As teased by BioWare, The Game Awards 2020 brought a brand new Dragon Age trailer (scroll up to watch). The CGI trailer was extremely pretty but it didn’t reveal too much more about the game. What it did confirm, however, is that Dragon Age 4 will see the return of Solas from Dragon Age: Inquisition as well as the beloved Varric who fills a narratorial as well as companion role in the series.
It also confirmed that players will return to Thedas as a new hero, “the kind of hero they’ll never see coming”, according to Varric. As the new hero, players will have to “Forge a courageous fellowship to challenge the gathering storm. Friendship, drama, and romance abound as you bring striking individuals together into an extraordinary team. Become the hero and light the beacon of hope in their darkest moments.”
Judging from the locations shown in the trailer (and previous rumors and the ending of Inquisition) it looks like we’ll may finally make the journey to the Tevinter Imperium, Thedas’ ancient country ruled by magisters, though this is still to be confirmed. The trailer didn’t show any gameplay or confirm any kind of release window, but we’re likely going to have to wait some time for anything like that.
The trailer suggested that the fourth game in the Dragon Age series is going to drop subtitles and numbers and simply be released as Dragon Age but this remains unclear.
Casey Hudson and Mark Darrah leave BioWare
In what could be perceived as a blow to the development of Dragon Age 4, Casey Hudson, the general manager of BioWare, and Mark Darrah, the executive producer on Dragon Age, are departing the studio. BioWare and Darrah have reassured fans that the Dragon Age franchise is still in good hands with Christian Dailey who will replace Mark Darrah.
Gamescom 2020 gave us an update Dragon Age 4 with a behind the scenes video (scroll up to watch) featuring the development team at BioWare.
Although there weren’t too many specifics, the video gave a rousing look at some voice recording footage, some in-development game footage as well as interviews with developers. At the beginning of the video General Manager of BioWare Casey Hudson mentioned the game is still in “early production” but added that the studio is making use of “next-generation technology” in the development of the game. Developers also mentioned that Dragon Age 4 will have “new things” and “new places” and chance to “interact with people who live and grew up in these spaces as well.”
The game will explore “what happens when you don’t have power, what happens when the people in charge don’t address the issues” and will allow players to form “close relationship with game characters” who will be “loved or hated”, with a particular focus on the divisiveness of Solas.
An update from Mark Darrah
Producer, Mark Darrah, has posted on Twitter regarding Dragon Age 4 again, this time with more of an aim to provide clarity on the game’s progress than to tease fans. In his tweet, Darrah confirms that work on Dragon Age 4 is still underway and that progress is still being made. However, he also notes that, no doubt due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the development team is having to work from home and that this is “harder”.
I realize that most of you are here for Dragon Age news and there hasn’t been a lot of that lately…Let me just run down some things I an say:1. We are working on the next Dragon Age2. Yes we are working from home3. Working from home is harder 4. We are making progressJuly 22, 2020
Many development teams have been forced to work from home during the pandemic and shifting working processes has the potential to cause some development slow-downs or disruptions for studios. Darrah hasn’t given any insight into how this “harder” way of working has impacted the team behind Dragon Age 4 or progress on the game, but fans will no doubt be glad to know that progress is still being made.
EA Play 2020
It was largely quiet on the Dragon Age 4 front during EA Play 2020 but it’s possible the game wasn’t completely absent. A montage of images was shown while EA chief studio officer Laura Miele discussed how “Generation shifts are an opportunity to push beyond the boundaries of gaming as we know it today, and this time is no different,” adding that “Our studios are taking their crazy, ambitious ideas, and making them real.”
Miele then moved onto BioWare specifically, saying that the studio “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.”
The images shown during this elaboration on BioWare’s next-gen plans were not explicitly tied to a specific game but they certainly look like they’re from Dragon Age 4, largely because of what appears to be the presence of red lyrium, which appears often in the Dragon Age universe, usually to cause trouble.
Quiet on the anniversary
After teasing by Mark Darrah, fans were hoping for some Dragon Age 4 related news on Dragon Age’s 10th anniversary on December 4 but nothing substantial was forthcoming.
Darrah’s teasing tweets on Dragon Age Day featured “redacted” screenshots from Dragon Age 4, though they were so redacted that nothing was visible. Funny? Yes. Disappointing? Also sort of yes.
Ok a real screenshot.Slightly redacted. pic.twitter.com/LpioHFI6f9December 4, 2019
In a sign that the Dragon Age community is a tinderbox of anticipation, a few tweets from Mark Darrah have set the entire thing alight.
Building on the aforementioned teasing from BioWare that some kind of anniversary reveal is incoming, the executive producer has posted a series of tweets with images and nothing but the caption “Dragon Age” with varying punctuation. The images range from a forest path, to a polygonal spider to what looks like storybook/manuscript art.
EA October Earnings Call
EA’s recent earnings call (via Eurogamer) had a note about Dragon Age 4 that suggests we won’t see it released for a couple of years yet. During the call, the company’s CFO Blake Jorgensen said that the game “probably comes after fiscal ’22.” This would mean that the earliest the next Dragon Age should be expected is April 2022. That would mean around an eight year gap between entries but fans will no doubt be happy to wait if it means getting things right.
If the silence around Dragon Age 4 since its initial teaser has left you feeling nervous for the game’s future, worry not as BioWare’s Casey Hudson made reference to the game’s ongoing development in a BioWare blog post.
The post went into more detail on games like Anthem and Star Wars: The Old Republic, while Dragon Age 4 came under the “super-secret” category so not much can be said. Hudson did, however, say that “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.” It’s not much but it is confirmation that progress on Dragon Age 4 is still being made.
Fernando Melo departure
On the heels of Anthem’s lead producer, Ben Irving, Dragon Age 4 lead producer, Fernando Melo has left BioWare. Melo worked on Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2 before being appointed lead producer on Dragon Age 4 (codenamed ‘Morrison’.)
In a thread of tweets, Melo explained that he is taking “time to disconnect” after 12 years at BioWare and in an email to his colleagues he said that “Morrison is well underway to becoming the definitive Dragon Age experience” which bodes well for fans.
(1/4) Today was my last day at BioWare. After 12 years.. that’s a heck of a lot of feels. :)Tonight I got to write my name up at our local pub, alongside many other amazing peers over the years, and it reminded me of a lot of folks no longer here that I miss dearly. pic.twitter.com/MFQELPM2jrAugust 17, 2019
Setting to be teased by new short story collection
Dragon Age: Tevinter Nights is a new set of tales by a handful of BioWare authors, edited by Dragon Age’s current lead writer, Patrick Weekes. He took to Twitter to clarify his position as editor of the new collection, and to give a shout out to those involved:
Hey, all: this isn’t accurate. It is NOT a novel by me.It IS an anthology of short stories set in the Dragon Age universe, featuring @eplerjc, @bbattye, @CourtneyWoods, @Sylvf1, @el_cormier, and many others! We cannot wait for you to see them! https://t.co/xLijSP7ngSJuly 20, 2019
Beyond the authors working on the book, there’s little to go on so far as to what the collection will contain. However, its title “Tevinter Nights” seems a certain tease as to where the Dragon Age franchise is headed next.
Each Dragon Age game so far has, more or less, focussed on one region or area of the continent of Thedas, in which the games are set. So, Dragon Age Origins introduced Ferelden, Dragon Age 2 focused on the single city of Kirkwall, and Dragon Age: Inquisition spanned the Orlesian Empire.
Regularly referenced is the Tevinter Imperium, an area where magic is less strictly policed than in other realms of Thedas, with its mage population often seen as antagonists in the Dragon Age universe.
The title of the new short story collection adds weight to the rumour that Dragon Age 4 will be set in the Tevinter Imperium. Not only has BioWare previously used books to set up forthcoming locations and characters in its games (Weekes, for instance, wrote a book called “The Masked Empire”, which was published prior to the release of Inquisition and introduced ancillary characters and quest lines), but also Dragon Age Inquisition’s final DLC scene saw the player character Inquisitor stab a knife into the heart of the Tevinter Imperium on a map.
Live Service elements may be included but they aren’t likely to be like Anthem
Back in January 2018 a report from Kotaku suggested that Dragon Age 4 could include live elements, stirring some fan concern that this could mean an always-online multiplayer approach.
However, in Kotaku’s most recent April 2019 report it’s been suggested that while Dragon Age 4 game could potentially include Anthem-like live elements, it won’t simply be “Anthem with dragons”. One developer told Kotaku:
“The idea was that Anthem would be the online game and that Dragon Age and Mass Effect, while they may experiment with online portions, that’s not what defines them as franchises. I don’t think you’ll see us completely change those franchises.”
This suggests that any live plans for Dragon Age aren’t likely to take the form of a shared online world exactly like Anthem’s and will still be suited to the single-player adventuring Dragon Age is known for.
In a tweet in January 2018, Casey Hudson also stated that the “live” elements being considered are actually ways of continuing the game’s story after the main story has been completed.
A big take away from Kotaku’s report is that at this early stage in the game’s development, as with any game, very few things are absolutely set in stone, with another developer stating: “They have a lot of unanswered questions. Plus I know it’s going to change like five times in the next two years.”
So, regardless of what Dragon Age 4’s live elements look like now they could change drastically over the next few weeks, months or even years.
After years without an update, BioWare officially announced during The Game Awards 2018 that it will be returning to Thedas in a new Dragon Age title.
What that announcement turned out to be, interestingly, was the game’s first 1-minute-long teaser trailer that re-introduced Fen’Harel, the elven god of betrayal, and Solas from Dragon Age Inquisition.
We didn’t get any gameplay or story details but, for now, the confirmation from BioWare is enough to keep the hype train chugging.
Roundabout confirmations – confirmed
Regardless of whether or not BioWare had confirmed it, Dragon Age fans were pretty certain that another game was going to be in the works. Partly because they had faith in the power of their sheer force of will and partly because over the last couple of years there have been hints from BioWare that something would indeed be happening. It’s the secret that was never really a secret – and the fans were right.
One non-official confirmation came from executive producer Mark Darrah, who tweeted in January 2018 that he’s working on both Dragon Age as well as BioWare’s next big IP, Anthem.
Halfway through my trip to Barcelona!I’m here showing Anthem internally to EA. I am EP of BOTH DA and Anthem working with @Bio_Warner as Game DirectorAnthem’s up next but there are people hard at work on both franchises and I look forward to sharing more in the futureJanuary 24, 2018
Though he’s now left the company, BioWare veteran Mike Laidlaw was tweeting that there was still another couple of games in Dragon Age series yet back in mid-2017. Even before that, Alexis Kennedy became the writer that launched a thousand headlines after comments he made in an interview with Eurogamer were taken as a semi-official confirmation of the game’s existence and his place in it.
There is no planned ending for DA. There is an evolving plan that tends to look 2 games ahead or so. https://t.co/6Tp1lP6d5GAugust 8, 2017
In the interview Kennedy teased that he’s been “given considerable autonomy to work on a storyline bit of lore which is well-segregated from other parts of the game.“
”I don’t want to exaggerate the degree of the chunk [I’m writing],“ Kennedy he was at pains to add. ”It’s nothing that grandiose, but it is distinct. It’s a bit of lore which has not been addressed much to date in Dragon Age.“
Story and character
Every game in the Dragon Age franchise has had a heavy emphasis on story and character and fans will be glad to know that Dragon Age 4 isn’t likely to be any different.
After Mark Darrah tweeted that he was working on the game, BioWare general manager Casey Hudson chipped in with his own elaborative tweet. In this tweet he said it was “too early to talk details” but the game would be “story & character focused.”
Reading lots of feedback regarding Dragon Age, and I think you’ll be relieved to see what the team is working on. Story & character focused.Too early to talk details, but when we talk about “live” it just means designing a game for continued storytelling after the main story.January 25, 2018
It’s not clear whether this will be a brand new standalone game or whether it’ll continue on directly from Inquisition. Certainly, the end of Inquisition’s Trespasser DLC suggests there is a story thread to follow with Solas, which would see the Inquisitor chase the elf down to stop his plans. The teaser trailer from The Game Awards 2018 also hints heavily that this will be the case.
We already know there are writers working on lore and side quests, following Alexis Kennedy’s interview with Eurogamer in 2017 in which he confirmed he was working on a part of the game that’s “well-segregated” from the rest and focuses on some lore that’s not been widely addressed.
Kennedy, who has worked on titles such as Sunless Sea and Fallen London, said the subject matter would not be surprising to those familiar with his work. To us this implies that his quest (or quests) will include thoughtful choices, themes of tragic love and desire and an underlying sense of unease.
New live elements
In the January 2018 Kotaku report on Anthem and Dragon Age, it was mentioned that sources had informed Kotaku that Dragon Age had been “rebooted” in order to implement more “live elements” into the game.
Naturally, there was some fan panic in response to this given EA’s increasing penchant for service-based games. Fans expressed concern that BioWare was going to take the Dragon Age series down a Destiny 2, always-online multiplayer route.
That doesn’t appear to be the case, however. In his tweet, Casey Hudson also stated that the “live” elements being considered are actually ways of continuing the game’s story after the main story has been completed. This is something we’ve already seen in games such as Assassin’s Creed Origins.
Things we’d like to see
A world like Dragon Age: Inquisition
We hope that the next Dragon Age game has a map similar to the one in Dragon Age: Inquisition, by which we mean we hope it’s big and open without being overwhelming. It was the perfect follow-up to the closed and repetitive maps of Dragon Age 2 and we’d like this approach to continue.
Explore more of Thedas
There’s one very notable part of Thedas that players have yet to be allowed to explore and that’s the Tevinter Imperium. Once the most powerful nation in Thedas, the Imperium is a shadow of its former self. Its history, stratified social structure and maintenance of a magocracy would make it an immensely interesting and different part of Thedas to allow players to explore, while allowing the franchise to continue to explore themes of social injustice, power and prejudice.
The fact that the area is references throughout other Dragon Age games is enough to make us think it’s a viable setting for Dragon Age 4. However, the ending of Dragon Age: Inquisition’s Trespasser DLC makes us think it even more likely, as it sees the Inquisitor stab a dagger into a map of the Imperium with a vow to track down Solas.
Solve that cliffhanger
Our previous point brings us to this one – we’d really like that Solas storyline to continue to be explored. He’s the perfect focus for the next game and the player’s approach to him is the perfect narrative crux.
(Image credits: BioWare)