There’s a moment in the 30 minutes of leaked Dragon Age: Inquisition footage from Digiexpo 2013 when the player stands on the crest of a hill, considering whether to intervene in the massacre of a village he’s pledged to protect. But instead, he turns back – choosing to honour a more recent promise and head to the keep, the seat of power that grants him his title as Inquisitor.
Moments later he decides to set fire to his enemies’ boats, to complicate their escape. This is how choices are made in Dragon Age 3 – in the thick of it, and not necessarily in a conversation wheel.
The in-game footage is filmed on shakycam by an amateur Paul Greengrass in the audience, and sees BioWare showcase the area of Crestwood, home to the village of, er, Crestwood. In the Blight, Crestwood remained relatively unblighted – but since it entered under the player’s protection, it’s come under attack from Red Templars (distinguished from bog standard Templars by their fondness for mauve and, presumably, their ideology).
Thus the player has returned to show that an Inquisitor’s word is no small matter, and to take on the leadership of the defending forces. They arrive to find warboats have already spilled bads onto the shore, and a Northern Lightsy glow above the water. The disemboid voice of BioWare explains that this signifies the presence of a tear in the Veil, the place Dragon Age’s wizards mediate with and also where its demons reside, somewhere beneath. It’s inaccessible now, but players will have the option of returning later in the game to close it.
BioWare go on to emphasise that enemies don’t scale to your level – in some areas you’ll be surprised to find beasties all too capable of ripping you open like kitchen roll, much like they tended to do in Baldur’s Gate. And vice versa, the player’s party can turn out to be much more powerful than their quarry – as in the demo:
It’s all technically very pretty in a way Dragon Age 2 simply couldn’t be due to its reliance on older tech – it instead plumped for a bold, high-contrast art style that divided fans. And more than that, it’s seemingly very good.
BioWare talk a lot about what they consider to be at the heart of the series throughout the demo – conflict, party-based combat, the reflection of your companions upon your choices – and I find myself quite reassured. How about you?