Dragon Age PAX Panel Details

While Dragon Age 3 is still not officially announced, BioWare is already openly discussing what they have in store for the future of the Dragon Age franchise, and did so at length during a panel at PAX Prime, on which a few publications are reporting on, and we round up what they came back with.

Nerd Appropriate:
1) How battles should be fought: There is a new mantra being used by the development team while working on upcoming DLC and it involves preparation, teamwork, and positioning. They discussed how battle needs to be incredibly tactical with the player preparing his team for combat, utilizing the strength of his party-mates, and correctly placing his characters in the perfect tactical positions. More on this in a sec.

2) The Scope A map was briefly shown of Ferelden in comparison to the entire world of Dragon Age, it was quite small. Next a map was shown of Kirkwall which was essentially a Rhode Island sized spec (the crowd laughed). Next Laidlaw showed a slide of a massive area of the map which was easily four or five times larger than Ferelden and hinted that this was the direction that the franchise was heading in. People seemed to like that.

3) Player Customization Bioware is fully aware that players want to be able to customize their companion's armor and appearance, and it looks to be coming back. Briefly shown on the screen was a shot of Meryll in an entirely new suit of armor with head, chest, hand, and foot slots unlocked. I think it would be a real challenge to implement as DLC, so we may have actually seen a quick glimpse of DA3 or perhaps an unannounced expansion pack.

4) On DA3 Premise Dragon Age: Origins was about saving Ferelden from the Blight, whereas Dragon Age 2 was all about creating the conflict that fuels DA3. It was mentioned that DA2 was (the big setup) with the goal of the third game being (saving the world from.. itself).

Delta Gamer brings info from GamesCom:
- Melo noted that potential biggest feedback about Dragon Age II is that decisions don't appear to matter. They will (absolutely) be working on it in the future. They seemed to imply that your decisions that impact the world will absolutely carry over, but perhaps not smaller, character specific ones, unlike Mass Effect.
- There will not be as much as DLC for DAII as for DA:O because of the length and quality issues with some of DA:O's DLC. They would like to spend a longer time on DLC and produce higher quality which in essence means less.
- We will be seeing more cameos from Origins and DAII characters in the future.


-Chances are we will have more DLC in different parts of Kirkwall, but they are going to try to keep it short-lived and minimize reusing environments.
-We will likely be seeing other cities in the Free Marches in the future.
-There was a screenshot fans weren't allegedly supposed to see that they wouldn't talk about. It was apparently Hawke riding a dragon.
-They would most likely want to do an expansion but can't confirm any plans at this time.


-It is unlikely that we will see a huge difference in graphics and art style in DAIII.
-(Time will tell) whether or not we will ever see Par Vollen or (a few other cities.)

A user from the BioWare social forums also reports from PAX:
* An art book is "possible," according to Matt Goldman.
* The cultures in DA started out with some real-world inspiration, but there are many differences, and you can't point to one culture in DA and one in the RW and say they are the same. Mike Laidlaw said it's more about the real human condition than real-world cultures.
* Maric has "at least two" children, according to David Gaider.
* The change in Anders' personality, according to DG, could probably have used some kind of intermediary step, but it was something DG liked. Returning characters need to evolve, so if they come back, they too might be different.
* The world of DA started out as a Tolkien-inspired fantasy world to an extent, but the goal is for it to become a standard in its own right. Superficial similarities were intentional, but there are many differences.
* More instances of the party working together, like passive bonuses? Answer: Yes (Mike Laidlaw) - Not sure I totally got the gist of that question.
* A female fan was broken-hearted that she was unable to romance Varric. David Gaider said nothing pleases him more. We will see more of Varric though. (DA2 DLC I assume)
* Arcane Warrior coming back? Laidlaw: Not exactly, but something similar is possible (I'm guessing something like the battle mage)
* A guy thought DA2 was the better game. A few of us clapped, many booed. He went on to say that a smaller area makes it easier to get in-depth than a globetrotting game might. Mike Laidlaw agreed to some extent, saying that the DA2 story fit its scope, but said they can scale it somewhat. It probably would hurt the story to jaunt around from country to country without much of a reason, but it is possible to have such a reason.
* Any chance of co-op? Even just 2 players? Mike Laidlaw said it's not really a focus, they don't really have plans for it, the engine doesn't support it super well, but it's not 100% off the table. There is some precedent.
* Someone asked which kind of combat they're going for: DAO's more MMO-esque combat, or DA2's more hack and slash type? Mike said it could be slowed down a bit, but he is still firmly anti-shuffle. (Yay!) They want to design encounters, not fights. Hawke should be shouting "more coming over the hill" and not "here comes another wave!" Also the environment should play a bigger role.

Finally, also on the BioWare Social forums, Mike Laidlaw (who has been recently promoted to "creative director" for the franchise) details what the team has in mind for the companions' armor system "in the future":
Now, to the meat of it. Our goals are:

Followers will continue to have iconic appearances. Similar to DAII, their outfits will be more "full body" rather than parts-based (like Hawke or the DAO followers), and these armors will be unique to the followers. This decision allows us to give the followers appearances that "break the rules," such as isabela's boots coming over the knee, or Merril's gloves coming seamlessly up her arms. Ultimately, we believe that the strong visual identity given to characters by iconic appearances is an important part of their identity.

Followers will have more than one appearance. Whether they be unlocked by advancing the core story, plot reward, some crazy ass crafting quest, romance or completing a personal plot, we would like the followers to have more than one appearance over the course of the game. To do show allows them to progress, grow and react to changing circumstances, all of which help us tell a visual story with the followers.

The player should be given control over the follower's appearance once more than one appearance becomes available. Did you prefer Merril in green over white? Fair enough. We want to treat additional appearances more as unlocks, than as mandatory changes, so that you, as the player, maintain control over how your team looks, within each character's iconic style. Functionally, imagine going to the camp in Origins or your follower's base in DAII and clicking on a pack or wardrobe, and opening an interface that lets you pick which of their outfits you want them to wear.

Followers will have their equipment slots restored and armor you equip in those slots will have the expected statistical impact on the follower, including enchantments, bonuses and base armor stats, along with requirements to wear the armor applying. As per above, adding armor pieces to these slots will not impact the follower's appearance directly, only their statistics.

Followers who have no armor equipped by the player will be automatically equipped with a "basic" suit of armor that progresses automatically with them as they level, similar to the "basic" weapons that equip if you remove your real weapons in DAII. For those players uninterested in fiddling with their follower armors, these basic suits will be serviceable, and loosely equivalent to an run-of-the-mill suit of armor with no bonuses or enchantments for their current level. Hardly optimal, but serviceable enough for the lower difficulties.

Thanks, NeoGAF.