Dragon Age: Inquisition isn't called Dragon Age 3 anymore. That's not simply because Inquisition sounds cooler. Instead, BioWare is trying to make a statement: Inquisition isn't a direct continuation of the events of the previous two games.
“I think there’s always this debate over numbers versus no numbers, what works, what doesn’t work,” EA Labels president Frank Gibeau told IGN. “We felt like we wanted to bring more attention to the word Inquisition, because that’s more the story arc of what it’s like. There’s a whole bunch of gameplay and features and big story choices related to how you go through this Inquisition that happens in the world.”
They probably shouldn't have used numbers in Dragon Age 2, either. DA2, rather than continuing the tale of the Grey Warden from Dragon Age: Origins, shifted the scene to an unrelated character in a different region. The connections between the two games are really tenuous at best.
“It’s a tactical marketing decision," Gibeau added. "There wasn’t anything that strategic about it, to be blunt. We just wanted to draw more attention to the fact that Inquisition is an all-new chapter inside of the Dragon Age universe, as opposed to people expecting a follow-on to Dragon Age 1 and 2 in a literal, linear sense.”
Chronologically, though, DA3 does take place after the first two games. The Mages and Templars are now waging open war against each other. Dragons are terrorizing the land. The Chantry, meanwhile, has been hit by a devastating attack. The player is an Inquisitor who will investigate the causes behind these outbreaks of violence and take the fight to those responsible.
This game feels like the third attempt by BioWare to introduce Dragon Age to gamers. Dragon Age 2 introduced a new art style and told a more focused, linear narrative than Origins'. Inquisition, meanwhile, is said to be more open-world and sport a new engine. BioWare has decided to develop the game for both Xbox One and PS4 so they're using the new consoles' potential to push new features.
“We’re going to have PS3 and Xbox 360 and PC versions of Dragon Age III, so there will be a very broad-based experience there, but the new platforms are giving us the opportunity to tell stories in much larger worlds with more features and more things," Gibeau said. "From our perspective, we didn’t want to launch a “current-gen” game in a next-gen market. We took the opportunity to add resources, add time, and we brought in new technology. Frankly, we’ve raised our expectations.”
I'm really hoping BioWare can finally figure out Dragon Age's place in the RPG genre. It's always felt a bit like a series without an identity. Even Origins, the far better of the two games, felt like a generic medieval fantasy. Maybe the years since Dragon Age 2 and the new technology are enough for BioWare to deliver an inspired third game next year.