The fourth installment to BioWare's critically acclaimed and immensely popular Dragon Age series is currently in development, and fans are excited to see where the developer will take the epic fantasy franchise next. With a very solid assumption that Dragon Age 4 will take place in the Tevinter Imperium, players have at least a few details to go off of. With the elven mage and former companion Solas making a reappearance as the next game's antagonist, Dragon Age 4 has a rough outline in place already, even if there are still lots of unanswered questions surrounding the upcoming game. Some of the biggest question marks exist around the events in Dragon Age: Inquisition's story and if BioWare will choose to make them canon or not.
Canonizing story aspects is a bit of a gray area when it comes to narrative-driven RPGs like the Dragon Age series. While players want a cohesive story across multiple entries, with major plot events having meaningful consequences that are felt throughout the franchise, the level of choice that the games give players can cause some problems. It may be great in a single game to have a player's decisions impact the storyline in visible ways, but choosing which events to make canon so that they can influence a sequel could lead to fan disappointment. However, given how integral some choices are in Dragon Age: Inquisition, it seems inevitable that BioWare will need to canonize at least a few in Dragon Age 4.
The World Of Thedas
During a playthrough of Dragon Age: Inquisition, players will encounter many choices. Some of these are relatively small and don't seem to have much narrative significance, simply serving as ways to more fully engage in the role-playing aspects of the game. Others are fairly major, and not only have far-reaching impacts within the game but could potentially change the shape of Thedas itself. It's the latter that could cause problems for BioWare and its pursuit of narrative consistency in Dragon Age 4. While moving the action to Tevinter – an area that hasn't been shown in the games so far – pulls the focus to new regions and might remove the need to rely too much on previous parts of the story, there are still some events that need to be addressed.
During a memorable main quest in Dragon Age: Inquisition, gamers have the chance to choose the next leader of Orlais. This can go several ways, but the outcome has a big impact on the most powerful nation in Thedas and its raging civil war. Dragon Age 4 can hardly avoid this circumstance, so one (or more) of the leaders that players can choose will have to be considered the canon ruler. The decision of whether to side with the mages or the templars is also a crucial part of Dragon Age: Inquisition's campaign, and the way that either group is treated afterward could have major consequences for the future of these foundational factions as well.
It's not just world events that player choice has a hand in. The fates of their companions can also be affected by the protagonist's decisions, and even if characters do not return in Dragon Age 4, that doesn't mean their storylines won't affect the game. Morrigan has been an important figure in Dragon Age since the start, and whether she drinks from the Well of Sorrows and becomes a servant of Mythal could be important later on. Dorian's own character arc and feelings regarding the Inquisition could definitely come into play given how likely he is to return thanks to the Tevinter setting, and whoever ends up as the next Divine thanks to player intervention could continue to be an influential political figure in Dragon Age 4 as well.
Perhaps the most important returning character is Solas. While he is a romance option for female elves, it is unlikely that this path will be canonized as it creates such a narrow parameter for the character of the Inquisitor. However, Solas' relationships with his previous companions and the changes he underwent as a member of the Inquisition will need to be addressed. If players had a high approval rating from the elf, then he is regretful and melancholic regarding his goals, and this could set the scene for a really sympathetic and complex villain in Dragon Age 4.
Including The DLC
Given how important the Trespasser DLC was for establishing Solas' identity as a major antagonist, it seems likely that the narrative expansions will be considered canon, even if some players did not actually experience them. This has interesting implications for the overall story, as it will also mean canonizing a fate for the Inquisition and whether it has been disbanded. Despite the Inquisition not having much power in Tevinter, by the end of the base game, it had become a formidable faction with an abundance of political and cultural clout. If it still exists, it will no doubt influence some of the events of Dragon Age 4, and the way the player shaped the organization might have an effect on how it functions and is perceived.
While Trespasser might be the most important DLC in terms of overall story significance, Dragon Age: Inquisition's The Descent expansion also introduced some fascinating ideas. Not only did it feature some pretty cool, almost steampunk-type weapons that used lyrium bolts, but it also potentially set up the precedent for dwarf mages. According to Dragon Age lore, dwarves are incapable of channeling magic, and therefore players can never choose a dwarf mage. However, after Shaper Valta was struck by a vein of pure lyrium in The Descent, she performed something that looked suspiciously like a spell. This could mean that Dragon Age 4 could have a dwarf mage class, which would be a popular move.
Some of these events could be sidelined or not mentioned in Dragon Age 4 in order to remove the need for BioWare to make a decision either way, but a few just seem too important to ignore. Players may want to preserve the integrity of their own world that they've created and the decisions they've made, but Thedas has been shaped by the events of Dragon Age: Inquisition, and many of them are too significant to not have definitive resolutions.
Dragon Age 4 is in development.
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