The Veil is the barrier between Thedas and the magical realm of the Fade. Millenia before the events of Dragon Age 4, the Dread Wolf created the Veil in order to trap the Elven gods in the Fade and free his people from slavery.
However, the Dread Wolf did not anticipate many of the consequences of creating the Veil. In Dragon Age 4, he will seek to redeem himself by tearing down the Veil he once created. This would see Thedas and the world of magic inherently connected once again - but many fans are wondering if they can really expect to see an event so reality-bending actually take place in game.
The World Without The Veil
Dragon Age lore gives some hints into what the world looked like before Solas created the Veil. Before the arrival of humans on Thedas, the ancient Elven empire of Elvhenan spread across much of the continent. Without the Veil separating them from the Fade, the Elves possessed extremely powerful magic, and would not succumb to old age. Some of the most powerful Elven mages became known as the Evanuris, and were worshipped as gods.
Solas was one of these Elves, and it's clear that life before the creation of the Veil wasn't exactly a utopia. The Evanuris began making slaves of their own kind, marking their faces with tattoos known as vallaslin to indicate their master's chosen god. Solas opposed this and led a rebellion which would lead the other Evanuris to call him "the Dread Wolf." He eventually erected the Veil to trap the Evanuris in the Fade, an act which in-turn sent him into a long slumber.
This bit of backstory makes a few things clear about what the world of Dragon Age would look like without the Veil. In short, it is a world of extremely potent magic, but it is not so abstracted that institutions like Empires, slavery, and societal hierarchies do not exist. Indeed, travelling to the Tevinter Imperium in Dragon Age 4 may give players a slight inkling into what such a magical world would look like. Images released so far show floating towers in a Tevinter city, similar to descriptions of the floating towers of Elvhenan which fell when Solas created the Veil.
In fact, much of the history of the Tevinter Imperium has been about recreating the sort of connection to the Fade that Elvhenan once had. In order to do this after the creation of the Veil, however, the Magisters of Tevinter relied heavily on blood magic, and inadvertently led to the creation of the Darkspawn when the Magisters Sidereal broke through the Veil and entered the Maker's Golden City. While the price has been far higher for Tevinter - or more accurately, the Imperium's victims - the magical human nation does resemble Elvhenan in a lot of ways, including practicing slavery.
This could mean that tearing down the Veil will not be the reality-destroying event the Dread Wolf's adversaries think it will be. In Dragon Age 4's trailer, Varric Tethras describes Solas' plan to tear down the veil as an attempt to "break the world." Evidently, however, Elvhenan was still broadly similar to the reality players have experienced in Dragon Age so far, just with far more magic. This could make a post-Veil world far easier to depict, and so could make Solas' plan more likely to succeed in Dragon Age 4 even if he is eventually defeated and the Veil is recreated.
Tearing Down The Veil
One of the most interesting things about Solas' plan to bring down the Veil is just how little both the Dread Wolf and franchise fans know about the potential consequences of destroying the Veil. Solas wants to restore the Elves to their former glory, even if tearing down the Veil ends up destroying the other races of Thedas. He doesn't actually know if this will happen, however - it's just a price he's willing to pay if it comes to it.
Much of Solas' story is about his refusal to accept that he cannot exercise his great power with predictable outcomes. Creating the Veil saved the Elves from the Evanuris, but when the Tevinter Imperium was founded the Elves were no match for the Magisters and their blood magic, and their civilization was destroyed. Dragon Age 4 will see Solas gamble with the lives of thousands once again, even though he doesn't seem to have a clear idea of the unpredictable forces he may be releasing from the Fade.
Many fans will not be expecting Solas to succeed, but in part that's because fans have been given such a slight idea of what tearing down the Veil might lead to that it's hard to imagine such an event being rendered in-game. However, the fact that BioWare has revealed so little also makes the event and its consequences extremely flexible within the story. Tearing down the Veil could see reality itself warped beyond recognition, it could see all of the people of Thedas suddenly have access to magical powers, or it could lead to something else entirely.
This flexibility could allow BioWare to create a version of this event which could be the dramatic mid-point of Dragon Age 4. The next game could see Solas succeed at his goal halfway through, and then explore the fallout of his actions across Thedas. Whatever created the Darkspawn may escape the Veil, and could take control of the Grey Wardens through the Taint. Elves could find themselves with powerful magic once again, but so too may the humans, Dwarves, and Qunari of Thedas.
The fact that Solas is attempting to do something with so little idea of the consequences is part of what makes him a villain to begin with, despite his often compassionate goals. If Solas does tear down the Veil at some point in the next game's plot, hopefully it is down in such a way that allows BioWare to continue telling a story in a rapidly changing but not unrecognizably broken world.
Dragon Age 4 is in development.
MORE: Dragon Age 4: The Best Possible World States Before the New Game Releases