A Canceled Version of Dragon Age 4 Focused on Heists

The new Dragon Age 4 won't just be "Anthem with Dragons."

Dragon Age 4 is currently in development, but the game that's currently being made is actually the second attempt at the next Dragon Age after a previous version was canceled. That version of Dragon Age 4 was apparently meant to be a heist-focused game set in a much smaller, but more detailed world than Dragon Age: Inquisition.

According to Kotaku, a previous version of Dragon Age 4 (codenamed 'Joplin') was poised to be a better planned project for BioWare after the turbulence of developing Dragon Age: Inquisition and Mass Effect: Andromeda. According to sources who worked on the project, BioWare had systems in place to avoid the heavy crunch that accompanied Andromeda and Inquisition, and the devs had a solid vision for the game.

"You'd play as a group of spies in Tevinter Imperium, a wizard-ruled country on the north end of Dragon Age's main continent, Thedas," a source told the site. "The goal was to focus as much as possible on choice and consequence, with smaller areas and fewer fetch quests than Dragon Age: Inquisition."

One developer said that BioWare wanted to focus on "repeat play" with "areas that changed over time and missions that branched in interesting ways based on your decisions, to the point where you could even get 'non-standard game overs' if you followed certain paths."

One key mechanic of the canceled Joplin was heists. There would be "systemic narrative mechanics, allowing the player to perform actions like persuading or extorting guards without the writers having to handcraft every scene." These were early details, mind you, but the team was reportedly excited about the direction of the project.

Then Anthem went into trouble and Joplin was canceled so that the Dragon Age team could assist on BioWare's troubled sci-fi loot shooter. Key team members like Mike Laidlaw left, and a new Dragon Age 4 game was started under the codename Morrison.

Morrison would be more in-line with EA's live-service mandate, and while BioWare sources caution not to think of Dragon Age 4 as "Anthem with dragons," there will be live-service elements to BioWare's next fantasy RPG. These could be in the form of drop-in drop-out co-op, or even world changes dependent on the decisions of every Dragon Age player. But again, these are early details.

BioWare has been accused of poor workplace practices that puts immense pressure and crunch on developers, especially towards the end of a game's development. BioWare admitted that these were real problems at its studio and has promised to correct the problem. Check out our Anthem guide for more coverage.

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