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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Dragon Age: The Veilguard has extra magic, shade, and customizations

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One would suppose after spending a summer season screaming about kissing bears in Baldur’s Gate or gods in Hades 2 that my main concern for Dragon Age: The Veilguard — a sport from a studio recognized for its strong character writing and romanceable companions — could be who I’m selecting to smooch. However after three video games spanning nearly twenty years, all I actually wished out of the subsequent Dragon Age was a pores and skin tone that matched mine that didn’t look like I’d never seen a bottle of moisturizer.

So I do know there’s a Maker who loves me when one of many very first options that sport director Corinne Busche confirmed me was all of the completely different pores and skin tones in Veilguard’s character creator.

“We’ve spent a variety of time fascinated by pores and skin tone,” she mentioned. Within the character creator, when you select a race and customise your options — together with the series-first skill to alter your physique measurement — you may test your work beneath completely different sorts of lighting. The character we made, a Black elf, appeared to glow within the bluish gentle of a nighttime scene and beneath shiny daylight, I might see the richness of his shade. 

“We’ve spent a variety of time fascinated by pores and skin tone.”

“We need to make it possible for pores and skin tone is mirrored authentically,” Busche mentioned.

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The second function I noticed — one which I insisted Busche present me, risking the valuable little time I had with this hands-off demo at Summer season Sport Fest — was the hair choices.

“Now we have dozens and dozens of hair sorts,” she mentioned. “They usually’re totally affected by physics.” The standard and number of selections I noticed delighted me. The rows of bouncy, luxurious-looking hair of all curl sorts and textures (and sure, the annoyingly ubiquitous “Killmonger cut” was among the many choices, what are you able to do?) introduced the most important smile to my face within the hour I spent with Busche and The Veilguard.

“A vital a part of our philosophy is that regardless of who you’re, you’re in a position to understand your self within this sport,” Busche mentioned, and I feel they nailed it.

There was solely a lot I might see within the hour I had with the hands-off demo, however all of it was actually heartening as a longtime Dragon Age fan. Minrathous, town we explored within the demo, was darkish and moody with its blood mage cultists but awash with the colour of magical indicators just like the neon lights of a significant metropolis.

To some, that colorfulness, mixed with a reveal trailer that had a extra stylized artwork route, led to grumblings on social media that The Veilguard doesn’t really feel like a “actual” Dragon Age sport. Detractors complain that the brand new stylization appears too cartoonish and is an excessive amount of a departure from the collection that after featured Marilyn Manson’s “This Is the New Shit” in one of its blood-splattered trailers

Busche understood the criticisms and supplied a two-pronged rationalization. The primary half was merely that Dragon Age, as a collection, has at all times modified. “What we’ve seen over time is an evolution of the visuals within the franchise,” Busche mentioned. “Dragon Age has by no means actually had an ownable visible id.”

Busche defined that the workforce wished to provide gamers a sport the place places had been imbued with simply as a lot persona because the characters. “That meant making distinction from the areas which are darkish and decaying to the areas which are illuminated with magic,” Busche mentioned. 

One more reason The Veilguard appears so completely different from different Dragon Age video games is as a result of the places themselves are in contrast to something the franchise has seen earlier than. The primary three Dragon Age video games happened within the southern components of the world, the place magic and its customers had been brutally repressed. 

In the meantime, for the places in Veilguard, “This is part of the world the place magic has been embraced,” Busche mentioned. “It’s a society of mages and magic on this world is inherently colourful. So whether or not we’re seeing them use magic for on a regular basis functions like signage or utilizing them as spells, that shade actually comes by way of.”

It’s been a protracted and presumably agonizing time coming for followers of the collection who first obtained a glimpse of the brand new sport again when it was announced at the 2018 Game Awards. Within the intervening years, there have been a few “proof of life” updates, together with the information that the sport had undergone an enormous change of scope with BioWare scrapping plans to add live-service multiplayer elements to as a substitute concentrate on a single-player-only expertise.

However whereas that info was typically met with enthusiasm, optimism in regards to the sport’s future was imperiled by fixed information of layoffs and high-profile departures. After a long time with the studio, BioWare common supervisor Casey Hudson and Dragon Age government producer Mark Darrah left the company in 2020. Inventive director Matt Goldman left in 2021, 19-year BioWare veteran Mac Walters left in 2023, and in that very same yr, the studio introduced the layoffs of over 50 people, together with a number of long-serving BioWare workers.

For sure, Veilguard’s growth has been beset by points. And an hour of hands-off gameplay isn’t sufficient to utterly dispel the lingering considerations that the sport’s tortured growth cycle has affected its high quality. However I do know the Dragon Age collection, and based mostly on the conversations I’ve had and the little I’ve seen, it appears like, regardless of the turmoil, BioWare nonetheless obtained it proper.

Closing judgment must be reserved for once I can lastly play the completed product when Veilguard launches within the fall of this yr. However seeing all of the character creator choices, realizing that we’ll lastly get a romanceable dwarf companion, and realizing that we’ll lastly go to locations like Weisshaupt and the necropolis of Nevarra — requests and places which have dominated Dragon Age fandom discussions for many years — Veilguard feels prefer it’s heading in the right direction. 

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