Forgot password
Enter the email address you used when you joined and we'll send you instructions to reset your password.
If you used Apple or Google to create your account, this process will create a password for your existing account.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Reset password instructions sent. If you have an account with us, you will receive an email within a few minutes.
Something went wrong. Try again or contact support if the problem persists.
Dragon Age The Veilguard characters pose with sword, bow, and skull.
Image via BioWare

Dragon Age: The Veilguard makes one hell of a first impression at Summer Game Fest preview

The Veilguard has plenty for fans to get excited about.

For a game Dragon Age fans have been waiting a decade for, The Veilguard makes one hell of a first impression. Despite initial community concerns, a behind-closed-doors look at the game’s first hour revealed a slick, stylish, and deep sequel.

Recommended Videos

Those concerns, of course, were based on a cinematic trailer and its tone. Many longtime Dragon Age fans didn’t enjoy the cartoony, heroic feel and the trailer’s introduction the companions, and were worried The Veilguard was ditching the dark tone of its predecessors. But at a first look Dot Esports attended at Summer Game Fest, the early gameplay delivered it all in the rain-soaked, demon-infested streets of Minrathous, the capital of Tevinter.

Characters look up at a massive floating palace.
Tone dark enough for you? Image via BioWare

The game looked gorgeous and fluid, with the series’ trademark combination of real-time action and pausing for strategic menus on display. Backed by returning characters Varric and newly-promoted companion Lace Harding, the player character Rook also got to play with one of Veilguard’s new companions in the opening sequence, Neve. The action is immediate, and game director Corinne Busche told those in attendance that the Veilguard developers wanted players to feel like the opening sequence held as much action as a climactic finale. It certainly looked like it, as our Rook (controlled live by another dev) twirled and slashed his way through demons and Venatori cultists.

The combat was impressive, to put it lightly. Basically everything has been given a significant visual facelift, with skeletal demons glowing different colors, while battle mechanics like ranged attacks cutting through magical barriers were shown.

The biggest combat moment of the opening sequence was a fight with a Pride demon, which perhaps showed the biggest difference from Inquisition to The Veilguard. While the new and improved Pride demon was still recognizable in its towering, lightning-infused glory, it had several new tricks up its sleeve. Gone was the purely lumbering tank I and others have been more used to; the giant creature could teleport around the battlefield and forced our Rook to stay quick on his toes to land his Rogue abilities.

The Dragon Age ability wheel with an enemy ogre in the background
The tactical menu now shows your allies’ abilities and how they can combine with yours. Image via BioWare

The nuts and bolts remain familiar to Dragon Age fans: The four playable character races are the same, as are the core classes of Rogue, Warrior, and Mage. But the entire character creator has received a considerable buff, with settings to see what your character will look like in many different types of lighting, individually rendered hair follicles, and much more. The creation also includes selecting a background from one of the game’s seven factions, a choice that almost instantly affected dialogue in the early gameplay.

As Busch said, one of BioWare’s core principles in this Dragon Age follow-up was to “be who you want to be.” And with the depth of the character creation we saw already, it certainly seems like that goal is well within reach.

Busch also took great pains to note the team on Veilguard wanted to place emphasis on “hand-crafted” bits of gameplay, which manifested itself in a largely linear and very beautiful opening sequence. She did say, however, that other areas of the Dragon Age game are quite open, allowing players to explore and find hidden side quests and treasures, à la Inquisition’s bigger zones. That said, player feedback on “fetch quests” and side content that felt like filler was also noted from the last game, as the activities and quests outside of the main storyline was also created with that hand-crafted feeling in mind.

And what would Dragon Age be without romance and character relationships? Even in our small glimpse of The Veilguard, our Rook needed to make at least one decision that garnered approval or disapproval from his companions. And as Busch noted, those bonds are more than just useful markers for trying to woo whoever you want among your companions: The partners you create strong enough bonds with can actually unlock new abilities in gameplay.

With party size in The Veilguard slimming to three (Inquisition allowed you four total party members including the player character), those relationships and gameplay interactions will be more important than ever.

It’s still early days for the current state of Thedas and The Veilguard. But as far as first impressions go, BioWare hit exactly the right notes it needed to at Summer Game Fest. This is very clearly a Dragon Age game, but one intent on updating, improving, and surprising new and returning players alike—and I can’t wait to see more.

Dot Esports is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Adam Snavely
Adam Snavely
Associate Editor and Apex Legends Lead. From getting into fights over Madden and FIFA with his brothers to interviewing some of the best esports figures in the world, Adam has always been drawn to games with a competitive nature. You'll usually find him on Apex Legends (World's Edge is the best map, no he's not arguing with you about it), but he also dabbles in VALORANT, Super Smash Bros. Melee, CS:GO, Pokemon, and more. Ping an R-301.