With expectations plummeting, the Dragon Age community needs a major update at The Game Awards 2023

Give the fans what they want, or risk losing them forever.
Dragon Age Dreadwolf promotional image.
Image via Bioware

It’s extraordinary to think five years have passed since the fourth Dragon Age game was announced to joyous uproar at The Game Awards in 2018. Since the reveal of Dreadwolf, however, which heralds the return of former companion Solas as its antagonist, excitement has been at an all-time low.

How can it be that those who love Dragon Age and its expansive continent of Thedas are expecting to see no sign of either at The Game Awards 2023 on Dec. 7, or even on the unofficial “Dragon Age Day” on Dec. 4? 

Dragon Age Inquisition key art with the protagonist reaching toward demons in the sky
Game of the Year-worthy Dragon Age: Inquisition feels like a lifetime ago. Image via BioWare

Years upon years of disappointment and upset are clearly taking their toll. Five years is a long time to not see a game launch following its reveal; Skull and Bones knows a thing or two about that. But the wait for something substantial has only gotten worse thanks to a number of adverse factors.

Perhaps the best place to start is at the source of all the nervousness surrounding Dreadwolf. Bit by bit, we learned about its incredibly volatile development. Beginning life as a project codenamed “Joplin,” the fourth Dragon Age was always going to be set within the Tevinter Empire, as hinted at during 2014’s Inquisition. According to respected journalist Jason Schreier, it was originally to be a smaller and more narrative-focused game than its predecessor. 

Then, Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem would bring BioWare to its knees; the result of a tunnel-vision-like focus from publisher Electronic Arts to push for live services in all of its flagship products. In the fallout, “Joplin” was canceled and replaced by “Morrison,” which was to be a game more in-line with EA’s demands. This is the Dragon Age that was teased at the end of 2018.

Anthem characters flying with jetpacks
Anthem failed to convince many of its merits, even if there were genuine bright spots. Image via EA

After reconceptualizing the game as a single-player experience, and after a widely-disliked gameplay leak and a huge turnover of staff, nobody truly knows what to expect from Dreadwolf anymore. BioWare is hardly in a good place either. Although the recent teaser trailer for the next Mass Effect was welcomed with open arms, the studio is still reeling from 50 layoffs in August 2023

Speaking of Mass Effect, the unimaginable number of delays to Dreadwolf has led to the most bizarre set of circumstances. Schreier was on the pulse in 2017, reporting that the sci-fi stalwart had been put “on ice.” For many fans, the scenario looked bleak. Yet, just three years later, the fifth Mass Effect entry was officially confirmed, with a full trailer to boot

While Dragon Age’s fourth game has been in development, its sister franchise has suffered a terrible blow to its reputation, been placed on hiatus, and come back from said hiatus with not one but two trailers. It’s easy to understand why Dragon Age fans’ frustrations are at an all-time high. With each major gaming conference that began, fans had their hopes high that something would be announced. And with each major gaming conference that passed, their hopes were dashed, and clown face memes were rampant. 

From here, we should turn our gaze to Mark Darrah. Mark is a fascinating part of the story, given he was the executive producer of the fourth Dragon Age across both its “Joplin” and “Morrison” guises. That was until late 2020, when he resigned. Sensationally, come March 2023, Darrah was back on the team as a consultant, and it is he who offered a single ray of hope to Dragon Age fans: A simple X post that reads “OK fine,” with a link to his Game Awards 2023 co-stream.

Solas from Dragon Age lurking in the shadows
Dreadwolf promotional materials have been slim pickings. Image via Electronic Arts

Fans on Reddit are discussing their expectations for The Game Awards, and the answers range from “a gameplay trailer with just a release year” to “absolutely nothing”. The former is easily the most optimistic take, while the latter is indicative of how most of the community feels. Nobody expects to see the release date, or a full announcement trailer with all the bells and whistles, but something would be nice. 

Darrah surely knows better than to stir up a crowd that is looking too deep into every nugget of information they can find. That said, if Dragon Age: Dreadwolf is a no-show at The Game Awards, then he has just incited a storm that BioWare really could do without. Low on street cred and out of options, there is no other course of action than to give the people what they want. 

It’s what they deserve after all their patience and understanding.

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Author
James Kirk
Self-proclaimed 'RPG Addict'. Here to help you keep up to date with all things Honkai: Star Rail, Pokémon and many other titles. Covering gaming and esports since 2012. Yes, my parents knew what they were doing.