BioWare Is Being Careful With Dragon Age DLC

Dragon Age: Inquisition came out in November of last year, and since then, it’s flown under the radar of most people for having one big, surprising omission; a lack of mercenary downloadable content. Not only did the game NOT release with any micro-transaction DLC, or any day one DLC that was already on the disc (excepting special edition or pre-order bonuses), it has no season pass, and in the three months since its release, hasn’t had a single piece of DLC for purchase. There’s been one multi-player addition, which was free, and there’s an upcoming patch that finally adds item storage and character customization, and that’s ALSO free. In fact, in a recent statement, BioWare even admitted that they were only starting to work on bigger, meatier content for Dragon Age: Inquisition, which is a stance that’s more appropriate to a company trapped in the 90s or turn of the century.
dragonagesalesinsert1In a lot of ways, there’s much to applaud in this attitude, though fans of the game impatient for an excuse to explore the world of Ferelden and Orlais might grumble about it. The concept of content already on the disc that you have to pay for to unlock as “DLC” has angered many gamers in recent years. BioWare’s owner, Electronic Arts, is particularly zealous about experimenting with different DLC models, going above and beyond cosmetic offerings to even selling cheats for games, for players that don’t want to earn in-game currency, or want certain abilities without grinding for the XP to unlock them. Given that EA has been so aggressive in its DLC strategy, it’s actually astounding that DA:I somehow escaped that mercenary approach with no paid DLC whatsoever.

Of course, this won’t last, nor should it. We all know DLC is coming for DA:I. BioWare has already admitted it. The question is what KIND of DLC should we see for the best RPG of 2014?
Dragon-Age3In a perfect world, the answer would be “full blown expansions.” The first game in the series, Dragon Age: Origins, had traditional DLC, with weapons, items, and a few more substantial pieces that actually added more gameplay and story, but there was also Dragon Age: Origins- Awakenings, which was an entirely separate adventure that could be played on its own, or use an imported game save from the original DA:O so that all decisions carried over. It was the kind of content that PC gamers were used to in the 90s with RPGs and RTS games, but it was a relatively new experience for console gamers. Since then, BioWare has realized that the cost and time of such an effort is so massive that it makes more sense economically to devote that kind of energy to a full game.

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So, as with Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II, we’ll probably see some new adventures on a smaller scale, that will take between one to three hours to finish, depending on the thoroughness of the player. It’s not a bad approach, and one of those smaller scale adventures for DAII became an important plot point in Inquisition, so clearly, BioWare’s not afraid of giving players big, important story points in optional DLC.
Dragon-Age4One thing BioWare should definitely consider, especially for fans that have been there since the beginning, is DLC that addresses what happened to the hero of Dragon Age: Origins. Much of Inquisition’s plot is made up of elements—and even characters—from DAII, and while a few characters from DA:O make appearances in the latest game, there’s a big question hovering over the disappearance of the first game’s hero. Depending, of course, on the choices the player made, the DA:O hero(ine) could be anything from dead, to queen of Ferelden, but in all instances where the main character survived, he or she disappeared. Long-time fans have a deep attachment to their Warden, and if BioWare is willing to make callbacks to DAII, then it would certainly make those same fans extremely happy to have some closure in the mystery of the vanishing Grey Warden/Hero of Ferelden. If it’s a meaty enough adventure, that’s an easy $15 for a Dragon Age fan to part with.