How Skyrim influenced Dragon Age: Inquisition

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Dragon Age: Inquisition in my most anticipated RPG of the year. If you are on Xbox One and have EA Access, you get to play the game already on 13 November… at least the first six hours of it. The game is promising to be enormous, and Skyrim has a lot to do with that.

Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Bioware’s Mark Darrah explained that the audience for RPGs has changed. In fact, he thinks that this console generation might just bring back RPGs as the genre of choice for gamers:

Skyrim changed the landscape for role-playing games completely. I mean Oblivion probably sold six million units, basically that range, Skyrim sold 20 million. So that, to some degree, changes everything.

Now the expectations of your other fans, they’re changing too. People age, they typically have less time for games, so it changes their expectations in terms of gameplay segments. It also results in some nostalgia. so they may become even more firm in their attachment to previous features. Now suddenly you have 15 million people that have basically had the first RPG they’ve ever played as Skyrim. They have totally different expectations of what storytelling is, what exploration is, and I think exploration is really where we’ve seen the biggest change.

Games haven’t been this big in ten years: Baldur’s Gate II was this big, or close to this big. It’s not just Bioware, really nobody was this big – games were getting smaller and smaller. I mean look at Uncharted, that’s a four hour experience. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s an amazingly polished four hour experience, but it’s not a big experience. Whereas if you look at role-playing games from the late 90s, I mean Daggerfall is 65,000 square kilometers.

The hardware has brought back the ability to do big again and I think that’s what’s bringing role-playing games back to the forefront. What we’ve traditionally seen is that as a console generation turns over the dominant genre has changed. Shooters weren’t the dominant genre a generation ago, it was racing games. If you go back before that, to the PlayStation 1 era, it was actually role-playing games. I think that’s what we may be seeing here. I don’t know that role-playing games will be necessarily dominant but I do think we may see open-world exploration games being the dominant genre of this generation.

“Skyrim changed the landscape for role-playing games completely”

This should make hardcore RPG fans happy, and also bring back a bit of nostalgia. I remember when I originally played RPGs on SNES or even PlayStation 1, I would get games that would easily last hundreds of hours. It was just normal that if you were going to make an RPG, there would be tons of content in it. Now, we’re all pretty happy with a fantastic RPG that takes a weekend to complete – even Shadow of Mordor, which is an excellent game, doesn’t really take too long to complete.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition is meant to be a 200 hour game, filled with a ridiculous amount of depth and breadth. I am extremely excited for it, and hope that Darrah is correct with his prediction that the new, stronger consoles can handle bigger and better RPGs. If that is the case, there could be even more games coming that will make me stupidly happy and excited.

Did you play and love Skyrim? Is it a defining RPG for you? The scale of the game is certainly excellent, with simply tons to do. While it wasn’t perfect, I’m glad to see that it’s influencing other game makers; when it combines with other fantastic influences, we could see some really stellar gaming.

Last Updated: November 4, 2014

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. You can read more of my words over at www.borngeek.co.za, or just follow me on all the social networks to get the true range of my sarcasm and wit.

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