Bioware has always been known for crafting some of the most enthralling and engaging adventures in the industry. And they’re no longer new to the MMO industry either – with The Old Republic now a seasoned entry in the genre. I’ve previously written about other single-player games that would make great MMOs, including Bioware’s Mass Effect. After Inquisition, however, I’m convinced that Dragon Age’s Thedas is the perfect setting for an MMO.
5) Established Lore and Timeline
I’ve always been a big lore guy for any game I play. Part of that is surely my deep interest in fiction, reading, fantasy settings, and being a writer, but it’s also because games often have some of the most interesting and dynamic stories out of any medium out there. To this end, Bioware is surely among the best. They have a knack for creating incredibly detailed and diverse game worlds for their stories to take place in.
Dragon Age is based in Thedas (which, interestingly enough, started out as an acronym for The Dragon Age Setting) a huge world that has its own types of races, religions, cultures, politics, conflicts, and so much more. The world is so detailed, that these fictional concepts like the Templars, Circle of Mages, Chantry, the Maker, Andraste, Ferelden, Orlais, and everything else feel like living, breathing parts of the real world. An MMO could take place across the entire area of Thedas, during any of a dozen different time periods – there is so much potential.
4) Established Fanbase
One of the biggest struggles for any new IP, especially an MMO that needs to garner the interest of hundreds of thousands, or millions, to be successful. Look at the biggest MMOs in the post-EverQuest world: World of Warcraft had the Warcraft games and backing of Blizzard, Star Wars: The Old Republic has one of the most popular fictional universes of all-time, Guild Wars 2 is a sequel, and, well – you get the point.
Dragon Age: Inquisition now marks the 3rd game in a huge fantasy series that seems like it’s trying to be the next Lord of the Rings – and is succeeding. The only other game franchise that is on a comparable level of scale is The Elder Scrolls, so that’s in some pretty good company. At this point, Dragon Age is an amazing and engaging single player series, and it should continue to be, but it can expand beyond and be so much more.
3) Combat Already Plays Like an MMO
Just look at screenshots of Dragon Age – tell me that you didn’t at least for a second think that it could have been an MMO. On PC, the skillbar at the bottom just looks like something out of an MMO. On consoles, the skill interface is very similar to Final Fantasy XIV on console. You hold down your basic attack button for auto-attack, very similarly to an MMO, and combat is heavily influenced by party-balance.
The only part about Dragon Age combat, and general gameplay that would need to be resolved would be the necessity of a full group of complimentary party members. Perhaps they could employ a system similar to the original Guild Wars or Neverwinter, so that if you’re playing alone, you have a band of followers. So that way, you’re not locked out of content and required to have a full party of other people at all times.
2) Huge World
Similar to The Elder Scrolls’ Tamriel, Dragon Age’s Thedas has still barely been explored in its games, and we’ve had 3 so far. Just look at that map right there – it’s huge! Now we’ve seen a big portion of Ferelden and Orlais, but what about the Free Marches, the origin of the player character in Inquisition? How about exploring Nevarra, Antiva, or even the Teviner Imperium?
MMOs are always really well-known for having some of the biggest game worlds, and Thedas is definitely worthy of that type of creation. Each portion of the map could be a different starting zone and it presents an excellent opportunity to revisit the “Origin” system from the first Dragon Age game. It would be a bit unreasonable to assume the entire game could be showcased in the launch of the MMO, but that just opens up the door for some great and big expansion later on down the line.
1) Race and Faction Disputes
Some of the most successful MMOs in history are founded on the concept of internal strife – whether it be based on races, factions, or alignments – the struggle between players is a strong foundation to build upon. And in the Dragon Age universe, there is plenty of that. Empires at war, the constant struggle between the mages and Templars, warring religious organizations, rebellions, and so much more.
Throw on top of that the constant fluctuation of race relations between the humans, elves, dwarves, and qunari, and Thedas is anything but a peaceful utopia. Bioware has done a great job of not only creating these conflicts, but making them believable. I feel bad for the elves – they’re constantly suppressed. While I sympathize with the mages for being controlled by the Templars, their connection to the Fade and the potential for demons, is dangerous enough that it requires a policing body. I would love to be able to dive into this world with other players and exploring these relationships in more detail.
The potential for the Dragon Age series as an MMO extends far beyond what’s been discussed, simply due to the sheer number of unknowns at play. What about other races? Surely there are other uses for lyrium or unique connections to the Fade we haven’t seen yet. Wouldn’t it be pretty amazing to essentially take the multiplayer component from Inquisition, put that into the base game, and expand it even further? Truly, the sky is the limit for a Dragon Age MMO, if it ever comes to be.