BioWare Drawing From Skyrim For Dragon Age 3?

This won’t come as a shock to any of you, but it’s looking very much like, despite some technical problems and an inability to provide a consistent, cross-platform experience, Skyrim will definitely be remembered as one of this era’s seminal games. Yes, obvious man is obvious, but it bears noting that these things are not guaranteed. The good thing about this, besides the fact the Skyrim’s success means future Elder Scrolls games, is that it seems Bethesda’s neighbor in the RPG-sphere has taken notice, and wants to emulate.

That would be BioWare, still reeling from an absolutely terrible couple of years that has seen the departure of key staff, including the company founders, and an enormous backlash that nearly broke the company’s fanbase. Their next big release is the upcoming Dragon Age 3, which must not only make up for the mistakes of Dragon Age 2, but do so AND overcome tremendous skepticism from fans who bailed because of Mass Effect 3. If you’ve been skeptical about DA3, perhaps then it will interest you to know that BioWare appears to be looking at Skyrim for inspiration. So sayeth Bioware’s Aaryn Flynn to Game Informer:

You can’t look at a game like Skyrim and not think about how impressive what they’ve accomplished is—or [think] that’s an interesting new direction or that there was something that didn’t work well for them that we could take in a new direction. So, we’re always influenced by these games, especially in a relatively tight-knight genre like RPGs

But, as Kotaku notes, what’s especially interesting is the specific way it appears they’ll be drawing influence from Skyrim. Dragon Age 3 will apparently involve far more exploration than previous games, and Flynn specifically cites a desire to get back to roots, noting how the Mass Effect and Dragon ages series have strayed from the template seen in games like Baldur’s Gate.

While I remain amazingly skeptical of Dragon Age 3 – I liked Dragon Age 2 a lot, but I understand the horrid things wrong with it, and after Mass Effect 3… – this makes me cautiously optimistic. I have a suspicion that at very least, the Dragon Age 3 team’s heads are in the right place. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if everything else is too.

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22 Comments on BioWare Drawing From Skyrim For Dragon Age 3?


On December 5, 2012 at 2:18 pm

You should be slapped around the back of the head for saying “I liked Dragon Age 2 a lot”, Ross.

They can say they learned their lesson or know what people want, but that is just words, very common PR talk. They need to -prove- it this time, they lost credibility among many gamers, even from a lot of their long time fans. No words can fix this, only making a genuinely good and much loved game will.

And as the idiom goes “the proof is in the pudding”.

Ross Lincoln

On December 5, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Yea, Aedelric, I know. SIGH. In my defense, I had a very quick play time before the review was due, so my brain focused more on the stuff I found really interesting, like the switch from Tolkien-esque fantasy to a medieval family drama with Magic.

As I played through in the days and weeks after, especially as technical problems started cropping up and also, the horrendous enemy and level recycling, the scales fell from my eyes. Had I had more time, I would have turned in a MUCH harsher review, most likely it would have said “There is only one good thing about it, everything else needs to go.” I still want to see more experimentation with story like that, but I want the next game not to ultimately suck. I hope that makes sense.

Nigel Harris

On December 5, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I didn’t mind DA2. At least it was just a sort of disappointing game that still had some cool stuff to it. It didn’t literally spit in the player’s face like ME3, Fifa Vita and Black Ops Declassified.


On December 5, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I don’t think Ross should be slapped. Scolded yes, but slapped?

I too enjoyed DA2 when I played it the first time. Only the first time though, never could play past the 2nd act again.


On December 5, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I don’t trust Bio/EA any more. I will never again reserve any of their games.
EA is just a cancer in the gaming world. I am still angry about them killing Westwood.


On December 5, 2012 at 3:53 pm

I couldn’t agree more with Nigel…DA2 wasnt a total mess up like ME3…just did not live up to its potential. I had very little hope for DA3 and wasnt really goin to follow its development. After reading this I have…intrigue for it….not hope…but im definetly going to follow the game a little more now. At least they finally realized they need to go back to the root of the game that made the franchise an initial success.

Ross Lincoln

On December 5, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Heh, thanks Jason. I have delicate skin.


On December 5, 2012 at 4:08 pm

I overall liked ME3 until the third act, when the story just absolutely collapsed. Hint, it wasn’t just the ending! The Reaper mechanic was stupid, but no more so than mining/surveying from ME2.

There was very little I liked about Dragon Age 2. I liked the updated graphics. I liked the attempt in theory of how they approached the story. Everything else went downhill. I hated the combat. I hated the overall storyline. And I hated, hated, absolutely hated, just loathed the characters in DA2. I found myself not caring if any of them left or died. I found myself enjoying Zevran and Leliana in DA2 mainly because they were characters that I actually enjoyed, not because of anything they did.

And as far as if they are willing to open up like Skyrim, but return to the Baldur’s Gate style…. end the “iconic” approach when it comes to character models. When you get all this armor and clothign that you can’t put on your team, instead being forced to live with the clothing models the company decides for you, that spits in the face of open ended games like the BG series or TES.

If Bioware does that, then they show me they are serious. If they keep the “iconic” BS, then I know they aren’t.

Roy Batty

On December 5, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Correct me if I am wrong but did they actually admit they made a mistake in ME3?

“Flynn specifically cites a desire to get back to roots, noting how the Mass Effect and Dragon ages series have strayed from the template”

Am I reading this correctly or was there a transporter malfunction on my way home from work?


On December 5, 2012 at 5:45 pm

No need to defend yourself Ross, everyone’s opinion is valid even if they differ. Personally I do not hold much stock in reviews, the only way to get a truly objective opinion is to see for ones self. I come here news articles rather than opinion pieces anyway.

You are right in regards to experimentation, it is great for games, be it mechanics, artistic direction or unexpected plot twists or locations. If it was not for Bioware’s experimentation we would never had that hybrid action roleplaying shooter Mass Effect. Or Dragon Age: Origins, which was essentially a Baldur’s Gate type game with a Neverwinter Nights play style. Both games were exceptionally well made and at the time quite risky.

The problem with the Bioware-EA of the last few years is not that they are trying to experiment with their franchises, but capitalize on them. A lot of decisions seem to be made based off `what will take the least time and money to create and sell well?´ rather than `What is best for the franchise?´.

Dragon Age 3 is really going to be the make or break for Bioware, I am still bitter, but I do hope they come back. Lets hope they read your `Rebuilding The Future: How BioWare Can Bounce Back´ article and CJ Miozzi’s `The History of Bioware´.

Additionally, as I agreed experimentation is good, but to do so with established franchise is very risky, it is best to experiment with new games. Bioware dodged a bullet with the choice to change Dragon Age’s art style. (Most seem to like it, even if I don’t.)


On December 5, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Gameplay and story aside, I wonder if origin will be required to play, and whether or not it will be up for purchase with out the drm, know as origin.


On December 6, 2012 at 3:20 am

Roy Batty
“Correct me if I am wrong but did they actually admit they made a mistake in ME3?”

Nobody at the top of the chain has ever held their hands up. In fact, Casey Hudson has seemingly gone out of his way to be as arrogant and obnoxious as possible, treating the EC as some sort of courtesy to actually follow through with a series of sustained technical reassurances made over a course of several weeks and months. Hudson, Gamble and Merizan haven’t been quite so annoying about it but still haven’t apologised. They didn’t even need to apologise for the content that was there, they just needed to apologise for the NATURE of the content and what WASN’T there. They didn’t acknowledge any of their promises and instead just talked about how people wanted more closure and that loads of people didn’t want it changed in the first place. A few lower-level guys and people who used to have power before the EA buyout have since tried to open a dialogue with gamers about the issue, but there will never be any form of apology from the top because they have the press and their fanboys blindly defending them and attacking the community at every turn for having a reasoned opinion.

This is why you’d be mad to ever buy another one of their games again.


On December 6, 2012 at 4:45 am

Dragon Age Origins is such a fantastic game that Bioware should take a step back from looking at skyrim and focus more on its first release, Everything about it was amazing but things could be improved on, like larger land scape, more diverse art so things don’t seem so recycled and really that’s about it.

DA2 could of been a ok game if they could of expanded out of the city a lot more, with a lot less recycling, plus who said you have to stay in a single area or city just to have a in-depth story?

The idea they had with Awakining when you took over a Keep and started rebuilding it was fantastic, but with more depth and you could get something truly amazing, instead of them showing 2 guards protecting the keep why not show 30 or 50, we need better scaling and having the choices you make feel like they truly do have a large impact on whats happening around you.

If they can do that with a great storyline then they will have a real money maker imo.


On December 6, 2012 at 5:45 am

After Dragon Age, which had a great tried and tested formula for that kind of RPG games they then water down Dragon Age 2, adding the kind of nonsense they think will get more people buying it but only end up diluting it which ostracises fans and wont make it any new ones.

So now it sounds like instead of going back to that great formula they’re looking to Skyrim? A completely different RPG experience altogether. Saying things like “[Skyrim]… that’s an interesting new direction”

First there is nothing new about Skyrim or it’s direction, unless you don’t know a thing about the industry you’re working in. Skyrim is using the same formula from Daggerfall, only after 16 years it’s obviously evolved. Giving this Aaryn Flynn the benefit of the doubt and presuming he knows about the industry he’s working in and that there’s nothing new about Skyrim’s formula, he then meant that as an interesting new direction for Dragon Age, which is even more depressing because that completely contradicts the whole going “back to roots” he said.

Dragon Age Origins was, I’m sure many others will agree, the modernisation of the Baldur’s Gate RPG formula and a successful evolution at that. There are clear distinctions between different types of RPG games, they can vary wildly and widely. Yet he says this “in a relatively tight-knight genre like RPGs”.

Now first off I’m going to again give Aaryn Flynn the benefit of the doubt and presume he actually said “tight-knit” and that “tight-knight” is a huge typo or the result of an moron banging on a keyboard taking minutes. Either way it shows his complete lack of understanding in RPG genre of the game industry, something Bioware should be vying for top spot in or at least be prominent leader in.

Instead we have this, people from Bioware showing they have no idea what they’re doing or where they want to be. Like digging holes on a ship wondering why it’s sinking. Saying Bioware is a sinking ship may be an overstatement but at best it’s a ship getting lost at sea, which normally ends in being shipwrecked.

With this guy saying, all in relation to Dragon Age it seems, that they want to go back to their roots and looking to Skyrim for influence it seems he actually believes the RPG genre is tight-knit when it’s actually one of the more if not the most diverse. I can’t help hang my head in embarrassment even though I have no association with Bioware, they are either being led by, well idiots seems a bit harsh but I can’t think of a better word right now or this Aaryn Flynn is so desperate for attention he doesn’t care what comes out of his mouth or where the company goes.

Bioware no longer even understands the genre it once helped resurrect, whether that’s the result of the cause of it’s talent leaving, including it’s founders doesn’t matter at this point but it does point back to something sinking.

On that note well done EA, notch up one more to the history books at this rate.


On December 6, 2012 at 6:39 am

PR talk, nothing more. They had many reassuring things to say about DA2 when people started noticing it wasn’t looking like the “spiritual successor” to BG that Origins was. They also had many reassuring things to say about ME2′s removal of many RPG staples. Talk is cheap, and as far as I’m concerned Bioware ran out of Get Out Of Jail Free cards. They’re done for me, so let them collapse under EA for all I care. Let the people who’ve left start up new dev studios and make games without $$$$$$ being their primary motivator for every design decision.

Ball Harness

On December 6, 2012 at 10:08 am

People shouldn’t get excited at this fact. This is clearly EA following the money. They saw how well Skyrim sold so instead of playing to Dragon Age strengths they are simply trying to cash in by emulating a known success. I expect this to be a huge failure.


On December 6, 2012 at 10:32 am

The thing we loved about BG, DAO, and even ME for that matter, or at least I loved, was not just the story lines, the characters, or the RPG mechanics, it was the game play. The fact that you HAD to pause the game and issue orders to be successful or the enemy would wipe the floor with you. The tactical combat, COMBINED with the story lines, characters, and RPG mechanics is what made those games awesome. By simply copying Skyrim and giving a more open diverse world wont do anything for those of us that play this particular niche of RPG games. If i wanted Skyrim, I’d play Skyrim.

Mike Flannigan

On December 6, 2012 at 10:34 am

BioWare’s still around? I assumed they’d folded due to their complete and utter lack of relevant and industry autonomy.


On December 6, 2012 at 11:34 am

There were a lot of problems with DA2. My biggest gripes were the recycled levels and the “It’s raining men” wave combat that didn’t really let you position your characters strategically. But also I didn’t like the arcade-er combat with all the flashing lights when you made a two-handed sword attack and the like. I’m not sure why they wanted to go in that direction. Story-wise, Anders never seemed like the type of guy who would do what he did, especially if you think back to who he was in DAA, and Isabella’s actions seemed to have questionable motivation, and if you keep her in your crew, there seemed to be very little repercussion for essentially destroying half the city and indirectly probably killing hundreds of innocents.

I’m also not sure why they had you fight both bosses at the end regardless of which way you went. Seems like it wouldn’t have been that much more work to make it one or the other and it would have made a lot more sense.

There’s actually quite a lot more to complain about as well, but anyway, I still enjoyed it, but I would certainly like to see it return to something more like DA:O. I just hope they don’t think something like DA2 with more exploration will do the trick.


On December 6, 2012 at 1:43 pm

It certainly looks good to see someone at the company acknowledge that both DA and ME drifted of course from what traditionally makes for great Bioware games, but I also remain incredibly skeptical. The reaction by Bioware to both DA2 and ME3 has made me incredibly cynical when it comes to the company because the ones at the top, and therefore in the best position to actually do something about the problems, haven’t really shown me that they even want to understand the problems. They claimed that people didn’t like DA2 simply because it’s plot wasn’t like DAO, even though that was something that people actually praised about the game. And then there was the “clarity and closure” nonsense with ME3, and the general attitude like it was somehow our fault for not imagining that the thing added by the EC happened. Sure, it’s good that they finally seem willing to admit the faults of DA2, but I question the motivation. The comments generally have been more about how DA3 won’t make the mistakes of DA2, but they also came at a point where the sales of DA2 had stagnated and the hype building for DA3 had begun, so I just have to question how much of it is out of honest acceptance of criticism and how much of it is out of pumping up sales.

Sadly, a lot of talented folks left the company when they saw what direction it was headed, and those that stuck around either don’t see any problem or aren’t really in a position to do anything about it. Admittedly, this comment from Flynn sounds good, but I’ve seen far too many comments that were more specific turn out to be blatantly false for me to get too excited about something as vague as this.

Roy Batty

On December 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm

@ 3MB

I hear you and I am disciplined enough not to buy ME4 unless it aligns the planets and makes cats and dogs live together in harmony. Like you say all I really wanted was an acknowledgement something akin to: yes we acknowledge that a large number of you believe we effed up and we will not effe up again and we sincerely promise so. Sheesh when our engineering department (um that’s me) effes up at work we admit it (people get sooo touchy when we divide by zero).

Still there has got to be someone with the “smoking gun” story as to what happened. There are indications in ME3 that show both an optimistic and pessimistic path almost as if there was an internal struggle as to what the ending was really going to be. As for DA2 I was disappointed but not surprised that it was not as good as DAO (yes I am being kind). I thought the characters were generally shallow, the story weak, and the scenery bland.

I still watch what goes on in the ME world because I am an engineer and I like engineering disasters of which I consider ME3 to be a masterpiece. And perhaps if Mr. Hudson is on vacation in bora-bora and happens to get hit in the head by a coconut which makes him see the error of his ways…(ya never know).


On December 10, 2012 at 4:37 pm

LOL, they said the exact same thing about DA2 being influenced by Bethesda. BS then, BS now.