Wait, what? Kotaku has just reported that an insider has revealed upcoming plans for a multiplayer Dragon Age title. Not only that, but it will apparently be developed using DICE’s Frostbite 2 engine, which we’ve seen in titles such as Battlefield 3. Supposedly the game looks “stunning” so far. Details are unclear so far as to whether the multiplayer will be available as part of a full retail title or as a downloadable game or expansion. The insider promised both PvP and PvE gameplay along with playable dragon characters. The combat will take place in an arena.
So, reader, what is your take on all of this? Do you think that the rumor will pan out, or is someone messing with us? I feel inclined to believe this due to the recent wave of adding multiplayer to previously single player experiences in titles such as Mass Effect 3, Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, Dead Space 2, Metro: Last Light, and Bioshock 2. It seems to be an industry wide belief that a game needs multiplayer in order to succeed, but the sales of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim blatantly contradict that.
The belief that multiplayer is required gives plenty valid reasons to be worried. Will we be getting another game like Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood where the overarching story comes grinding to a halt in order to make space for an additional unplanned game? (No Spoilers) For those that are unaware, AC:B ignored Desmond, the main character, for the majority of the game. It only seemed to feel like advancing his story at the very last moments of the title and instead spent almost the entire time on a superfluous Ezio timeline. In Assassin’s Creed II you spent the whole game hunting after an important item as Ezio. In AC:B you immediately lose that item and get to spend the entire game hunting it. Again. There’s no denying that AC:B was a good title, but it was clear that the storyline had been put on hold as an excuse to test out Ubisoft’s experimental new multiplayer feature. Should we worry about Dragon Age being similarly stunted?
Some fans may also be dismayed to be hearing anything about another Dragon Age title so soon after the release of Dragon Age II. Many were very put off by the repeating environments and less “epic” story scale in the sequel, blaming the issues on what appeared to be a stunted development cycle. EA seems to push for a yearly release cycle in many franchises, but I’m not sure that Dragon Age could survive such a strategy. Hopefully this mystery multiplayer game will be on the cooker until holiday 2012 or 2013.
The outlook is not entirely bleak, however. Bioware has a long history with multiplayer titles that many gamers seem to forget. Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights had plenty to offer and I can say from personal experience that the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic is looking very promising. Hopefully the new feature is something that Bioware has wanted to try out for a while now and not something that has been mandated by a publisher with no plan.