Dragon Age Inquisition Began As A Multiplayer-Only Game

The game was codenamed Blackfoot, BioWare reveals; plus, studio says Skyrim "changed the landscape for RPGs completely."

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Some fans were surprised earlier this year when BioWare announced that Dragon Age: Inquisition would include a franchise-first multiplayer mode. The decision to add multiplayer to the mix wasn't a last-minute choice, however, BioWare says in a new interview, revealing that the game actually began its life as a multiplayer-only experience.

"Weirdly, we actually had a project code-named Blackfoot which was the first game we had that was looking at Frostbite," Inquisition executive producer Mark Darrah told GamesIndustry International. "It was a Dragon Age game, multiplayer only, that was in development before Dragon Age II came out. That became the core of what became Dragon Age Inquisition, the techlines, more than any of the development, so we've actually been looking at [multiplayer] a long time."

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Darrah went on to say that the multiplayer is actually at the heart of many role-playing experiences.

"It's sitting at a table with your friends and playing a pen and paper experience," he said. "It's been a single-player experience on computers for a long time, but Baldur's Gate had multiplayer co-op through the story. This is an attempt to get that feeling back, something you can do, get a fantasy experience, but much more bite-size."

"Skyrim changed the landscape for role-playing games completely" - Mark Darrah

Inquisition's multiplayer mode is limited to a separate co-op experience that does not tie into the main game in any way. You can read more about Inquisition's multiplayer component here.

Also in the interview, Darrah spoke about the impact that the massive success of Bethesda's Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which has sold more than 20 million copies, had on the RPG genre overall.

"Skyrim changed the landscape for role-playing games completely," he said. "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."

Darrah said one reason RPGs are growing in popularity of late is due to the power of new consoles to create bigger, more fleshed out worlds.

"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," he said. "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."

Inquisition launches on November 18 for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PC. Xbox One owners with an EA Access membership ($5/month or $30/year) can play a six-hour trial of the game starting on November 13.

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