Free time is a precious commodity. Video games, TV and other media constantly vie for our attention when we've clocked out of work or school for the day. How we spend those precious few hours between EOD and bedtime is a decision not lightly made. With more and more games taking to the bite-sized mobile space or clipping their campaigns between eight and 12 hours, there isn't much need to sink all of our free time into 40-plus hour role-playing games.
Dragon Age: Inquisition will take players between 150 and 200 hours to complete all content, according to BioWare producer Cameron Lee. Dragon Age games have always been long, meaty affairs, but the world has changed since the release of Dragon Age 2. Does BioWare think players who are a few years older and, more than likely, have more life responsibilities will come back to spend more than a full week's worth of time playing one game?
Well, yes. Lee believes that there is still a place for the long game in our current market, and Inquisition has been built with those players in mind. The customary "long game" of BioWare's stories has become something of a genre in and of itself.
"We want to give our players a real world to explore — we want to give them a BioWare story," Lee said. "A really vast, epic BioWare story. That's what we do, and it normally takes 20 to 40 hours anyway to tell the story we want to tell."
Granted, players could stick to the main story and do nothing else, and still find a meaningful experience within Inquisition. But it wouldn't be the same as taking the time to explore Inquisition's every nook and cranny, killing off undead, breaking into abandoned houses, collecting loot and taking out enemies with some really satisfying combat moves. Lots of little things stacked together — from combat to story to romance options — make the Dragon Age games what they are, and skipping over all of it to just get the bare-bones story is actually doing yourself a disservice.
"People could burn through it and just do the main path, but we wanted to have a world that's fully immersive and well-defined for you to explore, discover and get involved in," Lee said. "We want you to see you decision have an impact and take shape in the world.
"We're just making more. More and more and more. And it's all entirely up to the player. It's your world, your game."
In addition to the single-player campaign, players can try their hand in multiplayer, where they can quest with friends and earn more items. Lee said that BioWare began experimenting with multiplayer "quite early" in development, and knew there were possibilities there, but it wasn't implemented until they had a clear story for it. Players will control agents of the Inquisition out questing together, and once those light narrative elements were settled on, BioWare began working within the Frostbite 3 engine to make the "dungeon-delve" multiplayer a reality.
However, these experiences and items will not transfer into the single-player mode. BioWare made the decision to keep these two modes completely separate, even so far as to not let the loot you grab carry over, because not all Dragon Age players may be the online team-game type.
"There's no gameplay connection between them," Lee said. "We wanted that because we didn't want to impact the story in negative ways, because some players may play both modes and some may not."
Dragon Age: Inquisition will launch on Nov. 18 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Windows PC.