I managed to snag a review code for Dragon Age: Inquisition late last week, and spent a good ten hours playing over the weekend. I'm not reviewing the game, so it wouldn't be cool for me to start throwing my opinions around just yet. I'll say this though, pretty sure I'm going to be playing a lot more than ten hours.
Since the launch of the first Dragon Age, back in 2009, role-playing games have changed in terms of scale and expectation, creating ever-more complex systems, larger worlds and deeper characters. The focal point of this change is Nov. 11, 2011, the day that Bethesda launched its landmark RPG The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. This game introduced millions of people to the joys role-playing, which focuses heavily on character development, exploration and large narratives.
It's good to see BioWare, which has contributed its fair share of innovations to the RPG genres over the years, giving Skyrim full credit for its role in altering the landscape and inspiring all role-playing game developers.
"Skyrim changed the landscape for role-playing games completely," said executive producer Mark Darrah in an interview with GamesIndustry. "I mean Oblivion [the previous game in the Elder Scrolls series, released in 2006] probably sold six million units, basically that range, Skyrim sold 20 million. So that, to some degree, changes everything.
"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."
Skyrim changed the landscape for role-playing games completely
Darrah argues that while shooting games have increasingly focused on short and polished experiences, RPGs are going back to offering massive worlds for players to discover.
"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."