After whispered promises and rumours, we were finally given a sneak peek into the world of the next Dragon Age at the end of 2020. Despite its stunning imagery, and the return of everyone’s favourite dwarven rogue, the teaser left us with more questions than ever before.
Back in 2014, Dragon Age: Inquisition allowed us to finally see the effects of Anders’ extremism and we were given the chance to right the wrongs of a war that he started back in Kirkwall during the closing act of Dragon Age II. There’d always been stirrings of unrest between the series’ mage and templar factions even as we roamed Ferelden as a Grey Warden in Dragon Age: Origins, but in Inquisition this was where we’d end that conflict. To bring peace and equality.
Now, six years and three lots of feature length DLC later, we’re more than ready for a new Dragon Age. We have new scores to settle — Solas, we’re looking at you. I could go into detail about the betrayal we all felt when we learned of Solas’s true identity, but that would be a feature in itself, so while Solas and his lies are an important piece of the puzzle, it’s the news that we’re getting another new hero that has us asking one extremely important question: Why?
When the BioWare’s Trespasser DLC ended, the Inquisitor was a hand down, forced to make the choice whether to follow Solas as a friend or as an enemy. Yet when the teaser trailer for Dragon Age 4 dropped, our beloved Varric informed us that we’re going to be playing as someone different. We aren’t chosen by fate, we’re not magical, we’re just a nobody that happens to be in the right (or wrong) place at the right time. It’s fair to say that our beginning will be more akin to how Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II start out: our hero will be plucked from their life and thrown in at the deep end. I’d be lying if I claimed that hearing this didn’t pique my curiosity, but it also caused alarm bells to sound as well.
Since the birth of the Dragon Age series, we’ve been given three different heroes with each game. These unique characters have taken us down the twisted roads of Ferelden, and beyond. Consequently, we’ve been conditioned to expect a different hero when a new game is released because that’s become the convention of the series. The thing is, while a new hero for the next game in the series won’t unusual when compared with its predecessors, it feels like an odd choice following the events of Inquisition.
What’s become of The Inquisitor? Has their mark finally killed them? Are they living happily ever after, or have they disappeared into the Wilds? If this new game gives our Inquisitor nothing more than a fleeting cameo, I would feel like everything we worked for during the third game was almost for nothing.
When The Warden was name-dropped during DA:I it stung as we understood why this custom player character didn’t make a surprise appearance on any of the quests. Although they’d risked their life to end the Blight, their legacy wasn’t deeply intertwined with the events taking place during Inquisition. We didn’t relish missing a chance to see our first hero again, but we easily forgave the decision because it ultimately made sense. What wasn’t as easy to overlook, however, was the awkward cameo Dragon Age II’s Hawke received. As much as it pleased me to see my Hawke alive and well, the fact that they appeared for no other than the purpose of a brief but sizeable exposition of lore felt wrong.
Although DA:I wasn’t Hawke’s story to tell. Hawke had both witnessed the Chantry explosion that triggered the unrest of DA:I, and battled the game’s main antagonist, Corypheus, in a previous DLC. They’d influenced countless decisions that impacted the DA:I world, yet were given a lacklustre presence. It was an insult that only worsened when players were forced to choose whether they’d died in the Fade or survived to potentially help the shamed Grey Wardens – such a choice wasn’t worthy of Hawke. Just doing away with The Inquisitor would be similarly tough to take without a damn good reason.
I, like many fans, grew attached to The Inquisitor. The possibility that their story has ended and that only Varric remains to carry on its legacy is a difficult pill to swallow. When I finished Trespasser, I was excited at the prospect of being able to play as my Inquisitor again in a sequell, especially given the relationship I’d built with Solas; there was a depth and complexity there that would make every decision all the more heart-breaking. We’d be building on the pain of having romanced and/or built a friendship with a troubled Solas, only to later discover that he was to be our new enemy. Nobody can deny that such a tale would have been an epic tragedy, one that Dragon Age fans would have relished with bittersweet affection. Sadly, that seamless continuation and familiarity isn’t meant to be.
I don’t hate the idea of a new hero, nor am I denying the excitement I feel at simply knowing the next game is definitely happening. This is more about wishing that the rule of a new hero had been challenged. We travelled beyond the confines of not one but two countries to stop the world ending in DA:I, so how can our Inquisitor merely be put to rest and concluded?
The only possible explanation is that Trespasser was intended to neatly tie up all loose ends that The Inquisitor had caused. If that was the DLC’s aim, however, it failed. Although we had the chance to enjoy the company of our love interest and other companions, we had murderous Qunari, the wandering trails of Solas, and then the shocking news that he intended to remove the Veil. Basically, chaos everywhere in true Dragon Age fashion. This chaos left the future of The Inquisitor very much open, meaning that the argument that Trespasser was a definite ending for this character simply isn’t viable.
Until more trailers are released, we’re nothing more than a community waiting for BioWare to drop more breadcrumbs to follow. Nonetheless, while speculation is the fuel of our theories, one absolute we can take comfort in is that Varric will be standing beside yet another hero, crossbow in hand and quips aplenty.