Dragon Age: The Veilguard Will Bring Back DAII’s Divisive Approach To Romance

Image: BioWare
Image: BioWare

Dragon Age II is a big centerpiece in conversations around video game romance. The 2011 BioWare RPG let players pursue whoever they wanted, regardless of what gender player character they chose. With Inquisition, BioWare opted to represent a wider spectrum of identities, which meant not every love story was accessible to anyone. While both games’ approaches were met with a mix of praise and criticism, it seems BioWare is going back to Dragon Age 2’s approach with the upcoming Dragon Age: The Veilguard (formerly Dragon Age: Dreadwolf).

In an interview with IGN, BioWare GM Gary McKay was explaining why the team decided to change the game’s title from Dreadwolf to The Veilguard, saying this was to bring attention back on the protagonist’s party, rather than focusing on antagonist Solas, the aforementioned Dreadwolf. McKay also talked about the importance of player agency. This included building relationships with your companions. He told IGN, “yes, you can romance the companions you want.” So it sounds like there will be no restrictions based on your character’s gender or race.

“We spent a lot of time making our companions feel authentic based on their own unique experiences within this larger fantasy world, which in turn makes the relationships you form with them feel even more meaningful,” McKay said.” We’ve tapped into Dragon Age’s deep lore and explored its most iconic factions to bring each of the seven companions and their stories to life,” he continued.

BioWare will likely introduce at least some of these characters when the studio releases 15 minutes of Dragon Age: The Veilguard footage on June 11, so we’ll all get a chance to start looking for our next beau. But bringing back Dragon Age 2 ’s free-for-all structure will be a divisive inclusion. As a gay man who sometimes feels like I lack romance options in BioWare’s games (I don’t even like Zevran in Dragon Age: Origins, but he was the only man I could kiss), I’m always happy to hear that everyone, especially queer folks who often get shortchanged, will get an equal slice of the pie. But Inquisition’s larger swath of identities brought a lot to characters like Dorian, whose story dealt with his identity as a gay man in the Dragon Age universe, informed the dynamics of your relationship, and told us new things about in the process. Ultimately, you lose and gain something in either approach, and it’s in the eye of the beholder about what takes priority.

Earlier this year, I talked to developers (including ex-BioWare writer David Gaider) about why making these decisions is more than just a numbers game, and it was fascinating to hear so many perspectives about what goes into that in terms of writing, coding, and resources.


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