Will Dragon Age: Dreadwolf save or destroy BioWare?

Dragon Age: Dreadwolf, previously referred to as The Dread Wolf Rises or Dragon Age 4, is the fourth installment of the series (Image via BioWare)
Dragon Age: Dreadwolf, previously referred to as The Dread Wolf Rises or Dragon Age 4, is the fourth installment of the series (Image via BioWare)

BioWare's Dragon Age is a series that has captured and held my interest for more than a decade. The series has spawned several sequels, highlighting its mass acceptance.

Dragon Age was first announced during the 2004 E3 expo. It currently has 34 installments, three of which are video games (plus an expansion), five books, eleven comics, one film, four mobile, browser, or flash games, five novels, one short story collection, and a tabletop role-playing game, and two web series.

Like most of the studio's other titles, Dragon Age is a vibrant mix of deep characters, exotic settings, masterpiece visuals, and music. The progression of its stories, and the inevitable conclusion, are the sum of your choices as the player character.

This is a storied franchise with a strong legacy. Considering what they have released in the last ten years, BioWare's next game arguably could make or break the company.


Since its inception in 1995, BioWare has been a titan of the RPG world. They made their name on such titles as Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Jade Empire, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. From late 2000s through 2010s, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Star Wars: The Old Republic became their main franchises.

As time passed, BioWare began to change in outlook. The tone and style of their stories and gameplay shifted. Some fans credit their acquisition by EA Games as the reason for this, a claim refuted by developers on social media. Still, veterans of the company departed or were reassigned, and new blood came in. Criticism of BioWare, its games, and other tie-in media became more frequent.

Dragon Age 2 reviews were mixed, with many players expressing strong opinions over the characters and their actions while criticizing the updated gameplay and heavy re-use of maps and other assets.

Mass Effect 3 received harsh criticism over its ending, which left many players feeling unsatisfied with the fate of their player character, Commander Shepard. Alongside this, tie-ins such as the novel Mass Effect Deception and the animated film Paragon Lost were ripped for small errors in continuity with the game.

Electronic Arts decided that BioWare would make all future games using their proprietary engine, Frostbite. This added more challenges for the developers trying to figure out the future of their titles while also working on a new IP that would become Anthem.

BioWare's next generation began with Dragon Age: Inquisition

One could say that Dragon Age: Inquisition was the last popular game BioWare made. Released in 2014, the game was poised for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It was rebranded and featured heavily revised visuals compared to the Medieval Europe style of its predecessors.

The narrative tone established previously was lightened up, moving away from grisly and gritty elements and focusing more on the relationships you build with the characters around you in a more open-world setting and a combat system incorporating the best elements of Dragon Age Origins and Dragon Age 2.

Following this success, the EA Games faced terrible luck. Mass Effect Andromeda's release was riddled with bugs and poor animations. It received lambasting from fans suffering from the growing pains of a story without the iconic Commander Shepard and the Normandy crew. Anthem did little to settle discontent with its weak story and lack of player investment.

Gameplay-wise, Anthem felt like a clone of Bungie’s game Destiny and Mass Effect: Andromeda rolled into one package and released bare like Final Fantasy XIV prior to its expansion, A Realm Reborn.

What happens now?

BioWare’s fanbase, critical but loyal, waits expectantly for the next installment of Dragon Age and Mass Effect. Rumors are that Dragon Age 4 was canceled and later restarted, taken back to formula.

The subsequent Mass Effect returns players to the Milky Way, depicting in its teaser trailer a galaxy ravaged by the events of Mass Effect 3 and the visage of returning character Liara T’Soni with a new ship and crew.

Dragon Age 4 was officially announced as Dragon Age: Dreadwolf, focusing primarily on the elvish character Solas, revealed in Inquisition to be the source of the power behind the villain Corypheus.

The mythological figure in the game’s lore known as the Dread Wolf is a Loki-esque trickster god of the ancient elves. Solas’ plan is to bring back the old world of the elves at the expense of the current world.

It is a hefty story that has been building up narratively since the beginning of the series, hinted at in tiny side-quest dialogues, codex entries, and random dialogues by NPCs. The conclusion of this narrative line is the greatest anticipation by fans since the story of Mass Effect 3.

Will the new game live up to expectations?

Several developers currently working on the title were not a part of BioWare when the studio earned its stripes. Many of those veteran developers have moved up or moved on. Opinions about what the development team can or should do are plentiful, and their creative decisions will speak for themselves.

If this version does not click with players and critics, this could be the final nail in the coffin for disgruntled fans. Should the game achieve its goals and plug the crisis areas, anticipation for the upcoming Mass Effect will experience a boost, breathing new life into the studio's momentum.

Disclaimer: This article reflects the opinions of the writer.

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