I saw the first hour of Dragon Age: The Veilguard and we’ve got a lot to be excited about

1 month ago 68

By now, you’ve probably seen the incredible 20 minutes of opening gameplay for Dragon Age: The Veilguard. In it, we are re-introduced to fan favorite returning characters like Varric, Harding, and not-so-favorites like Solas – the Dread Wolf. It’s a good thing we are getting a reintroduction as it’s been a decade since our last entry in the series. While the trailer below showcased a lot of what we saw behind closed doors, I have a few fun tidbits of context that’ll be of interest to you. Let me tell you a story.

Picking up right where the previous game left off, Solas has imprisoned the Gods inside the Veil. As you might recall, Solas is actually the Elven god known as the Dread Wolf. Regretful of his decision to imprison his fellow gods, now he wants to tear down the veil and undo the damage he caused. Unfortunately, he’s willing to burn the entire world to cinders if that allows him to accomplish that goal. But, like Varric does in his stories, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before you start the game you’ll need a character. There are a wealth of options this time around, including body sliders, a triangle for gradients of body types, presets if you aren’t creative, and a ton of individual touches. The team heard us loud and clear on hair styles, and the Frostbite engine updates have served them well, now with hair that reacts to the wind, looks VERY realistic, and moves with your body. Pronouns and gender selections are available, and everything you select is used in the game and in cutscenes. They want you to be you, whoever that is.

Once you’ve gotten your looks dialed in, it’s time to pick between the usual trio – Rogue, Warrior, or Mage. There are three subcategories for each of the three main classes, with Rogues getting Duelist, Saboteur, and Veil Ranger as choices – we didn’t get to see much about them as the developer quickly zipped past them in the interest of time.

Dragon Age: The Veilguard | Official Gameplay Reveal

Your character is automatically named Rook, but you can be a human, elf, dwarf, or qunari, further personalizing your story with a backstory with the Lords of Fortune, Mortalitasi, Qunari, Shadow Dragons, Veil Jumpers, Grey Warden, Antivan Crows, or Shadow Dragons providing interesting lore choices just as before.

The game starts in Minrathous, the Capital of the Tevinter Imperium. A town where magic is as common as electricity, and used as such, is one where the impossible happens at all times. Majestic towers float lazily in the distance, a magical circlet that looks like a crown casts a watchful eye on the citizens of the Imperium, and the walls are alight with magical symbols and crackling signs. Varric tells us that we are looking for Neve Gallus, a contact we’ll need to figure out what Solas is up to and where he is. Our first choice is almost immediate.

The cutscenes are absolutely fantastic, all clearly motion captured and looking smoother than ever. Rook is given the option to either talk his way into the information on Neve, or simply beat everyone in the bar bloody to get it. We chose the latter and proceeded to hand out punishment to the Tevinter Guard until only one was left standing, with a little help from Varric, of course. As in the previous game, we have a choice on how to engage with Varric, offering either a “I had you on my side” or “It went ok, but it worked out” or a haughty answer that probably sounds cooler in your head than it does out loud. Currying favor with your team is as important as ever as loyalty reaps rewards. Each companion has a full story and inevitably a loyalty mission to cement their commitment to you as a leader.

Information in hand, we head outside only to see that the veil is ripping asunder, spewing demons onto the street below. Engaging with the demons we see our first look at some of the new accessibility options available. There are directional lines you can turn on to indicate the direction of incoming projectiles and their timing, full subtitles with or without character names, and much more should help all players engage on the same footing. The game does support tactical pause and play modes like its predecessor, but given that we are level one and have only two characters in the party right now, going full action game style is appropriate.

Each character has some sort of meter to power their skills. The rogue for example uses a momentum meter, building and depleting equally as quickly as you deal damage. Hitting the ability wheel to select your skill pauses the action so you can make tactical choices. Once again our character just started the game, so at level one we had only one skill – clearly the team is holding their cards close to the vest at this stage.

The events that unfold next are prime spoiler territory, even though they happen very early on in the game, so I won’t spoil it for you here. Suffice it to say, the stakes are not only high, but also very immediate. Your team is in danger, and Solas is far more dangerous than he appears. He will accomplish his mission at all costs.

I came away very excited for Dragon Age: The Veilguard. The dev team was very clear that they learned a lot from Inquisition, and that the game would be far more focused. Gone are the busy work tasks, with a greater emphasis on making each interaction memorable. Yes, there will be side quests, but they promised they won’t be so “fetchy”. We also inquired about the heavier action focused demo, and they promised that we are looking at early gameplay and the tactical gameplay just isn’t what they are showing today – we’ll see that in the near future.

There are a few precious months left and we’ve only scratched the surface of Dragon Age: The Veilguard. The trailers we’ve seen and this first hour hold a lot of promise, but poses questions in equal measure. Will this game be more action focused, or will the promise of a game with a great emphasis on storytelling spell a return to form for Bioware? I’m excited to fall in love with this team’s storytelling all over again, and based on the things I got to see that I can’t tell you about from a spoiler perspective, we’ve all got a lot to be excited about.

Dragon Age: The Veilguard comes to Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, and PC in the fall of 2024.

Stay tuned for a lot more info from Summer Games Fest, and for tons more previews, reviews, tech, and more, right here at GamingTrend.com

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming.

Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter.

Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 28 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes), and an Axolotl named Dagon!

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