On February 4, a Reddit user by the name revanchisto shared purported screenshots and a brief gameplay clip (opens in new tab) of Bioware’s upcoming Dragon Age sequel, Dreadwolf. Revanchisto has since taken their images and video down, but you can still see some of them live on Twitter from user @mintsoir (opens in new tab), as well as shared by the author Felipe Pepe (opens in new tab). We have reached out to EA for comment and confirmation of the leak, and will update this story when we hear back.
Looking at the leaked Dragon Age: Dreadwolf screenshots and videos, one game immediately jumps to mind: Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin pic.twitter.com/rRmbGLEFx1February 5, 2023
Location Spoilers for Dreadwolf to follow
The extant gameplay clip and screenshots show an elf warrior rocking a sword and board fighting through a stone vault. The UI indicates that this is Weisshaupt Fortress, the legendary home base of the Grey Wardens in the Anderfels, far to the north of Origins’ Ferelden. This is surprising, but also not too far away from Dreadwolf’s previously-confirmed setting of Tevinter, and I could see this Weisshaupt level as a classic Bioware Candlekeep/Endar Spire/Ostagar opening area separate from the rest of the game.
This unnamed elf warrior (what a suboptimal build combo!) tangos with some Darkspawn-looking opponents, deploying a gnarly drop kick ability as well as a charged sword attack. The combat features a closer in third person camera—not quite God of War (2018) close, but still a lot more intimate than in Inquisition. The combat looks fully actionized, the kind of Soulslite dodging, blocking, and positioning from God of War or, as Pepe points out, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. Your combat abilities are mapped to controller face buttons in a similar fashion to Inquisition, and I also spy what seems to be a reprisal of Inquisition’s charging ultimate ability meter.
The version of Dreadwolf’s inventory we see reminds me a lot of Inquisition or Dragon Age 2: it’s very minimalist and abstract, with clean lines and a kind of goopy, swirling cosmic background. A full 3D character model stands between slots for armor, helmets, weapons, and accessories, with some of these obscured by a tooltip popup for a “Connected Templar Shield.” Curiously, it has a lore blurb connecting it to the Mortalitasi (opens in new tab) order of Thedas’ nation of Nevarra.
Back on Reddit (opens in new tab), Revanchisto describes this gameplay as showing a Darkspawn attack on Weisshaupt, and says that it comes from a “kind playtester” of this early build. They describe the combat as being “completely real time” and inspired by the God of War reboot series, with Mass Effect-style squad commands instead of direct party control. Revanchisto also notes a “vastly improved” quality of combat animations compared to Bioware’s previous work.
This leak certainly appears legitimate, at least at this juncture, and it potentially corroborates some Dreadwolf details from a recent Insider Gaming (opens in new tab) report. Insider described Dreadwolf as still struggling to slough off some of the live service trappings from its early development, but claims it adheres to a classic Bioware campaign structure, with a big focus on building out a band of followers at a home base hub area. Insider also described a combat system in line with what we see in this leak, saying it most closely resembles Final Fantasy 15.
dragon age dreadwolf leaks //gonna put the video underneath this tweet too pic.twitter.com/3NhpJy3hYvFebruary 5, 2023
We’re likely still some ways off from Dreadwolf’s release or even a first official gameplay reveal, but I’m more intrigued by this gameplay snippet than anything else. I’ve seen a lot of doom and gloom about this “ruining” Dragon Age with action combat or Bioware “turning its back” on some legacy, but I’ve been around long enough to remember the first time Bioware “betrayed” hardcore RPG fans 20 years ago with a beloved dumbed down, easy console RPG by the name of Knights of the Old Republic.
Quite frankly, even as the company struggled with Inquisition, Andromeda, and Anthem’s world building, characters, and pacing, Bioware’s continued to be really good at making action RPGs, while by my reckoning the only truly excellent tactical party experiences it’s produced since Baldur’s Gate 2 have been Origins and, weirdly, Dragon Age 2’s Legacy (opens in new tab) expansion. I’m a Bioware half-full kind of guy, and I’ve got a lot of hope for Dreadwolf in whatever form it takes. It also has to be said that it’s not exactly fair to condemn a game based on surreptitiously-acquired in-progress gameplay footage.
More worrying for me has been the company’s exodus of senior talent (opens in new tab) in recent years, as well as Dreadwolf’s reported initial focus as a live service game. If anything, I feel like Dreadwolf’s moment-to-moment combat couldn’t be in more capable hands, with this gameplay leak confirming that suspicion for me. I only hope the team is able to endure this long, seemingly troubled development and deliver in the character and story department. You know, your cool circle of digital friends you can have inappropriate workplace relationships with.