"everyone immediately thinks of Skyrim".
Instead, explains lead designer Mike Laidlaw, BioWare is describing their third full Dragon Age instalment as a "multi-region game," because of the "extremely large" regions we'll adventure in.
Players, as the Inquisitor, will be "traveling across this chunk of the continent" that BioWare has included.
“Open world” I think is a really loaded term, because everyone immediately thinks of Skyrim and assumes everything will be exactly like Skyrim. In our case, there are extremely large regions you can explore. It’s a multi-region game, which means that you’ll traveling with a world map," BioWare's Laidlaw explained to .
"You’re traveling across this chunk of the continent in which the game is set. And each of the regions is purposeful. It has a reason you would be brought here. It ties back to the story, or at least to the overall themes of the game. “These are my enemies and they’re very active here. I should find out why.”
"That kind of stuff. That means that they aren’t necessarily laden with story, because story is the antithesis of discovery, right? It tends to lead you along. But when you’re discovering things, you should feel like they’re part of the overall game and not random. I would say that it has elements of open world for sure, but it’s something closer to the feel we had in the Baldur’s Gate games or in Origins, even, where it’s larger areas, big spaces, and the chance for you to move around and see a wide variety of different terrains and locales and so on."
Each of the regions are "quite dense," with plenty to be stumbled upon by the player and their party.
"...the goal for me is that when you arrive in an area, you should be able to spin the camera and see a bunch of cool stuff that makes you say, “What’s that?” And you start heading in that direction to identify it. And then over time, there can be reasons, or maybe you’re doing something for a companion or pursuing a lead or something like that, that will bring you back to spaces. Of course, the final stage, then, is things you’ve opened up as new opportunities because the Inquisition has had a presence here," continued Laidlaw.
Sorry there's no "seven-story epic dungeon," but BioWare are writing side adventures to "make sense" in context of the environment it occupies. "If the area is full of bandits and smugglers, you can expect a lot of caves and grottoes and stuff where they’ve tucked their goods away. To me, you shouldn’t evaluate just a single cave."
"The goal for me is that we create an experience. If I feel like, “Oh, wow, this was an elven stronghold one day,” and I keep finding runes and all these things, they all should incorporate and turn into a larger experience where the area and the location is helping me see and experience something that builds up over time."
RPS asked an interesting question; will 'the cave' return for a cameo? "No, I don’t expect that cave will return. I think we’ve probably used it enough," joked the lead designer, referring to the very oft used cave template from Dragon Age 2 where it would be tweaked in various ways throughout the entire game.
Check out thebetween Mike Laidlaw and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Dragon Age: Inquisition releases on PC, Xbox One and PS4 in 2014. It's powered using DICE's Frostbite engine 3.