BioWare’s Anthem Has All but Shelved Dragon Age
Not long ago, BioWare witnessed an internal redistribution of labor to facilitate smooth development of Anthem. Naturally, this made many fans ponder the fate of the studio’s other franchise, Dragon Age. We knew the next installment would witness slow development, but changes in the studio even led to creative director Mike Laidlaw’s leaving. According to him, his departure may have prompted a reboot of the game.
Laidlaw recently spoke at GDC 2018, revealing his reasons for leaving BioWare. According to him, there was no better time for his departure since it would have the smallest possible impact. The team committed to the next Dragon Age was already down to a “small skeleton crew”; thus, he knew there would be minimal change as a result of his leaving.
“I wanted to try a new challenge, and I knew that [the staff reassignments] would change the date,” Laidlaw said. “I was going to have a very small skeleton crew, and I’m lucky because Patrick Weekes is an exceptional lead writer, Daniel Kading is an exceptional lead designer. There were two very veteran designers who could hold a vision, and it was going to move down to a very small team.
“I thought if I’m ever gonna go, this is the least disruptive time for me to leave. So I would be stunned if whatever plan I had remained completely unchanged.”
Of course, we have seen what happens when studio heads leave a project. Twice already, Mass Effect suffered as a result of such changes. We saw Mass Effect 3’s ending bungled after the lead writer departed the studio, then saw Andromeda’s design suffer after Casey Hudson and other heads left BioWare Montreal to their devices. The latter game saw multiple shifts in development.
“Very likely they went through a redesign phase, that’s pretty normal. And I’ve heard reboot, but I’m not sure what that means contextually,” Laidlaw continued. “I would find it unlikely to be a new Star Trek kind of thing. It’s more likely that the existing plans will be re-examined in light of existing leadership.”
Time will tell how the fourth Dragon Age is ultimately affected by internal developments over at BioWare. Considering the emphasis on Anthem, we may not know for a while. Stay tuned.