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How Bioware hopes to make ‘Dragon Age: Inquisition’ romances more meaningful

Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Photo courtesy of Electronic Arts, used with permission

Gamers have grown accustomed to being given the option to engage in story-based relationships with select companion characters inside Bioware titles. Continuing the trend, Dragon Age: Inquisition will once again feature several characters that players will be able to romance in the next installment of the series. However, as creative director Mike Laidlaw revealed to IGN on Aug. 19, the developer is hoping to make the relationships of Inquisition feel more natural and less like a weighted game mechanic.

Dragon Age: Inquisition
Photo courtesy of Electronic Arts, used with permission

In previous Bioware games, the developer felt that the romance system was too rigid. Players simply met a series of predefined flags that determined whether each character in question liked them or not. Outside of these specific moments, there wasn’t much interaction between the player and their supposed love interest.

To make matters worse, these relationships often culminated in sex and then the brief side story of the gamer’s in-game romance is simply finished. Laidlaw shared Bioware’s desire to move away from this sex-focused limited romance mechanic in order to try to build a more natural and meaningful romance.

The developer used Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us as an inspiration for the updated romances. While Joel and Ellie weren’t in a relationship, the title slowly showed how the pair became closer as the game progressed. The bond between the two felt natural and even evolved logically during gameplay.

This is how Bioware hopes that the new romances of Dragon Age: Inquisition will play out. The developer wants players to feel compelled to continue the romances because it feels meaningful rather than hoping to earn an achievement or receive some useful item. As such, each character in Inquisition will be more attuned to player’s actions in the game instead of just a select few dialog prompts or approval bribes in the form of gifts.

This means that each character will genuinely react to the player throughout the game. After defeating an enemy, fans can expect to hear different responses from characters that they are in a relationship with. This extends beyond simply romance as well. Companions can also become friends with the Inquisitor which can lead to an invitation to go drinking rather than a plea for love.