Veilguard Unveiled: An Hour with the Next Dragon Age

Dragon Age The Veilguard Hero Image

It’s been 10 years since the groundbreaking Dragon Age: Inquisition launched on Xbox One, and for those of us steeped in the world of Thedas, this past weekend brought us something new to savor – and the promise that our wait for more is nearly at an end. First, Bioware popped up to announce that what was once referred to as “Dragon Age: Dreadwolf” is to be formally known as Dragon Age: The Veilguard.  

The game then resurfaced at the Xbox Games Showcase on Sunday with a first look at the companions who join you on your quest, ranging from familiar face Harding, a Scout seen barroom brawling with Varrick, to Bellara, the Veil Jumper seen, well, jumping through The Veil. Behind closed doors at Summer Games Fest Play Days, I would soon see much, much more, during a nearly one hour look at Dragon Age: The Veilguard

The demo, driven by Creative Director John Epler, kicked off from the very beginning of the game. Before the game, really, with a full run through of perhaps the most thoughtful character creator I’ve ever seen, aligning with Bioware’s key game pillar of “be who you want to be.” 

Dragon Age The Veilguard Screenshot

Players will begin by selecting their race from Dragon Age staples like elves, qunari, humans, and dwarves, with the option to customize their appearance extensively or select from detailed presets. From there, one can remix their avatar from expected options like facial features to less common toggles such as heterochromia. The body shape selector is a series first, and I even spied a larynx customizer (an industry first?). Clear effort was put into a diverse selection of detailed hairstyles, emphasizing that commitment to player expression. 

In a thoughtful touch, players may preview their character in various lighting scenarios and outfits before finalizing their creation, reducing the likelihood of wanting to re-roll the first time they see how they look in a dimly-lit tavern. With all the effort that’s gone into making sure your character looks exactly how you’d like them to, I was pleased to learn that the game includes a “hide helmet” option for cutscenes; let me see that much-fussed-over mug in every situation, thank you.  

From there, we dove into class and specializations, netting out with a Human Rogue member of the Shadow Dragons, a group of rebel mages – and off we went into the world.  

Dragon Age The Veilguard Screenshot

The story begins with your quest to confront the Dread Wolf, Solas, in the Tevinter capital, a magical nation often referenced in Dragon Age, but never visited until now. While it’s natural to expect visual improvements in a series last seen a decade ago, I couldn’t help but marvel at just how good it looks. The city’s visual design is captivating, featuring a floating panopticon monitoring the city in an oppressive manner, reminiscent of Sauron’s gaze.  

Before long, chaos erupts as Solas attempts to unravel the Veil, the mystical barrier separating the physical world from the more ethereal Fade, and our journey to Guard said Veil begins in earnest. As monsters stampeded through the city, I got several looks at combat mechanics, which blend strategy and real-time action. I challenged demo driver Mr. Epler to parry attacks great and small, which he did with aplomb via the LB button, also making use of melee attacks and a regenerating source of rogue’s arrows.  

Dragon Age The Veilguard Screenshot

As our Rogue unlocked his first ability, Static Strikes, I got a first look at the ability wheel, which now pauses the action fully as you plan your next move. While abilities can be triggered immediately without entering the ability wheel, this powerful wave attack highlighted the importance of positioning – well-aimed Static Strikes can tear through multiple enemies at once. You’ll also use this wheel to direct your companions’ powers and target selection. 

As the demo progressed, we met and were joined by Neve (“The Detective”), and eventually caught up with Solas, setting off a cataclysmic moment better experienced than described here. And with that, our demo came to a close, leaving me with only a longing to see more Dragon Age: The Veilguard and another gaze towards the “Coming Fall 2024” end slate of the reveal trailer

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Dragon Age™: The Veilguard

Electronic Arts

Welcome to Dragon Age™: The Veilguard. Enter the world of Thedas, a vibrant land of rugged wilderness, treacherous labyrinths, and glittering cities – steeped in savage combat and secret magics. Now, the fate of this world teeters on a knife's edge. Thedas needs a new leader; one they'll never see coming. You’ll forge a courageous fellowship to challenge the gathering storm. Friendship, drama, and romance will abound as you bring striking individuals together into an extraordinary team. Become the leader and light the beacon of hope in their darkest moments. Full reveal Summer 2024.