Had BioWare been afforded the luxury of limitless time and resources with which to create Dragon Age: Origins, its then-fledgling RPG series could have garnered itself a reputation far removed from that of a nearly pitch-perfect single-player RPG.
That’s not to say the Grey Wardens’ fight against the Darkspawn would have been a forgettable experience had the end result been any different, of course. But the inclusion of multiplayer in a game loved as much for its solo experience as for its writing and world-building would undoubtedly have scared many away from exploring the world of Thedas.
Speaking to TheGamer, Origins writer Jay Turner reveals BioWare was forced to make the irreversible decision not to have multiplayer in the finished product. A long-awaited judgment call, he says, came about as a result of its inclusion causing numerous issues for the solo portion. Team members concerned only with crafting a memorable story were subsequently able to use the resources reserved for multiplayer implementation, resulting in a richer experience overall.
“There was celebration in the streets at that point because multiplayer was causing all sorts of problems for single-player,” recalls Turner, who further described how a sizable portion of the team were big proponents of its removal.
Despite all of this, creative director Dan Tudge adds that, while several sizable portions of gameplay were cut, multiplayer was always restricted mostly to co-op. This would have been accessible once the single-player portion was seen through to its end. Still, the team was divided on whether multiplayer belonged in Origins in the first place. As lead writer David Gaider recalls:
“A big part of why the team took years to spin around in circles: half the team wanted DAO to be multiplayer-only, the other half wanted single player-only, and never the twain met until finally the issue was resolved.”
BioWare’s story/co-op gameplay structure would be revisited several years later with Mass Effect 3, MMO flop Anthem, and one of BioWare’s most successful games to date, Star Wars: The Old Republic. But Dragon Age has yet to accommodate more than a single human player at once. Will this change with the upcoming fourth game? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Dragon Age 4 is in development for consoles and PC.