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Five things you need to know about Dragon Age: Inquisition’s Multiplayer

Dragon Age: Inquisition is coming on November 18, but the final version will be a bit more substantial than you might have thought. Besides including an absolutely behemoth single player campaign (where you’ll lead a party of heroes against some of the nastiest monsters Thedas has ever seen), you’ll also be teaming up with friends in a franchise-first multiplayer mode. How does it work? We had a chat with Aaryn Flynn, GM of BioWare, who ran us through what makes this cooperative experience so unique. Here’s everything you need to know to get caught up.

It’s separate from the single player experience. Don’t expect to see any of your friends popping into your single player campaign while you’re trying to save Thedas and build up the Inquisition-- Dragon Age Multiplayer is its own mode within Dragon Age: Inquisition. And because it’s different, you don’t need to play one to understand or enjoy the other. “There’s no requirement or expectation that you play Dragon Age Multiplayer,” explained Flynn. “No story content in the single player campaign is affected by what you do in Dragon Age Multiplayer.”

It has action-packed, four-player co-op. Not unlike Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer offerings, Dragon Age: Inquisition’s multiplayer is about cooperation, rather than competition – but that’s where the similarities end. While you’re still teaming up with friends and carving through enemies in action-based combat, you’re on the offensive, not the defensive. You’re exploring forests and clearing dungeons, fighting enemies and looting items to equip your characters with fancy new gear. There are 12 characters to choose from, too, letting you decide which breed of heroes you want to take into battle.

The team experimented with multiplayer soon after Dragon Age: Origins. Though it might feel weird to hear about the multiplayer for the first time this close to release, the idea has been around for some time. “When we prototyped working on the Frostbite engine after Dragon Age: Origins was released, we’d used a four player co-op game as the fundamental experience, since Frostbite is natively multiplayer,” Flynn said. “That early work helped convince us that we could build a fun, worthwhile game.”

The focus on exploration is based on early fantasy role playing. Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer was killer, so what prompted BioWare to take Dragon Age’s co-op in a different direction? According to Flynn, it’s due to the origins in fantasy gaming. “Making multiplayer more exploratory harkens back to the dungeon crawling adventures that really began fantasy role playing. Much of that experience is in single player as well, but winding your way through a dungeon with friends is a unique experience that needs its own mode to really capture.”

At one point, a glitch left a poor dwarf totally covered in filth. Fun fact: not everything immediately works as intended in game development. It’s an iterative process, and sometimes produces some hilarious problems (that are, thankfully, fixed before you ever see the game. Dragon Age Inquisition’s multiplayer is no different, and one specific instance focused on one of the dwarf characters. “At the start of each match, the poor little guy was getting absolutely covered in dust and dirt. We couldn’t figure out where it was coming from, but he was filthy,” Flynn said. “It turned out that at the start of the match, players were ‘falling’ into the level and landing at the start point. This landing actually triggered a giant dirt cloud to be kicked up, covering the characters. But because the dwarf was smaller, he was getting by far most of the dirt!”

Cool, right? Inquisition already looked like one of the best games of the year, but the addition of dungeon-crawling multiplayer definitely looks like it should help keep you coming back for more time and time again. Plus, there’s loot – and who doesn’t love loot?! And speaking of loot, you'll love the Dragon Age: Inquisition Digital Deluxe Edition, which comes with a hefty bag of goodies to use in Inquisition's campaign.