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I Saw the First Hour of Dragon Age: The Veilguard, and I'm Excited

At Summer Game Fest 2024, EA and BioWare showed off their upcoming action RPG.

Sean Booker Video Producer
As a Video Producer at CNET, Sean has worked on more videos than he can count. He covers video games and video game hardware along with the occasional electric bike. He covers games both on and off camera, through livestreams, press events, and podcasts.
Expertise Video Games | E-Bikes
Sean Booker
4 min read
Heroes standing before a dragon.

Veilguard promises to keep the dragons in Dragon Age.

EA

During Summer Game Fest 2024, EA and BioWare set up behind-closed-door sessions for its upcoming character action RPG, Dragon Age: The Veilguard. After the roleplaying game was recently renamed, from DA: Dreadwolf, we got our first look at gameplay for this highly anticipated title, which is slated for release this fall. It's been quite a wait. The previous installment, Dragon Age: Inquisition, was released in November 2014.

The preview demo held at the event was strictly hands-off, meaning the other journalists and I weren't able to actually play the game -- instead, we watched as one of the developers played while another gave us context and background information. We got to see the first hour of the game, which included a look at the character creator and the full prologue chapter. 

Read more: Civilization 7, Black Myth: Wukong and the Best Trailers at Summer Game Fest Showcase

Let me just say now: This game is looking great.

Screenshot of Veilguard companions around a table

The game's seven companions.

EA

First off, we saw Veilguard's character creator. You play as a new protagonist named Rook and can choose between four lineages for your character, including human, elf and others. From there you can select one of three classes: rogue, warrior and mage. You'll then be able to pick one of three subclasses that will influence what special abilities your character has access to. Last is your faction choice, which sets up your character's backstory and influences how people will react to you throughout the game's various locations.

Our demo selected the Shadow Dragon Faction, which the developer mentioned would allow for some of the most reactions in the prologue due to its location.

Watch this: Top 5 Trailers From Summer Game Fest 2024

As the prologue began, we joined our heroes chasing after Solas the Dread Wolf, who (spoiler if you haven't played Inquisition) wants to tear open a portal to the world of demons. As you fight your way toward him, you'll come across several types of enemies that require different strategies to exploit their weaknesses. For example, some have additional shields that are weak to ranged attacks. The developers made note that they worked hard to make the confrontation with Solas feel like the final chapter of a game, where the stakes are high and the player's attention will be hooked immediately. 

Rook encounters two of Veilguard's new companions, Neve and Harding. Neve, a magic-wielding detective, has not appeared in a previous game before, but is originally from one of the Dragon Age comics. Harding, a scout who fights with a bow, was a minor character in Dragon Age: Inquisition and has been upgraded to a full companion this time around. 

Following my Summer Game Fest preview, BioWare released a 20-minute gameplay trailer (above) that showed much of what I saw, though I got more of a look at the character creator and other scenes showcasing conversation choices and effects. I also saw a big moment after the gameplay trailer ends that I can't talk about, but I was encouraged by everything I got a look at.

Dragon Age games are famous for the relationships the player develops with their companions. Each of the game's seven companions have their own unique story that will run parallel to the main quest, and you can choose to engage in each as you progress or ignore them entirely. You will often have to make dialogue choices that will affect how your various companions treat you. During the more narrative-heavy choices, the game will also give a bit of context on what you're about to choose, but doesn't go as far as explaining the exact consequences or precisely what will happen thereafter.

Screenshot of a rogue fighting in The Veilguard

The rogue class during a fight.

EA

Combat will feel familiar to fans of previous BioWare titles. As a big Mass Effect player I was able to see many influences. One of the major similarities comes from the Skill Wheel. When holding down RB or R1 (depending on what controller you're using) time will stop and you'll have several skills or spells you can use while targeting the enemy. You'll also have access to two skills or spells for each of your two companions that you can command. For a more seamless, uninterrupted combat experience, you can also assign these skills to shortcuts (such as holding the left trigger and hitting the X button) to quickly use them.

da-ea-abilitywheel-08-5760x3244-rgb-wm

Combat now uses a Skill Wheel.

EA

Despite only seeing about 45 minutes of gameplay, I think Dragon Age: The Veilguard is looking extremely fun. BioWare is once again using EA's in-house Frostbite engine, and it's doing a fantastic job of making the environments and characters look great. I wouldn't expect anything less, considering the game is slated to release this fall. I left my session eagerly wishing I could have spent more time learning about the faction options and seeing how differently they affect this first chapter. 

Dragon Age: The Veilguard is coming to PC via Steam, PS5 and Xbox Series X and S.

Watch this: Everything Announced at Microsoft's Xbox Showcase Event