The forthcoming Dragon Age 3: Inquisition will be a feast for the eyes, according to BioWare's Neil Thompson, thanks partly to DICE's Frostbite 2 engine, and partly to art direction that avoids certain tedious clichés.
"Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2 were both done using BioWare's own Eclipse engine, and it was starting to creak a little bit when Dragon Age 2 came out," Thompson confessed in an interview you'll read in issue 95, on sale now. "Inquisition is being done on the Frostbite 2 engine and it is an astonishingly powerful engine."
"The Dragon Age artists were always slightly disappointed at how their work was visualised in the final product with Eclipse, but with Frostbite, they've just done some amazing stuff," he went on.
"There was a pre-production period where almost on a weekly basis I'd be sitting in the environment reviews and being blown away by what was coming out - it looks stunningly beautiful. So I think when we do start releasing screenshots, people won't be disappointed."
In Thompson's view, companion series Mass Effect is "the perfect example of a game that transcends its technology", using skilled visual design to hide or make a point of the limitations of the engine. By the sounds of it, Dragon Age 3's art direction is similarly ambitious.
"Can you make fantasy beautiful in a different way? We think we have something special for Dragon Age 3: Inquisition," he mused, adding that the game will shun the "subdued colour palette and harsh brown feel" typical of much current fantasy media.
Inquisition is out later this year, and is hotly suspected to be a next generation console release. Here's Thompson on what the next round of hardware launches will offer, tech-wise.