Bioware reportedly developing Dragon Age 4 only for next-gen consoles and PC

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,217   +883
Staff member
Rumor mill: It appears that EA and Bioware are ready to start fully embracing "next-gen" consoles. While many studios are simultaneously producing last-gen and current-gen versions of their games, one former Dragon Age 4 developer indirectly indicated that the game would only hit PS5, XBSX|S, and PC.

Rumor has it that Bioware's next installment in the Dragon Age franchise will be a "next-gen" exclusive, meaning that Xbox One and PlayStation 4 users will miss out on the fun. The news comes via a Twitter user who happened to notice that Dragon Age 4's former Lead Player Designer Daniel Nordlander listed the game as coming to "PS5/Xbox Series X+S/PC" on his LinkedIn profile.

Nordlander was with Bioware from 2017 to 2020 and previously worked on Anthem, so he should know what platforms will see a Dragon Age 4 release. However, the game is still in early production, thanks to delays and key staff resignations. Bioware and EA have not announced anything about DA4 other than a couple of teaser trailers that don't even list a vague release window. So, for now, it's best to consider next-gen exclusivity as speculatory.

Dragon Age 4 development first started in 2015 under the code name "Joplin." However, when problems arose with Mass Effect: Andromeda, Bioware shifted staff from DA4 to help out. The same thing happened later when the studio was having issues with Anthem. EA eventually scrapped the project in early 2018, prompting several Dragon Age veteran developers to resign from Bioware. The project was restarted and code-named "Morrison." The assumed commitment to next-gen hardware is somewhat refreshing.

Last year's release of next-gen consoles brought something with it we had really not seen before—backporting. While it's relatively common for a studio to remaster or port its older games to the latest hardware, they rarely dumb down newer titles to release on older hardware. However, this appears to be the general trend for many games released this year, next year, and beyond.

Although no studio has definitively stated its reasoning for backporting, external conditions, including the ongoing console shortage and continued pandemic concerns, likely play a factor. Unfortunately, when developers split their resources to produce simultaneously on two platforms (or more), the design of one or both versions can suffer.

Square Enix's Marvel's Avengers and CD Projekt Red's Cyberpunk 2077 are two examples that come to mind. Both last- and next-gen versions of Marvel's Avengers just suffered from poor design in general, and both critics and users largely panned the title. The PS4 and Xbox One versions of Cyberpunk 2077 were unplayable for most on launch. While PC players didn't have nearly as many bugs and performance issues, Sony pulled the PS4 game from its storefront for a time.

Understandably, developers want to reach as many players as possible, but when it comes at the cost of numerous delays and sub-par game quality, is it really worth it? I don't recall anyone complaining that Bethesda did not release a PlayStation 2 version of Skyrim. Players will still buy the game when they eventually upgrade their systems.

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Dimitriid

Posts: 1,338   +2,625
"Understandably, developers want to reach as many players as possible, but when it comes at the cost of numerous delays and sub-par game quality, is it really worth it?"

1) It's shouldn't take much time if any at all to do a PS4 and Xbox one version if you are already doing a PC version: you've got ini settings to turn off the higher fidelity stuff and probably already have things like separate levels of quality for all assets in there: just grab the PS5 version and have a single dev spend like a week tweaking the performance down as if it was the PC version until it runs ok on PS4. Decently coded games can absolutely scale down quite a bit.

If you're competent and our game has enough development time it should be able to scale down: please don't let the incompetent and time pressured devs from CD Projek Red rewrite history with their botched PS4 release.

2) Even if you want to disregard point 1) it depends entirely on when they plan on releasing: anything earlier than late 2023 or 2024 will mean that a lot less people will have a PS5 or a Series X, quite simply because nobody can buy the stupid consoles right now and availability has been terrible for the full year of their release. So if you normally assumed 2 years into the consoles lifespan was good enough to have a decent install base to limit to just the new console, well now you've gotta make it at least 3 if not 4 years instead of just 2.
 

VitalyT

Posts: 6,033   +6,404
This looks like an out-of-wedlock offspring of a Vulcan and an Orc. How did that happen (I don't mean technically)?
 

m4a4

Posts: 2,615   +3,225
TechSpot Elite
1) It's shouldn't take much time if any at all to do a PS4 and Xbox one version if you are already doing a PC version: you've got ini settings to turn off the higher fidelity stuff and probably already have things like separate levels of quality for all assets in there: just grab the PS5 version and have a single dev spend like a week tweaking the performance down as if it was the PC version until it runs ok on PS4. Decently coded games can absolutely scale down quite a bit.

If you're competent and our game has enough development time it should be able to scale down: please don't let the incompetent and time pressured devs from CD Projek Red rewrite history with their botched PS4 release.

2) Even if you want to disregard point 1) it depends entirely on when they plan on releasing: anything earlier than late 2023 or 2024 will mean that a lot less people will have a PS5 or a Series X, quite simply because nobody can buy the stupid consoles right now and availability has been terrible for the full year of their release. So if you normally assumed 2 years into the consoles lifespan was good enough to have a decent install base to limit to just the new console, well now you've gotta make it at least 3 if not 4 years instead of just 2.
It's reeeaaally not that simple. There are some systems that can be built for next-gen hardware that won't work well on older hardware if it's not built for it from the start. And the sheer scale of the game means hundreds of thousands of assets to deal with (art being a big one).
But the fact you think scaling down a PS5 version down to a PS4 version can be done in "like a week" speaks volumes of ignorance. Competent devs build for it from the start (and planning for next-gen only doesn't make them incompetent either).

PS. if anything, CDPR showed why you don't do what you are suggesting (as they didn't initially plan on releasing on older consoles either from what I remember) lol
 

Sausagemeat

Posts: 1,055   +875
1) It's shouldn't take much time if any at all to do a PS4 and Xbox one version if you are already doing a PC version: you've got ini settings to turn off the higher fidelity stuff and probably already have things like separate levels of quality for all assets in there: just grab the PS5 version and have a single dev spend like a week tweaking the performance down as if it was the PC version until it runs ok on PS4. Decently coded games can absolutely scale down quite a bit.

If you're competent and our game has enough development time it should be able to scale down: please don't let the incompetent and time pressured devs from CD Projek Red rewrite history with their botched PS4 release.

2) Even if you want to disregard point 1) it depends entirely on when they plan on releasing: anything earlier than late 2023 or 2024 will mean that a lot less people will have a PS5 or a Series X, quite simply because nobody can buy the stupid consoles right now and availability has been terrible for the full year of their release. So if you normally assumed 2 years into the consoles lifespan was good enough to have a decent install base to limit to just the new console, well now you've gotta make it at least 3 if not 4 years instead of just 2.
The PS5 is the fastest selling console in history. What you’re saying isn’t quite accurate, there are people who have managed to get a PS5 and Xbox Series X, millions of people, in July Sony had sold 10 million PS5s. And these are going exclusively to gamers, there are no miners buying up PS5s (correct me if I’m wrong, I really wouldn’t be surprised if miners have managed to mine on consoles at this point). Sony have an install base. Not to mention the millions on PC.

This is good news, our games won’t be held back by needing to be able to run on the god awful CPU that the Xbox one and the PS4 has. Developers will have a better minimum spec and that should mean higher fidelity games.
 

Watzupken

Posts: 385   +356
1) It's shouldn't take much time if any at all to do a PS4 and Xbox one version if you are already doing a PC version: you've got ini settings to turn off the higher fidelity stuff and probably already have things like separate levels of quality for all assets in there: just grab the PS5 version and have a single dev spend like a week tweaking the performance down as if it was the PC version until it runs ok on PS4. Decently coded games can absolutely scale down quite a bit.

If you're competent and our game has enough development time it should be able to scale down: please don't let the incompetent and time pressured devs from CD Projek Red rewrite history with their botched PS4 release.

2) Even if you want to disregard point 1) it depends entirely on when they plan on releasing: anything earlier than late 2023 or 2024 will mean that a lot less people will have a PS5 or a Series X, quite simply because nobody can buy the stupid consoles right now and availability has been terrible for the full year of their release. So if you normally assumed 2 years into the consoles lifespan was good enough to have a decent install base to limit to just the new console, well now you've gotta make it at least 3 if not 4 years instead of just 2.
It may sound easy, but I don't really think it is that straight forward as to lowering graphical details. The main issue with the older console is the ancient CPU which is not even comparable to an Intel Atom back in those days. So with CPU being a severe bottleneck, lowering game settings or resolution will hit a snag very quickly. I doubt even FSR can do any meaningful improvement here. Even if you can reduce the graphic settings, there is a base as to how low you should/ can go. You certainly don't want the base to make a new game look like its from 2 or more generations ago.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 1,338   +2,625
It may sound easy, but I don't really think it is that straight forward as to lowering graphical details. The main issue with the older console is the ancient CPU which is not even comparable to an Intel Atom back in those days. So with CPU being a severe bottleneck, lowering game settings or resolution will hit a snag very quickly. I doubt even FSR can do any meaningful improvement here. Even if you can reduce the graphic settings, there is a base as to how low you should/ can go. You certainly don't want the base to make a new game look like its from 2 or more generations ago.
Not saying those things are not a problem, that's why I made sure to include phrases like "coded properly" or among those lines several times: Just because you *can* increase things that are not necessary like a greater number of draw calls and less diligent occlusion culling doesn't means the solution should always be "throw more hardware at your lazy development"

Now for a company like Bioware it probably means EA wants them to only use Frostbite or some other engine and we know how that caused problems for them in the past and well, looks like not only in the past if I had to guess.

So to amend my original line of comments it's probably more fair to direct it at EA and not strictly at Bioware but yeah: they could use other engines better optimized for open world games with worst looks because well, it's an RPG it's supposed to be gameplay first looks second.
 

Tom Yum

Posts: 134   +297
PS. if anything, CDPR showed why you don't do what you are suggesting (as they didn't initially plan on releasing on older consoles either from what I remember) lol
Cyberpunk was always intended as a PS4/XB1/PC game from inception, but due to development delays PS5/XBSX was added later as the launch schedule overlapped. That is why the PS5/XBSX versions are actually the PS4/XB1 versions running in compatibility mode, with native versions expected early next year. CP2077's mistake was getting carried away with the PC version to the point it could no longer scale back to run on the PS4/XB1, and then trying to hide that fact until after launch by only allowing launch reviews of the PC version.



 

m4a4

Posts: 2,615   +3,225
TechSpot Elite
Cyberpunk was always intended as a PS4/XB1/PC game from inception, but due to development delays PS5/XBSX was added later as the launch schedule overlapped. That is why the PS5/XBSX versions are actually the PS4/XB1 versions running in compatibility mode, with native versions expected early next year. CP2077's mistake was getting carried away with the PC version to the point it could no longer scale back to run on the PS4/XB1, and then trying to hide that fact until after launch by only allowing launch reviews of the PC version.
Ah, right. They did always intend on releasing on (now) last-gen. Must've got it mixed up with another game.

But yeah, at the least, it's an example of not properly considering the lowest common denominator (PS4) during development.
 

Yenega

Posts: 302   +202
Sounds great however I don't believe it, millions of sales will be lost, especially because PS5/XSX availablity is terrrible. If true, the game probably wont launch before 2024+ (mid cycle of current gen consoles, or more like 60%) and we will probably have PS5 Pro and upgraded XSX by then too
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,848   +4,515
It's reeeaaally not that simple. There are some systems that can be built for next-gen hardware that won't work well on older hardware if it's not built for it from the start. And the sheer scale of the game means hundreds of thousands of assets to deal with (art being a big one).
But the fact you think scaling down a PS5 version down to a PS4 version can be done in "like a week" speaks volumes of ignorance. Competent devs build for it from the start (and planning for next-gen only doesn't make them incompetent either).

PS. if anything, CDPR showed why you don't do what you are suggesting (as they didn't initially plan on releasing on older consoles either from what I remember) lol
Incorrect, CP2077 was always planned for the xbone/PS4. At current date there is no PS5/series X verison, just upscalled previous gen versions. It started development, if you believe CDPR, nearly half a decade before the PS5 was announced.

People need to stop this "CP2077 wasnt meant for last gen systems". It's blatently ignorant. CP2077 is just a shoddily put together product, no more no less.
 

m4a4

Posts: 2,615   +3,225
TechSpot Elite
Incorrect, CP2077 was always planned for the xbone/PS4. At current date there is no PS5/series X verison, just upscalled previous gen versions. It started development, if you believe CDPR, nearly half a decade before the PS5 was announced.

People need to stop this "CP2077 wasnt meant for last gen systems". It's blatently ignorant. CP2077 is just a shoddily put together product, no more no less.
...Did you read the rest of the comment section?