That same Dragon Age 4 report from Kotaku that suggested Dragon Age 4 could look similar to Anthem also revealed that the Dragon Age team worked on a version of the game that has seemingly since been canceled or re-worked.
The original version of Dragon Age 4 (codenamed “Joplin”) was reportedly being worked on shortly after the release of Dragon Age Inquisition. In fact, the team working on the game hoped to use the experience they gained from Inquisition (both good and bad) as well as the technology that powered that game to expedite the development of Joplin. Those working on the game said that this mentality of learning from the past helped make Joplin an incredibly exciting project.
According to some of the people who worked on Joplin, it was going to be a much “smaller” game than Inquisition and other Dragon Age titles. To make up for the slightly smaller size, the team planned on designing Joplin in such a way that made decisions more impactful. It sounded like the plan was for your choices to have consequences that would create multiple branching paths that led to various scenarios. Some of these paths may have even resulted in a somewhat premature end game state.
This system of choices would have played directly into Joplin’s planned plot which involved a group of spies traveling through the wizard land of Tevinter Imperium. Throughout the game, these spies would have had the opportunity to participate in a series of heists. These heists would have (ideally) allowed the player to make dynamic decisions which wouldn’t have necessarily followed a scripted path.
So what happened to Joplin? Well, the problems started when BioWare decided to send a good chunk of the Joplin team to work on Mass Effect: Andromeda. That delayed development of the project quite a bit. Things didn’t improve when BioWare then decided to devote more resources to Anthem. It was around that time that the team that remained attached to the project reportedly began to feel like they were going to have a hard time selling EA on the idea of a game that featured few to no online service elements. At some point, Dragon Age 4 adopted a new codename (Morrison) and supposedly adopted additional online features.
While the turbulent nature of Dragon Age 4‘s development means that elements of Joplin might still be incorporated into the final project, we doubt that the final version of the game will look like the original.