A Deep Dive into Dragon Age: Veil Guards Combat, Abilities, Skill Tree, and More

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    If you’re at all familiar with the Dragon Age series, you probably already know that BioWare has experimented a lot with their gameplay. From Dragon Age: Inquisition’s strategy-action mix to a city-based action experience set mostly in Dragon Age II, to the real-time strategy RPG approach to Dragon Age: Inquisition’s strategy-action mix, BioWare hasn’t exactly defined the franchise’s combat. Is. However, one throughline from the original to Inquisition is clear: BioWare apparently wants this franchise to be action but has tried to go for it without abandoning its longtime fans.

    With Dragon Age: The Veilguard, BioWare completes its transition from strategy to real-time action, but thanks to an optional strategy pause and the game’s battle wheel that harkens back to the series’ origins, I think It’s been found to be a very good arena for Dragon Age combat. Of course, it’s hard to tell how Valguard’s action will hold up to being a dozens-hour RPG, but if what I’ve seen so far Seen that’s a clue, the studio is onto something.

    A change in strategy

    “I think the first thing to keep in mind is the fight […] There’s been an evolution in the franchise,” game director Corinne Bushey told me at BioWare’s Edmonton office. “Each entry reimagines what combat is like and I would say our goal was to make sure we had that system. which allowed players to feel like they were actually able to step into the world of Thedas. They are not players watching from afar – they are inside this world. Being this authentic world that’s come to life, the combat system needs to support that, so you’re in control of every action, every block, every dodge, every swing of your sword.”

    Bouche says players complete each swing in real time, with special attention paid to animation swing through and cancel. On the subject of cancellations, I see Busche “bookmark” combos with a quick dash. With this mechanic, players can stop a combo status with a dash for safety and continue the combo from where they left off later. Along with dash, there’s a parry for some classes, the ability to charge moves, and an improved healing system that allows players to quickly apply potions by pressing right on the dpad.

    Bushey says that every character regardless of class will play the same way, in that you perform light and heavy attacks with the same button, use abilities with the same button, and Combos interact with the wheel in the same way. At one point during my demo, we use a sword-and-shield warrior Qunari who fires hipfire and aims his shield to throw it like Captain America while dealing massive damage with the sword. Pressing buttons like a mage can cause magical ranged attacks instead of shields.

    Abilities, such as a warrior’s Spartan-like kick or a mage’s firewall that deals constant damage, add to the player’s repertoire of combat options. Warriors can block incoming attacks, surprising enemies in the process. Rogues have a large parry window, and mages can’t parry at all but instead throw up a shield that blocks all incoming damage as long as they have mana to keep the shield up.

    “It’s just a baseline that allows us to get that level of, ‘I’m actually in this world; I’m a part of it,'” Bushey says. “But again, the ability, the strategy, the ability of my teammates to combine together to execute devastating combos, that’s where the depth and complexity come into play.”

    Abilities and Skills Tree

    Warrior Rook Skill Tree

    This extends to teammates, who bring three abilities (out of their total of five) into combat, of your choosing, which are executed via the quick select button or the pause and play combat wheel. Every time you level up a companion’s relationship, you unlock a skill point to spend specifically on that companion – thus unlocking new combat abilities.

    While companion skill trees are lighter than Rook’s extensive tree, which includes passive abilities, combat abilities, and more, as well as three unique class skill paths, there’s still some customization here.

    You can find the skill tree for Rook and Companions in Valguard’s Start or Pause menu. This menu also includes Veilguard maps, journals, character sheets, and a library pages for lore. Here, you can compare equipment and equip new equipment for Rook and companions, craft weapon loadouts, and customize your abilities and builds through the aforementioned skill tree. can make, which seems relatively easy to understand.

    You won’t find trivia here, “just real numbers,” says Bushey. In other words, a newly unlocked trait can increase damage by 25% compared to armor, but that’s about as deep as the number gets. Passive abilities unlock jump attacks and guarantee critical hit opportunities, while abilities add moves like Firewall and Spartan Kicks to your arsenal. As you scale the skill tree, which is 100% for each class, you’ll work your way closer to unlocking the specialization (which doesn’t take long to max out at level 50). Each class has three specializations, each with a unique ultimate ability. BioWare’s philosophy with the skill tree is “about changing the way you play, not statistical minutiae,” Bushe says.

    Companions in battle

    If you completely ignore allies in battle, they will attack targets, use abilities, and defeat enemies on their own. “[Companions] “They have their own people,” Bushey says. They have their own behaviors, they have their own autonomy on the battlefield, they will choose their own targets. As their plots progress, they’ll learn how to use their abilities more competently, and it feels like you’re fighting alongside these real characters in battle.”

    Speaking to co-prospects, Bushey added, “I see all of Harding’s abilities, and I see all of what Bellara is capable of. And sometimes, I’m exploiting weaknesses in synergy. .can do devastating attacks with Harding, take down the enemy, and then me, as a blocker, I’m taking advantage of the setup they’ve created for me, this organic sense of teamwork. is a game of creation.”

    Bushe says there are more obvious synergies with deliberate combos where certain teammates can play off each other, and you can line up their abilities to do so. That’s what the pause and play war wheel in Well Guard is for.

    In this screen, which pauses the camera and pulls up a glowing combat wheel that highlights the skills of you and your teammates, you can choose abilities, line them up, and target specific enemies. By targeting, the game can strategize with recognizable synergies and combos. Select what you want and release the wheel to view your selection.

    Putting it all together

    During a mission inside the Arlathan Forest following Valgard’s suggestion, Bushey uses Valgard’s dual loadout mechanic. As a stopgap, you can create two weapon loadouts for quick switch-ups between fights. As a Mage Rook, she uses magical attacks to add three stacks of Arcane Build-up to create an Arcane Bomb on a Sentinel, a mechanical set of armor possessed by a demon. If you hit the Sentinel’s Arcane Bomb with a heavy attack, the enemy will deal devastating damage. Once the Sentinel has an Arcane Bomb, Bushey starts hitting heavy on his Magic Staff, then switches to Magic Daggers in Rook’s second loadout, D to dish out some quick light attacks. Access is gained with a quick tap down on the pad, then back to the staff to finish off his attack charge. She then launches a heavy attack, and the arcane bomb explodes in a liquid vortex of green magic.

    “I have seen [Veilguard’s combat] Better with time [and] “I love it,” Bioware general manager Gary McKay told me. I love that balance of fluid action in real time, but also the ability to have depth in an RPG, not just in terms of pause and play, but depth in terms of how you bring your teammates onto the battlefield. What are you going to do with their skill points? What is the loadout you are going to use? It’s all about bringing Rook to the center of the battlefield, and I love that.”

    Former Dragon Age executive producer and Valguard consultant Mark Dara believes that Valguard is the first game where combat is legitimately fun. “What I see in Wellguard is a game that finally closes the gap,” he says. “Unfairly, previous Dragon Age games fell into the realm of ‘combat wasn’t too bad.’ on, but that control and character still comes through in the experience of fighting other people in your party.”

    Watching Busche play several hours of Veilguard gives me the feeling that BioWare has designed a combat system that relies too much on what players want out of it. If you want to mash buttons and use abilities freely when their cooldowns expire, you can probably progress just fine (albeit on the game’s easier difficulties). But if you want to strategize your combos, take advantage of early weaknesses, and minimal allies and Rook loadouts, you can do that too, and I think you’ll reap the rewards of Veilguard. That with a more enriching experience.


    For more information about the game, including exclusive details, interviews, video features, and more, click the Dragon Age: The Veilguard hub button below.

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