Since its initial tease back in 2018, Dragon Age 4 has been relatively quiet. Despite the return of Solas and a showcase of Tevinter, not much is known about the game in terms of exact story details (other than cracking an Egg) or even its class system. Presumably, as with past games, it would keep the traditional Warrior-Rogue-Mage structure.
However, many have taken note of the concept art and characters shown so far, and it seems that there may be a wider emphasis on more open or cross-classed characters. For example, multiple characters have been shown in an armor seemingly formed of earth magic while using bows, while others have even been show using magic with bows. This may suggest a Dragon Age 4 class shake-up, but in fact, there’s quite the case for the class system to remain unaltered.
First off, it’s worth discussing how cross-classes, at least in concept, aren’t exactly new to the franchise. Beyond the three core classes, every game has featured specializations, and some of these specializations fundamentally change a class. For example, the Arcane Warrior specialization in Dragon Age: Origins allowed a Mage to wear armor and wield melee weapons, really changing the overall approach to playing a Mage.
Even the Warrior’s Reaver specialization could be seen as a crossover with Blood Magic, though channeled differently with slightly adjusted lore. Dragon Age: Inquisition continued this theme, with the Knight-Enchanter specialization manifesting a sword for Mages and the Tempest specialization giving Rogue’s Mage-like abilities explained through alchemy. All of this is to say that this any unique class combos coming to Dragon Age 4 don’t really have to change anything.
In short, it’s entirely possible the aforementioned Magic-Ranged classes are something akin to an Arcane Archer. It may be a faction and thus a Mage/Rogue specialization that lets them wield ranged weapons with magic. After all, with Dragon Age 4 set in Tevinter, it’s likely player see Mages perform new types of magic that hasn’t been seen before. Overall, with the prominence of Magic in the Imperium, it’ll be interesting to see how magic is used, discussed, and more by hopefully non-magic users in the game.
With that possibility in mind, it does make Dragon Age 4 stepping away from this structure seem far less likely. Reducing Dragon Age‘s classes to something akin to one huge and broad skill tree not only violates lore about Mages and makes unique Warrior factions like the Grey Wardens less unique, but it really risks the identity of the franchise.
Not everything has to be Skyrim, and not everything has to be open to be a fun RPG. Indeed, BioWare RPGs tend to excel in this department with Anthem‘s Javelins being conceptually interesting and Mass Effect‘s Sci-Fi classes being real stand outs(with cross-class distinctions possible there as well), so there’s no need to fix something that isn’t broken.
Inevitably, some day, players will get to dive into Dragon Age 4. It seems they’ll be able to make a Mage that’s purely stand-in-the-back and shoot magic, but it also seems they may be able to specialize into a way of shooting magical arrows as well. It’s an interesting concept, one that fits neatly into the world and mythos of Thedas as it stands. Hopefully, BioWare does innovate on its approach, especially with recent lore discoveries such as the Titans and seemingly- dwarven magic, but there’s no need to abandon the warrior-mage-rogue structure of its world to do so.
Dragon Age 4 is in development.