Really looking forward to this, personally.
Dragon Age: Origins will be the next big title from BioWare, creators of Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Jade Empire, Star Wars: KOTOR, and Mass Effect. It is described as a spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate while also reinventing the fantasy RPG genre, taking elements from BG and renovating upon them in a high-tech system while putting lots of new mechanics in.
This is not D&D; rather it's a brand new setting created entirely by Bioware with a new rule system. The story is described as a "dark heroic fantasy" and will take influences from George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, among others. "An epic tale of lust, violence, and betrayal" that takes place in a gigantic world (said to be over twice the size and scope of Mass Effect) where death is lurking just around every corner.
The Darkspawn, a race of demonic beings usually residing deep beneath the surface of the earth, are emerging in massive waves - a rare event known as a Blight, the first one in generations. "The survival of humanity rests in the hands of those chosen by fate. You are a Grey Warden, one of the last of an ancient order of guardians who have defended the lands throughout the centuries. Betrayed by a trusted general in a critical battle, you must hunt down the traitor and bring him to justice."
One of the cool new things in DA:O is the Origin stories. Upon character creation, the player selects one from six possible Origins for the character. That Origin represents who your character is, where he or she comes from, their station in the world, exactly how you joined the Grey Wardens and more. You then get to play out your Origin, a sequence that serves as the introduction to the game and takes place in the first couple of hours of gameplay or so, during which you will be faced with many important decisions that will drastically affect your experience throughout the entire game. The possible Origins are very diverse and as such in one playthrough your experience may be very different from the next; for example, NPC's will treat you with respect if you play a human, but may instead treat you with disdain or even near-hostility if you play an elf (elves are considered second-class citizens in human lands in the world of DA:O).
The six origins are: Human Noble, City Elf, Dwarf Commoner, Dwarf Noble, Mage, and Dalish Elf. Each Origin will start in a different location appropriate to it: a Dwarf Noble will start as a member or a royal family, but a Dwarf Commoner may start on the streets. During your Origin introduction you will meet important characters who will return later on in the game, some of whom as adversaries.
DA:O is also said to have the most powerful facial customization tool Bioware has created to date.
Unlike previous BioWare games there is no tracking of alignment at all; neither is there a sense of clear "good" and clear "evil", the developers explicitly put emphasis on staying smack in the middle of the "morally gray" area. BioWare promises lots of difficult choices that carry significant consequences, including changing the world around you, and possibly even turning your own party against you.
Combat will draw a lot from Baldur's Gate; players may view the world from a top-down "tactical" angle like in BG, and pause whenever they like to issue orders, like in every other Bioware game; but they may also zoom in for a closer look and manage things from there.
Another cool thing to look for is the spell combos. Magic is powerful in the world of DA:O and spells may even be used in synergy with one another to create new and special effects. Cast a Grease spell on enemies to create a thick layer of oily muck to slow them down, then set it all ablaze with a quick Fire spell; cast Tornado to create a sudden storm in the middle of the room, then charge it up with some Lightning spells to send bolts everywhere, creating a violent twisting thunderstorm. These are separate spells that may be used in combinations; there are many, many hidden combos waiting to be discovered.
BioWare will include a developer-grade toolset with the game (the same one they're using to create it), which will allow modders and builders to create and publish their own adventures, like in NWN (although unlike NWN, DA:O is a single-player-only game). This toolset is shaping up to be an incredible tool, and Bioware is planning on extensive DLC to continue on upgrading and adding to it in the future.
DA:O is coming up this October.
Edited by Caelumeg, 09 November 2009 - 03:41 PM.