I've always enjoyed the mystery and menace of the Fade, Dragon Age's twisted ethereal plane. It offers magical power, but it bites, fangs shaped as malicious demons ready to entice and deceive ambitious minds. And they do, and so the world fears magic for the corruption and destruction it tempts. Templars police the study and practice of magic but tensions, strained to breaking point, have snapped - torn by the events of Dragon Age 2 and the events of novel Dragon Age: Asunder. In third game Dragon Age: Inquisition, the world is at war. And the Fade is at the heart of it all, its demons threatening to spill through a great tear in the belly of the world of Thedas.
Who's to blame? What is the real evil at work here? Your job, as founder and leader of the Inquisition, will be to find out.
That's the set up. But what elevates the whole thing is that developer BioWare can't afford to mess this one up. The world loved Dragon Age: Origins but the world was dubious about Dragon Age 2. It was rushed, it wasn't as deep, it wasn't as varied. A better console production, yes, but too much that way inclined? BioWare's old PC audience was not amused.
'Who is this developer that now calls itself BioWare?' That's the question on a lot of lips. Now co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk have left, who really calls the shots - EA? Dragon Age: Inquisition will be the first proper product of the post-Muzyka and Zeschuk era, so there's a lot riding on it. Question is, will BioWare tread carefully or stride confidently?
Fortunately, the signs are good. The game was delayed a year to autumn 2014 so that multiple playable races, among other things, could be added. 'That's what the core audience wanted,' BioWare said, and 'we've listened' - 'we know you didn't really like Dragon Age 2, so Inquisition will be more like Origins'. Party members in Inquisition are customisable, as is the historical state of the world. There's base building, a base-camp replacement that will make you "freak out", there's a tactical view, there are numerous varied environments, there are mounts, it's open-world - tick, check, tick, check and everyone should be happy.
Inquisition should also finally bring the Dragon Age series onto a visual par with the stunning sci-fi Mass Effect series, now DICE's capable Frostbite 3 engine underpins the action - and the video evidence we've seen so far backs this up. Whether developing the game for five platforms - PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360 - simultaneously causes problems, we'll have to wait and see.
All of that wrapped in the kind of emotional adventure BioWare is famed for. It will be good, but can it be great?