The first Dragon Age 3 screenshot was revealed last night at the Bradford Animation Festival, attended by Eurogamer.
BioWare art and animation director Neil Thompson showed off the image as part of a talk designed to highlight how video game art has progressed throughout the years.
He first showed an image of classic arcade game Space Invaders, then two images of Mass Effect 3 and then the first screenshot of Dragon Age 3, saying his talk would be about how we got from here as an interactive screen to this, and to this, and ultimately to this.
That is Dragon Age: Inquisition, he said. It's the first time anyone has seen a frame of it outside BioWare studios.
It didn't stay up on the screen for long though - Thompson moved past it after just three seconds. But, thankfully, one fan managed to take a snap and posted in on the BioWare forum (higher resolution images may be available in the future, we're told).
After his insightful presentation, in which he discussed his time at Psygnosis, Sony Liverpool and Bizarre Creations, Thompson answered a question from the crowd about how the Frostbite 2.0 engine is affecting the creation of Dragon Age 3.
Mass Effect was done on Unreal of course, he replied. Dragon Age was done on the proprietary engine Eclipse. I think anyone who played Dragon Age 2 would agree that engine was starting to creak a little bit by the time that was released.
Obviously Frostbite is the Battlefield engine built by DICE. It's a beautiful, beautiful engine. And what we've found is an improvement with DA3, is the artists who were really battling with the Eclipse engine have just embraced Frostbite. The work they're doing now is stunning.
I think the screenshot I showed earlier is pretty stunning. That's unusual for pre-production. Usually you don't get to that kind of quality until a week before gold master.
He continued: It makes my job easier because then it's all about discussing the aesthetic and what you want to achieve. When you're a character artist or an environment artist you're focusing on a small aspect of the greater whole of the game. As an art director you're concerned about the whole, the frame and everything it contains and how everything sits and the consistency. An engine like Frostbite allows you to focus more on that rather than the technological challenges of just getting the damn thing to run.
Much is already known about Dragon Age 3: Inquisition, due out autumn 2013. We know Dragon Age 3 had longer pre-production than either Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect or Dragon Age 2. And one level in Dragon Age 3 is said to be as big as all of Dragon Age 2's levels.
Fans on the BioWare forum are already speculating about what this latest screenshot shows, with some suggesting the statue is Andrastian. BioWare is yet to announce which platforms Dragon Age 3 will launch on. Is it a cross-generation title?