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BioWare: next-gen Dragon Age: Inquisition will have "more immersive world"

"You get more foliage, and that provides more of a sense of discovery."

BioWare has said the PC and next-generation version - or the gen four version, as EA calls it - of upcoming fantasy role-playing game Dragon Age: Inquisition will benefit from a more immersive world.

BioWare Edmonton producer Cameron Lee told Eurogamer that the graphical difference between DA:I on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version, will be "huge".

"On gen four you'll see far better graphics and, more importantly, a much more immersive world," Lee said.

"It's a lot richer, and there's more depth to it. We can put more things on screen. There are more NPCs. There is more life to the world.

"That, while a subtle thing, really does over time build up into quite a strong connection to the game compared to the other gen three platforms."

A next-gen nug.

Digging deeper, Lee explained that BioWare Edmonton is able to create a more dense world on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, complete with more layers of graphical effects.

"The visual fidelity differences are huge," he said. "For example, the shaders you can put on the characters through different weather systems. The build up system we have, like when you walk through mud, the mud builds up on the leg, then if you're in a fight, blood goes on top of the mud.

"One of our graphics programmers took a nug and overlayed all these different things on it. Eventually it looked like a nug that had been dipped in chocolate because there was so much stuff that was put on top of it. That's all the power you can get from the gen four stuff. You'll see that sort of a difference.

"The spell visual effects are incredible on the gen four and high-end PC. On gen three they will be much lower fidelity. Seeing Vivienne bringing up that big fire storm is brilliant on gen four and high-end PC. That's the kind of stuff that will make this a gen four experience."

"You get a more interesting landscape. You get more foliage. And that provides more of a sense of discovery."

Dragon Age: Inquisition producer Cameron Lee
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So far these extra next-gen fuelled visual effects offer only aesthetic improvements, but Lee said gameplay is also improved as a result.

"Really, gen four is about, how much can you do with the game? We've got these big open worlds. How much content we can put in there and how big that can be and how complex that environment can be can be pushed farther on gen four. You get a more interesting landscape. You get more foliage. And that provides more of a sense of discovery.

"If you're walking around a corner, because you couldn't see through all the trees and lush foliage on gen four, when you walk around a corner there's suddenly something interesting and cool there that you didn't know about. You get that sense of, oh my god, I found something!

"On gen three, if there's less foilage you can see farther. It has this subtle influence over the experience you have. Fundamentally they're still the same game, but just a better experience on a higher end platform."

BioWare Edmonton is building Dragon Age: Inquisition as a generation four title "first and foremost", Lee revealed. "We build it on really high-spec PCs, which just melt faces. Then we're looking at ways of how we can bring that down to gen three platforms."

Despite the next-gen advantage, Lee said that as far as features go, "fundamentally it will be the same experience" across all platforms. "We won't be limiting anything on the gen three because we don't want the significant number of people who will still be on gen three to feel cheated," he said.

As for the more physical features next-generation consoles offer, such as second screen, Kinect and PlayStation Move, BioWare is playing the waiting game.

"We're coming out a year after launch of gen four," Lee said. "We definitely have some ideas about it, but until we see how people respond. We're just going to wait and see what happens. So right now there's no difference between platforms."

Dragon Age: Inquisition is due out on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in autumn 2014.

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