Skip to main content

Dragon Age creator says Veilguard's approach to romance "isn't a huge surprise" following Baldur's Gate 3

Love is in the air?

Close up of an elven-like character in Dragon Age: The Veilguard
Image credit: BioWare

David Gaider has shared his thoughts on Dragon Age: The Veilguard's romance options.

Gaider, who is the creator of Dragon Age and lead writer on the series' previous instalments, offered up a lengthy thread on social media platform X where he compared the romance approach to the popular Baldur's Gate 3.

"I guess the move in [Dragon Age: The Veilguard] to 'all companions are romanceable by everyone' isn't a huge surprise, considering [Baldur's Gate 3], but - unsurprisingly - I have a few thoughts," he began, before acknowledging the "fandom is pretty split on romance design".

Dragon Age: The Veilguard | Official Reveal Trailer - Xbox Games Showcase 2024.Watch on YouTube

Gaider said a large portion of the game's community want the option to romance anyone and everyone, and therefore felt not getting to do so is "tantamount to a slap in the face". Others, however, prefer "characters with more agency, even (and maybe especially) if it doesn't align with their preferences".

The developer did not come down on either side being right or wrong here, merely stating "it depends on what you want from the game" and "we're not all here for the same reasons, ok?". He added the "only unfortunate aspect, in my experience, is that these two approaches are more or less diametrically opposed, from a design standpoint".

The previous Dragon Age writers realised once a character became romanceable, it limited the stories that could be told with that character, as they became "beholden to their romance arc and their need to, ultimately, be appealing", said Gaider.

"Why is that a limitation? Because not all character story arcs are defined by being appealing to the player. Even if the appeal of an arc is for a relatively limited audience, the requirement of having appeal inherently restricts the potential stories to a fairly limited band," Gaider furthered.

This is why players were unable to romance the series' dwarf companion Varric in previous entries. "Already I hear some fans groaning in disappointment, even though we did it so as not to *destroy Varric's character*. You can't have it both ways, I'm afraid," Gaider said.

He added that Dragon Age: The Veilguard's approach to romance being described as new was "curious", considering the "only difference between this and [Dragon Age 2], after all, is that not every [Dragon Age 2] follower was romanceable".

"The ones you could were pansexual. In fact, we made the *same* argument that they were not 'playersexual' (ugh)," Gaider said. "The call to back away from that approach in [Dragon Age Inquisition] was mine, made with Mike's and the team's support. I didn't like what taking away the followers' agencies did, that it turned them into sex dolls whose only purpose is to have the player mash them together and go 'now kiss!'"

Gaider admitted this was a "personal (and uncharitable) preference", before adding he also wasn't a fan of what it did for the characters in Baldur's Gate 3.

"Several characters would have had a stronger arc without romance, and the feeling I got from having this entire huge crew all ready to drop trou if I blinked wrong... meh," he said.

However, despite acknowledging he isn't the biggest fan of Dragon Age: The Veilguard's approach to romancing characters, he thinks it "should be fine" if the developers "unapologetically lean into it", much as Larian did with Baldur's Gate 3. "It's a legit approach, like I said, and many many fans will be gleeful and happy for it," he said, "which, at the end of the day, is not a bad thing."

Screenshot from Dragon Age: The Veilguard showing a character sitting on the outside of a building looking over the city
Image credit: BioWare

What's more, if you don't romance a character in The Veilguard, they'll find another partner for themselves instead.

In a subsequent post, which I will admit made me chuckle, Gaider said he was going to refrain from sharing any more thoughts on Dragon Age: The Veilguard for the time being. His reason? Because he doesn't want to "provide fodder for news articles that like to talk about what 'former Dragon Age lead writer' tweets".

Sorry, Gaider, we can't help it - we find what you have to say interesting, and so do our readers! In fact, if you want to read another article on Gaider's Dragon Age: The Veilguard impressions, we have you covered.

For more, our Chris Tapsell went hands-on with Dragon Age: The Veilguard earlier this week, and he was rather taken with it. "Whisper it, but Dragon Age: The Veilguard has me thinking the unthinkable: it looks like BioWare is back," he wrote Eurogamer's Dragon Age: The Veilguard preview.

Read this next