While at PAX Prime, I was lucky enough to attend a Dragon Age panel held by a group of Bioware’s creative team for discussion of the series’ future. The room was packed. Fans cheered at most of the announcements, particularly those that suggested a departure from Dragon Age 2 towards their beloved Origins.
When it came time for Q&A, one of them got up and asked a rather peculiar question: “Will we ever see a meeting between Hawke and the Warden?” When the developers hinted it might be possible for the protagonist of DA2 to meet Origins’ heroic cipher, the fans gave a huge cheer.
The question baffled me. It wasn’t the implied desire to see Hawke again; unusually for a western RPG, DA2’s protagonist was arguably one of the most appealing characters. It was the part where people evidently clamored to see a non-character – no voice, no mannerisms, no defined history. Despite all the investment any particular player might place in their Warden, it’s not matched by a similar commitment from Origins’ story.
The desire stems from players not recognizing that bringing back their Warden in any future installment is both impossible and undesirable. The Warden, and the long parade of CRPG protagonists sharing their mold, can hardly be called characters at all, no matter how much “role-playing” the player may do. Their influence may matter, but their characterization does not.