The teaser for Dragon Age 4 was revealed at last week’s Game Awards, and it left fans with a lot of questions. One Redditor thinks she’s got some answers.
The teaser was short and vague. The only concrete information we have from it is that Solas, the surprise villain of the previous game, is coming back. Luckily for us, Redditor Nouvlesse, a Solas enthusiast, was already examining some lore tidbits from a Dragon Age Inquisition DLC. She has done a series of very thorough posts on the Dragon Age subreddit about the murals in this DLC, which was called Trespasser and told a story that revealed Solas’s true intentions. The Trespasser murals are very similar in style to the mural depicted in the teaser for Dragon Age 4.
Nouvlesse told Kotaku over email that she’s been playing Bioware games basically all her life. “One of my earliest memories is sitting on my dad’s knee when I was a little girl, creating a character and exploring Neverwinter Nights together,” she said. She played the first Dragon Age at the tender age of eleven, and she has been hooked ever since.
“It was many years, games, and codex entries later that I began to fully understand the extent of my respect for the series,” she went on. “I was replaying Dragon Age: Inquisition, and this was around 3 months before I made my first Reddit post; I was doing a completionist playthrough, where I went everywhere and looked at everything. I would diligently read every codex entry I encountered, and it was then that I started to discover connections in the lore that I never knew existed before.” This research eventually led her to in-depth studies of the game’s murals.
Nouvlesse explained that the mural in the teaser strongly resembles one mural in particular from Tresspasser. Both of them depict a series of gates, which symbolize the seven gates to the Black City, where the Old Gods live. A Blight, where the world of Dragon Age is overrun by darkspawn, occurs when an Old God is corrupted and turned into an Archdemon.
The same symbols are present in the teaser for Dragon Age 4, but this time, five of the seven gates are greyed out instead of four.
The Old Gods’ souls are destroyed during each Blight, so the newly greyed out gates likely correspond to that. But Nouvlesse believes that the connections between the two murals don’t end there.
Nouvlesse has a theory about the stars in these murals based on a detail from Inquisition. Certain doors in the game could be unlocked with shards, which also had the eight pointed stars on them. Those doors were from the temple of Solasan, which leads to a very Solas-centric interpretation of the teaser of Dragon Age 4.
Solas’s true goal is to tear down the Veil, which separates the spirit world from the rest of existence; this action would restore old elvish society but sacrifice everyone else in the process. He was responsible for creating the veil in the first place, an act that sealed away the old Elven gods, who dubbed him Fen H’arel, or the Dread Wolf. As Elvish society lost their history as a result of this act, they deemed Fen H’arel’s creation of the veil an act of pride. Solas actually means “pride” in elvish, and the Temple of Solasan then translates as “a prideful place.” If you complete all the quests in this temple, you’re led to an inscription that explains a tiny bit of ancient elvish history.
“Pride in our accomplishments and in our hearts. That same pride became (a word meaning corrupted or altered) within him, he sought to claim (indecipherable), cast from favor and so he was bound. Hidden from mortal eyes, death lies within,” it reads. Presumably, this refers to Solas’s creation of the veil, and his subsequent fate.
“I believe that the seven gates of the Black City may actually be very similar to these doorways, if not the same (and don’t worry, I have plenty of evidence to back this up). So, the connections between these gateways and the eight-pointed stars shown in the teaser image are extremely exciting to me,” Nouvlesse wrote. By unlocking all of the gates to the Black City, Nouvlesse theorizes that, “once all seven gates of the Black City have been destroyed, leaving the way to the Unreachable Gate of the Black City open, the true Blight will be unleashed on the world.”
This is further supported by another small detail in the teaser. “If you look closely at the top left corner, you will be able to see imagery of down-turned triangles. In my previous reddit posts, I realized that, due to the repetition of imagery throughout all Nick Thornborrow’s art, these triangles represent the Fade,” she wrote. “Consequently, it appears that this mural is showing Solas tearing down the Veil, connecting with this quote: ‘I would have torn down the Veil. As this world burned in the raw chaos, I would have restored the world of my time... The world of the elves.’”
This theory doesn’t give us too much detail on the plot, but it does suggest some potential themes that Dragon Age 4 may include, as well as the central conflict. Solas is back and ready to tear down the veil, and has apparently already gotten started on this job.
Nouvlesse’s research has given her a profound appreciation for the developers at Bioware. “Writing these posts has honestly been akin to falling down a rabbit hole, where every piece of new information I’ve discovered reveals two more secrets in turn—like some funky lore hydra,” she said over email. “It’s one of the best feelings ever having fragments of knowledge, that were once shrouded in mystery, come together and unveil a truth that could possibly stretch back to the very first game.”
“I think it’s a testament to how talented the team is at BioWare, who have created a wonderfully intricate world, an ocean of secrets and lore, that you can choose to submerge yourself in or skim across the surface of, with both options being equally enjoyable,” she said. Luckily for us, we’ve got fans like Nouvlesse who like to untangle the Gordian knot of lore that Bioware has laid out.