Last month, the latest Dragon Age 3: Inquisition release date news was that a "holiday build" of the game, featuring the full-length campaign, was being play tested by developers over the winter break. Now, to kick off 2014, we get a look at the new Keep system that will help players manage their way across a gigantic world. During a demo event for Official Playstation Magazine, BioWare revealed some details on the new Keep system that will allow players to own a little piece of Ferelden. Actually, more than one piece. From the preview:

Keeps form the centre of the game's multiple, vast regions, and play a role similar to synchronisation points in Assassin's Creed - capture one, and you'll unlock quests. The more Inquisition agents dedicated to a keep, the more you can do. Fifty agents might rebuild a fallen colossus, for instance, boosting troop morale in the event of an invasion. Or you could send 10 agents to build a mine on top of a sulphur pit to shore up revenues. A new management system sees you running captured keeps, controlling facets like trade, mining and protection.

This kind of depth and freedom is exactly what was missing from BioWare's last entry in the franchise, Dragon Age 2: Turd Heap (unofficial title). Fans who were let down by that game are going to find a totally different game on the Dragon Age 3: Inquisition release date, projected to be sometime this Fall. And, based on Executive Producer Mark Darrah's comments regarding last month's holiday build it appears the game is right on schedule. Here's the text of Darrah's update on Dragon Age 3: Inquisition:

The Xbox One and PS4 are out, and the dust is starting to settle at the start of a new console cycle. As a result, now is a good time for us to start talking to you, our fans, more about where Dragon Age: Inquisition is at.

What have we been working on? Dragon Age: Inquisition has come a long way in the last three months. Today, I'm going to share with you some of what we have been up to since PAX. That way, when we dig in deeper a little later on, you will be up to speed.

You may have heard some talk about a "Holiday Build" for Dragon Age: Inquisition. So, what is this? These types of builds go way back in BioWare's history. Effectively, they are builds we create around the holiday break that are packaged in a way that allows the team, and other parts of BioWare, to play the game in as complete of a state as we can get it.

In this case, our Holiday build is focused on these areas:

1. The main storyline completely playable from beginning to end: This allows the story to be experienced in an interactive state, and lets us get pacing and spacing right.

2. All of the gameplay systems working together: This means that you can experience the game as it is intended to be experienced, with each feature feeding into another.

3. Starting VO recording for large parts of the game (More on this later).

4. Getting music in (More on this later).

5. Making sure that each class has a distinctive feel: Making sure that the party is a necessary and exciting part of combat (More on this later).

6. Getting our tech locked down: For example, here is a tarnish shader going in.

7. Getting a lot more content a lot further along: Things like Trees, Dead things, Outfits, Faces and, of course, areas:

Areas form a huge part of the content in Dragon Age: Inquisition. It is very important to me that the game cover a large variety of locations. Not only does it expand the possibilities of our storytelling, it also gives us an opportunity to show a lot of different things. In a game that places a lot of emphasis on discovery, this is very crucial.

Part of this process is about getting the areas into a state where they can be fully critiqued. Let me show you an area shot going through this process (can you guess the area?) As you can see, an initial screenshot is critiqued and altered to show the goal for the area. This gives the level artist the specific direction needed to take the area to the next level (so to speak).

I'm skiffing off of a lot of topics here today, and I promise we will be back to talk in more detail about some of these topics. For now, though, I wanted to restart the conversation.

Hopefully you like this format. If you have any specific topics you would like us to cover in greater detail, let us know.

Thanks, and happy holidays!

Mark

And, in case you haven't seen the game in action yet, here's a whopping 30 minutes of gameplay footage from Finalnd's Digiexpo in December:

Dragon Age 3: Inquisition Gameplay Footage

Dragon Age 3: Inquisition arrives in the Fall of 2014 for PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One and PC.