BioWare lays out an ambitious goals to simultaneously simplify and add depth to Dragon Age Dreadwolf's skill system.
Skill trees in Dragon Age games aren't really all that complicated. The trees are segmented into combat roles--two-handed, ice, cold, bow attacks, etc--and skills are typically broken up into two types: Active and passive. The trees in Dragon Age 2 and Dragon Age Inquisition are relatively straightforward and aren't too complex to understand.
BioWare wants to keep things simple while also trying something new with Dragon Age Dreadwolf. In a recent Dragon Age update post, BioWare says one of the main goals with Dreadwolf is to make every progression point feel meaningful. Essentially the devs want to make every choice you make with skill unlocks feel like it has a tangible effect on the game. Every skill, passive, or boost should increase stats, capability, and the overall sense of power that players feel in the game.
So...how does this manifest exactly? BioWare is light on the details, but the studio does outline some of its earlier prototype design docs to give us an idea on what to expect.
Past Dragon Age games have all handled RPG systems, such as the player's progression, differently, so naturally, we're being just as experimental on Dreadwolf, taking the learnings of the past while also trying something new.
Skill Trees are a fundamental part of a deep RPG experience and give our players the ability to customize how their character functions in combat. A key belief on the team is that when a player invests a skill point, it should have a clear, tangible effect on the game, such as an ability or impactful perk.
BioWare wants to make progression feel exciting, meaningful, and rewarding. This goal isn't really much different than any RPG, or any previous Dragon Age game. But not every skill always matters and there's a point of diminishing returns when you max out a build or achieve your main goal. It sounds like BioWare is expanding the scope to ensure that all progression feels like...well...progression. This could ensure there's no wasted skill or node unlocks, and a wider web of applicable active, passive, and effect unlocks.
Only this time the progression may not be linear...which is a bit confusing considering Dragon Age II and Dragon Age Inquisition all had linear-path skill systems where new abilities typically required you to unlock the ability that precedes it.
We really wanted to have something that allowed the player to character-build in a way that allowed them to reach their "player fantasy." And because we're supporting so many choices, we've designed something that can be customized widely, as opposed to a more linear progression system.
It was very important to us that the fantasy of playing a certain class and the customization options would come across clearly and at a glance without overwhelming the player. It was key to our team to take something that is usually complex and make it accessible and simple to read.
While BioWare didn't reveal any concrete visuals and only stuck to early references, recent Dragon Age Dreadwolf leaks give us a clear look at the game's skills and combat system.
The leaks show that Dreadwolf will retain the classic four-skill diamond featured in past Dragon Age games, although there appears to be a new twist: It looks like gamers can activate a super ability to devastate foes. This should add more dimensionality to the skill trees and build ideas. There also may be a greater variety of status boosts and ailments that affect gameplay and help fill out the tree even more.