BioWare revealed the multiplayer for Dragon Age: Inquisition, and it sounds similar to co-op in Mass Effect 3.
Update: BioWare has released a trailer for the new co-op mode. Check it out.
Original Story: Multiplayer in Dragon Age: Inquisition has been rumored since 2011, so today's revelation of co-op multiplayer coming to BioWare's upcoming action-RPG isn't much of a surprise. It's also not surprising to hear that it sounds quite a bit like the multiplayer from Mass Effect 3. And that may not be a bad thing.
The four-player co-op doesn't let players take their Inquisitors into the multiplayer and, so far, your actions don't affect the single-player, unlike the Galactic Readiness scale from Mass Effect 3. Players will battle through one of three multiplayer campaigns in a randomly generated area, and like ME3, those areas will feature different enemies and other variables.
It sounds like each campaign is designed for a certain area, like Orlais or the Tevinter Imperium, and out of ten possible sections of each region, a single campaign will take place in five random sections. Players can find gold as they work their way through the campaign, but sometimes that gold may only be accessible to one of the three classes. Of course, the next time though, that section may require a mage instead of a warrior.
Classes align similarly to the single-player, except it sounds like "archers" will be accompanying warriors and mages, rather than rogues. As players level up (20 is the cap), they use points in two skill trees, and spending the gold they found on treasure chests, which will unlock items, cosmetic options, and crafting recipes. New characters are accessed by finding armor in the treasure chests or crafting it from unnecessary items once unlock recipes. Each hero has a unique appearance and abilities.
Twelve heroes (four for each class) and three campaigns are just the beginning. BioWare is promising lots of DLC, but similarly to Mass Effect 3, all that multiplayer DLC will be free. The game also won't have a subscription, but will make money from players willing to spend real cash on Platinum, which can also be used to unlock treasure chests filled with random items. There's no way to just outright buy anything, so it isn't exactly "pay-to-win", but surely there will be the occasional player that spends way too much money to keep rolling for the best stuff.
The multiplayer is set within the world of Thedas during Dragon Age: Inquisition, but players are doing tasks for The Inquisitor, rather than playing directly in the main story itself (which will reach 200 hours for completionists). There don't seem to be any dialogue wheels or moral choices, but the characters will still have personalities to contribute to the experience. "They're kind of like mini followers, and they banter among themselves," according to Mike Laidlaw, Creative Director.
Also following the patterns from Mass Effect 3, BioWare will offer weekly Prestige and Operations objectives. Personally killing 25 darkspawn might earn you some cosmetic items through the Prestige system, but the global Operations might ask all players to contribute to killing a million Qunari in a week.
Personally, I'm excited for the multiplayer. I walked into the co-op stages of Mass Effect 3 with cautious optimism, but I never expected to spend as many hours (and hours and hours) in there. With BioWare offering free DLC to expand the possible awards and new maps and enemies, it was easy to keep coming back. The Weekend Challenges offered something fun to work towards, and the fact that that sort of thing will be consistent with Dragon Age: Inquisition is also exciting.
There are concerns, of course. If it costs too much gold to unlock a treasure chest (to encourage the purchase of Platinum with real cash), it might be hard to come back to the knowing how much grinding it will take to earn new prizes and unlock heroes. Also, the tactical combat option is a favorite aspect of the game to many players, and with its absence from the multiplayer, there may be an entire portion of the Dragon Age fanbase that avoids the co-op.
Lastly, there is always a concern that the story mode of a game will suffer due to the expense of developing multiplayer to add to a single-player franchise. Of course, it's impossible to know how much better or worse the game would be without mutliplayer, but some critics will blame the co-op for any bugs or story failings in the single-player. For what it's worth, BioWare has been working on the multiplayer component for two years, so no one can say this is a last minute addition.
This isn't BioWare's only venture into multiplayer in the near future. Earlier this August at Gamescom, BioWare announced Shadow Realms, a 4v1 episodic game. If single-player is all you're interested in, check out our preview from E3 this past June. Fans of Dragon Age might also want to check out our list of the Top 25 RPGs of the Last Five Years, which heavily featured BioWare.
Updated throughout with new and corrected information.