Dragon Age The Veilguard promotional image - the companions

Prepare for ‘The Veilguard’ With a ‘Dragon Age’ Deep Dive

BioWare and EA Games have finally announced the release window for the fourth installment in the Dragon Age video game series, The Veilguard, which follows nine years after the events in Inquisition. Before the game launches later this year, fans are debating the worth of playing or replaying the first three games in the series.

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Technically, The Veilguard can be played as a standalone story—but it continues world-building that began in previous games and showcases several returning characters.

If you’re unsure where to start your Dragon Age journey, here’s how to play the Dragon Age games in story-order for the best and most cohesive experience. This list only includes the main series games and does not include defunct browser games like Dragon Age Journeys or the mobile game Heroes of Dragon Age, which shut down in 2022.

Start with Dragon Age: Origins

The first Dragon Age game, Origins, was released in 2009. It drops players into a civil war in the kingdom of Ferelden in the world of Thedas, which affects them differently depending on if they play an elf, human, or dwarf, and whether they choose to be a warrior, rogue, or mage. Whatever their origins (get it?), players join the Grey Wardens to fight against the Darkspawn ravaging the world and eventually become the Hero of Ferelden.

This is perhaps the darkest, most grueling game in the Dragon Age series in terms of gameplay and story, though there are plenty of silly moments of dialogue and gameplay. It’s also the furthest removed from the upcoming game, The Veilguard, stylistically and narratively. Because it was released 15 years ago, its mechanics are a little clunky and the graphics often leave something to be desired … but PC gamers can install quality-of-life mods that improve textures and more for a better overall experience.

Dragon Age: Origins is currently available for Xbox and PC via Steam and Epic Games.

Dragon Age 2 introduces our good friend Varric

In 2011, BioWare and EA Games released Dragon Age 2, in which the player takes on the role of Hawke, a human rogue, warrior, or mage who flees to the city of Kirkwall with their family as refugees. There, Hawke completes a series of increasingly difficult missions to become the Champion of Kirkwall. Along the way, Hawke meets Varric, who presents them with a lucrative opportunity—joining Varric and his brother on a mission into the Deep Roads, where they fight tons of Darkspawn. As Kirkwall becomes an increasingly fraught political battlefield, particularly for the mages and Templars (holy soldiers, basically), Hawke becomes increasingly visible and eventually has to choose a side.

The entire narrative in Dragon Age 2 is framed as an interrogation, with Varric telling the story to the incredibly angry Seeker Cassandra Pentaghast, the “Right Hand” to the Divine. She demands to know how Hawke started the war between the mages and the Templars and where Hawke is now, and at the end of Varric’s story, she only has an answer to one of her questions.

Dragon Age 2 is a smoother play experience than Origins and features more action, better graphics, and more stylized, dynamic art. It’s currently available for Xbox and PC via Steam and Epic Games.

Dragon Age: Inquisition ties everything together

Released in 2014, Dragon Age: Inquisition is a significant departure from gameplay in Origins and Dragon Age 2, though the story follows soon after Hawke becomes the Champion of Kirkwall. (If you want to know what happened in between, you can read the 2011 novel Dragon Age: Asunder by David Gaider.)

Inquisition once again starts with an interrogation, though this time Cassandra is questioning the player, who’s the only survivor of an explosion that murdered the Divine and blew up the religious Conclave. Players can choose to be an elf, a human, a qunari, or a dwarf, and can opt to play as a rogue, a mage, or a warrior, each of which offer different relationship, dialogue, and history options. They wake up to find a magical green rift in their hand that matches a green “Breach” in the sky, making them even more suspicious. This Breach is a tear in the Veil, which separates the mortal world from the spirit world known as the Fade. As long as it remains open, demons will continue pouring into Thedas, putting everyone in danger.

To close the Breach, Cassandra and the “Left Hand” of the Divine, Leliana (who first appears in Origins as a companion), re-establish the defense organization known as the Inquisition and name the player character the Inquisitor. It becomes their collective mission to save Thedas by healing the Veil, though this mission is much harder than it seems—especially when a significant betrayal revealed in the game credits and explored further in the Trespasser DLC not only rewrites everyone’s understanding of what happened, but changes the Inquisitor’s life forever.

Inquisition is semi-open-world and boasts the best graphics and least clunky gameplay of the Dragon Age series so far. It also has the benefit of being available on an additional platform. You can buy the game for PlayStation, Xbox, and PC via Steam and Epic Games.

Dragon Age: The Veilguard is the next installation in the series

Stylistically, the next game in the Dragon Age series, The Veilguard, is closest to Inquisition. It also builds directly on the story, as the player character known as the “Rook” teams up with Varric and seven potential companions to stop Solas, the ancient elven god known as the Dreadwolf, from tearing down the Veil completely and unleashing every last spirit and demon from the Fade on Thedas.

In The Veilguard, players can opt to be a human, an elf, a dwarf, or a qunari, and play as a mage, a rogue, or a warrior; they can also choose from six possible factions for their background story, ranging from a group of thieves and assassins to a group of elite mages tasked with guarding the Grand Necropolis.

More details will be revealed this summer, and Dragon Age: The Veilguard is slated for release in fall 2024. It will be available on PlayStation 5Xbox, and PC via Steam and Epic Games

More Dragon Age lore

If playing all of the Dragon Age games isn’t enough, you can learn more lore and meet more characters by reading the novelizations and comic books or watching the anime film Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker and the Netflix animated series, Dragon Age: Absolution. There’s also a swath of fan-made works available on the internet, including some truly excellent memes.

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Samantha Puc
Samantha Puc (she/they) is a fat, disabled, lesbian writer and editor who has been working in digital and print media since 2010. Their work focuses primarily on LGBTQ+ and fat representation in pop culture and their writing has been featured on Refinery29, Bitch Media, them., and elsewhere. Samantha is the co-creator of Fatventure Mag and she contributed to the award-winning Fat and Queer: An Anthology of Queer and Trans Bodies and Lives. They are an original cast member of Death2Divinity, and they are currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction at The New School. When Samantha is not working or writing, she loves spending time with her cats, reading, and perfecting her grilled cheese recipe.