Dragon Age 4 now has an official title, and it’s already got me thinking about the weight a name can hold. Dragon Age: Dreadwolf signals the return of Solas who is arguably one of the most interesting and divisive characters in Thedas, and with it, a whole myriad of implications about what we might be faced with. But when I first saw the announcement, it was a line from Solas in the behind-the-scenes-look BioWare released back in 2020 (opens in new tab) that kept playing over and over in my head: “They call me The Dread Wolf, what will they call you when this is over?”.
One of the great joys of the Dragon Age series is having the ability to shape your own story based on the decisions you make. This tantalizing question is almost like a teasing reminder that you will be judged by your actions – just as Solas was – and need to be prepared to carry the weight of whatever name you make for yourself.
The name Solas came to earn as a consequence of his actions transcended into a symbol that’s so much bigger than him, which inspires both hope and fear. Just seeing this infamous ‘Dreadwolf’ moniker front and center in the game’s title is enough to send my mind reeling. What choices might we be faced with? What will role will we have? And how will we be viewed when it is over? Not only does the Dragon Age: Dreadwolf title open up so many intriguing possibilities from a storytelling perspective, it also presents us with the chance to hopefully discover more about Solas and this notorious namesake. As a longtime fan, I can’t wait to get lost in Thedas again with Dragon Age: Dreadwolf, but nothing quite excites me more than the prospect of a new adventure that will feature a complex, antagonistic figure who isn’t so cut and dried.
Some spoilers for Dragon Age: Inquisition lie ahead.
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If you’ve played Dragon Age: Inquisition and the Trespasser DLC, you’ve probably already long since suspected that Solas would prominently feature in a follow-up adventure, and thanks to teases from BioWare dating back to 2018, the game title doesn’t really come as much of a surprise. Even so, it’s an exciting development nonetheless, and it’s been a real joy to see the community to come to life with theories about the direction of the next adventure. Dreadwolf could also be a great way to bring in newcomers since historically speaking, each Dragon Age game is a self-contained experience that can be enjoyed without having played the one that came before or after it.
Of course, they all share links and build up a more complete picture of the world, but you can comfortably jump into any game in the series. From the sounds of it, Dreadwolf will follow suit with BioWare re-establishing Solas for any one who has yet to dip into the series: “If you’re new to Dragon Age, you have no need to worry about not having met our antagonist just yet. He’ll properly introduce himself when the time is right,” the blog post announcement states. I can’t help but imagine how this introduction will play out. There are so many questions and possibilities, but the mention of “our antagonist” is what has me so excited.
When it comes to a story’s antagonist, the most compelling figures tend to be those who sit between the lines of good and evil. The ones who can’t be so easily written off as one or the other. Solas is one such character who is undoubtedly a threat to Thedas as we know, but not one that’s not necessarily born from a place of malice or wickedness. As you may already know, you get to spend a lot of time with Solas as a party member who will fight alongside you in Dragon Age: Inquisition. The first time I played as the Inquisitor, he became a trusted friend – someone who came across as a wise, learned figure with a strong connection to the Fade and a deep understanding of magic. As one of the earliest companions to join your side, he becomes an integral part of your inner circle who helps you put a stop to Corypheus and to seal Breach – it feels easy to build up a level of trust with him.
Hope and fear
It’s only at the closing of the game when Solas mysteriously disappears that you learn there’s a lot more to him and his presence than you first thought… He’s none other than the figure of elven legend known as Fen’Heral – or The Dread Wolf – with motivations outside of your own. It’s an undoubtedly brilliant twist that ultimately sets the stage for the Trespasser DLC, where you come to learn more about Solas’ backstory and his true goal. What’s so interesting about the idea of The Dread Wolf moniker and Solas as an individual is that there are conflicting views about his character, both in the world of Thedas and among players. I myself felt somewhat sympathetic, while at the same time disagreeing with the course of action he’s setting out to take.
This division is even reflected in the official blog post announcement from the Dragon Age team: “Some say he might be an ancient elven god, but some say not. Others say a betrayer of his people… or a savior who now seeks to rescue them at the cost of your world.” We don’t yet know how the story of Dragon Age: Dreadwolf will unfold, but I can’t but wonder what it’ll be like to face an antagonist who I’ve come to know – and even like – in Inquisition. Will the choices that we may have to make, for example, be all the more difficult to carry out as a result?
While we can only speculate on the role we’ll have when we return to the world of Dragon Age, I can’t wait to discover if or how our actions may carry weight. Just as our role as the Grey Warden or Hawke or the Inquisitor in previous adventures, the name you bear can come to mean something entirely different depending on what you do, and you have to live with that weight. Before Fen’Heral or The Dread Wolf, there was Solas. Now, that name has been lost over the ages and overwritten with the notorious moniker because of the actions he took.
“His motives are inscrutable and his methods sometimes questionable, earning him a reputation as something of a trickster deity,” BioWare teases, adding that Solas is “a player of dark and dangerous games.” There are so many ways to view Solas as a character, and seeing his namesake front and center has me all the more excited about the prospect of seeing him once again as Dragon Age: Dreadwolf’s antagonist.
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