The impending console transition has developers of multi-game role-playing franchises scratching their heads when it comes to importing save files from older systems.
When CD Projekt RED announced "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt" for PlayStation 4, they promised some method of incorporating previous saves from different consoles. They didn't have any concrete details for the process nailed down back in March, and I haven't seen any updates on that front since then.
BioWare, however, seem to have it figured out: The Dragon Age Keep is a cloud-based repository of game decisions that will allow players to customize the state of Thedas when "Dragon Age: Inquisition" is released next year.
Previous BioWare games have used so-called "interactive comics" to sketch out major decisions for players starting, for example, "Mass Effect 2" without a save file from the previous game, but the Keep seems a lot more granular and specific.
Here's the elevator pitch, by "Dragon Age" executive producer Mark Darrah:
Within the Keep, you’ll be able to customize as much or as little about the world of Thedas as you wish. Then you’ll be able to import your saved world state into DAI at the start of a new game. Have you lost or corrupted your save files? No problem — remake your world state on the Keep, and preserve it for the future. For those folks new to the "Dragon Age" franchise, the Keep will serve as a great way to understand the people, places, and events that shaped the world leading up to 'DAI.'
The Keep is cloud-based, which will allow BioWare to store and implement any number of "Dragon Age" world-states to different platforms when "Inquisition" comes out. According to Darrah, the shift from the Eclipse engine used for "Origins" and "Dragon Age II" to Frostbite for "Inquisition" also affected save importation. (That's beyond my wheelhouse, though, so I'm going to take his word on that one.)
The announcement goes on to explain that the Dragon Age Keep will also smooth out any plot inconsistencies or straight-up bugs introduced by previous save importers. In my version of "Dragon Age: Origins," Allistair dies; in "Awakening," he's the king of Fereldan; in "Dragon Age II," he's a Grey Warden again. I'll be glad for the chance to set that particular record straight.
BioWare are still working on a more straightforward save-importation process, but the Keep will allow players to customize the state of the "Dragon Age" world exactly how they want it, from companions to romance options.
Another neat feature: poking through the Keep will reveal any number of different outcomes that gotten shut out during your "Dragon Age" playthroughs. I never followed through with Morrigan's proposition at the end of "Origins," for example, but I'd be curious to know how it plays out.
Joseph Leray is a freelance writer from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter