Bioware Tells All About Cancelled Dragon Age 2 Expansion, Exalted March

Bioware Tells All About Cancelled Dragon Age 2 Expansion, Exalted March
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For years since news of its cancellation, rumours have circulated about the supposedly “Awakening-sized” Dragon Age II expansion, Exalted March. The most widely held belief was that it had been cancelled due to Dragon Age II’s poor reception, but as it turns out that assumption is false. Mike Laidlaw laid all (or at least, some) secrets bare for curious fans in a series of tweets earlier today.

While very little information about Exalted March was available at the time of its cancellation almost five years ago, this hasn’t stopped fans from wondering what it might have been — and, since the release of Dragon Age Inquisition, what assets and ideas may have been repurposed for the later game.

Setting the record straight, Laidlaw first corrects the idea that Exalted March was cancelled because of the ‘failure’ of Dragon Age II — it was actually because they were already in the process of moving Dragon Age to EA DICE’s Frostbite engine. As an engine that had been designed for DICE’s Battlefield games, the Bioware team would have had a lot of work ahead of them to adapt it for an RPG like Dragon Age.

“As most everything in making games, it certainly was challenging. Great engine, but took tons of time,” Laidlaw explains. While they could have potentially managed both at the same time, both expansion and future Frostbite Dragon Age games would have suffered for it. Instead, Exalted March was cancelled so that all effort could be focused on what would then become Dragon Age: Inquisition.

For disappointed fans who would have liked to see more of Hawke’s adventures, we at least have some idea now of what the expansion’s story would have covered (so you can run off and write fanfiction to your heart’s content).

The story kicked off from the ‘red lyrium’ shenanigans of the end of Dragon Age II — understandably, the Chantry isn’t too happy about it — but also continued the Qunari storyline of the game’s second act. In Exalted March, the Qunari would have been starting to cause trouble in the now quite shaken-up Free Marches, leading Hawke to be called to save the day once again.

This time, however, s/he had help from Starkhaven (AKA DLC character Sebastian’s homeland and birthright) and the pirates of the Armada. While it would have started at the Hanged Man like most of Dragon Age II’s plot, the expansion would have branched out to new locations, such as the Felicisima Armada’s base in Estwatch.

The latter two snippets were actually hinted at during a panel at PAX West, where the Dragon Age team all wore shirts with letters missing like hangman — get it? The Hanged Man? The missing letters also spelled out “Estwatch”. Of course the fans had it figured out in minutes.

You can catch a few other interesting anecdotes in the original Twitter thread, such as the… interesting project code name the Dragon Age team chose, plus the surprising success of the aforementioned PAX Panel. Click through to Twitter to view the entire thread.

Looks like we’ll never get the chance to explore more of Sebastian’s history nor thwart DAII’s Qun again, but at least we got Inquisition. Was it a good trade off? Well, I guess it depends on what you think of Inquisition. Me? I just hope we get an actual Nugstorm game one day.


  • nothing wrong with DA2 imo, assuming you can get past the fact you’ll spend 80 to 90% of the game in the same environment. the story is probably a bit iffy but most BW games has been that way.

    as for DA:I, I find it’s the same as ME3 tbh, decent novel, disappointing ending. yes there was bunch of fetch quests that was stupid, lengthy and totally not worth the effort but you could have just ignored them after you first play through.

    the major problems DA:I faced was that 6 months after it was released Witcher 3 came on the scene and that game blows DA:I out of the water in every respect (imo). in turn probably crimp any sort of replayability of DA:I (well it was for me anyway lol)

    • Honestly my biggest issue with DA2 was the emphasis on wave based combat.

      While they didn’t want to go full tactics like DA:O, the magically appearing waves meant that it was basically wail on health bars until the battle ended.

      It also meant that there was a tendency to reserve spells for future waves in case something nasty popped up and you needed it later.

      So you spent a bunch of time wailing on trash hoping that the system didn’t just send 6 waves of trash and then usher you to the next fight location

      • oh yea i remember that, nothing like fighting in an alleyway and have enemies literally spawning right in front of you… jumping down from buildings like ninjas

        that’s partly why the DLCs are so night and day compared to the main game, now i feeling replaying DA:2 lol

  • Played DAO for hundreds of hours. Played DA2 for about 2 hours. Played Inquisition for about 30min.

  • Just started playing origins again on the xbone, it’s crazy how good the first one is compared to the other two. They are totally different games all 3 of them, i’m used to games changing a bit with each iteration but with dragon age it was ridiculous.

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