Dragon Age Deep Dive: Veilguard’s Expanded Character Creator


When BioWare prepared to show me the character creator for Dragon Age: The Veilguard at its offices in Edmonton, Canada, I expected something solid—it’s 2024, character creators have come a long way, and BioWare has a prosperous history of good customization. Despite my expectations, I wasn’t prepared for just how solid it actually is in Veilguard. Solid enough that BioWare used it to create most of the game’s NPCs, with the exception of major characters like companions. Exaggerations aside, it’s a stunningly prosperous creation system, and I can’t wait to see player-created near-replicas of celebrities and monstrous creatures that would be more appropriate in a horror game.

But I’m also waiting for the community’s reaction to the best character creator in the Dragon Age series. It has inclusivity at its heart, Corinne Busche, Veilguard’s game director, tells me before letting me guide her through the process of creating my own character.

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As usual, there are four races to choose from: Elves, Qunari, Humans and Dwarves. After selecting Qunari, Busche browses through the various presets, the game’s explanation allows for a more detailed look at each of them and the ability to choose pronouns with she, he/him and they/them separately from gender, select different body types and more. You can view your character, called Rook in-game, in four different lighting scenes at any time, including The Veilguard’s main purple hue, a vivid and bright tropical day, and a gothic night.

I joke with the team that after spending over an hour creating my character in Dragon Age: Inquisition back in 2014, I immediately restarted the game when I saw him in the first cutscene; the in-game lighting made my hair color look awful, among other issues I had with my Inquisitor. Veilguard imaginative director John Epler says the team is aware of countless stories like the one involving Inquisition and its green-suited character creator, and adds that BioWare has worked strenuous to address those concerns in Veilguard.

Head and body presets can be individually selected and customized to your liking, with 40 different skin tones, including silky, rugged, youthful, and freckled skin tones, frosty, neutral, and sultry skin tones, midtones to those skin tones, and even a melanin slider. Busche tells me that BioWare relied on consultations to ensure that all people were represented authentically. There’s a vitiligo slider (where you can adjust the intensity and amount of it) and sliders for forehead, eyebrows, cheeks, jaw, chin, larynx, and scalp. You can choose underwear, including nudity, since “this is a mature RPG,” Busche adds, and employ the “Body Morpher” function to choose three presets for each corner of the triangle, then move the cursor around it to change your body, or employ a mix of these presets. It’s impressive technology that I’d like to see implemented in other games.

I can go on: you can adjust the height, shoulder width, chest size, butt and bulge size, hip width, eye congestion, degree of observable cataracts, sclera color, degree of nose curvature and size of the bridge, size of nostrils and tip of the nose, and there are just as many, if not more, sliders for things like Rook’s mouth and ears. On the ears themselves, I see you can adjust asymmetry, depth, rotation, earlobe size, and even add a cauliflower ear to your turret. Busche says the makeup combines newfangled styling with Dragon Age fantasy, and offers more than 30 options, including eyeliner intensity, color, glitter, eyeshadow, lips, and blush.

Tattoos are just as customizable as the scar and paint options. Tattoos, scars, and paint are very culturally significant for certain lines, BioWare tells me, like the unique tattoos for elves. You can add tattoos to Rook’s face, body, arms, and legs, and you can also customize things like the intensity.

However, what impresses me most is the hairstyle options available; there are tons of them, and as someone with long hair, I’m especially excited about the fun choices I can make. You can finally dye your hair in custom colors, and that’s great. EA’s Frostbite engine uses the Strand system to render each style fully with physics. “The technology has finally matched our ambitions,” says Dragon Age art director Matt Rhodes.

After customizing all that and choosing the type and material of our Qunari horn (there are over 40 to choose from), it was time to choose a class from Rogue, Mage, and Warrior – read more about the Veilguard classes here . Since we built the Qunari, we decided on the Warrior. The penultimate step in character creation, at least in the demo BioWare showed me, is to choose a faction. Out of six options, we chose the pirate-themed Lords of Fortune.

“Rook rises through competence, not some magical McGuffin,” BioWare lead creator and Mass Effect executive producer Michael Gamble tells me, unlike Inquisition, where fate chose you.

“Rook is here because he chose to be, and that speaks volumes about the character we have built,” adds Busche. “Somebody’s got to stop this, and Rook says, ‘I guess it’s me.'”

Ready to begin our Rook journey, we select a name and one of four voices from English Male, English Female, American Male, or American Female. Each voice also has a pitch switch to further customize it to your liking.

Don’t worry too much about locking down character creation before you start the game – the Mirror of Transformation, located in Veilguard’s main hub, the Lighthouse, lets you change your physical appearance at any time. However, class, origin, and identity are locked in and can’t be changed once you’ve selected them in the in-game character creator.

From here we head to Minrathous, and you can read more about this celebrated city in our cover story, available here.

For more information on the game, including exclusive details, interviews, videos, and more, click the Dragon Age: The Veilguard hub button below.

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