The decision to move on from BioWare's proprietary engine Eclipse and use DICE's Frostbite 2 for the development of Dragon Age 3 has made a huge difference in the quality the game's developers have been able to produce, BioWare art and animation director Neil Thompson has revealed.
At the Bradford Animation Festival last night (attended by Eurogamer) Thompson showed off the first screen for the game, snapped by someone in attendance and posted on the BioWare forums. The image is rather blurry, but Thompson believes the "stunning" shot is a great example of the results now possible thanks to Frostbite.
"Mass Effect was done on Unreal of course," said Thompson in reply to a question from the audience. "Dragon Age was done on the proprietary engine Eclipse. I think anyone who played Dragon Age 2 would agree that engine was starting to creak a little bit by the time that was released.
"Obviously Frostbite is the Battlefield engine built by DICE. It's a beautiful, beautiful engine. And what we've found is an improvement with DA3, is the artists who were really battling with the Eclipse engine have just embraced Frostbite. The work they're doing now is stunning.
"I think the screenshot I showed earlier is pretty stunning. That's unusual for pre-production. Usually you don't get to that kind of quality until a week before gold master."
Dragon Age 3: Inquisition is set for release in the autumn of 2013.
All this bodes well for BioWare's other RPG franchise, Mass Effect, which currently has a new game in development using the Frostbite engine.