"So that's basically, if I did what we call the critical paths, so the major story of the game, and if I went explored all the areas and did the side-content that's in all those areas, [and] did any companion side content, that would take 150 hours," Lee told Joystiq.
He was, though, cagier about how much of that content is part of the main story: "I can say that it's comparable to all the other BioWare games. I know when I play through BioWare games as a fan, I normally clock in at anywhere between 30 and 40 hours - that's for me as a player, as a BioWare player, but it's different for everyone."
BioWare Canada General Manager Aaryn Flynn proved Lee's point, telling Destructoid, "if you took on the story and nothing else, roughly 55 hours is the time we've achieved during our playtests." It sounds like it's safe to surmise that unless you're some kind of RPG god, you'll need more than a whole day, perhaps two, to power through the main story.
We asked Lee how that mix between the main campaign and side content works in the brand new open world.
"You've got a main plot, with branching decisions and exclusive content," explained Lee, "And then you've got exploration. The way we merge those two things together is through the Inquisition, [which is] your organization, and the War Table, which you saw a little bit at the press conference. Players now have the freedom in Inquisition to get involved in the story whenever they want, or not. They can use the War Table to go and explore a new area. They could spend 15 hours in that area if they wanted to. They could come back and go, 'Okay, now I want to get involved in the story again' and go do and part of the story.
"The way that we connect it: Because you have an Inquisition and when you're playing the story you want to use your Inquisition... for example, I might need to go and storm this castle, so I'm going to take my Inquisition army and do it. So that requires power and influence for the Inquisition. As you're exploring the world you're earning power and influence for your Inquisition, and then you go back to the War Table and you have to make decisions. Do I want to spend my power here or do I want to spend it over here?"
The game's world isn't auto-scaled like some Bethesda RPGs are. Lee explained the first area, the Hinterlands, has some great big dragons that are leveled much higher than the players exploring that area for the first time. So when players return to areas, they may be able to do things they couldn't at a lower level. Not that taking on the dragons early on is impossible... maybe.
"You can challenge it if you want," laughed Lee. "You might not win. You might win! Who knows, you might be really good!"
We don't say no to a challenge, however foolish. Like us, you'll be able to take on all the dragons when the Inquisition rides onto PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on November 18. In the interim, be sure to check out our recent video preview.