Could The Rook Be Part Of Solas’ Plan In Dragon Age: The Veilguard?

The name 'Rook' in Dragon Age doesn't seem as catchy as 'Inquisitor' or 'Grey Warden', or even the one named protagonist in the series, 'Hawke'. But it could be the most interesting of the four. It doesn't instantly have a meaning, unlike the Inquisitor who leads the Inquisition. It's also the name used by the gang before Solas puts the events of the game into motion, when you're just scraping Minrathous for clues. But maybe the name Rook says more than it means to.

One of Solas' main pastimes is chess. Before the egg turns rotten, taking him and Iron Bull along with you on adventures will cause them to play a game of chess aloud. No pieces, just narrating the moves to each other step by step. Of course, this is all a metaphor for Solas' plan. He plays recklessly, seemingly fleeing Iron Bull at every turn. He doesn't play cautious chess or aggressive chess. No shielding of his key pieces, which he loses rapidly, and no counterstrikes on Iron Bull's army, of which he takes precious few.

What Does Solas' Chess Game In Inquisition Mean?

Could The Rook Be Part Of Solas' Plan In Dragon Age: The Veilguard?

Then something changes. Iron Bull breaks all the way to the backline, and Solas' King goes on the assault. With the board free, Solas moves into position with ease, moving Pawns as he goes, still sacrificing to Iron Bull at every step. But in the end, he wins. This seems to reflect two core principles of Solas' plan: firstly, that he is happy to be seen as losing, perhaps even as a bumbling non-entity, so long as he gets his way in the end. And secondly, that he is prepared to sacrifice everything to get what he wants. As he moves into checkmate, his board is sparse. He has two Knights, a Bishop, and a handful of Pawns, alongside his King. It is a puny kingdom, but it is a victorious one.

Now that we know how The Veilguard opens, we can read deeper into this game. Solas refers to his Bishops as 'mages', so the lone Bishop could easily be Solas himself. Meanwhile, the two Knights would be the two figures we see alongside him in the trailer, since revealed to be the Elven gods Elgar'nan and Ghilan'nain. But obviously, the main thing to consider are the Rooks. Knowing what we know now, the Rooks have a key part in this match.

Solas' tactics in the game change rapidly. Though he never appears flummoxed by proceedings, he is demonstrably losing for most of the game. What makes him switch from scatter-brained running to a laser-focussed attack and ultimate victory? Iron Bull takes his Rooks. Does this mean the Rook is doomed to be used by Solas as an unwitting part of his plan? As for Iron Bull, the Rooks are the only two pieces he does not move at all. Could this symbolise the Veilguard's failure to recognise the Rook's potential and use them as best they could?

Solas also starts by offering the King's Gambit to Iron Bull, which he accepts — a move that typically means Solas surrenders control of castling (using the Rook to protect the King), but Solas plays it atypically to keep castling as an option.

Dragon Age has a history of this. In Origins, the Grey Warden's main narrative role is to be used for Morrigan's secret plan. In 2, Hawke's central arc is that Anders uses them for his secret plan. In Inquisition, the Inquisitor finds themself playing out Solas' secret plan step by step. These protagonists ain't exactly Sherlock.

Maybe that changes in The Veilguard. But it's clear the game is not about Solas' heel turn. Though "People are always dying. That is what they do," is a cold, cold line, Solas is conflicted about his destiny. In the extended opening I saw at Summer Game Fest, I got the sense he was relieved that someone had arrived to stop him, even if he believed it was his calling to carry this ritual out. The fact we know now our Lighthouse base is in the Veil itself, where we can communicate with Solas openly, suggests the long-awaited sequel will not be about discovering that Solas was evil all along, but about deepening his perspective to, if not justify his actions, at least offer wider context.

Of course, if the game is to soften Solas' betrayal and help you see his perspective while helping justify his actions, then the chess metaphor of the Rook being used doesn't stack up. OR DOES IT? (dun dun dunnnnnn!) If Solas spends the whole game pouring honey in your ear, while relying on the metatextual truth that you as a player likely sympathise with Solas having spent 100 hours with him in the last game, only to then betray you again, it would be a great twist and one of the few interesting things BioWare can do with a 'Solas isn't all bad arc'. And despite predicting it here, I'm about as smart as the Dragon Age protagonists and absolutely will not see it coming.

I firmly believe the Rook name is something to do with Solas' chess playing, whether that's his game with Iron Bull or something to come in The Veilguard. There was more to Solas than met the eye in Inquisition, I just couldn't see it. I'm sure there will be more to him in The Veilguard too, and this time I'm going in with my eyes open. Maybe.

Platform(s) PS5 , Xbox Series S , Xbox Series X , Microsoft Windows Released 2024 Developer(s) BioWare

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