BioWare's eagerly anticipated next-generation PC title was shown to a group of select media members at the show, and somehow I also managed to brown nose my way in. Don't ask, don't tell is my official policy on this matter.
The interesting point about Dragon Age is that this is BioWare's own, exclusive intellectual property. Having worked with AD&D Forgotten Realms and Star Wars in the past, it seems our frozen friends from Edmonton have become accustomed to having a full, realized world with a rich history and cultural background to draw upon.
So, rather than proceed without one or go to the expense of licensing, BioWare is creating the world itself. There are several cultures and races in the game, with about 5000 years of history for the designers to work with. Those cultures all have social structures in place, and their own architecture to help distinguish them from one another. On top of that, BioWare has hired a PhD student in linguistics to develop languages for the various races and cultures. This all will have the end effect of not only giving a world to explore for the hardcore RPG fans, but also of making it feel very complete and realized to the more casual players.
As BioWare is no longer dealing with the AD&D license, they've had to develop their own rules set and combat system. This is being automatically tested daily by a computer, which is helping the designers balance the game. Combat is harkening back to the days of Baldur's Gate, with a party-based tactical system. During the demonstration, it was interesting to note that there were only two key characters but other, almost generic NPCs joined the player's party specifically for the purpose of combat.
The character will of course be player created, first by selecting an archetype and then a background. The background story will have an effect on the plot of the game. Dragon Age is meant to be an epic experience and will have characters and a story of epic proportions. BioWare showed off a huge battle scene in their demo, which we got to witness up close and from a higher perspective.