Mass Effect is one of those gaming franchises that has a special place in my heart. I must admit, I have never really been a fan of any previous games by Bioware, which include many crowd favorites like the Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic and the Dragon Age Series. My first time playing any game from the series was Mass Effect 2. I actually owe getting into the series to the JJ Abrams 2009 reboot of Star Trek. After watching that film, I wanted to have a gaming experience like Star Trek and Mass Effect 2 gave me that experience. After playing Mass Effect 2, I played the first one and loved it. I was pumped for Mass Effect 3 and despite people being critical of how the series concluded, you can’t deny that all three games are great. Unfortunately, though this article isn’t about my love of the series, but my doubts about the upcoming Mass Effect: Andromeda and why you should also be skeptical on purchasing.
Mass Effect: Andromeda has been in production since 2012, following the release of the third game. Normally if a game has been in development for this long I wouldn’t be worried; many AAA developers take a long time to develop a game. However, there has been a trend lately where games which have taken a long time to develop have come out and disappoint. No Man’s Sky, The Last Guardian, Mighty No. 9, and Final Fantasy XV are examples from last year of games which were in development for too long and ultimately disappointed in some degree. The long development time for Andromeda has me worried because of the lack of coverage around it leading up to its launch. EA first showed Andromeda at E3 in 2014 in a weird developer diary that left fans disappointed, and the next two E3’s EA barely showed anything except two CGI trailers. After the holiday 2016 original release window was delayed to what eventually became March 21, 2017, I began to experience more doubt. E3 should have been the stage to show off gameplay; but there was nothing. It wasn’t until this past September during PSX that we finally saw some gameplay demonstrated, however the gameplay demo lacked any combat. Then this year for N7 day we got a mostly CGI trailer that explained the story and that brought some excitement and interest around the internet. It wasn’t until The Game Awards 2016 where we finally had a proper gameplay demo, it did impress but I still find myself questioning why did they wait until PSX and The Game Awards to finally show gameplay?
Check out Daniel’s Live Reaction to the trailer right here:
Production for Mass Effect Andromeda originally began with the Austin, Edmonton, and Montreal studios working on the title. After the release of Dragon Age: Inquisition production for Mass Effect: Andromeda became just Bioware Montreal. It was recently revealed that Bioware, Edmonton had been working on a new IP to release in 2017. While I love the idea of a new IP introduced to the market, this brings hesitation for me in the fact that Edmonton had been the ones responsible for the original Mass Effect Trilogy. While I am in no way trying to discount the talent of the Montreal studio, I can’t help but feel doubt given the original team isn’t as involved; especially when they’re trying to relaunch the series. Look at how Microsoft’s Halo franchise has been received since 343 studios has taken over the franchise from Bungie. While their games have been commercial successes, they’re heavily criticized for the direction the story has gone.
Another reason to worry is EA’s current trend of mismanaging their franchises. This past fall EA released two first person shooters within a week of each other, Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 to compete against Activision’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. The sales for Titanfall 2 suffered because of the move and has strained the relationship between EA and the developer, Respawn. Neither franchise outsold Infinite Warfare. Then earlier in 2016 EA released Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, the reboot to the 2008 game Mirror’s Edge. The game suffered from delay’s and was released into the worst possible window in June. The game released to mixed reviews, and to put it nicely, sales weren’t that great. Mostly, it was because the release followed a stacked May month that included Doom, Overwatch, and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. All those games were commercial and critical successes. Then again in Fall 2015, EA released Star Wars Battlefront. While the game was praised for its multiplayer and how it captured the feel of the Star Wars universe, the lack of a single player campaign and a ridiculous season pass resulted in harsh criticisms for the game. EA has also mismanaged Mass Effect for the reasons I listed in the above paragraphs, but also given the fact they can’t get their story straight about if they will remaster the original trilogy. Fans want it to happen, but at E3 EA’s COO Peter Moore stated that there won’t be any remasters while he is there. Contradicting Peter Moore, EA studios executive VP Patrick Soderlund stated a few months after that the company had changed its stance on remasters. I could talk all day about how EA has mismanaged their franchises (Medal of Honor, NBA Live, Army of Two, The Sims).
You also have to worry about the game given the legacy of the original trilogy. You can’t deny that given the way the third game ended that there is some pressure on Andromeda to live up to the hype and actually have a story that pays off not just for the Andromeda game, but also for any future entries into the series. While the original trilogy had solid gameplay and meaningful quests the promise of a big payoff that ties all together all of your choices in the series and for that pay off to just be an ending with three different color schemes is a disappointment that clouds the series.
Finally, the gaming industry today has a pre-order culture that encourages Day 0/ Day 1 purchases. Retailers are encouraging pre-orders with pre-order bonuses, and this is no different for Andromeda. Also the gaming industry has a play the current thing now then move on to the next thing philosophy between gaming news reporting and. While most gaming news outlets say wait for reviews before you buy the fact is, most of the content they produce during a games release encourage a more “buy now to be apart of the conversation” mentality. While most gaming outlets are prompt in getting their reviews out, most that have any multiplayer aspect come out a few days after launch which can be tough on impatient gamers. Andromeda has a multiplayer aspect so delayed reviews are a possibility as most news outlets will want to see how the online servers hold up at launch. The best we can do is resist wanting to be in the conversation right away, and think with our wallets. At the end of the day $60+ is a lot of money to spend on a game especially given the lack of coverage, the legacy of the trilogy, our pre-order culture, EA’s mismanagement, and the fact its developed by the Bioware team who didn’t do the original trilogy. The smart and fiscally responsible move would be to wait on reviews and not give into the enthusiasm of being in the cultural conversation right away, at least not until the game has proven itself. Don’t get me wrong I am excited for this game, but I feel everyone should take a closer look before buying rather than have buyers remorse.