What's Next for Mass Effect: Andromeda Galaxy
We all remember the Mass Effect series, for better or worse.
Bioware has plenty of decent to wonderful games under their belt, such as Dragon Age, Knights of the Old Republic, and Baldur's Gate. However, the Mass Effect trilogy is debatably the most famous (or infamous, depending on how one looks at it) series of games Bioware has made to date.
It's clear why, of course: the main character, Commander Shepard, was unforgettable, no matter the gender, the cast backing him/her had a myriad of colorful personalities, and the multiple worlds in the galaxy made for a fantastic place to carry a plot.
Bioware was well known for its superb handling of storytelling. That was what its players have come to expect. Everyone gushed about how well they carry most of their games, and the ones that weren't as brilliant still had a storyline worth noting. Once upon a time, it didn't look like Bioware could do anything wrong.
Then the last fifteen minutes of Mass Effect 3 happened.
There hasn't been such a negative sensation over a video game since people played through Mass Effect 3 for the first time, and it crippled Bioware's reputation for a while. Players said that the ending wasn't just bad, rather they felt betrayed over the ending. Some weren't sure if they could play any Bioware game ever again.
Others blogged and wrote and talked about how shocked they were, and understandably so, since the gaming community believed that this wouldn't ever happen to a Bioware game. It wasn't that the rest of the game wasn't solid, because it was: it was exactly what any gamer hoped for, and it, for all intents and purposes, looked like it was going to be a great conclusion.
Maybe not as good a game as Mass Effect 2, but it didn't look gamers expected that. They just wanted a solid follow up.
Bioware laid low when it came to video game releases afterwards, despite multiple defenses paired with apologies for the ending. Free DLC, called the Extended Cut, was released to help adjust the ending, and while it was better, it didn't do much to remove the foul taste out of people's mouths.
For the next couple of years, Bioware focused on The Old Republic's expansion packs, working on the third Dragon Age. Many fans saw this as a make or break for Bioware, seeing if the third game of the series would prove disastrous. It didn't. Dragon Age: Inquisition wasn't as solid as the first installment in the series, Dragon Age: Origins, but it didn't hold any disasters as a surprise.
When the community breathed a huge sigh of relief, Bioware waited to announce a title for a new Mass Effect that would be coming up. Time heals most wounds, although some flinched at the thought of another Mass Effect disaster, and in this year's E3, the title of Mass Effect: Andromeda was announced.
Running away from danger, or towards it?
A new start.
There are two important things to note here: Shepard will not be in this game, and this new Mass Effect would not be taking place in the same galaxy. Bioware has stated that it's not accurate to call the new game Mass Effect 4, because it would not be a direct sequel.
In the E3 of 2014, the fact that calling the game Mass Effect 4 would be something of a disservice is something community manager Chris Prestley made abundantly clear. It's a different galaxy with different worlds; nothing like we'd seen yet. The worlds, ranging from a desert climate with towering crags to a poisonous looking forest to a soft forest filled with waterfalls, looks naturally like nothing on Earth and nothing they have established in the original Mass Effect trilogy.
The Milky Way might make a brief appearance (after all, the fierce Krogan made somewhat of an appearance, and someone, presumably the human main character, is wearing N7 armor, the highest of special operations in this universe in the teaser trailers. After all, Bioware is always known for its nods towards other games, particularly predecessors) but as the game title suggests, the actual setting will be the Andromeda Galaxy.
The implications are many. The first is that Bioware seems to be serious in restarting this franchise, for better or worse. Despite the fact Bioware defended their choices at the end of the third game, the reality is that too many fans were disappointed with the game to risk repeating the same mistake.
However, Mass Effect is probably the most loved series Bioware has to offer at the moment, and many fans might feel that Bioware owes it to them to make up for their mistakes. By creating a different galaxy, insisting Commander Shepard won't be in the games, and promising a different plot and characters, it seems Bioware is taking their fans seriously and hoping, just like the rest of us, for something different.
So far, the game looks promising.
Indeed, they have changed everything except the name of the game, N7, and the fact that it takes place in space, so hopefully Bioware will bring something new to the table with Andromeda.
In the E3 of 2015, Mass Effect's new title as well as its potential release date – holiday of 2016 – was announced. It was also made clear that Bioware is giving the new game a lot of special time and attention, although whether this is actually true or just tooting their horn so people give them a chance is debatable.
Some food for thought: First, there's a new lead writer for this game. Chris Schlert, senior writer for Halo 4, has joined the team, while former lead writer Mac Walters is directing.
Secondly, Bioware has been spending more time on developing its games. Dragon Age: Inquisition was received well by critics, and more favorably received than Mass Effect 3. It came out two years afterwards, with hardly any releases in between. This meant more time to focus on the game, and they are doing something similar with this release in late 2016.
At any rate, the associate producer has implied that keeping previous save files might not be a bad idea, although this doesn't confirm anything. It could just mean some filler for dialogue in the actual game. However, with all these different speculations and pondering, this is going to be one interesting ride, for better or worse. Mass Effect: Andromeda is coming out for the PC, Xbox One and the Playstation 4 next year, around the holidays.
Who knows what will be found out there.