Remember when we reported trouble at sea for Mass Effect: Andromeda, with its BioWare Montreal development team attempting to lift fans’ spirits with multiplayer DLC despite rumours of its staff having been transferred to other projects? At the time we contemplated whether Mass Effect could “delay facing its final frontier”, using updates like the introduction of Platinum Difficulty mode and playable Batarians to alleviate fans’ fears.
Unfortunately, it would appear those franchise veterans worried at the time had reasonable cause for concern. After months of silence on the subject, BioWare has officially passed judgment on Andromeda’s future; suffice to say that those devotees who adored the fourth entry in the studio’s sci-fi RPG series – despite its much-maligned technical and narrative hiccups – had best take a seat before reading the jury’s verdict…
- Rather than following in the path of past Mass Effect outings with single-player DLC like ME1’s Bring Down the Sky or the sequel’s Arrival mini-campaign, BioWare Montreal plan to cease producing narrative-driven content with immediate effect, making update 1.10 the last to contain updates for Andromeda’s solo component.
- The development team predictably refuses to offer clarity in their blog post as to the rationale behind this long-speculated decision – despite rumours abound of the lukewarm critical reception Andromeda reaped playing a crucial hand – but does offer some hope for those yearning for the campaign’s loose plot threads to be resolved, confirming that future licenced comic-strips and novels will reveal the quarrian ark’s final destination and answer other mysteries in the months ahead.
- Nor will the stories players have invented for themselves online with comrades-in-arms come to an end, either; in fact, we’re told to expect further character kits, missions and N7 Day-themed surprises from the project’s multiplayer team soon, meaning the tales of the Andromeda galaxy can continue long beyond August 2017.
To see any ambitious title lose its developers and publisher’s support just months after release always seems a disappointment at best, but for that fate to befoul a project so widely anticipated, heralding from a franchise so widely acclaimed – ME3’s ending aside – will only harshen the blow for many. Indeed, much as Andromeda’s tales will continue in other mediums, one has to assume the Montreal team would’ve loved to develop follow-up entries themselves, and thus will share fans’ dismay at their once-ongoing narrative’s lost potential.
As for the implications the move could have for Mass Effect’s future as a AAA franchise, don’t be surprised if EA and BioWare spend a decent few months – or perhaps years – taking stock of how a series which once could barely move for all its Game of the Year gongs has since experienced such an unexpected peripeteia. In the meantime, the latter studio will almost certainly focus its efforts on ensuring that Anthem doesn’t meet with a similar fate, particularly after accusations of their new IP’s E3 2017 demo taking a little too much in the way of inspiration from Activision’s Destiny franchise.
Either way, we’ll have all the latest news and views on whether BioWare and EA’s respective upcoming output shows signs of avoiding its predecessors’ mistakes.