They’re only human after all – Mass Effect devs cancel Andromeda DLC

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.

Past Blast: Mass Effect 2

With Mass Effect 2, in 2010, gamers were taken aback by the sheer immersion that this once glitch-infested universe now held, incorporating seedy alien organisations, planets filled with wonder and corruption and a storyline that matched all the greatest icons of the sci-fi genre both in this industry and in others (Star Wars? Meh. George Lucas didn’t have an army of Reapers preparing to converge on our planet.).

Certainly, there’s one thing that’s impossible to deny upon booting up the disc again for the first time in a while – the production values are astounding. From the layered and deep menus to the beautifully animated cut scenes and battles, there really is not a single moment in Mass Effect 2 where you’ll lose the sense of being fully integrated into its twisting and breath-taking plot threads. That BioWare had the sheer audacity to seemingly kill Commander Shepherd – the man who many of us had spent us hours upon hours levelling up in preparation for the sequel – off in the opening moments of the game, sending him hurtling into the lonely void of space with no oxygen remaining in his tanks, still resonates deeply, while also highlighting the developer’s justified confidence in the entire project.

Things don’t get any less ambitious from there, either, as we’re then thrown into the revelation that alleged terrorists Cerberus have resurrected Shepherd for a suicide mission (as if one literal near-death experience wasn’t enough), whereby he must gather a team to face terrible odds in order to stop the menacing Collector army building a new Reaper out of stolen human tissue. The countless red herrings and ground-breaking narrative shifts that are thrown your way throughout genuinely make for some of the most emotional and stomach-churning moments in modern video gaming, sure to push you to your absolute limits in terms of character empathy as they have with me a good while after my first playthrough.


Perhaps it’s easy to forget, but Mass Effect 2 in itself was incredibly focused on its third-person shooter action, such to the point that you would barely go five or ten minutes of the main campaign without being engaged in some kind of firefight, be it against renegade human forces like the Black Suns or indeed the overwhelming Collector threat. The frequency of these dangerous interludes cannot be ignored, and yet it is all the more unexpected to me that all of the battles still feel integral to the overall storyline, really serving as the crux of the reason why even now Mass Effect 2 remains such a compelling, nay, gripping experience to relive.

The final moments on the Collector base only serve to heighten the tension and emotive drama that build steadily and convincingly throughout the game – if you can name one other title that provides such an impactful climax, whereby team members can be gunned down at random regardless of their loyalty or indeed their romantic status with Shepherd, then I’ll be amazed. I can assure you now that seeing my weathered and worn incarnation of the N7 Commander (who apparently has quite a few favourite shops in the Citadel, or so I’m informed) grimace over the graves of Tali and Mordin – both of whom failed to survive due to a reckless decision I made earlier regarding Tali’s father – was just as heartbreaking as when the majority of my team were gunned down back in 2010.


For a video game to still provide just as many surprises, tears and thrills as it did two years before is one thing, but it’s that Mass Effect 2 retains the same heart, overwhelmingly engaging set pieces and true-to-life cast of human and alien characters that to me makes it one of the best releases of all time.

What did you think of Mass Effect 2 when you originally played it? Have you tried it again recently?

Mass Effect: Andromeda multiplayer DLC revealed

Never mind Star Trek’s iconic opening line; the “final frontier”, of greatest interest to fans of the Mass Effect series is Andromeda, the divisive latest instalment of BioWare Montreal’s sci-fi RPG franchise which some critics believe might have represented its last-chance saloon.

The project’s developers are predictably remaining silent regarding recent reports of their staff having been shipped off to work on Mass Effect publisher EA’s other AAA releases for 2017 like Battlefront II and Battlefield I DLC, but we do now know for certain to expect further downloadable content for Andromeda in the near future.

  • The DLC in question will take the form of an additional difficulty mode and playable alien species for the third-person-shooter’s APEX multiplayer component. The former goes by the name Platinum Difficulty, and while that title’s as much as the Mass Effect Twitter account seems willing to disclose right now, one would have to assume it’s bound to test even the most hardcore series veterans’ skills to their very limits…or need some serious technical overhauling if it doesn’t live up to that objective.
  • As for the new characters, fans of the first Mass Effect’s “Bring Down the Sky” DLC or their subsequent appearances in the other two chapters of the original trilogy can rejoice at the news that the Batarians are making a comeback, bringing all four of their intimidating jet-black eyes along to the stare contest to boot.
  • Just as one would expect of the franchise’s ever-devoted followers, some are already questioning how the fan-favourite extra-terrestrial soldiers managed to reach Andromeda’s titular star system given that they – to our knowledge based on the events of the campaign, anyway – weren’t present on the star-ships carrying colonists from an array of Milky Way races to a supposed new home.
  • The canon reason? Producer Fernando Melo wouldn’t spill the beans on Twitter, only teasing “[l]ore secrets (until the update)”. Let the countdown to the still-to-be confirmed update’s launch window begin, in other words…

Whilst this probably seems quite the opposite of closure or clarity which many fans were hoping for with regards to one of BioWare’s most successful IPs to date, if nothing else the studio appear to have at least offered their disciples a kernel of hope, confirming Andromeda’s planned DLC campaign hasn’t stopped dead in its tracks as some had suspected.

Could Mass Effect still delay facing its “final frontier” for now, then? Perhaps, or perhaps EA simply hope fans will end up too busy ploughing their way through Platinum Difficulty mode as Batarians to care for the time being. Only time – or indeed the wallets of anyone who for whatever reason couldn’t justifying picking up this one until Batarians entered the fray – will tell.

Until we hear more on the new multiplayer DLC pack’s release date, be sure to check out our 4/5 review of Andromeda here, courtesy of D-pad Joy’s Chris Wheatley.

Review: Mass Effect: Andromeda (PS4)

Exploring the depths of space, fighting off alien races before the brink of extinction takes its final bow, creating an alliance of super-soldiers of diverse species from across the galaxy. When Mass Effect first released there had been no game like it and it still remains comfortably prominent today. Taking advantage of the endless wonder of space while sprinkling in RPG elements and basic “cover ‘n’ shoot” gameplay, the Bioware series took off and kept dedicated fans eager to complete the Commander Shepard trilogy. Whether you’re a fan of how it all ended or one of the many who threw major upheaval during the final moments of the decisive ending, Mass Effect took players on a long, thrilling space expedition that sits radiantly amongst other popular trilogies.

In Mass Effect: Andromeda, Bioware’s next installation in the galactic adventure series, you leave the familiar faces of the Shepard crew and the Milky Way behind to embark on an excursion to Andromeda, a recently discovered galaxy 2.5 million light years away, over 600 years after the events of the original trilogy. Chasing supposedly habitable planets to create living environments for generations to come, you take control of one of the Ryder twins (male or female), awaking from a long, multi-century cryo-stasis nap. It doesn’t take long for things to heat up and the pressure to build upon landing in the Heleus cluster.

Unknown alien tech litters Habitat 7, the designated “new earth”, and patrolling foreign species known as Kett stay armed and ready for possible intruders. The gameplay is fluid, the easy navigating cover system works well and the combat feels more polished than any game in the series. Equipped to your armor is the new “jump-jet”, giving you a little more umph to your leap allowing extensive exploration through the rocky terrain. After meeting a couple of new crew members, Cora and Liam, and wiping off a few dozen Kett, events transpire leaving the plot in place, now guiding you along your mission as the Pathfinder.

Weapons you find early in the game are familiar as well as the biotic and tech powers used throughout the series. With a heap of skills to upgrade in three specific categories, combat, biotics and tech, you’re able to equip up to three powers at once. Interchanging the powers is a useful tactic, providing you a sense of profile freedom the more you progress through the game, switching between biotics expert to tech engineers to combat specialists. However you feel like playing the game is up to you at almost any moment, giving the game a fresh feeling after hours into the journey.

The armor that you equip is now broken up into four different pieces making full sets: helmet, chest, arms and legs. Pieces are dropped by enemies or bought from merchants and vendor kiosks. Mods can also be attached to your rig adding stat bonuses and weapon enhancements, giving you an edge in combat. All in all there’s plenty of customization, skills and weapons/armor to be found and equipped in the wide open galaxy of Andromeda.

A few hiccups in animation and an occasional glitch make for a harmless appearance; Andromeda looks to be up-to-par with current gen standards. While some facial expressions seem a little strange or obscure, more often they’re spot on giving off personal qualities that bring the game to life. Beautiful space settings and gorgeous planets look as brilliant as any game to date leaving much to discover with a number of different maps and locations, including the Nexus. Playing a role similar to the Citadel from the previous games (only still under construction), the Nexus is where you’ll find shops, clinics and plenty of friendlies looking for someone to send on various quests and missions throughout Andromeda.

With the sudden rise to Pathfinder status, Ryder is given the ship, Tempest, along with its own crew awaiting the arrival of their new leader. With a mission prioritized and an ambitious group of soldiers, scientists and new planets on the horizon, the journey has promising potential. Aside from minor struggling performance issues, which hopefully will receive a patch sooner than later, Mass Effect: Andromeda delivers an amicable experience filled with loads of new upgrades. Take the reins as Ryder and mold the legacy that awaits you in Andromeda.