The Age of ‘Mass Effect’ is Over Thanks to the Failure of ‘Andromeda’

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By Ian Miles Cheong | 10:20 am, May 11, 2017

Mass Effect is on its deathbed, and its makers only have themselves to blame.

In BioWare’s attempt to cash in on the franchise, they farmed out the brand to BioWare Montreal, an untested studio.

Their first title, Mass Effect: Andromeda, was an unmitigated disaster that brought more sorrow than the Reapers in the original trilogy.

Mass Effect: Andromeda was originally intended as the inception of an all-new trilogy, spanning landscapes and storylines never before explored in the Mass Effect universe.

It is very unlikely to continue, as the studio responsible for Andromeda has been relegated to a supporting role for the company’s other products. The franchise itself is on indefinite hiatus following the game’s commercial and critical failure.

Panned by critics and fans of the series alike, Mass Effect: Andromeda was a major disappointment – even for those who weren’t expecting much from BioWare after it dropped the ball with Mass Effect 3’s lamentable, and poorly-written ending.

Ty Franck, the co-writer of The Expanse, called the ending to that game “fucking terrible.”

“Please be patient.”

Mass Effect: Andromeda was worse.

Riddled with game-breaking bugs that remained present weeks after the game’s launch, poor optimization, an obtrusive and unintuitive user interface, Mass Effect: Andromeda’s myriad problems paled in comparison to its laughable character models and facial animations, which barely resemble the people they were modeled after.

In the weeks surrounding its overhyped release in March, the game was the butt of jokes – and for once, everyone from across the political spectrum could find something to agree on: Mass Effect: Andromeda sucks.

Many highly-anticipated games turn out to be disappointments, but the reception towards the Mass Effect: Andromeda was abnormal – and with good reason.

Criticism of the game was particularly harsh from some consumers thanks to the outspokenness of some of BioWare Montreal’s senior developers.

One of them – Manveer Heir, the gameplay designer – was eager to share with the world his hatred of white people.

All the time he spent not working on the game, he spent on Twitter, where he virtue signaled his status as a social justice warrior by attacking other game developers for wrongthink.

Next-gen facial animation

The politics of its developers clearly seeped into the game, which contained references to transgenderism and gender fluidity – written in ways that made no sense in the context of the story.

One of the game’s characters outs herself as transgender and refers to herself by her dead name, which even trans advocates found appalling. It was a naked attempt to virtue signal, and it failed.

Elsewhere, members of a monogendered alien race known as the Asari (they’re all females) had their biology retconned to promote the social justice idea of “preferred pronouns”.

The detail is trivial to most people – but for hardcore fans, it is blasphemy. It’s also the sort of thing that kills any sense of immersion.

After all, what reason did the characters have to discuss gender, if not to serve as stand-ins for the writers’ personal politics?

“I need a drink.”

Several sources close to the company informed Kotaku of the dire development, telling them that the studio has been scaled down.

Many BioWare Montreal employees were dispersed across other EA Games studios in the region like Montreal-based EA Motive to work on Star Wars Battlefront 2.

Those remaining on the team continue to churn out fixes for Mass Effect: Andromeda to get the game into the semi-polished state in which it should have launched. Others are set to support the development of BioWare’s other unannounced projects.

Given the popularity of Mass Effect, it’s unlikely BioWare will pull the plug on the entire franchise – but given Andromeda’s performance, don’t expect a resolution to that storyline.

If they want to salvage the series, they’ll need to reboot it. In the meantime, the company will just have to find another cash cow to milk.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.