Wednesday 8 November 2023

BioWare unveil teaser for fifth MASS EFFECT game

BioWare have unveiled a brief teaser for the upcoming fifth game in the Mass Effect franchise.

As part of N7 Day - an annual celebration of the franchise derived from the N7 special forces group in the video games - BioWare released a series of text and video bursts teasing a new clip. Once fans had done some detective work, the full clip was posted as above.

The accompanying text (in the original files) suggests that the next game in the series takes place in or after the year 2819, the year that Mass Effect: Andromeda took place in, and a distress call from the Andromeda Galaxy has been detected. The text also suggests that the Systems Alliance, the Earth-led human faction in the Mass Effect universe, is still extant. The original Mass Effect trilogy concluded in the year 2186, for reference.

BioWare and parent company Electronic Arts confirmed some years ago that a new Mass Effect game was in development. However, it is still likely some years off; the company is currently working hard to get Dragon Age: Dreadwolf finished for its likely 2024 launch and will only turn its full firepower towards Mass Effect 5 (or, more likely, Mass Effect Colon Dramatic Subtitle) after that game comes out.

The Mass Effect franchise was launched in 2007 with the titular original game; it was followed by Mass Effect 2 (2010) and Mass Effect 3 (2012). The three games are notable for combining into one very large mega-game where players can guide their characters through almost 100 hours of an epic space opera war story, in which humanity and the other races of the Milky Way are plunged into war against an ancient alien threat, the Reapers. In 2017 BioWare released Mass Effect: Andromeda, a spin-off story set more than six centuries later in the Andromeda Galaxy. However, the game garnered a lukewarm reaction from fans and middling sales. BioWare decided not to proceed with a direct sequel, despite the game setting one up. In 2021 they released Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, a packaging of all three original games into one title with some upgrades to the graphics and controls.

It sounds like the new game will take place in the Milky Way again and will have to decide which one of Mass Effect 3's endings is canon. However, by taking place after Andromeda, it may also be able to resolve some of the unresolved story threads from that game.

Although teasing a new Mass Effect game is welcome, fans have also taken advantage of N7 Day to criticise the lay-offs of numerous developers from the company in the last few weeks, including some of the last original team-members from the Baldur's Gate franchise (an interesting look after Baldur's Gate III launched back in August from Larian Studios and was a massive critical and commercial success of the kind that BioWare has not enjoyed in over fifteen years), as well as QA staff after they voted to unionise (although BioWare have pointed out that was a decision by their contracted company rather than BioWare themselves).

It's fair to say that an enormous amount is riding on the success of both Dragon Age: Dreadwolf and Mass Effect Next: BioWare have not had a really big hit since the release of Dragon Age: Inquisition nine years ago, and the company has since been haemorrhaging fans, critical acclaim and its creative firepower.

No comments: