Among all the major video game titles set some come out between now and 2017, few are as nervously anticipated as Mass Effect: Andromeda. The Mass Effect trilogy, despite a controversial finale that many fans felt did not deliver on the inherent promise of the franchise, was regarded as one of the high water-marks of last generation and an unprecedented new evolution in science-fiction storytelling in the medium. Many fans has assumed further adventures would be a long time coming, and some have vocally posited that any revisiting of the Mass Effect universe could irrevocably taint the trilogy’s legacy.
But while Andromeda is coming whether fans want it or not, it will now do so without its original lead writer. Chris Schlerf has revealed via social media that he is leaving the project to work on Destiny 2 for rival developer Bungie.
Schlerf, who previous worked for 343 on the Bungie-originated Halo franchise for Halo 4, confirmed his departure via Twitter, sending a wave of surprise through the gaming community:
To confirm what some folks asked about a few months back, I am no longer working on ME:A at BioWare Montreal.— schlerf (@schlerf) February 16, 2016
Sincerely one of the best experiences of my career-I'm incredibly grateful to have worked w/ such talented & truly wonderful human beings.— schlerf (@schlerf) February 16, 2016
Think MEA is really gonna blow people away; couldn't be prouder to be part of it, & excited like a lil kid to play the final when it's out.— schlerf (@schlerf) February 16, 2016
All that said, very happy to be back in Seattle, working with this scrappy little company called Bungie that some of you may have heard of.— schlerf (@schlerf) February 16, 2016
Thus far, little is known about the storyline of this fourth Mass Effect installment, save that it takes place after the events of the original trilogy and that “Andromeda” refers to the galaxy in which the story will take place. An early teaser for the title leaned heavily on a western-influenced aesthetic, with a planet similar in design to a North American desert region and Johnny Cash crooning “Ghost Riders In The Sky” over the soundtrack. No plot, character or thematic elements have been revealed, though it is known that gameplay will feature the return of the six-wheeled all-terrain Mako vehicle; a fan-favorite from the original title. The game is being developed using the Frostbite engine from Dragon Age: Inquisition.
While open-minded Mass Effect fans are likely to be excited (or at least curious) about the mere fact of a new title, Andromeda will likely have some work cut out for it yet in terms of making the franchise a talking point in sci-fi gaming. Not only did the trilogy end on a highly divisive note, the series field has become more crowded with even previously plot-lite titles like Titanfall adding a more robust narrative to its sequel and gaming-narrative masters Telltale branching out into ever more popular franchises.
Meanwhile, Schlerf will have his work cut out for him with Destiny, with the original having launched under massive hype – with a lack of core narrative direction being a key criticism among many early adopters. While subsequent campaign updates to the game led to reappraisals and improved storytelling marks, it’s not hard to see why Bungie would want to woo away the lead writer of a story based game with the a similar universe to help make sure the sequel hits the ground running in that regard. It remains to be seen, however, if any of these titles can take their narratives to a place that will surprise and fascinate the medium the way the original Mass Effect did in 2007.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is currently targeting a Holiday 2016 release, while Destiny 2 is expected in 2017.
Source: Chris Schlerf