More information has been released about the creation of BioWare’s latest action role-playing game, Mass Effect: Andromeda, which received mixed to average reviews from gamers and critics. The video game was published by Electronic Arts (EA) and was first released in March 2017 as the fourth installment in the Mass Effect series since Mass Effect 3 in 2013, and incorporated a lighter tone than previous installments in the series by focusing heavily on open world exploration with more mobile combat elements.
The game begins in the Mikey Way Galaxy during the 22nd century where humanity is planning to populate new home worlds in the Andromeda Galaxy as part of a strategy called the Andromeda Initiative. The player assumes the role of either Scott or Sara Ryder, an inexperienced military recruit, who wakes up after a 600-year journey in Andromeda and, after events transpire, must find humanity’s new home world while also dealing with an antagonistic alien race called the Kett.
Similar to EA’s release of Star Wars: Battlefront in 2015, which was criticized for a lack of content, depth and no single-player campaign mode, because the game was rushed in order to have it released when Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit theaters (which even bothered Star Wars actor John Boyega because of its lack of story). Now, it seems like a similar situation occurred with Mass Effect: Andromeda during its five years of production.
In a series of anonymous interviews with Kotaku, several sources who worked on the game broke down why Mass Effect: Andromeda became one of BioWare’s lowest-rated games on Metacritic and the developmental woes they went through when the game came together during its final year and a half of production. Here is what two developers said about the developmental crunch they went through during production:
“We’ll put something together, and it’s been bug tested and signed off and approved. We’d say, ‘OK, we can now move on from that to the next thing.’ And while our backs are turned, what we’d just put together falls apart.”
“It really wasn’t until Mac Walters came on board—and that was very much a reaction to the state of the critical path—he was really brought on board to give it direction and get it into shape. Before that it was quite rudderless.”
There were also problems that could be rooted back to the very beginning of the games production with EA’s vaunted Frostbite Engine, which doesn’t work well with RPG-based games. Here is what one developer said about the Frostbite Engine:
“When it does something well [like vehicles, for example], it does it extremely well. When it doesn’t do something, it really doesn’t do something,” one developer said. Andromeda need maps larger than Frostbite’s maximum size and both “the save system, and various action-RPG mechanics” were reportedly difficult to implement. “The pain started with Dragon Age: Inquisition and continued on with Andromeda.“
One of the more shocking production problems that was exposed in Kotaku’s piece were the lack of staff, particularly in the animation department, due to people in leadership positions being constantly rotated during the production of the game. Here is what one source had to say about the lack of animators:
“At least a dozen” by the end of 2014, and, unsurprisingly, the “animation team in particular was understaffed…and when people left, their positions sometimes weren’t refilled.”
With things not looking great due to EA’s downhill fall with Battlefront‘s rushed lack of story and now the reasons for Mass Effect: Andromeda’s less-than-satisfying addition to the Mass Effect series released, we can only hope that EA will change course with the upcoming release of Battlefront II in November, which already seems to have a more positive outlook.
Screen Rant will keep you up to date with all EA and Mass Effect: Andromeda news.
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