Gamers blamed by EA for the failure of Mass Effect Andromeda
In a recent statement by EA, announcements were made regarding the state of Mass Effect Andromeda and its future. EA stated that support for the single-player part of Mass Effect Andromeda has been cancelled with a small team continuing to support multiplayer. Patch 1.10 will be the last patch for the game and the developers behind the game are to be moved on to other projects. Understandably, many gamers are infuriated, including various gaming related media outlets and online social media personalities.
In August 2017 it was declared that Mass Effect single-player support would end with patch 1.10. With this patch it would bring some very minor adjustments to weapons, ranks, and a few select other elements. BioWare has stated that some support would continue but for the multiplayer only but as we already know this is far from fixed and is increasingly suffering due to a dwindling player base. As far as the single-player is concerned, which is considered the main part of the experience in a beloved series, the game is ultimately broken and suffers from some poor design choices as has suffered from as the result of a wave of highly critical, negative articles and reviews that have primarily focused on the derpy animations the game has now become known for. It is a shame that as little as six months down the line from the game’s March 21st release (PC, Xbox One & PS4) with patches that have failed to fully address issues, poor support according to some customers, and a lack of intent from the developers to fix game the major issues holding the game back from potentially being a good or great experience. It felt like little was going to change and EA’s recent statement only confirms this.
The game, although plagued with issues which resulted in a Metacritic score of just 72% (which isn’t that bad in all fairness) from critics and a 5.0 from gamers, has moved forward and improved a fair amount given the difficult circumstances. The development of Mass Effect Andromeda was riddled with problems from the start but most well-known of these was moving over to using the Frostbite engine and the failure of animations throughout the game, which give off a creepy, possessed doll look. It is alleged by individuals within BioWare that the main staff behind facilitating learning how to properly use the Frostbite Engine were moved off to other projects, resulting in friction both within and between teams as well as additional issues. To learn more about how BioWare Montreal intended to use Frostbite in Mass Effect Andromeda check out this video over at IGN. The notorious facial and body animations were, however, the main source of negative press resulting in huge forum threads cataloguing and highlighting funny moments.
Although those who were on the Andromeda project place the blame at various doors, from what we have been able to establish, this was the result of time constraints and heavy pressure on the animation team, which was stretched beyond its limits. In game development, due to the sheer scope of some projects and to free up some time and resources, it is becoming increasingly typical for animators to use algorithms to generate some baseline animations to work from. Under normal circumstances, these will be checked and manually modified by the animators to look for issues and make enhancements. However, Jonathan Cooper, who is a well-known animator and has worked on projects such as Mass Effect 2, Uncharted 4 and Assassin’s Creed 3, stated on Twitter that he suspects some corners may have been cut during Mass Effect, which resulted in entire sets of animations being left unchecked and leaving us gamers with some very bizarre faces to look at and walking animations that defy physics.
EA has, for many years had a terrible reputation resulting it in being voted the worst company in America for several years. Although EA is keen to shake this reputation and has admitted it has made mistakes in the past, the battle is ongoing with, in some cases, critics and customers continuing to vow to boycott them for their practices and some anti-consumer decisions. I, personally, do not feel they are the worst; Warner Brothers comes to mind instead. However, their attitude regarding Mass Effect Andromeda’s flaws, laying the blame on gamers, and failing to acknowledge the impact of some crucial design and technical decisions that were made from what we can tell in an attempt to cut corners is disgusting and deluded. In addition to this abandoning of Mass Effect Andromeda with little over six months of support since its release and failure to address critical issues is inexcusable and does not aid in restoring faith in the publisher and has decimated the respect many had for BioWare. I understand the company is cutting their losses for a game that received a lot of bad press, but this was a problem they created by making the decisions they made during the development process. Had the development of the game been treated with more care, consideration and honesty, then this entire situation would have not been the case and fans of the series would have felt better served, even if it did result in the game being released six months or a year late. A terrible consequence of this situation is that it appears, based on an article by Kotaku, that for now the entire Mass Effect series has been shelved. BioWare Montreal, who was providing the support for, and producing Mass Effect Andromeda are now labelled by EA as a support studio and has been merged into the EA Motive Studio to work on Star Wars Battlefront 2, an unannounced Star Wars action title, and a new IP codenamed Dylan, which is supposedly an open world action game with an Assassin’s Creed vibe. For a more in-depth look at the problems behind Mass Effect Andromeda’s development cycle, I recommend this article by Kotaku.
Many members of the Charede Gaming team have fond memories of the old Mass Effect games, myself included. We are all disappointed with the way EA and BioWare Montreal handled the situation and as far as we can tell based on recent statements and their actions a lack of motivation to fix the problem they created. We hope Mass Effect will return one day but we are not expecting it any time soon.
Did you play Mass Effect Andromeda or any of the other games in the series? Have any fond memories you would like to share or comments on the ongoing situation? We would love to hear from you! Just sign in and comment below.
NB: This article has been edited since being posted. Corrections have been made for clarity.