An announcement was made on July 18 that the General Manager of video game developer Bioware, Aaryn Flynn, will be stepping down to pursue other career options. According to the report, he will be replaced by former “Mass Effect” project manager Casey Hudson, who left Bioware two years ago to work on an unnamed project at Microsoft that has yet to see the light of day.
Many in the industry are speculating about what is going on behind the scenes with this management shift. The harsh judgment by fans and critics of “Mass Effect: Andromeda”, the company’s most recent release, may be one of the sparks that lit this fire. Hudson had a large role in the first three “Mass Effect” volumes, and while the first two received almost exclusively praise, the third edition was criticized for its “tacked on” ending. Hudson himself took some blame for that at the time, and many fans forgave him once some more explanatory DLC came out, as well as an extended end sequence.
The problems with “Andromeda” seem to run deeper. While some have praised its action sequences and game play, initial reviews were extremely bothered by the weirdness of some of the facial animations. For many others, the thin characters, weak plot, and contrived romances, once the pride of Bioware releases, were the greater problem with Andromeda.
Also, Bioware has been trying to make its games more “open world”, which often makes tight story lines much more difficult to maintain, taking away from the heart of most Bioware titles. Their attempt at “open world” seems to have failed as well, with many fans complaining of repetitive, pointless quests and vast, empty spaces.
We will find out soon if this has any effect on the cancellation of “Andromeda” DLC. Likely not, as all of Bioware’s focus right now seems to be on their next project, “Anthem”.
For several years, gaming giant BioWare has been working on an unknown IP that it code-named “Dylan”. Casey Hudson, executive producer of the BioWare fan and financial hit series Mass Effect, named it as such because they “wanted to make the Bob Dylan of video games—one that would be referenced for years to come.” Well now, Bioware has released a trailer for the new game, and it will be titled “Anthem”.
And it looks slick, too. “Anthem” will be set in a science fiction, futuristic, possibly post-apocalyptic universe, with some tonal similarities to Mass Effect. But they very much diverge from there. Flashes of an overgrown wall, a rough, dark marketplace, and an impressive suite of techno-armor worn by the player, all dominate the sequence, with hard, blaring music and sound. An alien creature stalks in the jungle. The narrator drives home the theme of darkness and danger, with mentions of both the wall and the armor as their last defense against what lurks outside.
There will also be some differences in how the game is structured. BioWare, and parent company Electronic Arts, appear to want to compete on a social gaming platform similar to Destiny from Activision. This is a situation more about cooperative play between real people on a network, rather than the individualized story lines for which Mass Effect and Dragon Age (BioWare’s other popular property) were more known.
The idea is to create a network of friends with whom you go on missions. This draws in more players, especially among younger people. It is a trick genre to break into as many failed MMORPG’s might prove. This is also out of Bioware’s usual realm of games, as deep, intertwined story lines are harder to craft in this sort of gaming platform.
Check out the the first game play trailer here. It shows quite a bit more than the first teaser did, especially about how your armor works and the type of world in which you live.
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