As you’ve probably seen across various gaming news sites by now, it seems that the Mass Effect franchise is going to be hiatus for a bit (you can read the USGamer story here and the Kotaku story here).
In some ways, this is not terribly surprising. Andromeda’s Metacritic scores current sit at 70 (PS4), 73 (PC) and 77 (Xbox One). Surely that’s not what EA was anticipating when they forced the game to be shipped before it was ready (EA’s fiscal year ended March 31). And it’s really inarguable that the game wasn’t ready. It’s received multiple post-release patches to address a variety of issues, from facial animations to bugs to stability issues and more.
But I can’t help feeling like the decision to put the franchise on hold was driven by the absolute savaging the game has received on social media. Spending any time in the Twitterverse in the first few weeks after release, you would have thought that Mass effect Andromeda was not only the worst game of all time, but that it had destroyed the ability of the people who played it to ever enjoy a video game again.
The reaction was ridiculous, and it became more so, as the piling-on continued until there was essentially nothing Bioware could do to escape the narrative that Andromeda was an awful game that was a total failure.
It’s really sad, because the Mass Effect universe is one I have invested hundreds of hours in, through the games, comics, novels and more. I spent a good deal of time covering and discussing the original trilogy on Co-Op Critics, my own blog and for Comic Book Resources as well. And I was so excited for a whole new series of games set in the ME universe. My first dozen-plus hours with ME: Andromeda have been great overall. Sure, I see the lack of polish, but as the first game in a new series, I feel like the criticism of it has been completely overblown. I can only imagine if the Twitterverse had been at full force when the original Mass Effect came out. The issues with AI, the glitches, the Mako–I mean can you imagine? But at the time, reason prevailed, and despite its flaws, Mass Effect was given credit where credit was due. I don’t feel like that’s been the case with Andromeda at all.
Instead, the vitriol directed at the developers and the tidal wave of negativity on social media has helped put the series on ice. I’m just hoping that once the fervor dies down, EA and Bioware will regroup and come up with a plan for moving the series forward. Because there is so much potential for storytelling in the Mass Effect universe, and it would be a shame if this is the end of it.
In case you want to take a trip in the wayback machine, here’s some of my previous stuff on the Mass Effect series:
*Due to the way CBR now archives old posts, a lot of the images are no longer embedded, but the content of the interviews is still there.