Mass Effect Not-4 Catches Frostbite

By Alec Meer on November 12th, 2012 at 8:00 pm.

An angry internet man, yesterday

Whaaaaaat! How is it possible for there to be another Mass Effect game? Surely everything was tied up and the game universe so profoundly changed by the conclusion(s) of ME3 that there’s simply no room for more? Unless there was somehow some way to tweak and retcon a story that’s already built around ad-hoc pseduo-mythology, resurrections and space magic…. No, surely no such thing is possible. While we wait to see how Bioware take ME’s prophecy-blighted space opera to new places (I’m going to bet you play as a new character who encounters/searches for a long-lost Shepherd), what we do now know is that it’ll be departing its mucky-textured Unreal-based engine of yesteryear and moving to DICE’s impressive (and, thus far, very PC-sympathetic) Frostbite engine for the next instalment.

This information arrives as part of an introduction from Bioware Montreal studio director Yanick Roy, the sudden appearance of whose face on the internet presumably reflects Bioware’s attempts to move into a post-Doctors age.

It’s unknown whether this is the existent, Battlefield 3-based Frostbite engine or a more belled and whistled future version, but the other key fact is that mention of Montreal. Bioware’s HQ is in Edmonton, but the Montreal studio they opened in 2009 will bear the brunt of development on the next ME. As for former series boss Casey Hudson, he “remains the Executive Producer, but he will have a Project Director under him, working in Montreal, leading our development team and making day-to-day decisions for the game.” Hopefully said Project Director will have genuinely planned his story out far in advance rather than hurriedly coming up with a conclusion a couple of months before release.

As for the nature and content of the game itself, there’s no too much to go on – “while it will be very respectful of the heritage built over the course of the first three games, with the original trilogy now concluded and the switch over to a new engine, we are exploring new directions, both on the gameplay and story fronts. You can still expect the pillars the franchise is known for to be fully intact though, including diverse alien races, a huge galaxy to explore, and of course rich, cinematic storytelling.”

GUNS AND CONVERSATION please.

Alas, Roy reckons “it’s probably going to be quite a while before you hear from us again.” More ME3 DLC, then Dragon Age III, then presumably a round of DLC for that, are next from the Bioware RPG roster, so I’m going to guess at a 2014 release for ME Not-4 at the very earliest.

, , .

127 Comments »

  1. InternetBatman says:

    I wonder if EA is trying to use Frostbite in everything as an answer to the Unreal Engine. It’s a pretty bold move, but I wonder if it is as developer friendly or has as many tools.

    Seems like such a shame that they developed a new engine for Dragon Age only to have it wasted. Especially when their other engines showed such longevity.

    • Lekker Pain says:

      It clearly is “don’t feed the competition” situation. Financially more viable for EA, when you control the base, you control everything in and around it.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      If I were cynical, I’d imagine it’s EA trying to leash their staff to EA tools… a sort of developer walled-garden to stop them leaving for another company.

      • InternetBatman says:

        If that’s what they’re trying to do they’re about five years too late. Unity is free to try and effortlessly (from the little I’ve tried) connects with the other common development tools. I doubt anyone in academia is going to be teaching Frostbite.

        • Boozebeard says:

          Well my first question to you would be how many games have you actually played that have been made in unity and how many of those would you consider proper full production games?

          Secondly learning an engine is pretty much a non issue, most of them are similar enough that experiences with one carries over to the other and filling in the gaps doesn’t take too long.

      • N1kolas says:

        Yes, the modern employee’s one true bane: The employer not wanting them to leave.

    • pilouuuu says:

      I didn’t think Dragon Age engine was that good to begin with. I’m excited about Frostbyte making Bioware’s games look much better, but I’m just a little worried about PC optimization. Most Wanted runs awfully even on powerful PCs!

      • Derezzedjack says:

        That’s because Most Wanted uses the Chameleon engine by Criterion, which is probably still not optimized for the current tech on the market and to me, seems to be stuffed with all kind of fancy graphic effects the engine can’t really handle.

      • Premium User Badge

        Joshua says:

        FrostBite engine is insanely optimized for PC, don’t worry ’bout that.

    • RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

      That might be part of it, but you should also keep in mind that the frostbite engine has more fancy sound tech. Unreal doesn’t have HDR sound yet.

    • Premium User Badge

      Okami says:

      The major publishers are all moving away from Unreal at the moment. Which makes perfect sense, due to a variety of reasons. Not having to use your competitor’s tech would be one. Not having to wait for Epic to create a game that uses features that you need for your game are another.

      Then there’s the little issue that the next generation of consoles is looming big on the horizon and no one really knows if Unreal 3 is even going to run on them and Unreal 4 might be an awesome engine at some point, but right now it’s very obviously something that’s still in development. There are a lot of questions not answered at this point and if you’re developing for next gen at this point you have the option of either creating a lot of features in Unreal 4 yourself and hope that they’ll be compatible with future versions of the engine or just hope that Epic will implement them at some point in the future.

      Of course it’s Unreal and Unity that are being taught at the moment in schools and universities, but that’s not that much of an issue really, it’s easy enough to get to grips with new tools and new pipelines.

    • SuicideKing says:

      I think it’s more to completely tie the devs and the game to EA’s management. You use our engine, you do as we want, even if that means ME Not-4 has to compete with CoD.

  2. Armante says:

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    • Wreckdum says:

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      • Kasab says:

        I claimed the middle key. You’re all such treasures, RPS. Even the one that brought Kantian aesthetics into a debate about Driver 3.

      • OrangeeZ says:

        Used the second. God bless RPS.

      • phelix says:

        Took the fourth one. Much, much love!

      • hypercrisis says:

        They’ve all been used, i found to my disappointment

        • Chuck84 says:

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    • BrotherCabbage says:

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    • Premium User Badge

      Dilapinated says:

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    • maheusz says:

      I’m helping too:

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    • quickfire809 says:

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      • Ruffian says:

        assuming it’s not been used, I’ll take the first. Thanks! RPS = awesome community!

  3. Mr.Bats says:

    EAWare do not ruin ME. I dare you.

  4. Raymond Saint says:

    I demand a prequel

    • Oh Tyrone says:

      I too demand a prequel, at the beginning of which the protagonist, who may or may not be called Shepherd, wakes up, realizing that everything that’s happened so far (or rather, hasn’t happened yet) in the series was a dream. Little does s/he know that the nightmare is…
      just about to begin.
      [Cue 1-second clips of people shooting and explosions and everything happening reallyreallyfast.]
      [COMING 2014]

    • Screamer says:

      The first contact war might be very interesting!

      Edit: On that note, I hope you get the play the person with the itchy trigger finger that started the whole war

      • jalf says:

        As I recall from the Codex, it wasn’t started by an itchy trigger finger, but by humanity trying to activate a dormant mass relay when a Turian patrol finds them. And since you need Council permission to open up new relays, standing orders are to open fire.

        Could be some very interesting games though, I agree with you there. :)

        • Screamer says:

          Ah I might be thinking of Babylon 5 then, or Space Above And Beyond or…….. I’m getting old :/

  5. Premium User Badge

    LTK says:

    The trilogy might be over, but there’s no reason a new Mass Effect game couldn’t take place before or during the timeline of any of the first three games. Prevents them from having to deal with all the multiple-endings-shenanigans.

    • Deisenberger says:

      Ofc, they could a) commit to an ending or b) do the absurd cluster-f that was The Warp in the West for the Elder Scrolls series.
      And in addition, the game could take place many a year after ME3, with the galaxy rebuilding after the loss of the mass relays.
      In fact, I kinda would prefer a combination of that and variant a) from above. That way you would be forging an actual future after the universe’s hard reset at the conclusion of ME3 instead of knowing that all your work will eventually be for naught as it would with a prequel.

      • kament says:

        My guess is, if not ignored, Synthesis rules sequel out, even if they maintain that ridiculous frozen-in-time outlook on the evolution (or lack of it, really) of the Mass Effect universe, which was really changed just once—right there in the end. But I hope they can do better.

  6. db1331 says:

    CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM

    Hopefully they don’t screw it up.

  7. TheFlyingWooly says:

    I recall Bioware saying that a new Mass Effect game would be set before or during the events of the trilogy, but that was months ago.

    I would prefer that to setting it post ME3.

    Also, Frostbite plus biotic abilities could be really fun.

    • Vorphalack says:

      If they set it after the end of ME3, it would leave them to come up with a contrivance as to how the entire galaxy didn’t starve.Also without the mass relays it would limit the game to fewer locations. That ending created too many problems for a chronological sequel.

      • NathanH says:

        They should just retcon the ending, for maximum trolling.

      • jalf says:

        The *entire* galaxy wouldn’t starve. A lot of colonies would go dark, and a lot of aliens would die because they were stuck in a system inhabited by another species whose food they can’t eat. But there would be plenty of survivors for life to continue.

        And I’m sure that most planets would have some limited capacity for growing or synthesizing “alien” food.

        The Sol system in particular would be a mass grave for a lot of aliens though, there’s little doubt about that. But that could make a very interesting historical backdrop for another game.

        (Although thinking about it, I got the impression that human and asari food was “compatible”, and likewise for turian/quarian food, so assuming the migrant fleet brought their agricultural ships, things might not be *that* bad)

  8. S Jay says:

    Battlefield in space?

  9. Grover says:

    Is anyone still getting hyped up and excited by Bioware titles at this point?

    Or even giving EA-Bioware the benefit of the doubt at this point?

    • Premium User Badge

      Naum says:

      Yes, I will undoubtedly become at least mildly hyped for ME4 as we get closer to release (or any actual info, for that matter). The first three titles provided me with somewhere around 150 hours of — mostly — enjoyment, so I feel it’s kind of justified as well.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Until I finally play Mass Effect 3 (eventually) and Dragon Age 2 (when it’s free), I’ll be withholding my ultimate judgement on how shitty their games have become.

      • Arglebargle says:

        With Dragon Age 2, even if free, it will be your time you are wasting. Unless you really like that sort of combat, and can stomach the four endlessly repeated locales, you might want to look elsewhere. I am sure there are some really cool solitaire games out there….

    • LintMan says:

      I really liked DA: Origins, but resolved to not buy DA2 until I can get it without paying extra for the free bonus pre-order DLC character I missed out on, which still hasn’t happened. And I won’t buy DA3 if I haven’t played DA2.

      And of course, the Mass Effect series is dead to me after the crappy ME3 ending. So I guess I’m done with Bioware for the foreseeable future.

    • PopTart says:

      I’m still a little perplexed by the constant negativity over Bioware/Mass Effect…
      I adored the Mass Effect games; yes, the ME3 ending received valid criticisms, but over all, I enjoyed the hell out of the series. Space opera, sure, but to have conversation and guns… mm mmm.
      Frostbyte engine has me excited too (especially for Dragon Age 3); I’m about done with Unreal 3, good as it’s been.

      So yes, bring it on.

    • Premium User Badge

      Joshua says:

      Yes, because they make FUN games!

  10. Astalnar says:

    I don’t see a reason why give them another shot at killing character I spent developing over multiple games.

  11. aepervius says:

    I am guessing they will either do a prequel, or do a story parallel to the ME3 event or shortly after , but in a single planet staged over time. Think dragon age 2.

    Oh please no. No NO! Not like DA2 Forget I said that.

    *shudders in a corner*

    • kament says:

      Funny thing, I too thought DA2. Wasn’t that shuddering really.

  12. pilouuuu says:

    Mass Effect has such a great universe that it’d be a shame not to make another game. I just hope it’s different enough not to feel like the same thing over again.

    • Cytrom says:

      The only thing going for Mass Effect was the story. With that story concluded and exhausted (even if it was a devastatingly shit conlcusion which turned the reapers into trivial tools from all knowing god-machines, and destroyed galactic civilisation and everything we worked for) there is nothing left but mediocrity, which is a pretty slim base for a new game.

      Adding to it will just devalue the original experience, and take what little respect the mass effect name still carries.. like with every game that had way more sequels then it was necessary turning classic games into running jokes.

      • Premium User Badge

        darkChozo says:

        Maybe I’m weird, but the story of Mass Effect didn’t actually have that much pull for me. The things I like most about the Mass Effect series is the lore and, oddly enough, the gameplay. The former is probably just because I’m a sucker for fleshed out sci-fi universes with pseudo-consistent explanations for everything. The latter is just that Mass Effect has that nice blend of FPS and RPG that makes for engaging combat that’s a bit more complex than your standard COD fare. I actually had quite a bit of fun with ME3′s multiplayer for that reason.

        Then again, I couldn’t stand the original Dragon Age due to its pacing and combat system, so maybe I’m just weird.

        • nearly says:

          the feel changed too much between the first and second games for me, and the third one just couldn’t revive the magic. the first one had a classic sweeping space opera feel and the second was all RELOAD MAN AND PUT ON YOUR WARFACE

          • Premium User Badge

            darkChozo says:

            Yeah, I could see why. I generally like streamlining in games (I’m somewhere between an adventure/platformer gamer at heart, and number crunching in itself doesn’t have much appeal to me), but I wish ME2 kept some of the complexity and non-linearity of 1. I did like the improved game feel, but wish they kept more of the openness. One thing ME3 did right was to open up the world a bit, though even then it felt less adventure-y than 1 did.

      • Premium User Badge

        FriendlyFire says:

        The thing Mass Effect has, heck the thing BioWare has, is characters. Their characters are often original, charming and fairly deep. Even if at face value they seem weak and flat, you get to realize that it’s often just an impression. Sure, sometimes it falls flat on its face (think ME3), but then you get awesome characters like Garrus or Mordin.

        That there will be new games in the same universe is fine by me, as long as they keep the same kind of characterization they’ve had in past entries. I wouldn’t mind having a more cohesive and nuanced overarching story too, though.

  13. Tuor says:

    Looks like EA is gonna stick another bucket under their cash cow and try to squeeze out some more milk. How wonderful! How thrilling!

  14. HadToLogin says:

    Hmm, I also noticed one thing. That’s another game that won’t be powered by Unreal Engine. That might be good thing, since more game-engines, more visual variety. Too bad lost money won’t force Epic to make another UT, more likely they will make another sequels to Gears of Wars instead.

  15. fitzroy_doll says:

    All I ask is that they get someone as good as Jennifer Hale to voice the lead. Just that will be enough for me.

  16. Phinor says:

    If they can fix all the issues with Frostbite 2, I’m on board. But if it remains as bad as it is on BF3, NFS The Run and Worffighter, this isn’t good news at all. DICE lost the plot somewhere between 1.5 and 2.

  17. Werthead says:

    This makes sense. Casey Hudson and his team are apparently working on a new IP, so it’s logical that they would pass ME4 onto another group:

    http://blog.bioware.com/2012/09/18/from-aaryn-flynn/

    “BRAND NEW GAMES FROM BIOWARE – Both Dragon Age and Mass Effect started as single games but grew into vast universes. But we aren’t stopping there. While Casey continues to oversee the development of our new Mass Effect project, he and his leads are putting together their vision for an all new game set in a fictional universe, built from the bottom-up with all new gaming technology.”

  18. The Random One says:

    More conversation less guns. In fact, no guns. I want to be the Space Diplomat.

    If only you could etc etc etc

    • Cleeyah says:

      More dialogue-wheel conversation. less autodialogue.

      And if they are truly bold they’ll introduce skippable combat in favour of dialogue-driven gameplay, or missions that can be solved without shooting the whole place into smithereens (Like Thane’s loyalty mission in ME2). Won’t happen, though.

      • HadToLogin says:

        ME dialogue-wheel is really bad for dialogue-driven games. You MUST either press “always top” or “always low”, with remembering to check if there’s no coloured option on left if you don’t want to screw something. And with that system, there’s no place for diplomats.
        Just recall ME2 Zaeed Loyalty mission. If you done it as Paragon too fast, you couldn’t use “I’m really nice” blue option, making him not loyal.
        I can only name Alpha Protocol as game where wheel-dialogues really worked and forced to think about answers.

  19. JoeGuy says:

    Hope its more like the Mass Effect 1 PC port. The one you know, that had options and a decent .ini file and stuff.

  20. Greyhunted says:

    Let’s just add another bunch of Planetside 2 beta keys:

    J2M4ZTR9HRR4346A26TT
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    Please reply on use

  21. Col says:

    Used the first one – thank you very much!

  22. drumcodes says:

    Some more PS2 Buddy Keys:

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  23. DyingFlutchman says:

    Planetside 2 Keys below:

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  24. Baresark says:

    I used to think that after the events of the core games, there was no room to move forward. Then my favorite scifi show of all time miraculously popped into my head, Babylon 5. I thought there was no room forward after the shadow war, but then I was treated to the epic ass Earth War. You can always move forward and make it awesome. Now if only we could get rid of EA.

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  26. yurusei says:

    As long as I can play a Krogan and punch through destructible environments, I’m all game.

  27. MarloBrandon says:

    I hope the rich, cinematic storytelling is unskippable. I mean, if it’s not unskippable, then what’s the point?

  28. Gorf says:

    Wasnt the first Mass Effect supposed to be the launch game for the xbox360, and is it possible that they could be doing another xbox exclusive, but for ME4 and the nex gen xbox console?

    • HadToLogin says:

      Well, for first ME it was Microsoft that put money on the table to develop it. I really don’t think EA will want to lose customers from both PS3 and PC.
      So, no big chance for exclusive.

  29. PsychoWedge says:

    Hm, when they say that we can still expect “the pillars the franchise is known for to be fully intact [...], including diverse alien races, a huge galaxy to explore, and of course rich, cinematic storytelling” I think they are not mentioning the actual game being an RPG for two reasons. 1st: It would be wrong to do so. :D 2nd: The RPG-aspect will be non existant in ME!4.

  30. U-99 says:

    I wish they made real ME3, and pretend that previous nonsense never happend.