The general manager of BioWare has said that not releasing story DLC for Mass Effect: Andromeda and leaving much-wanted tales untold was “a defining moment in refocusing BioWare’s mission”, which will inform Anthem. Casey Hudson talked up the importance of story and characters in a ‘studio update’ blog post yesterday. Given that I’ve forgotten almost everything I’ve heard of the action-RPG’s story (it’s on a spaceplanet and there are mechs and monsters?), I’ll take some convincing yet.
“As you know, we were not able to deliver story DLC for Andromeda—this was as frustrating for us as it was for players, and it was something we knew we had to solve in future games,” Hudson said, noting that many fans had hoped for DLC exploring what happened to the missing Quarian ark. (That story that will finally be told in a tie-in novel.)
Alas, Andromeda’s singleplayer only received much-needed fixes after launch, with the big additions coming to multiplayer. Those continued even after EA effectively shut down BioWare Montreal, the spin-off studio behind Andromeda, by merging it into another studio. That was final: no singleplayer DLC for Andromeda.
“That experience ultimately became a defining moment in refocusing BioWare’s mission. We need to delight players with new experiences and innovation, but we must stay focused on the importance of the world, character, and storytelling elements that players expect from our games. And our games must be designed to continue delivering new stories and experiences, in an ongoing relationship with players in the worlds we’re evolving together.
“It’s in that spirit that we are working through production on Anthem–a game designed to create a whole new world of story and character that you can experience with friends in an ongoing series of adventures. It will be unlike anything you’ve played, but if we do it right, it will feel very distinctly BioWare.”
The statement is a bit weird given that the “defining moment” was almost certainly down to EA deciding that funding Andromeda DLC wasn’t a worthwhile investment – a threat that could hang over Anthem too. But hey, there’s still a lesson in getting it right the first time, and in not leaving too much hanging for hypothetical post-launch additions. EA and BioWare are saying comforting things about Anthem, between this and chat about not repeating loot box mistakes, though talk is of course cheap.
Anthem still is a bit of a mystery, seen largely in one of those there staged E3 demos, and neither its story nor any characters stuck in my memory. It has sci-fi stuff and shooting, yeah? E3 is coming back round in June so I’m sure EA are preparing to blab more. The game is due to launch in 2019 by the end of March.