Mass Effect: Andromeda blue face

Why Bioware should kill Mass Effect after Andromeda

The original Mass Effect games were incredible. Does that mean we should look past the mediocre Andromeda entry and hope for a potential Mass Effect 5

Playing the Mass Effect trilogy was amazing, and I can proudly say I loved 99% of it. The gameplay was fun, the story was incredible, and the characters were developed like no other game I had played. The decisions you made in the first game followed you throughout the trilogy, for better or worse. A moment’s decision in favor of Paragon or Renegade options could have far-reaching consequences. 

ME1

Each game built upon the one before it, addressing old problems and refining parts to make the game better. However, one lesson that EA and Bioware didn’t learn from their success was when to stop, rest on their laurels, and be proud with their work.

While I was just as excited as many other people when Mass Effect: Andromeda was announced, it ultimately reinforced my belief that dragging out any series can only hurt its legacy in the long run. I’m not giving this a hot-take treatment, either. The game had bigger issues than some wonky looking eyes.

After I finished Andromeda, I said it would have been a good game if it wasn’t a Mass Effect title. It had great combat, some cool new class management, character development that required party reshuffles, and other features we have come to love from Bioware RPGs.

But the game just didn’t live up to the expectations fans had built for a Mass Effect game. In some ways, it couldn’t. And that’s a problem. What do you do when you can’t top your franchise’s success? I’ll tell you what you don’t do–put out a new entry!

Now, with a potential Mass Effect 5 brewing in the minds at Bioware, the question has to be asked: should they even attempt it? 

I say it’s time to put Mass Effect back on the shelf for good; here’s why. 

 

Spoiler Alert Starts Here

 

The Andromeda Storyline isn’t Interesting Enough to Continue 

Mass Effect: Andromeda crew
“So, why did you run away from home?” – The Simulator

Would I sound pretentious if I called the ME: Andromeda story derivative? I remember someone summing up how I felt about this game by comparing it to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It had all the good familiar feelings, but it just wasn’t original.

You could line up the parallels between enemies like the Geth vs. Kett, look at how grudges between races followed us to Andromeda, forcing us to retread ground that Shepard dealt with 600 years ago, or even talk about the painfully similar roles played by the Remnant and Protheans. 

I wouldn’t say it was egregious, but the bar for success was set so high that these issues were greatly magnified when the game developers didn’t make more of an effort. If there wasn’t enough original material to make a game, why make it?

Of course, a lack of originality was not only the problem with the story. It was also kinda bland. Sure, we made planets habitable by doing the same terraforming process a few times over. We got to help the little guys, make that tough administrator type open up to us, and expose *gasp* corruption. All the while, we’re trying to figure out why the planets weren’t what we expected. Then, just a little too late, we got the Kett. Man, what a boring enemy. It was like a Collector and Geth combination that was a little too familiar and not remotely intimidating.

So, we fought the big bad Archon and restored power to the Meridian which let the star system flourish the way it was meant to. And then that was kinda it. There was no setup for another game aside from the second-in-command brooding over the fact we took out his boss.

After we killed Saren in the first game, we still had the threat of Reapers to deal with and that made us want to come back for another installment. We barely fought off Sovereign and the rest of the reapers were still coming! In terms of danger and raising the stakes, they went way in the wrong direction.

What would be the next story, anyway? The Ryder kids find out some more of their daddy’s dark secrets? We get a definitive answer about what happened in the Milky Way? I guess the real question is who cares? 

The Stakes Can’t Be Raised Any Higher in that Universe

Mass Effect: Andromeda fleet
Eh, the Reaper fleet was bigger.

I’ve already said that the biggest problem facing Mass Effect: Andromeda and a potential ME5 is that the original trilogy did too well in some respects. For example, they made one of the most dangerous enemies possible for you to face, and there was practically no way for the next entry to live up to that level of danger. 

If you cared enough to read this article, you’ve probably played the game, right? Well, just in case you haven’t, the main enemy of the series was the Reapers. They appear in the  Milky Way galaxy every 50,000 years, “reproduce”, and then prune all but the most promising civilizations and life forms before hiding away in space and waiting for another 50,000 years. By the time humanity comes into the picture during the events of Mass Effect, this was already an ongoing cycle of destruction for many, many years.

How in the world are you supposed to top that? It would have been very difficult to make a threat more serious than the Reapers, but Bioware didn’t even try in Mass Effect: Andromeda. We got some off-brand, organic Geth instead. I know, that’s a simplistic way of looking at it but still. 

As Ryder, we’re tossed into a pretty interesting survival situation where we have to deal with all the Remnant and Kett stuff while trying to get people to pull together for the sake of life in that new galaxy. But we kinda just did that in Mass Effect 1,2, and 3. 

High stakes make for good stories, but there isn’t any way to make things even more dire once you’ve introduced a galaxy-level crisis and then solved it. As I’ve already mentioned, the end of Andromeda leaves you with Primus as the next probable enemy. It just seems like we’re never going to hit that level of intensity that we did with the original trilogy. 

EA/Bioware Aren’t Trustworthy with AAA Games Right Now

Mass Effect ship crashing
That’s not symbolism, is it?

Another reason that Mass Effect should stay on the shelf is that EA and Bioware can’t really be trusted with AAA games anymore.Time and time again they’ve had a good idea, got their player base excited, and then unceremoniously stepped back as soon as sales died down and criticism mounted against them. 

EA is behind the piecemeal release of Sims 4 “expansions” that cost a lot more than they’re worth and provide less content than the previous installment of the series. The EA and Bioware partnership is responsible for botching the Anthem development and launch, offering some uneven updates for a year, and then suddenly becoming dedicated to fixing it in 2020. While games have been revived after a failed launch (Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn) I don’t think this modern EA and Bioware partnership has it in them to completely overhaul the new series and bring back lost players. 

EA has a bad habit of pushing to publish games before they’re finished, and if industry rumors are true, that’s what happened to Mass Effect:Andromeda. That’s three games that could have been slam dunks that are now disappointing their fans. So, why in the world would we trust EA and Bioware with another entry into a beloved series?

I know I don’t, but I do see a way forward for them. 

Bioware Can Always Start Over and Take Us to Another Galaxy 

Mass Effect navigation menu
I like the blue ones.

The universe is a big place, so EA and Bioware have a lot of area  to choose from if they wanted to cut away from the Mass Effect world and go somewhere else with their ideas. The game creators obviously have great ideas for their combat and multiplayer from Anthem as well as the exploration and survival bits that we saw in ME:A. 

Bioware is at its best when it builds on its past ideas and takes them to a whole new galaxy. While I doubt they’ll ever get the green light for doing something in our favorite far, far away galaxy with a KOTOR sequel, they could work on a new series and restore some faith in their products. As long as they stay away from anything Andromeda related. 

The problem is that EA likes money, and they might just milk the Mass Effect series until we get games that are ME in name only. 

Is Mass Effect 5 Being Made ?

Mass Effect Andromeda
Something’s wrong, I can feel it.

While I’ve been ranting and raving about why a sequel shouldn’t come out, you probably want to get the latest news on a potential Mass Effect 5 title, right? Well, there is a rumor that EA is going to offer remasters on several games, including the original trilogy. There has been nothing official to suggest that’s the case, yet. Still, it comes from a source that was on point with other information in the past. 

Last year, there was a suggestion that EA could be in the early stages of development for a Mass Effect sequel, but remember that it took Andromeda many years to come out. I’d be happy with a remaster of the trilogy, though.

I’m going to keep a close eye on the Mass Effect news going forward. 

Mass Effect: Andromeda blue face
I’ve been watching you sleep.

Mass Effect: Andromeda tried to take us back to a one-of-a-kind game universe, but it had a lot of missteps. Now that the series is a galaxy removed from the one where I spent hundreds of hours, I’m really not that interested in seeing it continue. 

Heck, at this point I would take a more direct, non-Shepard ME sequel that deals with the aftermath of the ending. Not only could we get a better, canon ending, but we could actually get a little more closure. Or that might create new problems, I don’t know. 

I do know that a sequel to Andromeda is probably going to be a mistake. Between that derivative story and the distance between what Mass Effect was and is now, I don’t see how it could work. 

As always, I hope I have to eat these words and that they’re put into Spongebob memes if Bioware somehow turns it around. I doubt it, though.

 

Written by Kyle Glatz

I am a freelancer that loves writing about video games, both old and new. When I'm not writing, the chances are good that I'm reading, playing video games and working on stories that I'll never finish.

6 comments

  1. Muslimbacconator says:

    Better left with the Drew the original writer. Hack Walter’s can’t write his way out of a wet paper bag. With the right studio? Remake ME1, do some mild, mild fixes. Start over with ME2 forward. Easy fix.

  2. Andrew Clarke says:

    This article made my head hurt with how bad it was. Obviously the writer went into the game with preconcieved notions just as many fans did. They where so blinded by the original trilogy they couldnt see Andromeda for what it really and truly was.
    The writer flat out says that they should take mass effect to a new universe……they did. No danger to look forward to???? What game did he play here? As i sit here i can name multiple areas, 1. The khett, you defeated the archon and his loyal forces, you didnt fight the main armies of The khett. They flat.out say the Archon has lost his way and was more interested in the lost alien tech of the remnants than he was his actual mission. Add to that the missing Quarian arc, the rydeds mother, who killed Jean Garson? And 100 others and the series is very ripe for another game. They got allot right with Andromeda and it has actually seen a resurgance of play.
    The majod problem was the hard core fanbase wanted nothing to donwith Andromeda because it didnt involve the original.crew. i belong to several fan sites and i have seen that very answer time and time again. Bioware will make another installment because it is wanted.

    1. Regan Ford says:

      I have to disagree about wanting another sequel to the mess the game became. Bugs aside, it was not engaging. I wanted to like it so much and it was a disappointment. Yes I love the original series, but all Andromeda had to do was put together an exciting story and characters to hook me. Let’s not pretend Mass Effect 1 had amazing gameplay, but the story and characters kept me into the series. Andromeda had impressive gameplay…and that’s it. There’s always been more in depth Choice based games than the Mass Effect series, but Andromeda took a step back in that category. It failed in engaging a new audience, let alone the old audience. It’s not about reliving the glory days, it’s about making a solid game. And if you slap the title of a successful franchise onto a new game and it doesn’t deliver, that just makes a bad game that much worse.

  3. LockNesTom says:

    How about No.

  4. harden865 says:

    I disagree with the article for a few reasons, but my biggest complaints are the alternative options proposed.

    Starting over in another new galaxy? That just gives us the same problems. Needing to introduce a brand new cast, new threats, an entirely new premise, and an excuse as to why there’s another stint to head to a new galaxy that’s further than andromeda. Who the hell wants that?

    Dealing with the aftermath of the original trilogy? Why? In most endings, the vast majority of conflicts are resolved already. If the issue with andromeda was that there is no way to top the threat of reapers, playing a game in a world where the world has JUST BEATEN the reapers is significantly worse. Even if shep didn’t resolve all the issues, there’s not much that can top the galactic war to literally end all wars.

    To close, I’ll just address the point about there being no more threats in Andromeda. That’s silly. The scourge was a weapon deployed upon remnant tech. That tech is the only thing keeping the Milky Way races alive in this galaxy. So what happens when the enemy of the remnant come back to finish the job once they realize that the tech is active again? How the hell do you defend against the race the (seemingly) essentially wiped out the race that was so much more advanced than you that you need their stuff just to survive?
    And what about the remnant creators themselves? What if they get pissed about someone activating Meridian, the thing they tried to keep hidden to protect it?
    These are HUGE problems that aren’t even getting into the kett, who are much larger than the tiny group they sent to helius, lead by the archon. Considering that ALL kett in the cluster had their genes inherited by the archon, that means that the other contingents have a different progenitor and would look and behave much differently.

    Honestly, the best option seems to be to take on an andromeda sequel, but to do it much better. It’s safer and easier than trying to build a Canon for after the reaper war, or to make up a brand new start in yet another galaxy.
    Is that option better than killing off mass effect entirely? Eh, that I’m not so sure about, but I feel like the fans that were disappointed would be willing to give the franchise another chance. I mean, if they weren’t, they wouldn’t have been so pissed at the announcement that andromeda wouldn’t get any more patches or dlcs or updates.

  5. The Mass effect trilogy could still have a 4th entry, set in the same time period (unlike andromeda…600 years later… with all the tech available, they still don’t have a cure for the cancer… the twin’s mother was in coma, they couldn’t wake her up, because she would immediately die from that cancer… lol, talk about a stupid plot…)

    I had an i idea for a direct mass effect 4:
    I had imagined a parallel world, so far away from their galaxy, that they would live like tens of thousands of years in advance. But because they would also end up being destroyed by the reapers, in ‘their future’, they would have to build some special portals, to ultimately try to send the biggest, most powerful weapon ever made, that would definitely destroy the reapers, thus avoiding the 3 choices we have, in mass effect 3 ending…
    Because if Shepherd was somehow killed, in his world and time, in the future, he would still be alive.

    Some kind of race, to try to make some core changes in the future, that would hopefully change the ‘past’, or ‘present’, for the better…

    As a gamer, we would still be able to play with shepherd, his team mates, and eventually some new species, when we were playing in the future, quadrillions of miles from there, our actions would lead to some direct changes ( some events from ME1 ,2 and 3 would kind of resemble to our past actions, encounters, etc, but they would still be quite different, with different outcomes), and our actions in the past would also modify the future, in sone ways.

    For example, at the beginning, our future would be able to create tiny micro portals, just enough powerful to transmit small pieces of information, but slowly, as part of our goals in the game, we would be able to receive more plans, materials, etc, from the future, so we could build even bigger portals.

    The bigger the portals would become, the more and bigger things the future could send to the past.. until eventually those portals are big enough to, either
    – save as many people, species, materials, etc, from the past, by sending them to the future, thus avoiding all the reapers attacks
    – build a gigantic weapon from all the pieces and materials sent to us, from the future, so we could better fight, and even totally destroy the reapers (in the past)
    – find a way to finally have portals big enough for the reapers to also move/teleport to the future… and once there, maybe a gigantic weapon would be waiting for them, or maybe new species would have helped building better weapons to fight them (the reapers)
    – because we would know in advance what was going to happen, shepherd, his team, all the species would be far better prepared, to kick the reaper’s ass
    ass
    – and hundreds of different options

    With this parallel/ ultra-distant-future thing, we would still be able to play with shepherd, all/ some of his teammates, during the ME1-2-3 events, we would be able to experiment some of the core events, but with huge changes, we also would be playing in the future, with tons of things to do, that would not only change the future, but would radically change the past (Me1-3 time)…

    I mean, if one simple person can come up with this ‘story’, for an eventual Mass effect 4 title, in just 5 minutes,
    What could 10 or 20 experienced, professional writers , come up with ?…..

    There already were plenty of games, or movies, where making a prequel seemed absolutely impossible… but some great writers always managed to achieve it (star wars world….. red dead redemption 2 prequel…)

    This ‘future’, ‘parallel’ thing may look super farfetched… but I am sure it could be done… and would make a lot of sense !

    And it would open the door to a new mass effect 4…5… and why not, 6 !

    Do you guys think this could be done, and it would make any sense ? 🙂

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