N7 Day 2019: A BioWare festival honouring the legendary N7 armour that players wear in Mass Effect, with N7 being a designation for “top combatants” as granted by the Systems Alliance military.
For the past ten years, N7 Day has been a celebration of all things Mass Effect, but as one of my readers put it when I was talking about it on Twitter today, it feels like a dead friend’s birthday is approaching.
Mass Effect may not be dead, but it is effectively in a state of suspended animation, with no one knowing when or if it will be raised again in the future.
How we got here is a tragic storey about BioWare’s slow and apparent demise as a consistently high-quality studio.
Mass Effect Andromeda is the first act. Everyone wanted a new Mass Effect game, but no one knew what they were looking for.
This was not a prequel or a sequel, but a side trip into a whole different galaxy, with none of the characters or decisions from the previous game.
But, aside from being philosophically off-putting, it was a highly glitchy, broken game upon launch, creating a thousand memes, and even when the dust settled, it simply wasn’t as excellent as any of the original trilogy’s individual instalments.
Clearly, it was intended to be a new series in and of itself, replete with the necessary DLC, but following dismal reviews and sales, Andromeda sequels and DLC were not only postponed, but the entire franchise was put on hold.
Act 2 is Anthem, BioWare’s next sci-fi game, which aims to combine the interpersonal interactions of Mass Effect with the live-service looting of Destiny.
But in the end, it resulted in a game that was worse than both.
In fact, it’s a lot worse. Anthem was stunning, from the settings to the armour texturing to the characters’ features, none of which would become memes.
Another game that required more time in the oven, with horrendous technical flaws at debut.
However, as those issues were fixed, it became evident that BioWare lacked the Borderlands/Destiny looter magic.
Even while it had some fun qualities, it never developed a strong community and never truly grasped the genre it was in.
What about the other goal? Incorporating storey in a way that the looter genre hasn’t seen before?
I can’t recall a single memorable storey scene from Anthem, and I can’t recall the names of any of the characters at this point.
Act 3 takes place in the present day. Andromeda has a short-term memory. Anthem is slowly but steadily fading away.
The majority of BioWare looks to be focused on Dragon Age 4, which is not a Mass Effect game, however there are hints that BioWare may restart the series in the future.
I’d be surprised if a new Mass Effect game was out sooner than 4-5 years.
It’s a tragedy what’s happened to Mass Effect. Not just because we got a lot of bad games in the meantime, but also because of how amazing the series was and how attached everyone became to its universe and characters.
Wwhich I would call one of the most well-crafted sci-fi worlds and collection of heroes and villains I’ve ever seen in video games, TV, film, comics, or books.
I don’t think it’s ridiculous to suggest that Mass Effect has the same emotional resonance in certain people’s hearts as Star Wars or Star Trek.
You may also claim that because it is a video game, it has had a greater influence. We won’t be watching Luke, Han, and Leia detonate the Death Star.
Rather, we are the protagonists, and the crew is more than just a cast of characters; they are family. We’ve been talking to them for several hours.
I’ve laughed with them, cried with them, and either saved or abandoned them.
Almost no other game series has ever attempted to recreate this kind of “family” aspect in a cast.
I recently finished Outer Worlds, which, with its prolonged crew chats and charming cast, came dangerously near to becoming the most “Mass Effect”-like title in a long time. But it’s still just a reverberation.
It is improbable that Mass Effect will ever be restored to its former brilliance.
BioWare is still making games, but with wildly varying concepts and quality, and with many of the original Mass Effect creators having left by this point.
Who knows what it will be like if it returns, and developing more Mass Effect isn’t always the answer, as Andromeda revealed.
That magic may be trapped in those first three games indefinitely.
Mass Effect appears to be dead. The name will very certainly be revived at some point in the future, as the IP is far too important to be lost permanently.
But BioWare has abandoned it for now, and it doesn’t appear that they understand how to regain what made the franchise great, at least based on their recent releases.
Those memories, however, will live on in our hearts forever. Mordin’s song, Tali’s bashful flirting, and the final Citadel celebration before our last mission will stay with me forever.
Nothing can stand up to that, and I suppose that’s what I’ll choose to remember, regardless of what happens in the next years.