This time a decade ago we were about three weeks away from the launch of Mass Effect 2. Excitement was reaching fever pitch after the original Mass Effect provided an inkling of BioWare’s eventual sci-fi epic. True to form, Mass Effect 2 would launch on January 26th, 2010, and proceed us all away with a space opera featuring dozens of planets to explore, intimately designed hubs, and a fantastic cast of characters. It was everything we expected from BioWare because, simply enough, they were the king of RPGs.
Emphasis on ‘were’.
Since 2010, you can probably draw a pretty much unswerving line downwards in terms of the quality of BioWare’s output. Dragon Age 2 was, well, Dragon Age II, and this was swiftly by the immensely controversial Mass Effect 3. This can probably be pinpointed as the precise moment where things went wrong for BioWare. The esteemed studio attempted to pivot from Mass Effect 3’s ending in order to satiate fans unhappy with the original finale; a move which, creatively, should never, ever, happen. The die was cast though, and BioWare had established it would bend any which way required, like an Olympic gymnast, to try and either chase trends or please fans. Only there was no gold medal waiting at the end of this particular contest. I’ve no doubt BioWare’s massive internal changes and refocused efforts came from up high, at EA, rather than from within BioWare itself, but a downward trend, one which could possibly become a death spiral, began in earnest at that moment.
From ME3 we moved to the divisive Dragon Age Inquisition, the cancelled Shadow Realms, a truly tepid Mass Effect Andromeda, and the god awful pivot to online which was Anthem. It’s one heck of a fall from grace for the most respected RPG studio around. From Baldur’s Gate, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect 2 to, erm, Anthem.
Trust in BioWare is rocky right now, to say the least. Rumours are swirling that Dragon Age 4 will almost certainly be revealed this year, but based on the studio’s output for the last decade, do we even have any faith whatsoever that the end product will be any good? It would take a brave person to hit the pre-order button on which game BioWare announces next, that’s for sure.
So with an expected announcement of a new BioWare project fairly imminent, how much faith do you actually have left in what was once one of the most esteemed developers in the world? Are you still all-in if Dragon Age 4 is announced, or are you filled with seeds of doubt?