BioWare: The Cracks Are Starting To Show

BioWare: The Cracks Are Starting To Show


Cracks are starting to show in BioWare's previously spotless armor. Dragon Age 2 wasn't the jewel people had hoped it would be and Mass Effect 3 has just been delayed. Can we still blindly buy anything they produce?

Clash of the Titans

Gamers have been polarised by the news that Mass Effect 3 has been delayed until 2012. Some were left weeping uncontrollably on their knees, whereas others were glad to hear that BioWare had grown the balls to spend more time developing one of the most beloved franchises in gaming.

It is an alluring thought that the delay could be a reaction to feedback received from players on BioWare’s most recent release. After all, thousands of fans expressed their disappointment in Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3 suffering a similar fate would be devastating to BioWare’s standing in the community. I fear, however, that other reasons are behind the decision. Those reasons can be found in statements made by EA CEO John Riccitiello during EA’s latest 'investors update':
[Bioware] is adjusting some of the gameplay mechanics and some of the features, which we'll see at E3, that can put this into a genre equivalent of shooter meets RPG, and essentially address a far larger market opportunity than Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2 began to approach.
Oh dear.

We’ve heard similar words before. Dragon Age 2 was promised to be more ‘streamlined’, a word that is now jokingly made synonymous to ‘dumbed down’ and feared today by fans the world over as it is being applied to their favorite franchises. Riccitiello avoided using the word streamlined but it makes you wonder if it isn’t time to update your favorite thesaurus by adding "adjusting" to the ‘dumbed down’ section.

It is difficult to take EA seriously when they say they are looking to expand the franchises’ audience. Mass Effect has a pretty large market already, so what could BioWare be doing that is going to attract even more people to the third in the series? At the most basic, it could be a further removal of RPG elements in the game so as not to alienate those unfamiliar with the genre. They already did so with Mass Effect 2 for the very same reasons. Riccitiello’s use of the phrase “shooter meets RPG” firmly points into this direction.

BioWare: The Cracks Are Starting To Show

Mass Dragon Battlefield 3

Although Mass Effect is certainly no First Person Shooter (yet), EA know that they can probably increase interest from more gamers if they are able to make the title play like one. Admittedly the shooting mechanics in Mass Effect 2 were not of an FPS standard, but they were adequate for an action-RPG. Changing the mechanics for more accessibility will no doubt mean that the FPS’ focus on shooting accuracy and reaction time will take precedence over the RPG’s more tactical style of combat. Imagine Borderlands set in space. There is no problem with that alteration except that it will not adhere to what the loyal fans want from a Mass Effect game.

EA seem to be out to get the most market share by blending all of their games into one. Yes, gamers like to shoot stuff and not have to think too hard about it, so they play an FPS. But they also enjoy having to think about combat sometimes. What’s wrong with a bit of variety nowadays? I am not saying the first two Mass Effect games were any better, but I would like to hold on to the small amount of RPG that survived the culling.