Earlier this week, reports surfaced that EA is putting Mass Effect on ice for the time being and downsizing the development team behind Mass Effect: Andromeda. The news perhaps comes as no real surprise; EA isn't exactly a publisher known for its mercy when it comes to studios that underperform or fail to meet its lofty expectations.
And expectations are really what this whole Andromeda saga is about. Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few months, you'll have no doubt heard or read about Mass Effect: Andromeda and its borderline disastrous launch period. The latest entry in one of gaming's most beloved franchises, Andromeda had the weight of the galaxy on its shoulders from day one. It had to prove that Mass Effect was in capable hands following the departure of many of BioWare's senior employees. It had to break free of the original trilogy while still retaining all of the stuff that fans wanted. It had to live up to Shepard's legacy.
In hindsight, Andromeda didn't manage to do any of those things. While it's not quite the absolute pile of garbage that some would have you believe it is, it's certainly not a great Mass Effect game. Its flaws run deep and a thick layer of tedious gameplay tries its best to keep you away from the good stuff as often as possible. It's also a technical mess - something that's very rarely forgiven by outspoken gamers on the internet these days.
But did Mass Effect: Andromeda ever stand a chance, even before everyone dogpiled on the game's embarrassing facial animations? You could argue that it was doomed from the start - a clearly rushed release that we saw very, very little of until its launch date was suddenly creeping our way. Couple that with the fact that BioWare is now a company that many consider to be well past its prime, and you've got a project that's always had a mountain to climb.
If Andromeda has proven anything, it's that the internet can be an unforgivably brutal place. When IGN started squeezing out those short gameplay videos not long before release, people started to fixate on the game's visual blemishes. Do Andromeda's facial animations and dodgy character models ruin the game? Of course not, but they were something that people could easily latch onto and pick apart - you didn't have to play the game to realise that it looked bloody stupid.
When EA Access' early trial period opened up, much of the damage was already done. At that point, it was just a case of capturing more examples of the title's hideous humans and slapping them up on social media and YouTube for everyone to see. It had been quite some time since we saw such rampant negativity snowball so quickly.
Of course, the gaming media was partly to blame for this - ourselves included. Whether or not the facial animation kerfuffle was blown out of proportion is up for debate, but the fact remains that it shrouded the impending release in an air of negativity. Again, most of the damage was done well before Andromeda actually launched. There's nothing clever about outright wanting a game to fail, but when the internet smells blood, it's rarely able to control itself. Andromeda was torn to shreds before it had even had a chance to prove its worth.
Not that it had all that much to prove in the end, but you get where we're coming from. In an ideal world, everyone would have looked at that pre-release footage and said "okay, it doesn't look great, but I'll reserve judgement until I've played it for myself". A week later everyone would have taken to NeoGAF to explain how it's the worst thing since actual dog sh*t anyway, but at least we could have said that we'd given the game a fair shot. Instead we're left with people who'll look at the headline of this article, scroll down to the comments section, and type "no".
So what do you think? Was Mass Effect: Andromeda given a fair chance, or did the internet come down on it like a Reaper invasion before it had even entered orbit? Vote in our poll, and share your calm and collected thoughts in the comments section below.
Was Mass Effect: Andromeda unfairly torn apart by the internet before it had even launched? (145 votes)
Yes, it was ripped to shreds for fun
To an extent, but some criticism was deserved
No, it was the game's fault for looking bad to begin with
Please login to vote in this poll.