After being subject to mostly mediocre reviews from critics and becoming one of gaming’s most meme prone failures, the true story behind Mass Effect: Andromeda’s development has finally come to light. It seems that Mass Effect: Andromeda was put together hastily in the last 18 months before its release after a troubled five year development.
Originally slated as an attempt to “…go back to what Mass Effect 1 promised but failed to deliver”, Andromeda was supposed to be focused mainly on exploration. But due to engine restrictions and an inexperienced team whose ideas would be approved and subsequently dismantled, the development process for the beloved series' fourth installment was flawed, to say the least.
According to a host of developers that anonymously spoke to Kotaku, the game’s last 18 months were some of their worst in game development. "We'll put something together, and it’s been bug tested and signed off and approved. We'd say, 'OK, we can now move on from that to the next thing.' And while our backs are turned, what we'd just put together falls apart." Most of the developers that were interviewed blamed EA’s Frostbite Engine for the games glitchy nature. “When it does something well, it does it extremely well. When it doesn’t do something, it really doesn’t do something,” one of the developers reported. "The pain started with Dragon Age: Inquisition and continued on with Andromeda," mentioned another developer. In addition to the virtually nonexistent leadership and engine problems, a host of content cut from the game and veteran staff quitting midway through development are also to blame for the game's finished state. With the lukewarm reception of Dragon Age: Inquisition, it’s no surprise that similar problems, and a similar reception to the game at large, plagued Mass Effect: Andromeda as well.
The headless effort to create Mass Effect: Andromeda is evident from the finished product that gave so many gamers a headache when they dove in. From buggy graphics to shoddy writing, it seems like the development team's inexperience, coupled with the Frostbite Engine’s inflexible nature dealing with certain design elements, means that Mass Effect: Andromeda was doomed from the start.
This isn’t the first time that EA has goofed up, and certainly won’t be the last. Disconnect between developers and publishers is a problem that has led to many promising titles emerging as disappointing failures come launch. It seems that BioWare, with its string of near legendary releases that have been some of gaming’s standout entries in the last decade, isn’t even immune from the side effects of a poorly managed development process. Although some gamers reported to have enjoyed Mass Effect: Andromeda as much as the previous entries, it seems that the gaming communities' opinion on the fourth installment in the series is nearly concrete: the game is just not that good. Although, for a game that was effectively developed in 18 months, it’s really not that bad and probably a whole heck of a lot better than most developers would be able to do allotted the same amount of time.