On 11th October 2000, as a result of BioWare’s partnership with Pandemic studios, the infamous Electronic Arts acquired the renowned RPG developer whilst allowing it to retain its own branding. For many, this is when times changed drastically for BioWare (Corp).
2007 saw the release of what many consider the spiritual successor to Knights of the Old Republic in ‘Mass Effect’. The series went on to spawn 2 sequels as I’m sure our readers are aware, BioWare even took on the Sonic IP in ‘Sonic Chronicles: The Dakar Brotherhood’ which would serve as BioWare’s first venture into handheld gaming on the Nintendo DS.
+10 Chance of Reshuffling
After various internal reshuffles and merging with Mythic throughout the ’00s, BioWare’s future was looking bright and bold with the Mass Effect IP and the 2009 release of ‘Dragon Age: Origins’. EA created a single Role Playing powerhouse within its own infrastructure.
Following critical acclaim for ‘Mass Effect 2′ (Over 60 awards!), founding members of BioWare Ray Muzaka and Greg Zeschuk left the company in 2012 seeking to retire for the industry altogether. This sad news was followed by the exit and return of IP Creators and key writers for some of BioWare’s now legendary titles.
For me, the release of ‘Mass Effect: Andromeda’ signalled the fall of not just the Mass Effect IP but also the values and testing that helped BioWare gain such a sterling reputation in previous years in both the PC and Console markets. Similar to Mass Effect 3’s initial release, Andromeda was riddled with massive texture and animation bugs making the title unplayable for most.
The Tragedy of a Generation
That brings me to BioWare’s latest release under the EA whip, Anthem. Needless to say, Anthem had quite a rough launch complete with game breaking and in some cases, console breaking glitches and bugs. I have saved my thoughts about Anthem in order to stay off the band waggon and to experience the title complete with post-launch updates and patches.
Whilst Anthem is by all accounts in a much better state as of today, the idea of flying around in an armoured and weaponised exoskeleton/suit has been tarnished somewhat by the sorry state Anthem was left in for so long post-release. Even the community management team was overwhelmed, asking that fans stop harassing developers and feedback through the appropriate channels.
I agree with this. No matter what one’s opinion is of any given publisher or developer, a team can only work with the resources and time that’s given to them. It’s no secret that the working life of a developer lacks a great deal of humanity, with infamous ‘crunch times’ lasting for days at a time. When adding in the pressure of studio execs ringing out their staff and hanging them out to try in terms of job security, it’s no wonder such promising AAA titles are released in such a state.
It Should Have Been a Hit!
On paper, Anthem is one of the best games of its generation. Featuring fully customisable suits in a destiny-like shared world and borrowed levelling up system that has proved its success in other titles, it was a no brainer that this was a title to watch. Its flight mechanics were spot on, featuring one stick for movement and another for throttle control just like a dogfighting game should. The third person shooting mechanic worked well, which also allowed for effective hand to hand combat elements and effective use of unlockable skills. All of this tied in nicely with conserving a players ammunition, once players figured out the pattern of course.
During my playthrough, it initially took me 5 attempts to get through the opening stages of Anthem due to incorrect player mapping, LAG and server dropouts. It was literally like playing a visual stutter, which after 2 weeks post-launch is just unacceptable.
Once I obtained my first suit however, It was smooth sailing. Matchmaking worked great and it seemed like a strong community was forming. Graphically it bears the EA seal of approval, which is one thing no one can take away from the Developer / Publisher giant. The quality of Anthems SFX and OST rises to meet the bar also, with every jet, empty shell and energy burst feeling quintessentially authentic throughout.
Whilst I feel BioWare is starting to recover from the post-launch mess of Anthem, fans will only accept so many failed releases before preorder numbers start to drop. Whilst I am a massive Elder Scrolls fan and my previous statement goes against my undying love for Todd Howard (What’s Fallout 76?), BioWare is better than this.
In closing, BioWare clearly isn’t going anywhere. But in a generation where companies like Nintendo are producing consistently amazing first party titles in a variance of genres and Indie developers upping the creative game in the industry, is there really a need or room for developers and publishers to be releasing half baked software on launch anymore?