Monday, April 11, 2011

Another Potential Time Vampire Coming From BioWare - Mass Effect Online

It's no secret that I am a big fan of BioWare's Mass Effect series. The first was a solid game and the second was my clear choice for Game of the Year for 2010, an opinion which many other gaming sites seemed to share.

One thing I have always felt that Mass Effect lacked was some form of multi-player. BioWare built this tremendous extended universe populated with more races and backstory than you can shake a stick at, but it's all confined to a single-player experience.

Prior to the release of Mass Effect 2 there were whisperings that multi-player was going to feature in the game somewhere, possibly as a piece of DLC later on. That turned out to be inaccurate (as the final piece of ME2's DLC - Arrival - just appeared, with nary a sign of any multi-player anywhere) but the rumour mill persisted again, saying that perhaps Mass Effect 3 would be the game to expand from the single-player model.  After the game's reveal in the most recent Game Informer it would appear that, once more, any multi-player gameplay is off-the-table, and that ME3 will remain single-player as both of the first games were.

Casey Hudson, executive producer for the Mass Effect series at BioWare, recently stated that making some form of a Mass Effect MMO "makes sense".  I have long thought that the Mass Effect universe would lend itself to an MMO quite nicely.  BioWare have developed an extraordinary universe that I would like to see more of, beyond the confines of a single-player experience.  They've even got iconic characters from both of the first two games who could serve as notable NPCs, in the same way that it's likely you will see some characters from Knights of the Old Republic show up in The Old Republic MMO due for release very soon now.

While an ME MMO could be very received, I wouldn't expect to hear any announcements regarding such a proposal anytime soon.  First off, BioWare (and EA) would likely want to hold off to see how well The Old Republic does when it comes out later this year, and they would also want to see how well Mass Effect 3 does, since it is slated to be released around the end of this year.  If TOR did well and if ME3 did well then I would not put it beyond the realm of possibility to see work begin on an MMO set in the Mass Effect universe.  Given how long TOR has taken to develop though, I would not bet on seeing it before 2016 at the absolute earliest.  And by then we'll probably all be eating meals in pill form whilst zipping around in our flying cars, as well.

It does seem as if sci-fi-themed shooters are experiencing a pleasant upturn in their popularity.  PlanetSide Next is still being baked at Sony; Black Prophecy was just released in Europe and is in beta in North America; Blizzard's rumoured MMOFPS Titan is believed to be a sci-fi shooter; Deus Ex: Human Revolution is due out in August; Crysis 2 was just released; our own ME3 is due at the end of this year and those rumours about World of Starcraft have never really gone away, despite Blizzard's insistence that Titan is based upon a completely new IP.

I also continue to maintain my vendetta against Microsoft for their near-criminal (mis)treatment of Freelancer.

So there you have it.  A kickass Mass Effect Online is certainly possible and has no doubt already been discussed at the highest levels of BioWare HQ (as they keep tripping over their enormous piles of money lining all the corridors).  Provided Mass Effect 3 turns out to be the commercial (and critical) success that the first two games were then an MMO might well be in the offing to drain both your time and money.

I, for one, would welcome our new Geth overlords.


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  2. A Mass Effect MMORPG would be kickass, I agree, however I think 2016 is a bit late in the timeline. Like the saying goes, "Gotta strike while the iron is hot". World of Warcraft had the very popular Battle.Net multiplayer component of WarCraft 3 to keep people interested and talking about Warcraft for years until WoW's release. For The Old Republic, well no one can ever get a chance to forget about Star Wars as we're bombarded with it in all forms all the time for decades now. Blizzard's Titan I'm sure is going to have tons of interest in it I think not only due to Blizzard's stunning reputation, but also I think unwittingly helped by PlanetSide Next if it is successful as it will have already further established a player base(originally begun with PlanetSide) for the genre for Blizzard to attract.

    Mass Effect is an excellent series that I love, and I'm sure even if an MMO of it was released in 2016, it would still be looked at hungrily by many, but I feel it would be much less than if it were released at least a couple years earlier. I don't know Bioware's plans for the ME series, but if ME3 has no multiplayer component of any type to keep people talking about it after the curtains close on the main storyline, and if no other ME spinoff or other product occurs, that's a long time to let Mass Effect slowly become a fading, although fond, memory in peoples' minds.