Yesterday’s surprise revelation that EA was canning Visceral Games and “pivoting” the design of its in-progress Star Wars linear adventure RPG clearly struck a nerve around here, as we received a flood of mail about it (thanks guys!), and not because that game was an MMO but because of how EA justified the closure.
“It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design,” EA VP Patrick Soderlund said. “Importantly, we are shifting the game to be a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency, leaning into the capabilities of our Frostbite engine and reimagining central elements of the game to give players a Star Wars adventure of greater depth and breadth to explore.”
If you read between the lines, the “market” has apparently told EA to scrap a single-player RPG in favor of something more persistent, more marketable, and very likely more multiplayer, especially since Soderlund name-dropped Anthem’s engine and then mentioned how Battlefront II “fuels [its] live service” in the franchise.
What do you think? Are we looking at another Star Wars pseudo-MMO in a few more years? And maybe more importantly, do you think EA’s implication that return-worthy – presumably connected, online games – are the only games worth building right now? Read more
Maybe in this era of unpredictable development cycles, early access, and soft launches, the confirmation that a game will actually get a beta test is noteworthy. So in case you were, for whatever reason, doubting that BioWare’s upcoming multiplayer Anthem would leapfrog over beta and deprive you of a testing experience, worry no longer.
Game Director Jonathan Warner emerged on Twitter this week to stoke fans for the project and encourage them to be patient. “It’s been an intense couple of months,” he posted on September 26th. “The world continues to grow and develop.”
In response to players asking about beta testing and when they will see more of the game, Warner dropped a few tidbits. “Yeah we’ll have a beta,” he writes to one fan. Then, to another: “Remember, we are still a distance out. Too soon for details but will provide more when the time is right.”
It’s the end of the line for Mass Effect: Andromeda, as BioWare announced this past weekend that it had no further plans to develop single-player content for its sci-fi RPG. Fortunately, several projects to expand the game’s multiplayer aspect are still in the works.
“Our last update, 1.10, was the final update for Mass Effect: Andromeda. There are no planned future patches for single-player or in-game story content,” BioWare posted on the game’s site. “In the coming weeks, our multiplayer team will provide details of their ongoing support and upcoming content, including new multiplayer missions, character kits, and what’s in store for N7 Day.”
Andromeda failed to live up to the high studio and fan expectations, netting mixed reviews and a 72% Metacritic score following its March 2017 release. With work being done on other projects, such as Star Wars: The Old Republic and the upcoming multiplayer Anthem, BioWare may be looking to reallocate team members to needed departments.
At its pre-Gamescom press conference this Sunday, Microsoft revealed more about its upcoming Xbox One X and its glorious 4K gaming capabilities. As part of the conference, the company listed several games that would benefit from the enhanced performance and power of the console when it arrives this November.
MMO players should take note, because this list contains many games in our sphere of interest. The select enhanced titles include BioWare’s Anthem, ARK: Survival Evolved, Astroneer, Black Desert, Conan Exiles, Dark and Light, Diablo III, Elite: Dangerous, Path of Exile, Portal Knights, Roblox, Sea of Thieves, SMITE, State of Decay 2, The Crew 2, Elder Scrolls Online, The Division, Warframe, and World of Tanks.
The Xbox One X boasts six teraflops of processing power, 4K Ultra Blu-Ray, and 12GB GDDR5 graphics memory, and will retail for $500. Interested players can pre-order the Project Scropio edition right now for as long as supplies last.
Gamasutra has an unusual piece from an Ubisoft developer this week arguing that co-op gameplay is the industry’s rising midcore trend, one that he believes will ultimately outstrip team competitive games. “It’s all about all the big data and stats that are finally available and can be mined,” author Andrii Goncharuk says, “and no surprise that it’s showing that players who played co-op mode have much more play hours, and players who played co-op with friends have even more play hours.”
He may be right, though first you’d have to believe co-op ever went anywhere to begin with (and console players would probably tell you nope!). But as I read the article, I couldn’t help but see MMOs in most of the arguments he’s making about what makes co-op games sticky, and yet MMOs are being edged out all the same. And while I don’t like to think of the MMO genre’s space in the industry as a zero-sum situation, the reality is that when people tire of MMORPG baggage but still want social play, co-op is exactly the sort of game they retreat to.
For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I asked our writers to reflect on the rise of co-op PvE games outside the MMO label. Do we play them? Do we prefer them, and when? How can we learn from them? Is the popularity of smaller-scale co-op hurting MMORPGs?
The official BioWare blog announced last night that Anthem lead gameplay designer Corey Gaspur has passed away. Gaspur had been a staple of the studio for most of the last decade, known best to our audience for his work on Dragon Age: Origins, the Mass Effect series, and of course Anthem, the last of which was only just recently revealed at E3 and already has MMO and multiplayer fans champing at the bit.
The studio didn’t elaborate on the circumstances of his death, but as VG247 points out, BioWare employees have intimated it was sudden and unexpected.
Our heartfelt condolences to all of his family, friends, and colleagues.
Move over, Hearthstone’s Ice Cream Citadel: BioWare is currently promoting Anthem by way of a massive corn maze and I am not even making that up.
“In a world saturated with banners and billboards, getting the message out about our new game, Anthem, is more important than ever. Rather than taking a conventional approach, we’ve chosen a field as our medium. What better way to celebrate the growth of a new game than through corn, which also grows?”
The “shared-world action RPG” was announced at E3 earlier this summer and looks freaking spectacular. We don’t really get why they’re going with corn, but, “I mean, it’s a fucking 50-foot exosuit,” as BioWare’s Amanda Klesko put it, so let’s just go with it.
When BioWare’s newest IP finally arrives on your computer screen next year, don’t expect a hard sci-fi approach in the vein of Mass Effect but rather something with more general, blockbuster appeal.
“[Anthem] is in a genre we call science-fantasy,” said BioWare General Manager Aaryn Flynn in an interview with CBC, “very much like Star Wars, very much like the Marvel Universe, where you see a lot of amazing things happening, but we don’t worry too much about why they’re happening, or how they’re happening, the science of it.”
Flynn said that he hopes families will enjoy playing Anthem together as a cooperative experience. “This game is much more about having fun in a game world that is lush and exotic and sucks you right in,” he said. Anthem is the first new IP for BioWare since 2009.
At this point, when a game studio says it has a 10-year plan for its online game, do you believe it?
Perhaps unintentionally echoing Bungie just a few years prior, EA’s Patrick Söderlund told the Xbox crew at E3 that BioWare is indeed anticipating a decade-long run for its newly announced mutliplayer online action RPG Anthem.
“It’s a game that we’ve been working on for almost four years now, and it’s a game that […] once we launch it next year will be the start of, I think, maybe a 10-year journey for us.”
So, who’s putting money on Anthem 2 in 2021?
The EA interview segment begins at the 1:39:27 mark for those who want to hear the whole thing.
Oh, E3, always a magical time full of promises when some aren’t meant to be kept, some are meant to be kept but won’t be, and some actually will happen. Have fun guessing which is which!
Among the more pertinent announcements from this year’s convention are ARK: Survival Evolved launching on August 8th, Sea of Thieves delaying launch until 2018, and Destiny 2 launching early September and late October depending on platform. We’ve also got the new game Anthem on its way for 2018 and Monster Hunter World headed for consoles and PC, which is all cool.
Oh, and let’s not forget the announcements of Skull and Bones and The Crew 2. Or the Lawbreakers beta starting June 28th while launch is set for August 8th. Jeez. Is there even room for more beta news? Yes, but just a little.
Whew! Some title density in there, almost mirroring that of the list down below. You can still read the list, though, and if we missed something or a game has slipped into a new test phase, you can let us know in the comments.
E3 is drawing to a close, with its reveals over and done with — all that’s left is processing our interviews and hands-on pieces. But in the meantime, we decided to take this week’s Overthinking to consider the field. MMORPGs haven’t shined brightly at E3 in a long time, so our expectations are usually low — the con is interesting to us more for what’s happening on the multiplayer front.
So that’s what we asked our staff: What’s the most interesting or grabby-hands MMO or MMO-ish thing from E3 this year? Which game would get your best in show and why? There’s also an extra bonus section on the con itself courtesy of our writer on the floor.
It’s still very early to get excited about BioWare’s upcoming co-op shooter Anthem, but the game is bringing in veteran talent for development. Drew Karpyshyn has confirmed that he’s working on the title as a writer, although he’s been quiet about his degree of involvement and any actual details of the writing.
Which… seems pretty obvious, considering the title is still early in the reveal process. Obviously.
Karpyshyn is best known as the lead writer on Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, but he has a lengthy history with Star Wars: The Old Republic as well; he penned two novels for the game, wrote much of Knights of the Eternal Throne, and had major input on the Jedi Knight class story. Of course, we currently know next to nothing about Anthem’s story, but we do know it’s being shaped by experienced hands.
Move over Destiny; BioWare is about to take a shot at your market share with its newly revealed Anthem.
Anthem is a “shared-world action-RPG” in which players will don exosuits and head off into the wild unknown to seek adventure and fight forces that aren’t humanity’s best friends. Yes, it sounds an awful lot like Destiny, down to the small four-person teams, although Anthem is putting a greater focus on its Iron Man-like suits and their abilities (which include jet packs). Players will craft and customize their Javelin exosuits to meet the challenges ahead.
The setting is an alien planet with large monstrous foes, violent weather, and extreme terrain. Good thing you have those exosuits, eh? EA is being a little vague about the genre borders of this title, as it sounds a bit like an MMO, will feature character progression a la an RPG, have BioWare’s storytelling at its core, but also be focused on a much more action-oriented gameplay loop.
BioWare is aiming for a fall 2018 release with this game. We’ve got Anthem’s teaser trailer and gameplay video after the break!