With an average Metacritic score of 73 and similarly mediocre ratings from a vast number of other sites, including TechRaptor, Mass Effect: Andromeda was decidedly less well-received than other games in the Mass Effect series. Andromeda had its upsides to be sure, with an impressive set of combat and core gameplay mechanics, except the overall experience lacked the same amount of polish. The game wasn’t a dumpster fire like the Internet would want you to believe, but it would be hard to convince newcomers to the franchise to hop onto the Mass Effect bandwagon with an above-average game at best. As of now, however (presumably as a result of Andromeda’s reviews), EA has more or less put the series on hold, which leaves fans of the franchise asking “What’s next?”

Given that Mass Effect is one of EA’s largest franchises, it seems doubtful that EA will completely ax the Mass Effect brand, especially with its high-profile nature. It’s certainly possible, if EA and BioWare were willing to swallow such an embarrassment, to say nothing of how fans would react to such an endeavor with a new and untested IP, Anthem, on the way. Then again, we can’t exactly ignore what happened to the Dead Space franchise or, rather, the lack of anything happening to it.

If we are to assume that the Mass Effect franchise is not going to be permanently left on ice, though, then the safest, most predictable course of action that EA and BioWare can take is to create a Mass Effect: Andromeda sequel. After all, the largest criticisms of Andromeda revolved around the aesthetics and animations of certain characters and the writing. Compared to developing an entirely new game from scratch with completely new voice actors, new gameplay mechanics, a new art direction, and so on and so forth, resolving some writing issues and making sure that a bunch of NPCs look and move more naturally is a piece of cake. In fact, BioWare had already released a number of patches and updates that improved the appearances of some of the more problematic NPCs, alongside a few enhancements to the player-character customization system. Of course, it would’ve been easier for BioWare to show that they didn’t take Andromeda’s criticism lightly had they released single-player DLC that is above and beyond the standards that people expect from a Mass Effect game, but since that’s not an option anymore apparently, a sequel is the next best option.

Alternatively, BioWare could explore the rest of the Mass Effect universe with some standalone side games and leave the main Andromeda story arc on hold for a while, if only to show that the franchise isn’t dead and to demonstrate that BioWare didn’t lose its touch while biding time for the studio to perfect the next main game of the series. A prequel that takes place during the First Contact War could be interesting (exactly like regular Mass Effect, just with a lot more shooting, more politics, and way more xenophobia!), or perhaps a game that shows what happened to the Quarian Ark (who said humans always have to lead the way?); it doesn’t have to be some large, decade-long trilogy, just something of the short and sweet variety that is dedicated to the fans in the same vein as Mass Effect 3’s Citadel DLC. It would be a bit odd seeing as how BioWare loves creating massive games that have dozens of hours of gameplay, but once again, this is more of a move to show that the brand is in safe hands and that Andromeda’s problems were (hopefully) a one-time fluke. The danger here is that such a game may be of a genre that BioWare has no prior experience in, and that it may not have strong initial sales figures, but if this hypothetical game is done properly, it could put a lot of minds at ease.

mass effect andromeda packs

Mmm, maybe cutting the multiplayer to focus on more singleplayer in the future might be good too. At least then you won’t have people clamoring about microtransactions.

That being said, EA and BioWare understandably want the Mass Effect series to return in a big new way, and such an aforementioned game does not fit the criteria. A return to Shepard’s story (or really, any story where the main character is related to Shepard) would unquestionably make some waves, and it might even be the best way for BioWare to revitalize interest in the franchise if that’s what’s needed. However, it might also backfire spectacularly even if the game were to sell like hotcakes in that it could send the wrong message: it doesn’t matter how badly our next game performs because we’ll just go back and dig up Shepard again and again to milk that name recognition and publicity. Sometimes, painful as it may be, heroes just have to be laid to rest, unless you want to take a game franchise in a weird direction a la Halo 5’s Cortana “plot twist.”

Perhaps, if all other options prove to be unpalatable, it is for the best if the Mass Effect franchise were to take a break for a few years. The Internet’s reaction to Andromeda was blown way out of proportion to be sure, but either way, BioWare might need to get together and take a while to look at what worked, what didn’t, and then regroup for a big comeback. Frankly, if EA and BioWare were attentive, which they most likely are, then they might also realize that the market is hungering for a meaty space exploration game after the initial failures of No Man’s Sky (and to a lesser extent, Destiny) and that they have a real opportunity to capitalize on people’s desires by letting them go on a virtual, more or less unguided tour of a relatively unexplored galaxy called Andromeda with a few friends that they may have already met and bonded with before.

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Anson Chan

Staff Writer

You ever wonder why we're here? It's one of life's greatest mysteries, isn't it? Good thing games exist so that we don't have to think about it. Or at least I don't have to think about it. Instead, I'll just play Halo or something.