N7 Day used to be one of happiness where Mass Effect fans applauded the series and eagerly anticipated whatever was on the (event) horizon. Now, in 2019, it’s just a graveyard of once-happy memories because of where Mass Effect is at right now. And instead of trying to quell fears of its death or inspire hope, BioWare has only been tweeting quotes and vaguely gesturing at the series’ future. But it needs more than that now, especially on an N7 Day where the series it at its lowest.
The easiest way to make progress with fans would be a remaster of the first three games. It’s been over six-and-a-half years since Mass Effect 3’s final DLC came out, meaning many probably haven’t touched the original trilogy in quite some time. EA stated last month that “some exciting remasters of fan favorites” on the docket, but, again, that’s not concrete nor is it confirmed that those are even Mass Effect games. But, given the state of the franchise, it would be a huge missed opportunity if these remasters didn’t contain Commander Shepard’s adventures.
A possible Mass Effect remaster wouldn’t even need to be on the level of something like the Spyro Reignited Trilogy which implemented changes across all three games. While it would be ideal if the visuals hit modern standards and if each had Mass Effect 3‘s smooth gameplay, fans would undoubtedly be satisfied with slightly uprezzed ports that came bundled with all the DLC. Given the fervor for the series and the continued onslaught of re-releases across the gaming industry, the mere ability to play these games on current consoles would probably overshadow any lack of meaningful upgrades.
Switch it up
Or they wouldn’t even need improvements as a Switch port of the three games would also be quite popular, despite it not having the hardware to be definitively better. EA might not like the Switch, but many see Nintendo’s latest console as a port machine where portability outweighs those technical shortcomings.
Non-exclusives and ports reign supreme on the platform, especially single-player RPGs that can be enjoyed in short, portable bursts. The Witcher 3 showed that there was an appetite for quality RPGs on the system and the upcoming The Outer Worlds Switch version will likely replicate at least some of that success. Mass Effect would fit right in with this “port everything to the Switch” craze and now would be an optimal time to give Nintendo’s platform the space RPG love it deserves on a platform it would be well-suited for.
BioWare and EA could also each use the good press of returning to those glory days, be it a Switch port, full trilogy remaster, or both. BioWare’s future is on shaky ground, given Andromeda’s failures and how Anthem never quite turned around after its rocky launch. And aside from a couple of Battlefield games, EA hasn’t had a bonafide non-Respawn-developed hit in many, many years.
Churning through sports game after sports game may be a financial boon, but it doesn’t translate well into player goodwill. Continually lacing your games with microtransactions, canceling anticipated games, and shuttering studios also doesn’t get players on your side either. EA and BioWare both desperately need that goodwill and knowing how to tap into their back catalogs in the right places would be a noble first step in trying to earn back the hearts of players they have long since lost.
Moving forward without making the same mistakes
Looking into those past Mass Effect games could benefit all parties but a sequel would also show that the series still had some life in it. However, that would be infinitely more tricky as Andromeda’s time constraints heavily contributed to how it turned out. Like Anthem after it, Andromeda was infamously on a tight schedule where it was cobbled together in a fraction of its perceived development time.
Although not the sole cause of that game’s failures, the lack of time played a significant role in its shortcomings as it did not have the polish and quality that had been associated with the series. Rushing a sequel to market just to ease fans would likely be a poor choice as it would be hard to quell fears of getting yet another hurried installment. But in the absence of a remake or Switch port, a more substantial nod to a sequel could help if done in the right way.
Everything BioWare did today lacked impact and was lip service to a franchise that needs more than that. Remasters, ports, or more concrete sequel teases would be the action that would show — not coyly hint at — how committed BioWare was at moving the series forward. N7 Day should have been the day to do that, but it has just been a normal Thursday.
The original Gears of War also released on November 7, 2006, the same day as the first Mass Effect. It’s had its ups (Gears of War 3) and its downs (Gears of War Judgment), but it is still kicking today with its most recent installment receiving relatively positive reviews. Even though it is not at its peak, Gears of War remains a big part of gaming all these years later, while Mass Effect is lost in the depths of space with hardly a weak radio signal showing signs of activity. BioWare perhaps wanted its extremely ambiguous tweets to be such signs of life but, given where the series is, that’s not enough. Mass Effect has always been about knowing what to say and how to say it so it’s disappointingly ironic that BioWare can’t seem to find the right words on a day where it matters the most.