Mass Effect: Andromeda

Mass Effect: Andromeda Launches Today

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The first new Mass Effect game in five years is out today in North America. Developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts, Mass Effect: Andromeda  is available for PC (Origin), Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. A companion app is also available for iOS and Android.

“We’re very happy to welcome the fans back to the Mass Effect universe,” said Aaryn Flynn, VP and GM of BioWare. “The team’s vision for this epic new chapter was to take what our fans love about Mass Effect – great characters and combat – and add more emphasis on exploration while telling a different type of story. We’re following a group of characters who are just starting their heroic journey, and we can’t wait for our fans to discover more about them and this new galaxy.”

Mass Effect: Andromeda distances itself literally from the original trilogy through both time and space. A 600-year long journey thrusts your colony-seeking crew into an all-new galaxy far from our Milky Way. You play as one of the Ryder siblings, a brother or sister. Your Ryder is a Pathfinder, a leader and vanguard of the dangerous exploration missions you’ll undertake.

In addition to a single player campaign, Mass Effect: Andromeda will feature cooperative multiplayer, which play similarly to the multiplayer found in Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age: Inquisition. Mass Effect: Andromeda also utilizes the Frostbite 3 engine, which is featured in all of EA’s games of the last few years such as Dragon Age: Inquisition and Battlefield 1.

Launch day reviews have been lukewarm, ranging from praise to harsh criticism. The title currently hovers around a mixed Metascore of 75 (stay tuned for our review).

Mass Effect: Andromeda is available in Standard Edition ($59.99), Deluxe Edition ($69.99), and Super Deluxe ($99.99). The Deluxe Edition grants access to additional digital goodies, such as armor, booster packs for multiplayer, and a pet space monkey. The Super Deluxe Edition is digital only and comes with everything in the Deluxe Edition, plus “a [multiplayer] Premium Pack coming your way every week, for 20 weeks.”

Mass Effect: Andromeda

Former EA Employee Harassed for Mass Effect: Andromeda

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Mass Effect: Andromeda is making headlines for all the wrong reasons. The big sci-fi action sequel releases tomorrow. The first ten hours been available over the last week through Origin Access. Apparently it suffers from some awkward character animations. Players are blasting the internet waves with mockery and jokes, like they did with Battlefield 1 and pretty much every Assassin’s Creed. Things quickly took a sinister and cruel turn, however.

A targeted harassment campaign focused on a female employee at Electronic Arts, who was singled out as being the “lead animator” and sole arbiter of Mass Effect’s woes. Not only are video games vastly collaborative products, but the woman in question isn’t even a current employee.

BioWare’s General Manager Aaryn Flynn responded via Twitter: “Recently a former EA employee was misidentified as a lead member of the Mass Effect: Andromeda development team. These reports are false. We respect the opinions of our players and community, and welcome feedback on our games. But attacking individuals, regardless of their involvement in the project, is never acceptable.”

The harassment campaign can be traced back to the Ralph Retort, a GamerGate-friendly blog. The GamerGate losers are always at hand to make gamers look like complete troglodytes by harassing game developers – particularly any that aren’t straight white dudes. A similar situation happened with Alison Rapp while she was employed at Nintendo, and blamed for localization in which she had no hand in. The most recent case was with No Man’s Sky and Sean Murray, who had to all but withdraw from social media. Writer Katherine Cross has a good twitter thread breakdown of this terrible cycle of online abuse.

This isn’t even BioWare’s first rodeo with targeted harassment. Jennifer Hepler wrote much of Dragon Age: Origins and its sequel, but was harassed right around the launch of Mass Effect 3.

BioWare is known for creating heavily story-based action-adventure games with an emphasis on characters and relationships. They have a passionate and vocal fanbase, which can be terrifying when things get ugly. Exhibit A is the controversy that still surrounds Mass Effect 3’s ending, and the fact that BioWare would later go back and update it due to the feedback.

The industry would benefit from game companies being more open about the design process. Many complaints stem from the general public being ignorant on how video game design and creation actually works – especially the amount of time, money, and people it takes. But when game developers are hit with witch hunts it doesn’t exactly embolden companies to become more open. If anything, it’s the opposite. As game developers become more diverse and games more mainstream, hopefully we can strike a nice balance in the future – and shut down any harassment as soon as it crawls out of the sewer.

Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn Sells 2.6 Million Units in First Two Weeks

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It’s been a really good year for games, and it’s only March. One of this year’s highlights is Horizon Zero Dawn, an open world adventure that launched in February, exclusively to the PlayStation 4. Sony announced that Horizon Zero Dawn global sales have exceeded 2.6 million units during its initial two week launch period, a very healthy number for a system exclusive. Developed by Guerrilla Games, it has become the best-selling new property launch on the PS4 to date.

“We knew Horizon Zero Dawn was going to be something special, so to see the incredible critical reaction to a brand new game would translate into this level of sales is really gratifying,” said Shawn Layden, Chairman of Sony Interactive Entertainment. “Guerrilla has crated a game that is nothing short of exceptional, and the reactions we have seen from fans – from hours and hours of gameplay streaming to endless photo sharing – shows just how impactful it has been.”

Horizon Zero Dawn stars Aloy, an outcast hunter in a lush post-apocalyptic fantasy world filled with giant robotic beasts. The title received universal praise from critics and fans, and currently enjoys an 89 Metarcritic score. It’s praised for its visual style, engaging combat, and immersive world and story-telling steeped in lore.

“We’re thrilled that Horizon Zero Dawn has been embraced by critics and players alike,” said Hermen Hulst, Guerrilla Managing Director. “Developing the game was a labor of love, so it’s extremely satisfying to see that it elicits the same passion and enthusiasm from the gaming public that we felt during its development.”

Hulst went on to tease future plans with Aloy and Horizon Zero Dawn: “This is only the beginning of Aloy’s story, with the team already hard at  work on an expansion.”