Mass Effect and Dragon Age developer BioWare has acknowledged the demand for further games in its two biggest series.
It comes after a summer of showing and talking about Anthem, the studio's big and bold new project due in March 2019.
BioWare is in a funny place. On the one hand, it has a rare shot at creating a new world and fresh universe of fiction for the first time in over a decade - which is truly exciting. On the other, it is doing so at a precarious time for Mass Effect, and while its long-awaited next Dragon Age chapter lies in limbo. Fans don't want to see these abandoned - hence this new statement.
"We hear loud and clear the interest in BioWare doing more Dragon Age and Mass Effect," studio boss Casey Hudson wrote in BioWare's midsummer blog update, published last night. "So rest assured that we have some teams hidden away working on some secret stuff that I think you'll really like - we're just not ready to talk about any of it for a little while..."
BioWare's Star Wars MMO will get some love, too.
"In the meantime, our Star Wars: The Old Republic team is hard at work on some amazing plans for the coming year, with new features and surprises that I think makes it the game's most exciting year yet."
Hudson's word largely echoe those of BioWare's Mike Gamble - former Mass Effect producer, now Anthem lead producer - who I spoke with at E3 in June.
"We have various projects in the works and there's a team working on Dragon Age stuff right now, and Mass Effect is certainly not dead," Gamble said at the time.
When I asked what state Mass Effect was in - whether we would ever see another game, or if the universe would simply live on in comics and novels, Gamble was unsurprisingly unable to say.
"[BioWare] and EA leadership have to sit down and work out what that looks like," Gamble continued. "You're very near and dear to it - so are we, as creators, and we want to make sure there's a future. But that comes after Anthem, after all that stuff we're talking about. That's future."
Does this latest statement from Casey Hudson suggest things have moved on a little behind the scenes? It feels to me like this is the case.
For Dragon Age, the project which will become Dragon Age 4 has been in pre-production for years. That said, plans have recently been rejigged somewhat and put on a back burner while Anthem enters its final stages of production. This gave long-time Dragon Age creative director Mike Laidlaw oppurtunity to leave the studio last October. "The team I had was shrinking so drastically it was going to be quite a while before we ramped back up," Laidlaw told Eurogamer in May, as part of a wide-ranging interview on his entire career.
Of the two franchises, Dragon Age is the easiest to go back to - its story primed for the next chapter, while still allowing for a fairly standalone tale. Mass Effect is more difficult.
2017's Mass Effect Andromeda was the big plan to broaden and continue BioWare's sci-fi franchise beyond Commander Shepard and the original trilogy - but it stalled, and its developer BioWare Montreal was shuttered. BioWare's final announced Andromeda novel - which finally deals with that quarian ark - is due out next month. Beyond that, it's difficult to see the Andromeda brand continuing.
All of which leaves a return to Mass Effect's origins, and the Shepard trilogy, as the most likely route for EA and BioWare to pursue. Fans have long hoped for a Mass Effect Trilogy remaster. Now feels like time.
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