Mass Effect 5 Teased by BioWare on N7 Day Amid Controversy

N7 Day is an annual celebration of the Mass Effect franchise, which takes place on November 7. The name comes from the N7 designation given to elite soldiers in the game’s universe. Fans of the series use this day to share their appreciation for the games, characters, and stories, while BioWare, the developer of the series, often uses this day to reveal new information or content related to Mass Effect.

This year, BioWare released a series of short teaser videos on the official Mass Effect YouTube channel, each lasting only a few seconds. The videos show glimpses of various locations, characters, and objects from the Mass Effect universe, accompanied by cryptic messages and codes. The first video, titled “N7 Day 2023 | EPSILON”, shows a pair of boots with N7 colors walking on a snowy planet. The second video, titled “N7 Day 2023 | ZETA”, shows a close-up of a helmet with a visor that displays a map of the Milky Way galaxy. The third video, titled “N7 Day 2023 | ETA”, shows a hand holding a dog tag with the name “Shepard” on it.

Mass Effect 5 Teased by BioWare on N7 Day Amid Controversy
Mass Effect 5 Teased by BioWare on N7 Day Amid Controversy

The videos seem to suggest that the next Mass Effect game, which is currently in pre-production, will be a sequel to the original trilogy, which ended with Mass Effect 3 in 2012. The original trilogy followed the adventures of Commander Shepard, a human soldier who fought against a mysterious threat known as the Reapers, who sought to wipe out all organic life in the galaxy. The trilogy was widely praised for its rich storytelling, branching choices, and memorable characters, and is considered one of the best sci-fi RPGs of all time.

The videos also hint at a possible connection to Mass Effect: Andromeda, the fourth game in the series, which was released in 2017. Andromeda took place in a different galaxy, where a group of explorers from the Milky Way tried to find a new home. The game received mixed reviews, and was criticized for its technical issues, lackluster story, and bland characters. Many fans were disappointed by the game, and hoped for a return to the original trilogy’s style and quality.

One of the messages in the videos reads: “/////SECONDARY ENCRYPTION DETECTED /////VJBSVU-XXXX-XXXXXXXX /////ANDROMEDA DISTRESS SIGNAL DETECTED /////YEAR SENT: [REDACTED] /////AUDIO TRANSCRIPT: ALTHOUGH THEY SHOULD KNOW BY NOW NOT TO UNDERESTIMATE HUMAN [REDACTED]”. This message seems to indicate that the next game will somehow involve the Andromeda galaxy, and that there may be some trouble there. The audio transcript is from last year’s N7 Day teaser, which featured the voice of Liara T’Soni, a fan-favorite character from the original trilogy, who is an alien archaeologist and a potential love interest for Shepard.

What is the controversy surrounding BioWare?

While some fans were excited by the new teasers, others were more concerned about the situation at BioWare, which has been facing several challenges and controversies in recent years. BioWare, which is owned by Electronic Arts (EA), has been struggling to maintain its reputation as a developer of high-quality RPGs, after the disappointing reception of Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem, a multiplayer sci-fi shooter that was released in 2019. Anthem was plagued by technical problems, poor design, and lack of content, and failed to meet the expectations of both fans and EA. BioWare announced earlier this year that it was canceling the planned overhaul of Anthem, and that it would focus on its other projects, such as the next Mass Effect game and Dragon Age 4, another highly anticipated RPG.

However, BioWare also faced criticism for its treatment of its employees, who reportedly suffered from crunch, stress, and burnout, due to the unrealistic deadlines, constant changes, and poor management imposed by EA and BioWare’s leadership. A report by Kotaku in 2019 revealed the toxic work culture at BioWare, and the impact it had on the mental health and well-being of the staff. Many talented and experienced developers left the studio, and some even retired from the industry altogether.

In August this year, BioWare laid off 50 employees, mostly from its quality assurance and customer service departments, as part of a restructuring process. The laid-off workers claimed that they were not given proper severance packages, and that they were treated unfairly and disrespectfully by BioWare and EA. They filed a lawsuit against the company, demanding better compensation and recognition for their work. BioWare, however, refused to negotiate or settle the case out of court, and instead chose to fight it in court. The laid-off workers issued a statement on November 6, a day before N7 Day, calling out BioWare for its lack of empathy, respect, and communication, and reminding the company of the importance of loyalty to its crew, a core value of the Mass Effect series.

What is the future of Mass Effect?

Despite the difficulties and controversies, BioWare has expressed its commitment to continuing the Mass Effect franchise, and to delivering a satisfying and enjoyable experience for the fans. In a blog post in October, BioWare’s general manager Gary McKay said that the development of the next Mass Effect game was “proceeding very well”, and that the team was “hard at work envisioning what the future holds for a new single-player Mass Effect game”. He also said that the game would feature returning characters from the original trilogy, and that the game would have “at least five surprises” hidden in the N7 Day poster, which showed a crater that resembled a Geth helmet, a synthetic race from the series.

The next Mass Effect game is still in the early stages of development, and it may take several years before it is released. However, fans can still enjoy the Mass Effect universe through other media, such as books, comics, and the Mass Effect Legendary Edition, a remastered collection of the original trilogy, which was released in May this year. The Legendary Edition features improved graphics, gameplay, and customization options, and includes all the DLCs and bonus content from the original games. The Legendary Edition has received positive reviews from critics and fans, and has reignited the passion and interest for the series.

Mass Effect is one of the most beloved and influential sci-fi franchises in gaming history, and has a loyal and passionate fan base. The series has inspired many people with its immersive and diverse world, its compelling and complex characters, and its meaningful and impactful choices. The series has also tackled important and relevant themes, such as diversity, identity, morality, and survival. The series has a lot of potential and possibilities, and fans are eager to see what BioWare will do next with it. However, fans are also concerned about the state and future of BioWare, and hope that the company will overcome its challenges and regain its former glory.

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