Originally, BioWare promised a whole host of new alien beings in Mass Effect: Andromeda, but budget issues and cosplayers caused them to scale back.
Mass Effect: Andromeda was a huge undertaking for BioWare, who had a lot of fan expectations to live up after the monumental success of the original Mass Effect trilogy. A lot of fans seemed to go into Andromeda with the belief that no matter what direction the franchise went, there was never going to be another hero like Commander Shepard.
Originally, BioWare planned to bring the majority of the alien species already introduced along to the new galaxy, but there were also promises of several new alien species unlike any fans had seen. The company planned to bring in 10 new species as Pathfinder Ryder explored the Andromeda galaxy, but only two were introduced. Developers have since explained they not only had a limited budget to contend with, but they also took into consideration how taxing it might be for cosplayers to take on so many new species at conventions.
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Mass Effect: Andromeda introduced the Angara, the Kett and a single synthetic race native to the galaxy called the Remnant. Despite propositions during creation from the writers for a whole host of interesting and unique new alien concepts, those ideas were scrapped because of budgeting reasons and inaccessibility for cosplayers to recreate the designs.
While it may seem somewhat shortsighted to have taken cosplayer accessibility into consideration during alien species creation, the Mass Effect franchise has a long history with the cosplay community. The Mass Effect fan community has always been highly involved, producing glorious works of fan art, fanfiction and incredible cosplay replications of Commander Shepard, the crew of the Normandy and the numerous alien species introduced in the original trilogy. From the start, this was something BioWare both embraced and celebrated as developers interacted with fans.
The majority of alien races introduced in the original trilogy were relatively easy by cosplayer standards to recreate, and expecting cosplayers to go in new directions that might have seemed difficult or impossible to duplicate seemed like a bad idea at the time. So, in the end, BioWare decided to play it safe, rather than overcomplicating matters with multiple new alien designs.
One of the most unfortunate things about this decision, however, is that Andromeda suffered immensely because of the lack of new life beyond the Milky Way. That life was obviously out there, especially considering the number of species to make an appearance in the Milky Way, but to have only encountered two never before seen races after traveling in cryosleep for hundreds of years to a whole new horizon was a little disconcerting for players.
The lack of new alien species, along with numerous other issues such as bugs, glitches and a story that felt incredibly rushed or flat to a lot of players, negatively impacted Mass Effect: Andromeda‘s reception. Multiple reviewers who had been longtime fans of the franchise claimed they’d lost faith in both BioWare and Mass Effect. Despite rolling out patches and fixes that took care of many of the animation issues and bugs, there were still too few new aliens introduced and very little the developers could do to amend that after the fact.
When BioWare put Andromeda on the backburner indefinitely, it did away with the possibility of introducing new alien species and potentially drawing in the anticipated missing species, like the drell, that got left behind on the journey. The decision to offer no downloadable content was a major disappointment to the players who did actually enjoy Andromeda, despite its numerous idiosyncrasies.
In the end, it seemed the decision to cater to cosplayers did not pan out as BioWare hoped. Considering most cosplayers love diving into new projects and builds, then showing them off at conventions, the company may have actually underestimated this base when it opted against introducing multiple, complex alien species to Andromeda.
With the Mass Effect Legendary Edition is scheduled for release in May, and BioWare has already teased a new game that will integrate the timelines of both the original trilogy and Andromeda, so a whole new host of fans are sure to join the faithful legion. One can only hope that going forward, BioWare gives cosplayers a little more credit and introduces dozens of exciting, new alien species to explore both in-game and at conventions.
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