Does Bioware understand its fans?

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In many ways, Bioware is one of the last studios that I love and rely upon. They have made such awesome games and franchises that people adore. But lately they’ve been making some announcements that aren’t making their fans particularly happy.

What makes Bioware so special? I’d argue that it’s their fantastic storytelling and characters. Gameplay is often enjoyable but with some key issues – combat, inventory management and exploration are not always their strongest points. However, the experiences are excellent and replayable, garnering them some die hard fans.

However, the past two major announcements out of the studio aren’t exactly in line with what the core audience wants. First we had Shadow Realms at Gamescom. While it’s not nearly as awful as I thought it would be, it’s still not exactly the sort of game that we were hoping for from Bioware. Featuring 4v1 multiplayer, the game is always online and doesn’t seem to be able to build the same immersive storytelling that we’re used to from Bioware.

Next, we have the co-op multiplayer announced for Dragon Age: Inquisition. In essence, it sounds like a copy of the multiplayer that we saw in Mass Effect 3, only this time with zero influence on the single player experience. For those who don’t know, Mass Effect 3 allowed you to engage in multiplayer co-op missions to increase your galactic readiness and final war readiness – otherwise, your character in single player was not impacted by your multiplayer experience. The only thing that transfers from co-op to single player in the Dragon Age experience is the knowledge you gain about use of skills and party combinations.

While some people are keen to play a few multiplayer rounds with their friends, it seems like most people are disappointed with this addition. Dragon Age: Inquisition is all about the expansive storytelling; it sounds like we’re finally getting the Dragon Age game that we’ve wanted all along. Why tack this on? Why add a multiplayer that includes micro transactions and “premium” subscriptions when players really just want to jump into the world of Thedas and explore what the new story holds?

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On the one hand, I can’t help but feel like Bioware has forgotten about us. They’ve forgotten what their fans enjoy. At the same time, they are making a game that was truly expansive, immersive and simply wonderful when I got to play it. They are listening to us where it counts, but adding on something so very strange. I can’t help but feel like this is simply to appease some people at EA who demanded online elements with micro transactions. They protected our precious single player by offering up a sacrifice of multiplayer.

Meanwhile, I know there are people who enjoy the multiplayer, too. Maybe this will be a nice break from the epic gameplay experience – take a breather from the story by jumping into a 20 minute dungeon crawl with your friends. It sounds alright, but I’m just not sure it’s something that I will touch at all, especially since there probably won’t be couch co-op support. Besides, if I want to play multiplayer, I’d rather jump into a game built for that experience – this feels like an add on to me. At least it’s not DLC.

Last Updated: August 27, 2014

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. You can read more of my words over at www.borngeek.co.za, or just follow me on all the social networks to get the true range of my sarcasm and wit.

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