Game developer BioWare explains the reasoning behind its decision to reveal the female version of the hero first for its forthcoming action-RPG Mass Effect: Andromeda.
During Electronic Arts’ E3 2016 press conference, the video game publisher officially revealed Mass Effect: Andromeda‘s main character by way of a trailer for the forthcoming action-RPG. As with previous entries in the series, the new game will allow fans to play as either a man or a woman, but the title’s developer BioWare chose to diverge from the franchise’s past of having the release’s lead role of Shepard be portrayed in press and advertising as a male figure, by initially depicting the protagonist as a female known as Ryder.
While the decision to do so should be viewed unanimously as a smart and progressive idea for Mass Effect: Andromeda‘s developer BioWare, the studio’s boss Aaryn Flynn still decided to clarify the company’s reason for revealing Ryder as a female first. When speaking to the press outlet Eurogamer on the matter, Flynn addressed bucking the old trend of having a video game series prominently feature a male role as the lead, while also stating that BioWare embraces diversity, as it wants to give fans more choices for their characters.
“When we debuted male Shepard back in 2006 [for Mass Effect], 10 years ago, it was a time when we drew inspiration from traditional entertainment marketing. So: ‘We need a iconic main character. We need an iconic everything else.’
“But I think the whole industry, us included, have moved beyond that. Our games let you choose your main character, I think everyone gets that nowadays. You don’t need to see a character to identify with, in the same way you might on a movie poster. People want to create their own characters, customize them, and we’re embracing that.”
Although BioWare showed Ryder as a female in Mass Effect: Andromeda‘s E3 video, it doesn’t seem as if the studio will have either gender featured prominently on the game’s box art. When asked about the prospect of whether or not developers will continue its direction toward portraying a neutral figure on the cover—like with Dragon Age: Inquisition—Flynn replied by saying, “We’re continuing down that path.”
Gender politics aside, Mass Effect: Andromeda was originally scheduled to release this year, but instead received a delay until early 2017. The reason behind the postponement according to BioWare was that it had to take more time to deliver the highest quality product to the fans as possible.
Taking all of this into consideration, it seems as the developer is trying its best to make Mass Effect: Andromeda a unique and singular experience, for it was also recently reported that the Paragon and Renegade system is being refined in order to reflect a more nuanced approach to morality. Plus, BioWare has assured gamers that the forthcoming title will not be affected by Mass Effect 3‘s controversial endings in the slightest, undoubtedly causing some fans to breathe a sigh of relief.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is set for release sometime in March 2017 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.