BioWare's Latest Franchise is Not Quite What We Expected

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BioWare's Latest Franchise is Not Quite What We Expected

4v1 online co-op and episodic storytelling? That's different.

Earlier this month, BioWare teased a brand new franchise by saying "you've been chosen". We now know what it's talking about. Entitled Shadow Realms, it'll have an evolving episodic story set in a modern urban fantasy world. Oh, and it's entirely based around online multiplayer.

That's right, Shadow Realms focuses exclusively on 4v1 co-op multiplayer. Four players play as heroes who awaken in the modern world with magical powers. They'll team up to battle the Shadowlord, who sets traps, controls minions, and can alter the battlefield. You'll level up playing either role, and unlock various abilities that you can mix and match in a free-form progression system.

That sounds like the basis of a solid co-op action game, but this is BioWare here, what about the story? Apparently, Shadow Realms will feature an episodic storyline of sorts. BioWare says that it will feature a "constantly evolving story as new cliff-hanger episodes are released regularly with intriguing characters and impactful choices". That particular wording reminds me of Guild Wars 2's Living Story and Telltale's staggered release dates, but we'll have to wait and see exactly how it plays out.

So, that's one more iron in the fire for BioWare, who also has Dragon Age Inquisition and a new Mass Effect game in the works. While BioWare might be known for its engaging single player games, this isn't untraveled territory for the developer. Heck, I thought that Mass Effect 3's multiplayer was only going to be an afterthought, but I ended up spending far more time online than I did in any of my many playthroughs. Should be interesting to see how this shakes out.

Source: Bioware

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I have several problems with this title already and its from what they have announced. The first is that its 4v1 co-op only which means I can see it having major issues with player numbers (like the PC version of Titanfall) add in the fact its PC only and the number of available players dwindles further.

What I am curious to know is if this is the "New IP" the Mass Effect team is working on, which it doesn't to me for it doesn't have the feeling of a team that has working on major titles before or is it the project that they announced they were working on with Failbetter, which makes more sense to me for seems like it has element from both companies current games.

Sounds like a Left 4 Dead meets a Telltale game as told by Bioware.

I can go for that.

online multyplayer only no single player? I'll pass

So this is an online multiplayer game primarily focused on telling a narrative?

Has Bioware, like, missed the last five years? When has that ever worked?

That looks super generic, honestly. Not impressed so far.

So apart from Evolve, Crawl, Hidden , fable thing, dungeon master, etc , etc how this "exciting" new IP any different? (Oh and don't forget what started this trend, Dungeons and Dragons....) So much for something new.

Oh wow a story.... better throw my money at it. I am sorry but when your new IP is something that every single other developer both Indie and Triple A alike are doing, especially from a Triple A developer then it really shows they are out for nothing but money. I expect this title to feature heavy DLC packages.

This is the market for the "hey guys lets play with your friends on youtube" mentality. FPS grey is over its time for the CO-OP with Enemy CO OP time.

God dammit, Bioware. The premise for the game sounds awesome. There need to be more fantasy games set in time periods OTHER than medieval and I'm sure the story would be great, but why the hell does it have to be multiplayer? I have to take a big enough grain of salt as it is to enjoy TOR, and that's because it doesn't force me to team up with those idiotic shits who populate the internet at large other players.

My thoughts, in order:

1) That is the lamest, blandest title of all time.
2) Episodic? Like Alan Wake or Telltale? Interesting either way.
3) Multiplayer only huh? Guess this was a pointless thought exercise. What a waste of a potentially interesting setting.

Seriously, there's pretty much no way this is going to be worth anyone's time. Such a disappointment.

And with this news most of my excitement for the game has vanished.

OK, I'm being a little harsh. The teaser trailers were making me hope for a new RPG series set in the world, which looked to be a fantastic setting for a Bioware RPG and their stories. An online multiplayer game that's trying to tell an episodic story just doesn't seem like it is going to turn out too well. Of course, I hope that it is a great game, but I have lower expectations for it than if this turned out to be Bioware's new RPG series to coincide with Mass Effect and Dragon Age releases.

BioWare says that it will feature a "constantly evolving story as new cliff-hanger episodes are released regularly with intriguing characters and impactful choices

Impactful? So at least five colours for the endings? More coloured endings than all of the other 4v1 online multiplayer games anyway. Take that Fable Legends!

Well if nothing else it sounds interesting. I keep my eye on you, Bioware.

Oh then I don't care.
Good luck to them though, they want to try something different and I can't begrudge them for doing that.
Still it's a shame since I think pretty much the only other game playing around with this kind of concept is The Secret World, I want more of it because I find it interesting. I think a Bioware/CD Projekt style RPG could be pretty cool in this kind of setting.

Uh huh. "Gameplay".

And fuck, I can already see myself getting sick by the overuse of the word "shadow" in the franchise.

Freakin' New Bioware.

Glad I jumped ship and have stopped giving a s**t about anything they make anymore. Only Obsidian and CDProjektRed for all of my RPG needs.

themutantlizard:
online multyplayer only no single player? I'll pass

This. Fuck off Bioware. Your last foray into online worldbuilding wasn't exactly the most successful in the world was it?

Which is a shame because a single player Urban Fantasy RPG would interest me a great deal.

Why oh why does everything have to be multiplayer?

The concept sounds interesting, but you can bet that the execution is going to be terrible.

Agayek:
So this is an online multiplayer game primarily focused on telling a narrative?

Has Bioware, like, missed the last five years? When has that ever worked?

When has it worked with their own games?

*cough* TOR *cough*

Somehow I think that EA forced Bioware to do this, and if thats the case - EA, just let them make the RPGs that they want to. Stop with the gimmicky shit and let them make some proper RPGs that everybody would enjoy and would actually be profitable.

I am a huge BioWare fan, I can even stand going through all the grinding in SWTOR to experience the story in a singleplayer fashion, but a game that is only multiplayer? If I had four friends who were all as big into RPGs as I am so I could count on them sitting down to play this with me regularly, this might be something I'd look into. But as it stands, I'm very sceptical.

Well, at least there's still BioWare Edmonton (the 'real' BioWare)'s new IP to look forward to.

IanDavis:
So, that's one more iron in the fire for BioWare, who also has Dragon Age Inquisition and a new Mass Effect game in the works.

Considering there's three separate development teams named Bioware (only one being the team that made the games the company is known for), it's not really another iron in the fire for them. It's a third team working on it's own game while the two other teams separately work on the games you mentioned as well.

I really hate this naming scheme EA came up with because it seems specifically designed to fool people into thinking the same team that made KOTOR and the Mass Effect series is making other games that they really have almost nothing to do with. Even worse is that most people, media outlets included, don't seem to notice. This game is being made by the team that made The Old Republic for the record, while the Montreal team, which as far as I know has never actually completed a game on their own, is making the new Mass Effect.

Sanunes:
What I am curious to know is if this is the "New IP" the Mass Effect team is working on, which it doesn't to me for it doesn't have the feeling of a team that has working on major titles before or is it the project that they announced they were working on with Failbetter, which makes more sense to me for seems like it has element from both companies current games.

It's not the IP the Mass Effect team is working on. And if it has the feel of a team that's never worked on a major title before then that's actually kind of funny since they made SW:TOR.

Vivi22:

IanDavis:
So, that's one more iron in the fire for BioWare, who also has Dragon Age Inquisition and a new Mass Effect game in the works.

Considering there's three separate development teams named Bioware (only one being the team that made the games the company is known for), it's not really another iron in the fire for them. It's a third team working on it's own game while the two other teams separately work on the games you mentioned as well.

I really hate this naming scheme EA came up with because it seems specifically designed to fool people into thinking the same team that made KOTOR and the Mass Effect series is making other games that they really have almost nothing to do with. Even worse is that most people, media outlets included, don't seem to notice. This game is being made by the team that made The Old Republic for the record, while the Montreal team, which as far as I know has never actually completed a game on their own, is making the new Mass Effect.

I agree with you about the Austin team, but the Montreal team I would have more faith in only because it seems to be an expansion studio from Edmonton and not just an EA "lets rename this to BioWare to fool people" approach. From my recollection the Montreal has worked on Mass Effect 2 and 3 DLC and worked on the multiplayer aspect of Mass Effect 3 and it sounds like even though the majority of the next Mass Effect game is being done in Montreal they are working with people in Edmonton unlike Austin which seems to keep to itself.

Vivi22:

Sanunes:
What I am curious to know is if this is the "New IP" the Mass Effect team is working on, which it doesn't to me for it doesn't have the feeling of a team that has working on major titles before or is it the project that they announced they were working on with Failbetter, which makes more sense to me for seems like it has element from both companies current games.

It's not the IP the Mass Effect team is working on. And if it has the feel of a team that's never worked on a major title before then that's actually kind of funny since they made SW:TOR.

I didn't think it was the entire SWTOR team, but just one or two people from that team, for even The Old Republic looks more interesting to me then this.

Meeeeeeeeeeeh.

Episodic storytelling through 100% online multiplayer?

Does that sound like a needlessly convoluted way of saying "lacklustre clusterfuck" to anyone else?

"Urban fantasy" can fuck right off too.

If it's episodic in the same way as Guild Wars 2's story is, then it's not going to be worth the time. GW2's Living Story structure is still a goddamn mess of terrible story-writing, with an overemphasis on characters you don't care about and the general tedium of its pacing, not to mention all of the huge lore mistakes it makes (like the fact that you and your motley crew somehow know the name of the sixth dragon even though that's never once been revealed to you before). And worse, now they're making you pay for their shitty story-telling if you don't log in at least once every two weeks to unlock the episode. Haven't played regularly in over a month now, other than the single token log-in to unlock the story content, as I haven't seen any improvement in the story-telling that makes me think the game is worth the bulk of my gaming time any more.

I would actually hope it's more of a Telltale structure, where you pay one flat fee at the start of the game and you unlock all of the game's story content forever.

MarsAtlas:
When has it worked with their own games?

*cough* TOR *cough*

Somehow I think that EA forced Bioware to do this, and if thats the case - EA, just let them make the RPGs that they want to. Stop with the gimmicky shit and let them make some proper RPGs that everybody would enjoy and would actually be profitable.

The narrative actually worked really, really well with TOR. Say what you will about that game, but its problems were not in the storytelling.

Its problems were that Bioware had never made an MMO before and EA has no idea how to properly manage one. The professions and endgame were borked to fuck and back, completely unsustainable for an MMO and rife with fairly basic design problems. Not to mention the bugs.

Vivi22:
I really hate this naming scheme EA came up with because it seems specifically designed to fool people into thinking the same team that made KOTOR and the Mass Effect series is making other games that they really have almost nothing to do with.

That's exactly what it is. Brand-name abuse at its worst.

Klonoa Prower:
The concept sounds interesting, but you can bet that the execution is going to be terrible.

Not to write this off before we even see gameplay, but yes, I agree.

I was actually enticed by Titanfall because of the concept of storytelling in a multiplayer environment. The storyline effectively devolved into "You, you there. Yes, you. You and your arse-rocket buddies will go here and secure that whilst a black guy has a moral breakdown, a South African laughs whilst killing people and a woman makes masculine jokes so we can call it progress."

The combination doesn't work... yet.

didn't bioware absorb what used to be mythic at some point? of there was any of the talent that daoc left in that place this could work. also yeah for urban fantasy.

Agayek:
The narrative actually worked really, really well with TOR. Say what you will about that game, but its problems were not in the storytelling.

True, but as you said, it was a crappy MMO, and really, who is going to slog through a crappy MMO, with dozens of hours of just grinding away, so that they can encounter an above-average, 6/10 storyline in a videogame? Its not even Star Wars canon anymore, so there's even less incentive to check it out.

If they had just done the same story, really, but made it single-player, using the combat system from Dragon Age: Origins or KOTOR, while adding some improvements, everybody who played the game would've walked away happy, and all the people who didn't play it because it was a mediocre MMO would've actually gotten the game, played it, and enjoyed themselves.

These gimmicks got to go. Enough of the free-to-play games that turn out to be freemium/pay-to-win, enough of shoving a narrative into a mediocre MMO so you can go "hey guise! I herd u liek multiplayer! play this game that would've functioned better as a single-player game". Enough of this crap. There was never anything wrong with a single-player RPG, and there's nothing wrong with a standard, say, first-person shooter that you buy for 30-60 dollars, and comes with a single-player and multiplayer mode. I wish publishers would just remember that, instead of funneling resources into disappointing and generally mediocre projects.

Well, I admit, it wasn't what I expected. Neither was the ending to Lost, and that wasn't a good thing.

I have a feeling I'll be referencing Lost and Heroes a lot as more information comes out.

CriticalMiss:

BioWare says that it will feature a "constantly evolving story as new cliff-hanger episodes are released regularly with intriguing characters and impactful choices

Impactful? So at least five colours for the endings? More coloured endings than all of the other 4v1 online multiplayer games anyway. Take that Fable Legends!

This more or less summed up why I feel the way I do. I don't trust Bioware on their narrative at this point, and they've given me no reason to recently. Now they're promising a big narrative with choices (haven't heard that one before) in a game that's still a online game for 5 people. So I'm thinking a MMO-style generic story (which Bioware already has experience with) plus pretty colours that let us play "how we want."

*barfs* Oh, God why?! *barfs some more* You had such a great idea! *drowns in barf*

We get it, Evolve is looking good. But that doesn't mean you need to copy them. Just make it a standard-rpg please! You have such a good idea!

Vivi22:
I really hate this naming scheme EA came up with because it seems specifically designed to fool people into thinking the same team that made KOTOR and the Mass Effect series is making other games that they really have almost nothing to do with. Even worse is that most people, media outlets included, don't seem to notice. This game is being made by the team that made The Old Republic for the record, while the Montreal team, which as far as I know has never actually completed a game on their own, is making the new Mass Effect.

I'd just like to point out that BioWare Austin is not BioWare in name only, at least not entirely. I don't know very much about them, as I primarily follow BioWare Canada, but the Creative Director at Austin is James Ohlen, who was a lead designer for BG2, NWN, KotOR and DAO. Just throwing that piece of info out there...

From what little I could tell from the trailer (seriously I would it kill you to stay on something longer than two seconds, or would that make it easier to spot the flaws?) I was not at all impressed. First of all 4v1 online only multiplayer...yeah that's original isn't that right Evolve? Second everything looked so generic and dull but then again it was hard to make anything out before randomly cutting to black every few seconds. And third "impactful choices"? Call me skeptical but I highly doubt that.

Honestly I was already non hyped for this game and this just continues that trend for me. Maybe once I can get a real look at in action it will look better but I'm still not impressed.

Agayek:
So this is an online multiplayer game primarily focused on telling a narrative?

Has Bioware, like, missed the last five years? When has that ever worked?

I can give you a fairly long list of boardgames that follow this very scheme that are doing VERY well. If Bioware can capture that in a console or PC game, they have a very nice IP on their hands.

"Shadow Realms"
Okay, We have a name.
"modern urban fantasy world"
This is starting to sound like something familiar.
"You'll level up playing either role, and unlock various abilities that you can mix and match in a free-form progression system"
Wait, I've seen a system like this before. I've gotta reread that...
"That's right, Shadow Realms focuses exclusively on 4v1 co-op multiplayer. Four players play as heroes who awaken in the modern world with magical powers. They'll team up to battle the Shadowlord, who sets traps, controls minions, and can alter the battlefield. You'll level up playing either role, and unlock various abilities that you can mix and match in a free-form progression system."
...

Are Catalyst Labs calling their lawyers yet? Because Shadowrun's already been created.

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