BioWare's Latest Franchise is Not Quite What We Expected

| 13 Aug 2014 16:20

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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Hey Bioware, we need to talk. Y'see this?

This is gameplay.

Your teaser trailer that tells me fuck all? Yeah, that's not gameplay. Your getting in to a bad habit doing this.

Anti-American Eagle:
"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.

To be honest I wouldn't be surprised if they did call, just look at the fucking font. There's a big difference between setting and genre, and outright ripoff.

Anti-American Eagle:
"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.

Speaking of Shadowrun, didn't they have a new game out in the past year or so? And if so, how easy is it for people like myself who've never played Shadowrun before? (Because I'll admit, the setting sounds COOL. Sci-fi Cybernetics, The Matrix, And Magic get's it's own version via the Astral Plane?! Tell me more!)

hiei82:

God I hope the new Mass Effect title doesn't end up some kind of multiplayer monstrosity...

I wouldn't hold my breath.

The shift to Multiplayer-only is fueled by two big incentives:
1) It's redundant and comparatively "inexhaustible" compared to single player content.
(man hours invested creating a section of content vs hours a player spends playing through it)

2) It offers an excuse to force service-centric elements into the game and onto players.
In shot, it leads to more chances to monetize.

For EA, it's just an extension of their "monkey-see, monkey-do"; Call of Duty makes megabucks purely on its multiplayer, so multiplayer is the new model to be.

Well... that's a big letdown. Normally when I hear Bioware is doing something I immediately reach for my wallet knowing they earn all my money but this time... cooperative multiplayer only? That is definitively not what I expect or want from Bioware. For what may be the first time since I started playing videogames, I'm gonna pass on a BioWare title.

I'm guessing this is happening because of EA's well documented bias against single-player experiences - "I have not green lit one game to be developed as a single player experience.". Ah well, maybe the next game will be better.

God I hope the new Mass Effect title doesn't end up some kind of multiplayer monstrosity...

They need to go back and reexamine old series like Jade Empire.

MirenBainesUSMC:
Do we get to play as Marauder Shields?

You! You raise a valid question, one that should be answered. I would play the hell out of a game that let you do that.

Look here's my thoughts on this: maybe we should wait until more details come out before we judge it, since we're maybe not giving the game the chance it deserves.

HOWEVER: Let me clarify why people are so up in arms about this, so we're all on the same page.

The fact it's a 1v4: not bad in and out it self, but it seems odd how this has been announced AFTER the initial positive appeal of Evolve and other games like it. I understand that models of games follow success (hence all the shooters following CoD), but this hasn't even let the dust settle for that game, if you catch my meaning. It seems like their trying to throw their hat into the ring BEFORE the match has started, and just after they heard it was profitable to do so.

Episodic: Normally, this would be a good thing. It allows the developer to adjust the game to the fans reactions, and used right, is awesome (see The Walking Dead). Buuuut, this IS EA we're talking about. This can only spell out the worst possible reaction, and until they actually stop ripping out content of their games/THAT iOS game stops living in the recess of my memory, I won't blindly trust them.

Multiplayer story focused with choices: Not impossible, and part of me is curious to see if they can pull it off. But the rest of me is more thinking that such a thing CAN be pulled off in games that have larger then two focus players (See Divinity: Original Sin for a good example of this being pulled off, but note that this game was made for specifically for two people; any more, and the story and choices become messy).

The name/setting:
...
... I have nothing to defend this. It's a little too...Shadowrun/Secret World-y for my likes, and I think both of those games are great, just...
...Can we go somewhere other then fantasy land and modern times for these kind of things? Were's my Crusades MMO, or some really bizarre but cool and charming world, like...Patapons. Or anything.
I KNOW that there are games like that, and there are games that have that kind of settings. My point is, fantasy/magic in the modern world has been done a lot, and I think people just think we don't need another one to add on the ever growing pile.

Aaaaanyway, I think we should at least wait for a few more details before dismissing it, but I'll freely admit that the above points aren't filling me with confidence.

Unlike some of you militant shitheads I actually have friends and do occasionally enjoy multiplayer titles.

I'll at least try it before shitting all over the basic premise. It's got some of Bioware's pedigree behind it, namely people like James Ohlen, who's as old Bioware as you can be at this point.

Do we get to play as Marauder Shields?

*Sees EA logo*

Nope, no sale here.

WhiteTigerShiro:
]That might be true of you, but read through these comments and tell me that a lot of the vitriol isn't from people who are still spiteful over Mass Effect 3 or just EA in general.

I began to watch their fan event and you know why i stopped right after three minutes ? Because of the answer of the first question, all the bioware's guys answered "awesome" and it remind me the "awesome button" of DA2.I watched a resume made by two guys on a french site (and their were more than "meeeeh")

Lot of people don't have problem with the games they're making but with their PR. Just remind the silence after ME3 launch, for six months they remained silent (and the more the silence is long, the more the situation worsened). Another example: DAi. They pushed back the game one month, not because of bug testing or another thing like that but just because the november month have less blockbuster games launched, it show a lack of confidence in their product.
Just take a look at the difference between october and november:
October:

Super Smash Bros. (3DS) - October 3
Skylanders: Trap Team (Xbox One, 360, PS4, PS3, Wii U, Wii, 3DS) - October 5
Alien: Isolation (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PC) - October 7
Driveclub (PS4) - October 7
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PC) - October 7
NBA Live (Xbox One, PS4) - October 7
NBA 2K15 (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PC) - October 7
*Project Spark (Xbox One, PC) - October 7
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (PS3, 360, PC) - October 14
The Evil Within (Xbox One, 360, PS4, PS3, PC) - October 14
Raven's Cry (PS4, PS3, 360, PC) - October 14
Evolve (Xbox One, PS4, PC) - October 21
Fantasia: Music Evolved (Xbox One, 360) - October 21
Samurai Warriors 4 (PS4, PS3, Vita) - October 21
Civilization: Beyond Earth (PC) - October 24
Assassin's Creed Unity (Xbox One, PS4, PC) - October 28
Lords of the Fallen (Xbox One, PS4, PC) - October 28
Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One) - October 28
WWE 2K15 (Xbox One, 360, PS4, PS3) - October 28

November:

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Xbox One, 360, PS4, PS3, PC) - November 4
The Crew (Xbox One, PS4, PC) - November 11
Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Xbox One) - November 11
*Dragon Age: Inquisition (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PC) - November 18
Far Cry 4 (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PC) - November 18
*Pokémon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby (3DS) - November 21
*Persona Q (3DS) - November 25

How can anyone trust them ? Their last gameplay vid was just cutscene after cutscene (for the Shadow Lords and Dai).
It's why, i speak only for me of course, everyone would need to be very careful about them.
So the Shadows Lords was made to make an announce, their were rushed to make it. Perhaps it'll be good but they have nothing to show and i'll never trust their PR.

Epic_Bubble:
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.

They showed coop? I didn't see any coop. I saw asymentrical multiplayer, which is like saying a piece of cake is the exact same thing as a strawberry because their both eaten as desserts.

Sounds like someone at BioWare has been playing Descent: Journeys into the Dark board game (awesome game, btw, if you're into dungeon crawl board games) or the Mansions of Madness board game (great horror game for anyone into the Cthulhu and Arkham from Lovecraft mythos), both of which have the exact same kind of gameplay and have been around a lot longer. I'm not saying it's a bad idea or trying to poo-poo BioWare for doing something that a board game already does (most innovations and new ideas are simple old ones with a little window-dressing). In fact, depending on how BioWare implements the mechanics, it could be quite interesting. The only real monkey-wrench I could see in the idea is the players themselves. We all know the online gaming community has an extremely high asshole-troll concentration. Although, if they really style it after a game like DJITD, then there shouldn't be too much hard feelings, considering the "overlord" is perfectly allowed to do everything in his power to destroy the heroes (the Overlord in DJITD is the main bad-guy played by one player, and the rules of Descent make no bones about the fact the Overlord's job is to utterly annihilate the heroes), and the heroes are allowed to do everything to make sure the "overlord" can't do whatever he wants to do.

By the way, anyone thinking this is style of gameplay is similar to Dungeons and Dragons, it's only similar in the fact there is one player being the entirety of the bad-guys and traps. A GM in a pen-and-paper RPG is really more like a referee and story-teller. He's more just running things; he's not necessarily out to get the heroes. As any GM worth his salt can tell you, if he really wanted to destroy the heroes, he could do so instantly, in-game, and by-the-rules. But then, it wouldn't be much fun. So there really isn't any mandate for the GM to be so outright vicious.

However, in a DJITD style game, the Overlord is not a GM. He's not simply refereeing the game and managing the world environment. He's an actual opponent (a GM is not), and he DOES have a mandate, by the rules, to completely and utterly destroy the heroes (btw, in case you haven't guessed, I often play as the Overlord in DJITD). That's not to say he doesn't have some refereeing and world managing to do, but his duties in those capacities are partially shared with the hero players.

ADDENDUM: I had forgotten BioWare is now part of EA. Oh, well. There goes any interest I might have had in this game.

-- Double post. Damn capcha error --

Honestly, if anyone other than Bioware were developing this game, I wouldn't give it a second thought. But Bioware have demonstrated that they know how to make a game that engages with it's gameplay as well as it's story, and the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer was admittedly brilliant (Aside from the fucking random class unlock system).

I would still rather Bioware not devote their energy to multiplayer games, because that genre has a lot of baggage, and as demonstrated by SWTOR, Bioware do have a bad habit of sticking to an established formula even when it doesn't work.

So while I have confidence in Bioware's ability to design games, multiplayer never really interests me; all that it usually does is hinder the game's resources, for a feature I personally don't want.

I'm also not confident in this story concept; my guess is that it's some kind of community polling system, which is just a recipe for the tyranny of the majority.

If there's a biotic charge animation in there somewhere, I'm going to laugh my ass off.

no single player?

no sale... I've only like two multiplayer games and my interest soon abated when I realized the people I was playing with were assbutts!

Rodolphe Kourkenko:

WhiteTigerShiro:
Gotta love how next to nothing has been revealed about the game, but people are so eager to tear into Bioware and EA that it's not stopping people from using what they have to absolutely crucify this game.

It's not because it's Bioware or EA (which are the same entity by the way). Any studio that would made a campaign like this, with several teasers, with lot of marketing and "look at us" to finnaly show... nothing substantial would have to face lot of critics.
It would have been the same, i can speak only for me of course, if any other big studio would made this kind of thing.

They interviewed themselves... It's not a journalist or a neutral person that made it, it's was an EA guy and they showed NOTHING. I won't even speak about the 4 minutes gameplay, one player and three bots against bots (yes because only the female assassin is playable in one level).

They had nothing to show. Or they were rushed to make this fan event. They have lot of ideas but until it's concetre, i don't see the point to make this kind of event (Bioware or not, i would have the same reaction if Telltale would tease a RTS or Activision a RPG !)

That might be true of you, but read through these comments and tell me that a lot of the vitriol isn't from people who are still spiteful over Mass Effect 3 or just EA in general.

Does anyone believe that Bioware exists as anything other than a name at this point?

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