It turns out BioWare’s new IP Anthem has been in development since at least 2014, reveals general manager Casey Hudson.
For Mass Effect fans jaded by BioWare’s decidedly “meh” fourth entry in the series, Mass Effect: Andromeda, the reveal that Casey Hudson has returned to the company is great news. He was project director on the much revered original trilogy, but left in 2014 to take a break from development. Ultimately, he ended up at Microsoft to work on their upcoming augmented reality peripheral HoloLens but has since returned home to the studio he first joined in 1998.
Casey Hudson’s arrival coincides with the departure of Aaryn Flynn, the previous general manager and also a studio veteran, having served for 17 years. Hudson published a blog post revealing his joy at returning to the company he helped turn into one of the most powerful names in the industry. He also spoke of Flynn, and looking deeper into that dialogue, we discover a small revelation about the studio’s upcoming new IP Anthem.
Anthem, a jet-pack powered, sci-fi, action RPG, was announced at E3 2017 and while not too much is known, it looks impressive. In fact, it looks like the kind of project the team would have been more engaged with over the choice of churning out a fourth Mass Effect title.
In Hudson’s post, he mentions “Aaryn and I have worked together from the earliest days of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic to setting the foundation for Anthem.” And then later again, “When I look at the stunning progress Aaryn and the team has made with Anthem…”
Both these comments would suggest that Hudson was working on Anthem before his departure from the studio almost three years ago to the day. This would seemingly confirm that development of the title has been in the works for at least three years, and if we were to draw the bow longer, it’s not a stretch to think it was the project the Mass Effect 3 team turned to in 2013 following the completion of that game’s DLC.
It’s no surprise that a game of the scale of Anthem would have been in development this long, but given the mixed reactions to Mass Effect: Andromeda, it does raise valid concerns that the team’s attention wasn’t where it needed to be. While I personally put a lot of the blame for Mass Effect: Andromeda’s unpolished feel on the move from Unreal Engine to Frostbite, I do now wonder if BioWare underestimated the difficulty of that task. Perhaps it had too many bodies focused on the parallel development of Anthem, leaving Mass Effect: Andromeda to slide? We do know that the team axed plans to do an open-universe No Man’s Sky experience for the game.
It’s all speculation of course, but ultimately it’s warming to know Hudson will be on hand to nurse Anthem through its final year of development. Anthem hits PS4, Xbox One and PC in 2018.