Happy Friday! Time for your weekly dose of the Etch Play team. This week we're looking back at the history of Mass Effect, enjoying reflecting on 20 years of Xbox and celebrating strides in games for young children. Enjoy...
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is out today, which has led to me thinking a lot about the legacy of this enterprising science fiction series this week.
It started in 2007, with Mass Effect for the Xbox 360. At the time, it was a 360 exclusive, coming out of Bioware and published by Microsoft Game Studios. A lot of talent from the team who created Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (including writer Drew Karpyshyn) worked on the game, and it was an instant hit - spawning a franchise that includes the critically acclaimed Mass Effect 2, and the slightly more controversial Mass Effect 3. The game eventually expanded to other platforms including the PlayStation 3, and spawned a spinoff called Andromeda which wasn't as well received.
The launch trailer for Mass Effect 2, my favourite game in the series
By building a whole new science fiction universe to play in, teeming with alien species and player choices, the series created lifelong fans - many of whom will now be presumably opening their wallets, to revisit the games with updated visuals and gameplay refinements.
For many players, it was also a franchise that marked a step towards more mature storytelling. Although it seems quaint now, the inclusion of strongly written side characters, sex, politics, and depictions of trauma were somewhat unusual for mainstream action games at the time.
I have mixed feelings about this remaster (mainly because I want them to remaster Knights of the Old Republic instead), but there's no denying that this is one of the biggest games of the 2000s. Maybe it deserves this, and another day in the sun. XO, bring up the galaxy map. It's time to go exploring.
Way back in November 2001, Microsoft released the original Xbox in the US entering the then still relatively embryonic world of console-based video games. This week, Microsoft have kicked off a 20 years of Xbox and Halo promotional campaign which looks set to run for most of the rest of this year. They've kicked off with some well-considered messaging and the launch of some celebratory merchandise.
I'm very much enjoying the fanfare, chatter and nostalgia hit but feel like the actual output of the campaign so far is a little lacklustre. Some fairly standard looking gear and a few wallpapers doesn't reflect the excitement around the announcement. It is however still very early days and the campaign is set to run through to November so I'm confident there's a lot more bigger and better stuff still to come, which I'm looking forward to.
Feel free to share your #xbox20 origin story with me on Twitter
Did you own an original Xbox?— Dan Thomas (@DannyT) May 14, 2021
I was never going to be able to afford one but my beautiful bestie @olijewell organised a whip round with my university buddies and treated me to one for a birthday 😭.
He (and Master Chief) have had my heart ever since #Xbox20 https://t.co/6snQDyY2hT
EA teased Battlefield fans (including me) this week, tweeting "Words that rhyme with Soon: June Boom,", which likely means we'll get to see what's in store for the next Battlefield very soon. Battlefield 6 is set to come out later this year and promises to be their biggest game yet, with DICE stating it has the largest development team ever to work on a Battlefield game. Roll on June 😁
Words that rhyme with Soon:— Battlefield (@Battlefield) May 10, 2021
From Snowman, the creative minds behind chill games like Alto's Adventure and Skate City, comes Pok Pok, a new studio dedicated to chill creative play-based learned for kids. Pok Pok began with two Snowman artists, Mathijs and Esther, building a digital interactive picture book for their children. It's great to see more educational / early learning opportunities being developed by established game developers and I look forward to checking this out with my daughter. The new studio’s first app, Pok Pok Playroom, will be priced on a subscription basis and launches May 20 on the Apple App Store.
As is probably obvious, we love games. And we firmly believe that gaming should be for everyone, so we enjoy championing when we see efforts to improve the accessibility of games. Yesterday on GI Biz a really great article was published from Rhys Lloyd, head of studio at Descriptive Video Works. The articles explains how you can develop games for low-vision players, going into some detail around the importance of audio, audio descriptions, and making sure everything you do to enhance the game for low-vision players is true to the feel of the game so as not to break the immersion for the player.
Check out the full article here.
Thanks for joining us for another roundup. Let us know what caught your attention this week by sending us a message on Twitter. For more from us head on over to our YouTube channel where you'll find load of industry interviews, marketing tips and gameplay videos.
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