Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Started As Standalone First-Person Shooter

EA and BioWare once planned to release a standalone Mass Effect multiplayer shooter, but the project was scuttled by studio tensions and became ME3 multiplayer.

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At the height of Mass Effect's popularity, EA and BioWare toyed with making a standalone first-person shooter multiplayer game. The project was called Mass Effect: Team Assault, or META, and it was the prototype that eventually became the multiplayer mode in Mass Effect 3.

The Gamer reports that Mass Effect: Legendary Edition designer Patrick Moran explained the canceled project during previews for the upcoming compilation. Moran explained that the project was planned to be a digital-only multiplayer game like Battlefield 1943.

"[Mass Effect: Team Assault] was the foundation of Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, incubated at BioWare Montreal," Moran said. "EA really wanted to see a multiplayer experience in the Mass Effect world. Once it had momentum as a standalone title, the design team in Edmonton advocated for and was able to pull multiplayer back to Edmonton, effectively cancelling Mass Effect: Team Assault."

Ultimately the multiplayer mechanics got appropriated into Mass Effect and killed the standalone project. Moran said the team in Edmonton was "outwardly upset" at the opening of the Montreal studio, and the Montreal studio was "undermined internally back in Edmonton, where the Montreal studio wasn't geographically represented." He said there were ongoing "anglo/franco" tensions at play.

Despite all that, though, Moran is happy with the result that became Mass Effect 3's multiplayer.

"Mass Effect 3 multiplayer turned out really well, given it wasn't part of the original scope of the title," Moran said. "Often, marketing mandates from parent companies can result in tacked on features. Casey's relentless commitment to quality ensured the final multiplayer feature set and execution exceeded expectations. BioWare supported it in live service for years, and I believe it surprised many of the skeptics. I was the first designer to prototype and help it build momentum. I would have loved to finish my work on multiplayer, but due to the internal anglo vs. francophone conflict between the studios, and general resentment emanating from the design team, I moved on."

But while Mass Effect 3's multiplayer is definitely part of the series' legacy, it won't be present in the Legendary Edition. Walters told us that the scope of updating the multiplayer was just too big, and the studio wanted to keep the focus on the single-player trilogy.

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is coming on May 14 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC, and it will be playable on Xbox Series X|S and PS5 through backwards compatibility. For more on Mass Effect, check out the latest episode of Audio Logs, which features a look at cut characters, and our breakdown of the changes in Mass Effect: Legendary Edition.

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