Image: BioWare

Frostbite is a game engine developed by DICE that’s been used for many popular EA games that include the Battlefield series, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, and Star Wars Battlefront II. The engine has gone through a few iterations, with the latest, Frostbite 3, having debuted on October 29, 2013 with the release of Battlefield 4.

Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem were both built using Frostbite, so it was presumed that BioWare would be developing its next Mass Effect game using that same engine. This may not be the case.

According to a new EA job listing for a technical director for Mass Effect 5, BioWare may actually be developing the fifth installment of Mass Effect using Epic Games’ hugely popular Unreal Engine. This is hinted by one of the job listing’s bullet points.

Requirements:

  • Experience developing, debugging and optimizing AAA multiplayer games on PC or console.
  • Hands-on experience with multiple game domains (e.g. AI, Rendering, Tools, Online, Animation…)
  • 5+ years of professional multi-platform C++ experience and a solid understanding of software design principles.
  • Bachelor degree in Computer Science, or equivalent training and professional experience.
  • Experience with UnrealEngine4+ is an asset.

Mass Effect 5 being developed on Unreal Engine wouldn’t be too shocking, as all three of the original games were built on Epic Games’ engine. One of EA’s most recent and popular games, Respawn Entertainment’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, was also built using Unreal.

The fifth installment of Mass Effect is still years away, but BioWare did release a teaser trailer in December 2020 that gave long-time fans an idea of where the franchise might be going. The trailer included an appearance by Liara T’Soni and hinted that Shepard could be making a return.

[…] Mass Effect — and BioWare’s followup Anthem — lost something in the transition from Unreal to Frostbite, and that was apparent in elements like ambient world animation. Where a nightclub in the original Mass Effect would have dozens of dancing characters, Anthem’s characters would remain motionless and still until you approached them.

Source: EA (via VentureBeat)

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9 Comments

  1. Let’s hope so. It’s been well known for quite some time that Frostbite is hard to work with for games of this type. That being said, Andromeda’s issues had nothing to do with its engine. At least, not in terms of what we got as the finished product.

  2. As long as the fix the controls, had enough shit with BL3 and GOW5 keybinds only working for 50% of what they are assigned to.

  3. Wow, Bioware must really have some pull with EA to not have to abide by their “Frostbite everywhere” mandate.

    Then again, I think Fallen Order uses unreal engine, so maybe not an absolute order.

  4. [QUOTE=”Dan_D, post: 40834, member: 6″]
    Let’s hope so. It’s been well known for quite some time that Frostbite is hard to work with for games of this type. That being said, Andromeda’s issues had nothing to do with its engine. At least, not in terms of what we got as the finished product.
    [/QUOTE]
    Andromeda (and Anthem, whatever that [I]was[/I]) played extremely well.

    Had Andromeda not gotten culture-cancelled, and Bioware been allowed to continue to develop the game as it was, it would probably be pretty solid for the purpose today.

    I can only assume that there’s something they want to do that Frostbyte simply isn’t built for, and possibly that EA and Epic are purposefully collaborating for some other reason. Might even just be Epic’s work on the latest consoles and that using Unreal Engine would prevent the reinvention of many wheels, but that’s a shot in the dark as I don’t follow consoles basically at all.

  5. [QUOTE=”LazyGamer, post: 40895, member: 1367″]
    Andromeda (and Anthem, whatever that [I]was[/I]) played extremely well.

    Had Andromeda not gotten culture-cancelled, and Bioware been allowed to continue to develop the game as it was, it would probably be pretty solid for the purpose today.

    I can only assume that there’s something they want to do that Frostbyte simply isn’t built for, and possibly that EA and Epic are purposefully collaborating for some other reason. Might even just be Epic’s work on the latest consoles and that using Unreal Engine would prevent the reinvention of many wheels, but that’s a shot in the dark as I don’t follow consoles basically at all.
    [/QUOTE]

    Issues developing a game like Mass Effect Andromeda on Frostbite had been mentioned by ex-BioWare employees. Because the engine was designed for the Battlefield games, combat was never going to be the engine’s core problem. It’s the size of the maps, RPG mechanics and other game play elements that the engine is ill-suited for. Supposedly, the other big problem was that the Mass Effect development team had no experience with Frostbite. As a studio, BioWare had Dragon Age Inquisition, but even if some of those developers tried to train the Mass Effect team, there is still a massive learning curve for tools like that.

    Essentially, the developers had to learn as they went. Unreal on the other hand is something the studio has experience with and its a very documented game engine with tons of help and resources out there. It’s also a more versatile engine than Frostbite, so switching to it for Mass Effect 5 makes total sense. I’m only surprised EA would allow it given that they want to use the engine for as much as possible.

  6. Yeah Anthem was a shame. It played slick and felt great while in combat, and it was a good game (with a horrible lobby) for about 15 hours. Then it just … nosedived.

  7. [QUOTE=”Brian_B, post: 40898, member: 96″]
    Yeah Anthem was a shame. It played slick and felt great while in combat, and it was a good game (with a horrible lobby) for about 15 hours. Then it just … nosedived.
    [/QUOTE]

    I had far bigger issues with that game. I felt the combat was slow and clunky. Everything was a bullet sponge. I hated the forced matchmaking and the design of the game world. It didn’t feel like a real open world at all.

  8. [QUOTE=”Dan_D, post: 40897, member: 6″]
    Issues developing a game like Mass Effect Andromeda on Frostbite had been mentioned by ex-BioWare employees. Because the engine was designed for the Battlefield games, combat was never going to be the engine’s core problem. It’s the size of the maps, RPG mechanics and other game play elements that the engine is ill-suited for. Supposedly, the other big problem was that the Mass Effect development team had no experience with Frostbite. As a studio, BioWare had Dragon Age Inquisition, but even if some of those developers tried to train the Mass Effect team, there is still a massive learning curve for tools like that.

    Essentially, the developers had to learn as they went.
    [/QUOTE]
    Definitely. I’m mostly just airing my grievance that they did indeed learn, and that the final product (after a few patches) was actually pretty smooth. Had they been able to keep going from there, I don’t think that Frostbyte would have been a problem.
    [QUOTE=”Dan_D, post: 40897, member: 6″]
    Unreal on the other hand is something the studio has experience with and its a very documented game engine with tons of help and resources out there. It’s also a more versatile engine than Frostbite, so switching to it for Mass Effect 5 makes total sense. I’m only surprised EA would allow it given that they want to use the engine for as much as possible.
    [/QUOTE]
    Since it’s been well over four years, I’d bet that whatever work they’d done to bend Frostbyte into an RPG would need to be done all over again for whatever state the engine is in now – and given the historical interval between Mass Effect releases, it does make sense to use a commercial engine.
    [QUOTE=”Dan_D, post: 40901, member: 6″]
    It didn’t feel like a real open world at all.
    [/QUOTE]
    The current UE release will probably help with that, especially when it comes to taking advantage of the ‘streaming’ tech that consoles are using.

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