Ex-BioWare boss Aaryn Flynn has clarified that EA did not force the developer to use the Frostbite engine which caused many of Mass Effect: Andromeda’s development issues.
“It was our decision. We had been wrapping up Mass Effect 3 and we just shipped Dragon Age II and we knew that our Eclipse engine, that we shipped DAII on, wasn’t going to cut it for the future iterations of Dragon Age,” Flynn clarified. “It couldn’t do open world, the renderer wasn’t strong enough, those were the two big ones. We thought about multiplayer as well, as Eclipse was single-player only.
“We talked internally about three options. We could have burned down Eclipse and started something new internally, we could have gone with Unreal Engine, or we could have picked Frostbite which had shown some really promising results on the rendering side of things and it was multiplayer enabled.”
BioWare ultimately chose to use Frostbite. However, the Frostbite engine caused many issues for BioWare during development of Mass Effect: Andromeda. The engine had mainly been used for first-person shooters, so did not have the basic abilities BioWare required to create an open-world RPG, such as inventory tracking and party systems. Developers had to code these mechanics themselves, but the engine still struggled a BioWare-tier RPG.
Despite the issues, Flynn maintains Frostbite was the right choice.
“Being part of a community – everybody at EA is on it now – that is powerful, it’s a good place to be,” Flynn explained. “It’s a credit to the Frostbite team how they keep so many diverse titles on one engine, everything from FIFA to Anthem, it’s amazing to me.”