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Next  Mass Effect  ditches Unreal for EA's internal Frostbite engine

Next Mass Effect ditches Unreal for EA's internal Frostbite engine

November 12, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

Frostbite is fast-becoming the standard engine for most of Electronic Arts' new titles -- BioWare has chosen the engine for its next Mass Effect release, as well as a new lead developer.

Developed by EA DICE, the 2.0 version of the tool has become the engine of choice for many of EA's internal studios. EA DICE's Battlefield 3 and 4, Visceral Games' Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel, Danger Close Games' Medal of Honor: Warfighter, EA Black Box's Need for Speed: The Run, and several other games all use Frostbite 2.0.

BioWare has already been working with Frostbite 2.0, using it as a base for a new RPG engine that's powering next year's Dragon Age III: Inquisition. The next Mass Effect also uses Frostbite 2.0 as a foundation, and will use many of the systems the Dragon Age III team has built.

The previous Mass Effect releases were developed on Epic Games' Unreal Engine 3, while the Dragon Age games were created with BioWare's internal Eclipse/Lycium engine.

EA has said before that it doesn't force its studios to use internally built tech, but there are advantages those teams can benefit from when using Frostbite 2.0 over competing engines, such as their access to support and the ability to work with the Frostbite team to accomplish what they want with the tool.

"We want to transfer resources between studios, and if they have the same knowledge on the tech base, it's going to be a hell of lot easier for us to do that efficiently, and for them to get help or for them to give help," EA Games' Patrick Soderlund told Gamasutra several months ago.

BioWare has also revealed that its Montreal office will serve as the lead team on this next project instead of the Edmonton branch, which has handled the games in the past. The Montreal team has previously contributed to the series cinematics, multiplayer content, and downloadable content.

"While [the next Mass Effect] will be very respectful of the heritage built over the course of the first three games," says BioWare Montreal studio director Yanick Roy, "with the original trilogy now concluded and the switch over to a new engine, we are exploring new directions, both on the gameplay and story fronts."

Over the years, BioWare Montreal has taken on increased responsibilities for the Mass Effect franchise, and has grown its core team slowly to reflect that, bringing in many transfers from the Edmonton arm. The studio intends to now grow its staff at an accelerated pace.

Mass Effect executive producer Casey Hudson will continue his role on the series, and will have a project director working under him at Montreal. BioWare Edmonton will also help with the transition by supporting the Montreal team throughout the project's development.

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