Former BioWare general manager Casey Hudson has revealed more about what's going on at his new Humanoid Studios outfit, and it sounds exactly like what you might expect from the project director of Mass Effect: "A multi platform AAA game, focusing on character-driven narrative in an all-new science-fiction universe."
Hudson had a long career at BioWare, going all the way back to Baldur's Gate 2 and MDK 2, but he's best known for heading up development of the original Mass Effect trilogy. He left BioWare in 2014, and so wasn't involved in the development of Mass Effect: Andromeda, but returned shortly after its release in 2017 to take over as studio general manager. Hudson left again, very unexpectedly, in late 2020, along with Dragon Age executive producer Mark Darrah; he unveiled Humanoid Studios in June 2021 but said nothing about its first project except that it would be an "all-new IP."
We still don't have a name for Humanoid's debut game, but thanks to a major update to the studio's website we now have that very basic description above, and a few pieces of concept art that look very Mass Effect-like to my eye: Human explorers in spacesuits gazing at the skull of a massive, presumably (hopefully) dead creature or machine; long swathes of gleaming technology embedded in tranquil green spaces; a spacious lounge orbiting a pock-marked planet; and more explorers, horsing around outside their space-cars on a decidedly toxic-looking planet.
Some of the tech looks less refined than what we saw in Mass Effect—that orbital lounge is more 2001 than 2183, and those spacesuits are bulky—but you can't take away too much from a handful of game art at this early stage. (Lest we forget, Destiny was once going to feature a very big frog.)
Most of Humanoid's website is dedicated not to the new game, but to finding people to help make it. Messaging on the site talks about creative freedom and independence, and also that the studio is "a safe and supportive environment" to work in, reflecting the growing concern about widespread toxicity and abuse in the videogame industry.
"We believe in the power of small, agile teams, and a flat organizational structure, where everyone is empowered to make decisions and help drive the project vision," the site says. "We hire great people, empower them with the best tools and a supportive environment, and provide them the creative freedom to explore their fullest potential."
Big-name developers announcing new studios long before they're ready to talk about what they're actually doing seems to be an increasingly common phenomenon. In some cases, they're explicitly looking for new employees, but in others the goal seems primarily to be getting attention. Jade Raymond launched a new studio and then sold it to Sony without saying a meaningful word about its first new game, while the creator of Yakuza announced his own new studio with nothing more than a promise that his future games will be "bigger" than his former ones. Dr Disrespect kicked off his own development venture late last year with little more than the promise of "the best, most community-focused online PVP multiplayer experience the world has ever seen" (and job listings), and in 2020 Hudson's BioWare alum Mike Laidlaw rolled out a studio of his own, which only last week revealed that it is working on "an all new fantasy action RPG"—and that it is hiring.
Even without big-name developers attached, early game announcements are also increasingly becoming the norm. It felt like a genuine novelty when Bethesda confirmed that The Elder Scrolls 6 is in development while simultaneously warning that it was still many years off (and they really weren't kidding about that), but BioWare recently did the same thing for new Dragon Age and Mass Effect games, and just yesterday CD Projekt dropped a Witcher 4 confirmation that contained virtually no information beyond the fact that it is, in fact, happening.
Humanoid Studios is clearly on the "help wanted" side of that equation, and the website currently has listing forl several high-level roles including lead artists, a lead level designer, lead writer, and senior designers and programmers. Unfortunately, there's nothing specific about the game in the listings except that it's apparently being made with the Unreal Engine.