It all started with a question and it ended with a huge conversation about guns in Mass Effect. Someone on Twitter asked about why they couldn't find a particular gun, and they were met with a response about the gun not actually being usable.
One user points out that in the image above the characters are holding what's called an X5 Ghost. The user compares it to an in-game blueprint diagram of the weapon, which appears to be a sub-machine gun of sorts. However, you can't actually get the weapon and use it in-game. Lead game designer, Ian S. Frazier responded by saying on Twitter that the weapon is not usable in-game.
The X5 Ghost was a prototype weapon that was in the early design stages of Mass Effect: Andromeda. According to Frazier, the weapon simply did not make the cut, and was instead used as a prop instead of an actual weapon in the game.
Of course, based on the tweet, Frazier and the rest of the team at BioWare seem to be getting a lot of feedback about the X5 Ghost, so the natural next step is to see if it can be turned into a usable gun in a future patch.
Some of you might be wondering how a gun can end up in a game like Mass Effect: Andromeda as a prop and not as a usable weapon. Well, there's a lot that goes into turning a prop into an active object. You have to assign it damage stats, firing sounds, reloading animations, equip and holster animations, as well as entity alignment with the actors so it doesn't float or clip through both the male and female character models, both of which require separate adjustments to work properly.
It takes a lot of work to take a prop and turn it into something usable in a game. Now, sometimes, for some games, you can go into the code and swap the call lines for the model file and replace it with a different weapon, and it may show up, but you'll still have to deal with clipping, muzzle flashes potentially being misaligned and other small niggles and nags that can cause glitches in game.
Modifying a weapon from a prop into something that can be picked up and used -- especially in a game like Mass Effect: Andromeda -- could require up to several weeks of prototyping, designing and testing before being issued to the public.
Of course, adding more weapon variety to the game is always a plus because it gives games a lot more to scavenge and seek out in the game. And, of course, new content and highly anticipated content in a game like Mass Effect: Andromeda will keep players playing and potentially recommending the game to friends. So there is a net positive to investigating adding something like the highly requested X5 Ghost to the game.
There's no ETA on if the gun will actually be added to Mass Effect: Andromeda, and it'll likely be far down on the list of other things that take top priority in the next upcoming patches for the game, but fans of the weapon can at least hold out hope for seeing it in the game at some point.