With the Mass Effect trilogy, BioWare created one of the most amazing science-fiction universes in the history of video games. Over those three adventures, we got to see a huge range of awesome worlds, interact with many diverse species, and befriend some unforgettable characters.
As you might have figured out from our recent celebration of Mass Effect’s 8 best moments, we have something of a soft spot for the series – and, like the rest of you, we can’t wait to see how the next game turns out.
Mass Effect: Andromeda was originally set for release in 2016’s fourth quarter, but has been pushed back to next year. The delay was disappointing, but it’s always better for the developers to have the time they need to make the game just right. After all, we’ve all played a rushed game or two, and know just how much better they might have been with a little more time.
In the past few days, there have been new revelations about Mass Effect: Andromeda, whetting our appetites even more! Let’s take a quick look at what we know and why we should all be so excited to get this game in our consoles …
#1. A New Open-World Structure
It’s still not clear exactly how the open-world structure will work in Mass Effect: Andromeda but this is one change we’re really excited to see.
We know there’s a jetpack, which will bring a whole new dynamic to exploration, adding a much more vertical feel to movement. We also know we’ll be able to drive across landscapes in the new vehicle (the Nomad), recapturing that sense of grandeur from ME1’s scavenging missions.
Now, though, it seems planets will be more than the often-barren settings they once were. We’re told the various new worlds will offer puzzles, battles, and stories to uncover, which should help to flesh Andromeda’s new galaxy out nicely.
Hopefully, the open-world design should help to extend the playing experience and give us plenty to do if we just want to go off-mission for a while. We’ll have to wait and see if the change to a more open environment works, but kudos to BioWare for exploring new ideas.
#2. An All-New Galaxy
Ending Commander Shepard’s story with ME3 was a smart move. While we’re sad to see the back of Shepard and his crew, it’s fantastic to see an all-new roster of characters in Mass Effect: Andromeda .
Still, it’s not just the characters that have changed – we’re in the Andromeda galaxy now, and we don’t know who or what lies in wait. This sense of freshness makes the move to an open-world structure logical, making your exploration of unknown worlds feel more powerful when you’re choosing where to go, rather than just being pushed through linear maps.
No original characters from the series are due to return, which isn’t surprising – this takes place a whopping 600 years after the end of ME3. Your new protagonists are Scott and Sarah Ryder, brother and sister, and depending on which you choose to play as, you’ll get to speak with your sibling throughout the game.
We’re also told that they can’t actually fight alongside you on your squad, but you do have the option to switch to the other sibling when you start New Game Plus. You also get to customize your sibling and dad’s looks alongside your own, though their options aren’t quite as deep as your own.
Your new squadmates include an asari nicknamed Peebee, a human called Liam, a krogan named Drack, and another called Cora. The squadmates in the original games were brilliantly-written, lovable, and (mostly) a joy to spend time with, so let’s hope we can say the same of these guys.
Having an all-new setting, characters, and timeframe makes Mass Effect: Andromeda a great jumping-on point for new players. It also serves as a clean break for fans who may have grown a little tired of Shepard by the close of the trilogy.
#3. Mixing it Up with Class Mobility
In the first three Mass Effect games, we were asked to pick a class for our character. Now, though, BioWare’s taken this away and introduced a skill tree.
Your Ryder of choice will be able to specialise in various areas as and when you want them to.
Sounds good, right? You can create a more well-rounded character who’s something of a jack of all trades. You’ll even be able to change your skills on the fly, if the story gives you a specific reason to experiment with other styles and abilities.
#4. Deeper Morality, Dialogue, and Romance Systems
One of the main reasons to play through the original trilogy again was to mess around with your morality. You could be the good guy or gal and get yourself a nice, shiny ‘paragon’ label. Alternatively, you could be a ‘renegade’ and basically treat people like dirt.
You’ll remember there were QTEs that gave you split-second decisions, allowing you to do good or bad deeds at key moments.
Mass Effect: Andromeda will present you with more choices, applying to four areas: Heart; Head; Professional; Casual. It’ll be interesting to see how this changes your progression through the game, whether you can flip between being good and bad, and what impact this has on your relationships with others.
Along with this change, romance has also been recalibrated, giving you a wider range of options and deeper relationships. Apparently, not every partner will be after the same type of situation: one might like the idea of staying together for some time, while others would prefer something a little less … er, long-term.
Does this mean you’ll be able to have one-night stands across the galaxy? Will you be able to get married? There’s so much potential in such a rich universe. Fingers crossed!
#5. A Self-Contained Story
So many stories today are told as trilogies and long-running franchises. As great as some of these are, the way in which these have to set up sequels and tie together can be annoying.
Self-contained stories can be incredibly satisfying, giving you a complete experience in one package.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is set to be a standalone story, with a sense of closure by the time it ends. While we’ve been told there are aspects to it that can, and surely will, continue in subsequent releases, Mass Effect: Andromeda should feel like a complete story.
This also gives BioWare the freedom to create another cast of new characters for the next game (should they so choose), keeping the series fresh and exciting.
What are you most excited to see in Mass Effect: Andromeda? Let us know!