This week started off with a bang with Monday’s N7 Day, the annual remembrance of the Mass Effect original trilogy and Commander Shepard. On this particular N7 Day, Bioware deluged fans of the series with the first big info-dump about Mass Effect: Andromeda, the new game that is set for a Q1 2017 release. We’ve sifted through some of the announcements and information revealed on N7 Day and after to call out what we feel are five great things about ME:A coming our way.
Play It The Way You Want
The one thing that Bioware has excelled at more than just about any company out there is in the realm of story. Every game BW has produced has given the players a sense of being part of the story, not just in a decision-making way, but in a real, visceral way. One only has to look at the reactions to the end of the original Mass Effect trilogy to understand that, in many ways, Shepard was us and vice versa.
We know that Ryder’s story will be one that is self-contained within Andromeda and may or may not continue into a new game, if there even will be one. This hearkens back to the Dragon Age style of game where each title is one game - one character.
Mac Walters said to Game Informer:
"At the end of this, we want it to feel like a story has completed," Walters said. "Yes, for the universe, there's much more you could explore, and we want to tease that, but it feels like its own story. It's like, 'Great. I had my Ryder sibling becoming-a-hero story. What's next? Is it going to be Ryder? Is it going to be something else? Who knows?"
Walters also wrote via Twitter: “To be clear. Just because Andromeda isn't start of a trilogy, doesn't mean we haven't been planning for future adventures. Just not 3 acts.”
According to the team, the RPG elements are better this time around, with is counterbalanced by a much-improved shooter game something that Walters said was not wholly present in the original trilogy. Players will be able to experience the game in the way that best suits them, whether more as a role-player, more as a shooter fan or a combination of both.
One of the most beloved features of Mass Effect 2, often heralded as the best of the original three games, was the inclusion of companion missions -- ways to learn more about the various individuals accompanying Shepard along the way and an avenue to earn their “loyalty”. This will be, according to Bioware, making a return in Mass Effect: Andromeda, though in a slightly different way.
“Because they veer off the critical path, it allows you to tell very different stories, You could be a little bit lighter than the general tone, you could be a little bit darker. To me, it’s one of the things I was surprised we didn’t do in ME 3, looking back.” Walters said in Game Informer.
The best part of the updated loyalty mission system is that it is totally optional and is not crucial to the endgame of Mass Effect: Andromeda. It does, however, give players a chance to better get to know their companions, to explore smaller, tighter stories with additional lore revelations about the races and locations within Andromeda.
The Bioware team has expressed surprise at the success of multiplayer in Mass Effect 3 and will be bringing a new and improved version of it to Mass Effect: Andromeda. Players can expect to work with up to three friends and / or other players to complete cooperative missions. Players will earn the old-styled credits that can be used to purchase RNG loot crates that can contain a variety of items.
Missions can be customized for difficulty, monsters, and unique modifiers can be applied that can, for instance, lower player health but give better rewards at the end. Bioware will also release custom missions where unique conditions cannot be changed that can also lead to earning mission points that allow players to purchase featured items and eliminating the RNG factor.
Players will no longer be required to choose a particular class on character creation. Instead, all abilities will be open. Tech, Combat and Biotic skills can be mixed and matched as characters progress, though players can also choose to specialize in more traditional classes such as Soldier or Vanguard or Adept if enough points are placed into certain categories. By so doing, they unlock bonuses called a profile. There is one additional profile in ME:A as well that is for those who pick and choose to invest in multiple categories: the Explorer.
Of equal interest is the ability for players to respec at will. We don’t know if this requires returning to the Nexus (seemingly the game’s hub) or not, but the fact is that players can choose to have all ability choices refunded and can spend these points to try out other ways to play, other skills to use, etc.
The Andromeda Initiative ships, or arks, contain a representatives of the races players of the original trilogy are familiar with including Turien, Salarian, Human and Asari. Whether we will see other races (Batarian, Elcor, Hanar, etc.) will remain to be seen, but there will be that air of familiarity.
But what would a Mass Effect game in a previously unexplored galaxy be without new races? At this time, we only know of one: The Kett. This race is considered the game’s “foreboding enemy” but is being portrayed in a much more empathetic way by Bioware.
Bioware has also teased that some of the new alien races will be joining the Pathfinder’s crew, though how they will become part of it and what interactions players will have with them remain unknown.
There are a LOT more amazing things that could be said about Mass Effect: Andromeda that is well beyond the scope of this article, but be sure that we will be keeping you apprised of new information and getting ready for next year’s release.
What are you looking forward to in Mass Effect: Andromeda? Let us know in the comments!