It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly five years since the release of Mass Effect 3; it’s truly been quite the journey to the release of Mass Effect: Andromeda, due out in less than two months. Since it was officially announced back in 2015, Bioware kept many of the details and changes that were on the way vague, up until our first real look at the game during E3 2016. The developer revealed even more on N7 day last year, and will presumably continue to drop hints up until the game’s release.
Looking for a comprehensive rundown of everything that’s on the way? Here’s everything we know so far.
Holy Game of Thrones, guys! Natalie Dormer, you know, the actress who dominates GoT as Margaery Tyrell, is voicing a character in Mass Effect: Andromeda. She’ll be voicing Lexi T’Perro, an Asari doctor aboard the Tempest. She also happens to be the first character you’ll meet when you wake up from cryo-sleep in the game. Check out the announcement video below to learn more:
I don’t know about you, but I could listen to her luxurious accent all day. For more on Lexi, check out our full post.
Well happy Friday to us! Bioware finally gives us a closer look at Mass Effect: Andromeda‘s combat. Let’s just say, things are looking a bit different this time around (read: awesome). Check out the new trailer below:
As we already knew, the game will feature a more dynamic cover system. Now, we finally have a better idea of what that means. In the new video, we learn that players will be able to use almost anything for cover (yes, even your vehicle). We also see the highly anticipated jet pack in action, adding a welcome dynamism to fighting ala Titanfall. But that’s not all. The video also details the four categories of guns: pistols, sniper rifles, and assault rifles. The good news is, there are no class restrictions for the weapons. The same goes for the three skill trees: combat, tech, and biotics — all of which can be upgraded throughout the game.
Everything we’ve seen so far puts a refreshing spin on the brilliant Mass Effect gameplay we know and love. By untethering the weapons, and offering more ways to traverse the map, players will be able to tackle the game in any way they choose — an exciting prospect. No word on whether or not time can be paused to strategically select weapons and abilities as in the previous games, but the video above is listed as “Part 1”, so stay tuned for further gameplay updates!
As we were already aware, Mass Effect Andromeda will not feature the Renegade/Paragon conversation system. Now, thanks to an interview Creative Director Mac Walters did with Official Xbox Magazine (via GamesRadar), we know why Bioware is dropping it. According to Walters, “the reason they’re gone is because they felt very Shepard – they were very tied to the Shepard character, so they didn’t really make sense if we weren’t going to have Shepard as our protagonist.”
He explained, “What we have now is based more around agreeing and disagreeing. The reason I like that is because in the trilogy it’s like, ‘I’m gonna play Paragon,’ and then you know which way you’re moving the stick on every conversation. You don’t have to think about it, because you’re just going to hit Paragon every time.” As someone who is guilty of automatically selecting the Paragon option, I’m excited to see the change. Hopefully it keeps players even more engaged in what’s going on.
— BioWare (@bioware) February 2, 2017
Also, for all you artists and cosplayers out there, you might want to take a peek at BioWare’s twitter feed. Over the past few days, they’ve been sharing complete character kits for Mass Effect Andromeda. So far, they have sets centered around Sara Ryder, Scott Ryder, Cora Harper, Liam Kosta, PeeBee, and most recently, Vetra. This is the perfect way to get a jump on the perfect launch day outfit.
So far, I’m all about Peebee’s look because she’s an Asari with some serious swag. The kits give detailed looks at the character’s clothes, textures, hairstyles, and makeup from several angles.
Speaking of Peebee, BioWare also shared a fun behind-the-scenes video featuring Christine Lakin, the voice of the bubbly Asari. Check it out:
The Asari aren’t new to the series, but there’s something about Peebee that feels fresh. As Lakin pointed out, she’s different from the other Asari. She’s impulsive, and full of personality. In past interviews, Bioware explained that she won’t be anything like fan-favorite Asari, Liara. I for one can’t wait to see what she gets up to.
When it’s releasing
Though it was originally slated to release Holiday 2016, we received word early last year that the game would unfortunately be pushed back a few months. After nearly a year of keeping the date a secret, the folks at Bioware hit CES to announce that the game will finally be hitting shelves on March 21. Players will be able to grab the title on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Commander Shepard says goodbye
After the events of Mass Effect 3 came to disappointing end in 2012, so did Commander Shepard’s involvement in the series. As many expected, Bioware confirmed that they were taking the series “far away from and long after the events of the original trilogy.” Following that reveal, we learned a bit more about both of those teases; the title will take place 600 years after Mass Effect 3 in the Andromeda Galaxy (hence the name!).
To mark the turning point in the series, the developer released a special teaser in which Fem Shep (voiced by Jennifer Hale) signed off and said her final farewell. While bittersweet, Bioware’s passion for the pivot was palpable during their EA Play 2016 video. Check it out below.
It wasn’t until the video above that we got our first peek at the game’s fearless protagonist. In the gorgeous trailer, a mysterious female character emerged from a cryogenic pod and whispered “we made it.” Aside from the brief bit of story, the developer also explained a bit more about the project, including the fact they made an effort to build on things fans love about the series, and take it to new heights.
Though it came as no surprise, Bioware also revealed that the game was entirely built on EA’s exclusive Frostbite 3 engine. If you’re unfamiliar with the engine, or what it means, games like Dragon Age: Inquisition, Star Wars Battlefront, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, and Battlefield 1 all utilized it. We’ve already seen Andromeda in action on it, and so far, so good (and gorgeous).
The Andromeda Initiative
Some time during Mass Effect 2, the Nexus Space Station was launched into deep space, along with several Arks, in search of a new home planet for humanity. Once in Andromeda, the Arks were supposed to rendezvous with the Nexxus to commence the Pathfinder Expedition, but when the inhabitants of the Hyperion Ark (which holds nearly 20,000 humans, including our protagonists) woke up after being in cryo-statsis for 600 years, they found themselves in the wrong location and marooned in space. With all contact between them, the Nexxus and the other arks lost, their only hope is to determine if the nearest planet, Habitat 7, is safe.
Meet the Tempest crew
With Shepard out of the picture, the protagonist slack will be picked up by either Sarah or Scott Ryder (depending on which gender you want to play as). While giving players two gender options for the main character isn’t anything new, the cool thing is that this time around, the characters are siblings. That means that you’ll be able to interact with whichever sibling you didn’t choose during the game. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to go on missions with you. It’s a different approach that I’m curious to see in action.
The playable siblings are the offspring of Alec Ryder, the Pathfinder (senior mission officer) of Station Hyperion, and a member of the original task force that left the Milky Way Galaxy. Liam Kostas is the station’s idealist and Security and Crisis Response specialist. The Biotic Cora Harper—who many are suspecting might be a relative of the Illusive Man thanks to her last name—is the ship’s Operations Specialist who recently spent time working with a group of Asari Commandos. Last but not least is the A.I., S.A.M. (a.k.a. Simulated Adapted Matrix), created by Alec Ryder to boost situational awareness, problem solving, and tactical enhancement via neural link to Alec. Meanwhile, a Salarian named Kallo Jath will act as pilot of the Tempest.
Aside from the humans, there are several characters that can be recruited. So far, we know of Peebee, a recruitable Asari who Bioware described as a bubbly yet blunt lone wolf who is “constantly looking for clues and things she can study,” particularly when it comes to alien technology. Then, there’s Vetra, another recruitable character, who is a female Turian we still don’t know much about—aside from the fact that she’ll have a loyalty mission at some point in the game. Another big recruitable character is the Krogan named Drack, who, like Vetra, will have a loyalty mission.
As we can already tell from the confirmed characters, several familiar races are making a return. Of course, because we’re not in the Milky Way Galaxy anymore, there will be new races to meet, and fight—including the Kett, the first foreign species the player will encounter in the game. From what’s been revealed so far, the group, led by the villain Archon (revealed in the video above) appear to be the main antagonists in Andromeda. That said, the developer also hinted that not every member of the race will be an enemy of the Hyperion squad.
Though the title still features cover-based shooting, it will be much more dynamic this time around. Additionally, hot-keyed abilities will be replacing a wheel, and traversal will change with the use of a jet pack (for quick side-dashes, and a higher viewpoint during battle). Like past entries, the player will still issue commands to the squad, and queue attacks.
As for the largest changes, the paragon/renegade (good/evil) system has been replaced by a wider spectrum of responses, and players will no longer be required to pick a starting class. Rather, you will instead assign skills you want, and build your character from there. With the ability to re-spec your character’s skill points at specific times, this opens the door for more variety in character builds.
PRO TIP: In MEA, you can craft your own krogan-style hammer and name it GRABTHAR'S HAMMER.
That one's free, folks. #space
— Ian S. Frazier (@tibermoon) January 17, 2017
Exploration and Crafting
Andromeda will be significantly large than Mass Effect 3, with entire planets available for exploration. Each of these planets will reportedly have a different biome to explore, which can be traversed either by foot or via the Nomad vehicle (similar to the Mako buggy of the past, but without vehicular combat) which boasts customizable speed, and appearence. Players can explore freely, or take on missions. As for the Tempest ship, players cannot pilot it manually, but will instead select planets on the interactive map, which was changed with the intention of cutting down on load times.
Players will also be able to craft powerful weapons (including swords, and hammers!) using blueprints they’ve acquired, and then name them. Want a Krogan hammer named Grabthar’s Hammer? Let your imagination run wild.
While Andromeda‘s multiplayer take’s place within the campaign’s fiction, it will no longer affect your progress. During multiplayer, you play as a member of the Apex Force, a group tasked with defending and fighting waves of powerful aliens. If that sounds familiar, its because it was the core setup seen in Mass Effect 3‘s multiplayer. Players will be able to unlock card packs with in-game credits or via microtransactions
And now the part you’ve been waiting for. Yes, the romance system is back and updated for Andromeda. Both inter-species and same-sex relationship options will be making a welcome return. This time, however, Bioware is aiming to make relationships more natural and realistic, with different levels of intimacy. That means that in addition to romantic relationships, you will be able to form platonic friendships with other characters.
To make relationships more realistic, the developer explained that different characters will want different things; some prefer to get physical right away, while others keep walls up until you’ve gained their trust. They’ve also gotten rid of “the hard line”, which in the past referred to the point where characters can’t be romanced beyond a certain point. As of right now, it’s unclear how many characters will be romanceable. All we know is that they’ve included more romances than ever before.
What are you most excited to see when Mass Effect Andromeda launches on March 21, 2017? Let us know in the comments below, join the conversation on Facebook, or start one with me on Twitter: @Samantha_Sofka.