BioWare’s highly-anticipated Mass Effect Andromeda – which many still refer to as Mass Effect 4 – has been in development for ages.
Official information on the game is still hard to find, however, as BioWare have decided to keep its cards close to its chest until an apparent more extensive reveal later this year.
It will be a new start for the series, while retaining much of its past lore; the move to a fresh galaxy, Andromeda, means BioWare can leave behind the decisions you made in the original Mass Effect trilogy. To put it bluntly: Mass Effect Andromeda won’t acknowledge your choice of ME3 ending.
Here’s Mass Effect Andromeda’s latest trailer from E3 2016:
Mass Effect Andromeda gameplay: How does it play?
Despite the new setting, BioWare will not tamper with the overall Mass Effect experience. Expect dialogue wheel conversations, big choices and sci-fi gunplay with biotic “space magic”.
Expect a vast number of planets to explore, each of which will have one particular biome, according to BioWare. But these areas will be huge, and traversable both on foot and via the returning Mako buggy.
There’s no vehicular combat this time around, so you’ll be using your Mako just for exploration. Exploring planets and solar systems may sound familiar, but this time the focus is on doing so as an alien yourself.
Co-operative multiplayer will also return, although details of that are thin on the ground.
Mass Effect Andromeda story – expect new races, planets and ship
There will be two major new races in the Andromeda galaxy, along with the likelihood of others. Ever since a leak from PAX Prime back in 2013, when select fans were treated to a behind-closed-doors presentation and asked for feedback, these have been known to be an aggressive race and a peaceful, ancient “guardian” people.
A major marketing survey leak in April 2015 named these two races as the Khet and the Remnant, although there’s no way of knowing whether these are final names. Indeed, BioWare told Eurogamer at this E3 just gone that some information which had leaked is now outdated. However, other details from this source have been proven correct, such as the name of your new Normandy-esque ship, the Tempest.
“You are a pathfinder,” the leak stated, “a combat trained but untested explorer leading an expedition into the Helius cluster [in the Andromeda galaxy] to establish a new home for humanity. As you explore this sprawling series of solar systems (over 4x the size of Mass Effect 3), collecting resources and building colonies, you will encounter the savagery of untamed lands in the form of cut-throat outlaws and warring alien races.”
This mention of a “pathfinder” initiative fits logos spotted on the jackets of BioWare staff at events, along with the word “ARKCON”, which some fans have suggested refers to an “ark contingency” – ie., Milky Way races using a space ship as an ark to another galaxy to ensure survival from the deadly Reaper war.
Mass Effect Andromeda: Shepard isn’t returning, so who is the lead?
Andromeda’s main character is named Ryder, and can again be played either as a male or female character. So far we’ve only seen the female lead – BioWare said it has “moved beyond” the male Shepard reveal of 10 years ago – who has already been dubbed as FemRyder by fans.
Ryder’s story will be that of a regular colonist becoming a hero, BioWare has said, as opposed to the story of Shepard – who began Mass Effect 1 as a hero already and ascended from there to an almost messianic legend.
Andromeda is set hundreds of years after Mass Effect 3 and in a different galaxy, so there will be no direct continuation of the Commander’s story. However, nods to past adventures will be included, along with plenty of fan service for players who want to go seek it out.
Mass Effect Andromeda: romance still on the cards?
Trailers have shown that you’ll have at least three of the major Milky Way races on your ship: human, Krogan and Salarian. Asari are also in Andromeda, although name and details for any of your sidekicks have yet to be confirmed; one leak named a Krogan sidekick as Drack, and another biotic squadmate as Cora, who may well be Asari.
Andromeda, like all other Mass Effect games, will again let you engage in romantic relationships. BioWare has said players should expect this to work as other games in the series, and that same-sex relationships will of course be included.
Mass Effect Andromeda multiplayer and mission types
Other information from the leak revealed the kinds of missions you’ll face. “Active Strike Team” missions will introduce multiplayer areas to players, which sounds similar to ME3’s N7 objectives.
There is also expected to be a separate multiplayer horde for you and up to three friends, with rewards for use in the main campaign.
Meanwhile, there are “Deployed Strike Team” missions which take real-time to complete sound similar to Dragon Age: Inquisition’s war table missions, where you send out resources to complete missions in real-time. These will allow you to gather resources and keep areas secure, which also sounds similar to a Keep defense system intended for Inquisition but then cut during production. Inquisition’s creative director Mike Laidlaw previously told Eurogamer this was due to the problems of supporting last-gen consoles, something which Andromeda will not have to consider.
Mass Effect Andromeda release date, pre-orders – when’s it coming out?
BioWare has said we’ll likely not hear anything more of Mass Effect Andromeda now until the franchise’s annual N7 Day celebrations, held each year on 7th November. After then, information will likely come thick and fast as March 2017 approaches.
Mass Effect Andromeda is currently set for release in March 2017, on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. In North America you can pre-order it from BLANK, and in the UK, from BLANK.