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Mass Effect: Andromeda is Bioware's latest entry in the Mass Effect franchise. The game is available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4 Pro, and Xbox One.[1]

Release

Mass Effect: Andromeda was slated for release in Holiday 2016,[2] but was eventually postponed to March 21, 2017 in North America and March 23, 2017 in Europe.[3]

The Collector's Edition of Mass Effect: Andromeda contains a steel game case and either a die cast model of the Nomad or the pricier remote-controlled version of the Nomad[4], but does not include the game. However, some retailers may bundle the edition along with the game.

Early access

From March 16, 2017 a 10-hour trial of the game is available through Origin Access (PC) and EA Access (Xbox One). The trial includes the multiplayer mode.[5] Progress carries over if the full game is purchased.[6]

Retail bonus items

Depending on the edition version, or if it was pre-ordered, the customer may be entitled to one or more bonus items. The items can be collected on the Tempest at the Strike Team console, under the rewards section.

The following table lists the available bonuses.[6]

Standard Edition Deluxe Edition Super Deluxe Edition
Bonuses Availability
Deep Space Explorer Armor
Nomad Skin
Multiplayer Booster Pack
Pathfinder Casual Outfit
Scavenger Armor
Pathfinder Elite Weapon Set (4)
Pet Pyjak
Digital Soundtrack
Multiplayer Deluxe Launch Pack
Multiplayer Super Deluxe Booster Packs

Pre-order bonus

PC version

The system requirements for the game was made available on February 24, 2017.[7]

System Requirements

Component Minimum Recommended
OS 64-bit Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10
Processor Intel Core i5 3570 or AMD FX-6350 Intel Core i7-4790 or AMD FX-8350
Memory 8 GB RAM 16 GB RAM
Video Card NVIDIA GTX 660 2GB, AMD Radeon 7850 2GB NVIDIA GTX 1060 3GB, AMD RX 480 4GB
Hard Drive At least 55 GB of free space
DirectX DirectX 11

Controller support

In addition to standard mouse/keyboard controls, the PC version officially supports controllers, allowing players to "seamlessly switch back and forth" between the two in real time.[8]

Plot

Setting

Mass Effect: Andromeda starts around 2185, as the Andromeda Initiative embarked on an ambitious goal to settle the Andromeda galaxy by traveling in large vessels known as arks. A coalition of Milky Way races — which includes humans, asari, turians, salarians and the krogan — participates in this 600-year expedition and placed in cryostasis to ensure that they do not age during the trip. Prior to the journey, the Initiative had identified 'golden worlds' in Andromeda's Heleus cluster, locations that are deemed highly viable for habitation. Each ark consists of a team that are led by a Pathfinder who is tasked to explore and ensure these worlds or any other potential locations are hospitable before settlement can begin.

Depending on the player's choice, the game follows either one of the Ryder twins named Scott or Sara by default, as they assist their father, a Pathfinder, in the Initiative's effort. Alec and his children travels onboard the Hyperion, one of the ark that contains mainly human passengers. Unlike Commander Shepard, the Ryder siblings do not begin with a past reputable status, but players will see the protagonist's character and reputation grow as they progress through the narrative.

As the events of Mass Effect: Andromeda takes place far in the future, characters from the original trilogy will not be present nor any decisions that were made in the past entries will have any impact during the events of this game. This is to ensure that the game is accessible to new players. However, players may find references to some characters of the trilogy as they explore and interact with various people.

Synopsis

At the end of the centuries-long voyage, the Hyperion finally arrived in the Heleus cluster and the player's Ryder wakes up from cryostasis. Soon after, the ark strikes an unknown object in space, temporarily disabling the power and artificial gravity. Despite the minor complications, they reach Habitat 7, humanity's designated home. However, to the surprise of the crew, Habitat 7 appears vastly different from initial scans from Milky Way prior to their departure. Not to be taken aback by the find, the Pathfinder team proceeds to survey the planet to determine its viability. However, the team crash-lands on the planet and encounters a harsh environment, hostile aliens, and unknown mega-structures. In time, they successfully retreated from the planet, but suffered a misfortune in the process. With Habitat 7 deemed inhospitable and the team suffered a setback, it is up to the player to head into the unknown to find a new home for humanity.

As the Pathfinder slowly but steadily establishes outposts on the golden worlds, secrets and perils begin to surface. The ancient structures located on each golden worlds hold secrets unknown to them. The hostile aliens fight them at every turn, among them is an enigmatic alien known only as the Archon. A first-contact situation becomes the only beacon of hope that may spell the Initiative's survival or annihilation.

Gameplay

Singleplayer

Gameplay will feature a "new and improved" version of the M35 Mako[2], the Nomad ND1, which can be customized.[9]

Branching dialogue options will continue to feature, as will Interrupts. Gone are Paragon and Renegade choices. Instead, players will make tone decisions based on four options. Emotional (or Heart), Professional, Logical and Casual. The option to Investigate will still be available in appropriate situations. Interrupts will still be offered that if chosen, will result in an action being taken by the character.

The game will feature an online component, though unlike the Galaxy at War mode of Mass Effect 3, it is unlikely it will affect the main campaign in a manner similar to War Assets.[10]

As with the trilogy, there is a Galaxy Map for space navigation but it is "different" from its predecessors. The map is located at the helm and will be an overlay of the actual view of space. Fish for the player's cabin (and collecting/feeding thereof) will not be returning. Mineral scanning will also return, but with a different execution from previous iterations. The player starship, the Tempest, will not require periodic refueling unlike the Normandy SR-2.[11]

The game is said to feature "meaningful" sidequests, similar to those in The Witcher series.[12] Producer Mike Gamble has stressed that Andromeda is not an open-world game, but rather an "exploration-based game." It is not linear either way.[13]

For Ryder, the traditional class system has been scrapped. Ryder can learn any ability and isn't locked to a single progression tree.[14][15]. In a given playthrough, Ryder can have combat, tech, and biotic abilities whereas Commander Shepard was limited to no more than two categories of abilities. Squadmates, however, will not have as much flexibility and do follow more of the typical classes.[14] Ryder's abilities can be reset regularly as the situation dictates.[15]

Players will also be able to unlock profiles when they invest their skill points in certain ways. For example, players focusing on combat and biotic powers can unlock the Vanguard profile. Each profile comes with bonuses tailored to the player's style. Six of the profiles correspond to existing Mass Effect classes. The seventh profile is called Explorer and comes from investing skill points across combat, biotic, and tech powers.[15]

Combat is more fast-paced than previous titles.[16] Power Wheel pausing and aiming has been removed: the game can still be paused, although it isn't part of strategies anymore. Sticky cover has also been removed, as characters automatically take cover when pressing up against an object and leave just as quickly. Replacing the standard combat roll is the jetpack: aside from greater maneuverability prospects, jetpacks can hover and can aid in formulating new methods of attack.[15]

Two types of Viability Points are earned by the player during gameplay. The first type is A.V.P. or Andromeda Viability Points. These are earned by constantly by simply playing the game. Complete missions, interact with squad, explore, pretty much everything the player does can potentially earn points. These points increase the Nexus rank of the player and allow them the ability to further awaken members of the Initiative still in Cryo sleep. The second type of points are earned directly on specific planets and unlock more activities on that planet.

Mass Effect: Andromeda introduces a crafting system[17] where players can acquire blueprints for armor and weapons throughout the campaign. Weapons can be given custom names, and there is now a slot dedicated for melee weapons.[18]

Squad Members

Six squadmates have been confirmed by BioWare: a male human named Liam Kosta, an asari named Pelessaria B'Sayle,[19] a female turian named Vetra Nyx,[20] a male krogan named Nakmor Drack,[21] a female human named Cora Harper,[22] and an male angara Jaal Ama Darav.[23]

Loyalty missions will return to the series after having been absent in Mass Effect 3. However, unlike the loyalty missions from Mass Effect 2, the loyalty missions from Mass Effect: Andromeda will not affect the game's ending.[24]

As with the previous Mass Effect games, the ability to romance other characters will be available. However, romance in Mass Effect: Andromeda has undergone several changes. Deadlines in the game where a romance must be initiated have been eliminated as has the locking in of romances. Romances will offer differing levels of intimacy, including casual dating and non-sexual friendship akin to shooting bottles with Garrus in Mass Effect 3. Romanceable characters will show more variability in their preferences. Some characters will be more interested in emotional intimacy while others are more concerned about physical intimacy. Romance arcs will follow different paces for different characters with some willing to initiate a relationship immediately while others will take longer. It will be possible to romance multiple characters, though the reactions of the characters involved will vary in that some will react quite negatively while others will be more nonchalant about it.[25]

Multiplayer

The game features multiplayer, similar as with Mass Effect 3. However, it differs in the following ways:

  • Players are encouraged to keep moving rather than finding defensible points. Enemy forces will continually try to flush players out.
  • Cooldowns are individual, rather than on a global timer.
  • Jetpacks are available in multiplayer. This reflects the game's map design, which is intended to introduce elements of verticality.
  • Blind card packs return, which are purchased via in-game currency. Players have access to a store that sells a limited assortment of loot on a rotating basis. Purchasing from the store will require "mission funds," which are separate from credits. Real-world currency may also be used.
  • Prestige is introduced as a new XP system. As players engage in multiplayer, they gain Prestige alongside normal XP. Instead of being used to advance a single character, prestige XP accumulates across a particular character style (e.g. playing as a tank). Reaching a prestige level will grant rewards (e.g. increased health).
  • Multiplayer will affect the singleplayer, but not to the extent of Mass Effect 3. It is not intended that multiplayer be obligatory for those only interested in singleplayer.[26]
  • Players will be able to switch between multiplayer and singleplayer on the fly via a "strike team" system.
  • Kits will no longer share class levels, but will instead rank up independently. On top of the 6 base kits, there are also unique kits for humans. Armor within the kits can be visually customized.
  • Playable characters are now divided by rarity and sorted by class/type within each rarity.

The multiplayer will contain a meta-story that fleshes out what's going on in Helios. No dedicated servers will be provided for multiplayer.[27]

Development

Unlike the previous three games of the main series, which were built using the Unreal Engine 3, Mass Effect: Andromeda is built using the Frostbite engine,[2] which is also used by Dragon Age: Inquisition. Because of this, the game will be able to share assets.[28] The multiplayer and singleplayer were designed to be a "more cohesive experience."[16]

Conceptually, the game is intended to embody the themes of "stranger in a strange land," "I am the alien," and becoming a hero. These ideas were present in the earliest days of the project. The Mako's return was similarly planned early in development.[10]

Addressing the relative lack of female aliens in the trilogy, Mass Effect: Andromeda is slated to feature more of them.[29]

Unlike with the original Mass Effect trilogy, BioWare is not setting out to create a new trilogy with Mass Effect: Andromeda.[11] However, future installments in the franchise are a possibility.[30][15]. It is still "to be determined" if the save file for the game carries forward. Future games set in Andromeda may not focus on Ryder as the primary protagonist.[15] It is also to be determined if there will be downloadable characters for the game.[11]

With the new romance mechanic, BioWare sought to create a more realistic and less formulaic approach to romance. Thus, they added more variability in characters' preferences and more variation in the story arc of each romance, including the introduction of casual elements and the possibility of friendships. BioWare also took strides in making sure a character's sexuality fits the character. They wanted to avoid having a character's sexual preference feeling "shoe horned" onto them or the male and female romance options feeling like a set quota, nor did they want to simply make every character a potential romance option.[25]

The lack of the Paragon/Renegade system is intended to represent the nature of the Andromeda galaxy. As there's no Council or standing military, Ryder does not have the same type of governing body to answer to in the manner that Shepard did. Hence, Ryder can operate with more latitude, which is represented in the more flexible approach to morality.[31]

As of January 2017, there are no plans to release the game on the Nintendo Switch, but BioWare will consider doing so if there is sufficient demand.[32]

In May 2017, it was reported that BioWare Montreal would undergo restructuring, and that the Mass Effect series would be put on hold.[33]

References

  1. Mike Gamble Twitter conversation
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 BioWare blog: "Introducing Mass Effect: Andromeda"
  3. Mass Effect: Andromeda Coming March 21, 2017"
  4. Buy the Collector's Edition - Mass Effect Andromeda Official Website
  5. https://twitter.com/DiscoBabaloo/status/823794070812295169
  6. 6.0 6.1 Pre-Order Mass Effect Andromeda - Official EA Site
  7. https://www.origin.com/sgp/en-us/store/mass-effect/mass-effect-andromeda/deluxe-edition#requirements
  8. Ian S. Frazier Twitter conversation
  9. "Mass Effect: The Mako Returns - Update"
  10. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Heroes
  11. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named 101Questions
  12. Mass Effect: Andromeda Has "Meaningful" Sidequests, BioWare Says
  13. Mass Effect: Andromeda Is Not An Open-World Game, Producer Stresses
  14. 14.0 14.1 Game Informer: New Mass Effect Andromeda Screenshots
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 Game Informer Issue 284 (December 2016) - "Unexplored Territory: Mass Effect Andromeda Charts a New Course
  16. 16.0 16.1 HOW MULTIPLAYER INFLUENCES MASS EFFECT: ANDROMEDA'S CAMPAIGN
  17. Gamespot: Mass Effect: Andromeda has crafting
  18. https://twitter.com/tibermoon/status/821168469416771585
  19. Game Informer - "Meet Your Mass Effect Andromeda Squadmates: Liam And Peebee"
  20. Vetra Nyx - Mass Effect: Andromeda
  21. "Mass Effect Website: Game Awards 2016 Gameplay Reveal"
  22. EGMNow "Two more Mass Effect Teammates Revealed"
  23. MASS EFFECT: ANDROMEDA | Combat Profiles & Squads | Official Gameplay Series - Part 2
  24. Game Informer: "Loyalty Missions Return In Mass Effect Andromeda"
  25. 25.0 25.1 Game Informer: "Mass Effect Andromeda's New Approach To Romance"
  26. Game Informer: Five Major Changes To Mass Effect’s Multiplayer (And One Big Question)
  27. Bioware On Mass Effect Andromeda's Multiplayer, Mods And Open Worlds
  28. "BioWare Talks Next Mass Effect on Twitter"
  29. https://twitter.com/GambleMike/status/798589977366040577
  30. https://twitter.com/macwalterslives/status/796114282161274882
  31. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named EndingInfluence
  32. Mass Effect: Andromeda Not Planned for Nintendo Switch
  33. Report: BioWare Montreal restructuring, Mass Effect’s future on hold

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