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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 game is not available on the Nintendo Switch, although in January 2017 it was reported that it would be considered if there was sufficient demand.[4]

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[5], 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.[6] Progress carries over if the full game is purchased.[7]

Retail Bonus Items

Depending on the edition version purchased, 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 Teams console, under the rewards section.

The following table lists the available bonuses.[7]

Standard Edition Deluxe Edition Super Deluxe Edition
Bonuses Availability
Deep Space Explorer Armor
ND1 Nomad Skin
Multiplayer Booster Pack
Pathfinder Casual Outfit
Scavenger Armor
Pathfinder Elite Weapon Set
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.[8]

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.[9]

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 - participate in this 600-year expedition and are 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 is led by a Pathfinder who is tasked to explore and ensure these worlds and any other potential locations are hospitable before settlement can begin.

Depending on the initial choice, the game follows either one of the Ryder twins named Scott or Sara Ryder by default, as they assist their father Alec Ryder, the Human Pathfinder, in the Initiative's effort. Alec and his children travel aboard the Hyperion, one of the arks that contain mainly human passengers. Unlike Commander Shepard, the Ryder siblings do not begin with a past reputable status, but instead the protagonist's character and reputation grow as they progress through the narrative.

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

Synopsis

At the end of the centuries-long voyage, the Hyperion finally arrives in the Heleus Cluster and Ryder wakes up from cryostasis. Soon after, the ark strikes an unknown object in space, temporarily disabling the power and artificial gravity. Despite these complications, the Hyperion reaches Habitat 7, humanity's designated home. However, to the surprise of the crew, Habitat 7 appears vastly different from their initial scans from the Milky Way prior to departure. Unwilling to believe the journey was for naught, the Pathfinder team decides to survey the planet to determine its viability. The atmospheric conditions being more than they could anticipate, the team crash lands on the planet. There, they encounter a harsh environment, hostile aliens, and unknown mega-structures. In time, they successfully retreat from the planet but suffer a great misfortune in the process. With Habitat 7 deemed inhospitable and the team still reeling from the setback, it is up to Ryder to head into the unknown to find a new home for humanity.

As the Pathfinder slowly but steadily establishes outposts on "golden worlds", many secrets and perils begin to surface. The ancient structures located on each "golden world" hold secrets showing Heleus is nothing the Initiative could have ever imagined. This new hostile alien species fight them at every turn, with an enigmatic leader 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 features a "new and improved" version of the M35 Mako[2], the ND1 Nomad, which can be customized.[10]

Branching dialogue options continue to be featured, as well as interrupts. The morality system of Paragon and Renegade choices from previous games was scrapped. Instead, conversation tone choices are used. Tone choices no longer affect gameplay as in previous games so Ryder is free to make conversation choices without it affecting gameplay. Interrupts are still offered that if chosen, that result in an action being taken by the character but these are no longer Paragon or Renegade decisions.

The game features an online component, though unlike the Galaxy at War mode of Mass Effect 3, it does not affect the main campaign in a manner similar to War Assets.

As with the original trilogy, there is a Galaxy Map for space navigation but it is "different" from its predecessors. The map is located at the helm and is an overlay of the actual view of space. Fish for the player's cabin (and collecting/feeding thereof) are not returning. Mineral scanning returned, but with a different execution from previous iterations. This time scanning for resources is done using the ND1 Nomad on planet surfaces. The main starship, the Tempest, does not require periodic refueling unlike the Normandy SR-2.

The game features "meaningful" side missions, similar to those in The Witcher series.[11] 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.[12]

For Ryder, the traditional class system has been scrapped. Ryder can learn any skill and isn't locked to a single progression tree.[13][14]. 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, do not have as much flexibility and do follow more of the typical classes.[13] Ryder's abilities can be reset regularly as the situation dictates.[14]

Ryder can unlock profiles when by investing 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.[14]

Combat is more fast-paced than previous titles.[15] 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 jump-jet: aside from greater maneuverability prospects, jump-jets can hover and can aid in formulating new methods of attack.[14]

Two types of viability are earned by the player during gameplay. The first type is AVP AVP icon (Andromeda Viability Points). These points are earned by simply playing the game. Complete missions, interact with squad, explore, and pretty much everything Ryder does can potentially earn points. These points increase the Nexus rank and allows the ability to further awaken members of the Initiative still in Cryo sleep. The second type of points are known as viability and are earned directly on specific planets which unlock more activities on that planet.

Mass Effect: Andromeda introduces a crafting system[16] where Ryder can acquire blueprints for armor and weapons throughout the campaign. Weapons can be given custom names and there is now a slot dedicated for a new class of weapons known as Melee Weapons.[17]

Squad Members

Six squadmates are available during gameplay: a male human named Liam Kosta, an asari named Pelessaria B'Sayle,[18] a female turian named Vetra Nyx,[19] a male krogan named Nakmor Drack,[20] a female human named Cora Harper,[21] and an male angara Jaal Ama Darav.[22]

Loyalty missions 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 do not affect the game's ending.[23]

As with the previous Mass Effect games, the ability to romance other characters is available. However, romance in Mass Effect: Andromeda has undergone several changes. Deadlines in the game where a romance must be initiated have been eliminated and locking-in romances conspicuously happens only after Ryder invests a large amount of time in the romance. Romances offer differing levels of intimacy, including casual dating and non-sexual friendship akin to shooting bottles with Garrus in Mass Effect 3. Characters that can be romanced show more variability in their preferences. Some characters are more interested in emotional intimacy while others are more concerned about physical intimacy. Romance arcs follow different paces for different characters with some willing to initiate a relationship immediately while others take longer. It is be possible to romance multiple characters, though the reactions of the characters involved vary in that some react quite negatively while others are more nonchalant about it.[24]

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.
  • Jump-jets 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 Credits. 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 MEA Mission Funds Icon, which are separate from credits. Real-world currency may also be used to purchase Andromeda Points Andromeda Points that can be used to purchase items in-game.
  • 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.[25]
  • Players will be able to switch between multiplayer and singleplayer on the fly via the Strike Teams 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.

Multiplayer contains a meta-story that fleshes out what's going on in Helios. No dedicated servers are provided for multiplayer.[26]

Downloadable Content

Single-Player

Development

Unlike the three games of the original trilogy, which were built using the Unreal Engine 3, Mass Effect: Andromeda was built using the Frostbite engine,[2] which was also used by Dragon Age: Inquisition. Because of this, the game was able to share assets.[27]

Themes and Concepts

The multiplayer and singleplayer were designed to be a "more cohesive experience."[15]

Conceptually, the game was 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.[28]

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

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.[24]

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.[30]

Post-Release

Unlike with the original Mass Effect trilogy, BioWare did not set out to create a new trilogy with Mass Effect: Andromeda. However, future installments in the franchise are a possibility.[31][14]. 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.[14] In 2018, Casey Hudson confirmed that BioWare intended to return to the Mass Effect universe at some point,[32] but that discussions wouldn't begin until after the release of Anthem.[33]

Patches and Updates

Main article: Patches and Updates (Mass Effect: Andromeda)

A number of patches and updates were provided for Mass Effect: Andromeda. On 19 August 2017, BioWare announced that Update 1.10 was the final patch for the game and that there are no plans for additional single-player or in-game story content.[34]

Updates to the multiplayer portion are still occurring as of May 2018.[35]

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. Mass Effect: Andromeda Not Planned for Nintendo Switch
  5. Buy the Collector's Edition - Mass Effect Andromeda Official Website
  6. https://twitter.com/DiscoBabaloo/status/823794070812295169
  7. 7.0 7.1 Pre-Order Mass Effect Andromeda - Official EA Site
  8. https://www.origin.com/sgp/en-us/store/mass-effect/mass-effect-andromeda/deluxe-edition#requirements
  9. Ian S. Frazier Twitter conversation
  10. "Mass Effect: The Mako Returns - Update"
  11. Mass Effect: Andromeda Has "Meaningful" Sidequests, BioWare Says
  12. Mass Effect: Andromeda Is Not An Open-World Game, Producer Stresses
  13. 13.0 13.1 Game Informer: New Mass Effect Andromeda Screenshots
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 Game Informer Issue 284 (December 2016) - "Unexplored Territory: Mass Effect Andromeda Charts a New Course
  15. 15.0 15.1 HOW MULTIPLAYER INFLUENCES MASS EFFECT: ANDROMEDA'S CAMPAIGN
  16. Gamespot: Mass Effect: Andromeda has crafting
  17. https://twitter.com/tibermoon/status/821168469416771585
  18. Game Informer - "Meet Your Mass Effect Andromeda Squadmates: Liam And Peebee"
  19. Vetra Nyx - Mass Effect: Andromeda
  20. "Mass Effect Website: Game Awards 2016 Gameplay Reveal"
  21. EGMNow "Two more Mass Effect Teammates Revealed"
  22. MASS EFFECT: ANDROMEDA | Combat Profiles & Squads | Official Gameplay Series - Part 2
  23. Game Informer: "Loyalty Missions Return In Mass Effect Andromeda"
  24. 24.0 24.1 Game Informer: "Mass Effect Andromeda's New Approach To Romance"
  25. Game Informer: Five Major Changes To Mass Effect’s Multiplayer (And One Big Question)
  26. Bioware On Mass Effect Andromeda's Multiplayer, Mods And Open Worlds
  27. "BioWare Talks Next Mass Effect on Twitter"
  28. Polygon: "Mass Effect: Andromeda Will Star A Younger, Untested Band Of Heroes"
  29. https://twitter.com/GambleMike/status/798589977366040577
  30. HOW MASS EFFECT 3'S ENDING INFLUENCED ANDROMEDA
  31. https://twitter.com/macwalterslives/status/796114282161274882
  32. https://www.gameinformer.com/feature/anthem/flying-to-a-new-frontier
  33. Mass Effect is Certainly Not Dead, BioWare Assures
  34. Mass Effect: Andromeda: An Update from the Studio
  35. http://blog.bioware.com/mass-effect-andromeda-multiplayer-updates/