Mass Effect is a franchise famous for its focus on character development and the consequences of your actions. But previous games have also been plagued by a system that favored good and evil choices using a Paragon/Renegade morality system. Pushing your character in one of those two directions granted your more powerful abilities, those who chose a more neutral path were consequently left with fewer options to take on their enemies. But in Mass Effect: Andromeda, that may come to an end if we’re to believe the game’s creative director, Mac Walters.
Instead of going down the same route as the previous trilogy, BioWare has opted for a different approach as they enter the next generation. “I think in general, with all this sophistication of games or engaging in any kind of entertainment right now, [gamers are] looking for more of those shades of grey.” And no, he’s not referring to everyone’s favorite BDSM movie depiction.
The gaming industry has seen an influx of branching narratives and consequential gameplay in recent years. Games like The Walking Dead by Telltale Games, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt by CD Projekt Red, and BioWare’s latest game Dragon Age: Inquisition have all been showered in praise because of their in-depth storytelling and meaningful choices. BioWare looks to be following the same path with their next sci-fi role-playing adventure and that’s good news for every player that cares about how they can shape the story by their own choices. Previous entries of the franchise had the morality system at their core, it was a “part of who Shepard was,” says Walters. Looking to the future, Walter says the development team is “moving away from that. We’ve been looking for other ways to engage more of those shades of gray; less about it being obviously right or wrong and more about giving people a sense of choice”.
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Promises like these have been made in the past without fully delivering. Games often make it painfully obvious whether you’re being an angel or a demon, Sure, it can be satisfying to deliver a punch in the face to a nagging journalist, or to charm your latest love interest into bed by essentially agreeing with them all the time, but it can be less satisfactory if the response is something you may as well have imagined instead of a reaction that feels like it came from a character with their own personality (bringing along some unpredictability). But it’s up to the developers at BioWare to decide how the story will progress.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is slated for a release in March, 2017 on Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, and PS4. Bioware has said we’ll have to wait until November for more information but keep your eyes peeled, you never know what the internet may uncover.