Legendary role-playing game developer BioWare closed the door on the Mass Effect trilogy and its hero, Commander Shepard, in epic fashion in 2012. Five years later, the series’ next chapter, Mass Effect: Andromeda, looks beyond Shepard and the trilogy’s antagonists, the Reapers, telling the story of a pair of new heroes — the Ryder twins, Scott and Sarah — in an unfamiliar corner of the universe as players search for humanity’s new home.
As Andromeda edges ever closer to release, we’ve now seen a cinematic trailer and a showcase of in-game action in 4K and HDR, learned about the new combat and skill system, and even spent some time with the game. If you can’t wait until Mass Effect: Andromeda comes out in 2017, then you can read everything there is to know about the game right here.
What’s the story?
The original Mass Effect trilogy featured plenty of planet-hopping and a diverse selection of playable locations, but its story always revolved around Earth. In Mass Effect: Andromeda, this is no longer the case. In the game’s second cinematic trailer, we learn that the temporary name for humanity’s future home is “Habitat 7.” 20,000 people are stranded in a nearby space station, unsure if it’s actually safe to land on the rusty planet. We also know that you have to choose between playing as one of the Ryder twins, Scott or Sarah, recruits of the human Pathfinder team.
A joint-race task force referred to as “the initiative” bands together to colonize new planets in the Heleus cluster of the Andromeda galaxy. The task force includes scientists, colonists, and other important figures. Those familiar with the series will recognize some of the species tied to the project: Asari, Krogan, Salarian, Turian, and, of course, Human. Five Arks were constructed to send these groups of the initiative to the Andromeda galaxy.
The human ship — the Ark Hyperion — left Earth directly following the events of Mass Effect 2. Interestingly, because of the length of the trip — multiple centuries — the game takes place well after the events of Mass Effect 3, but not many of its characters know about the catastrophic warfare that took place in the final leg of the original trilogy.
Naturally, the Ark Hyperion runs into some trouble. Ryder and a fellow companion Liam find themselves up on the aforementioned “Habitat 7,” without a means to communicate to the rest of the team, and in constant threat from the alien race that inhabits the world.
This setup allows the game to resemble the atmosphere of ME2 in that you, as one of the Ryder twins, forge alliances with those of “the initiative” you know, all the while exploring completely foreign lands.
With this premise, the game was designed to appeal to both newcomers and those who saw Shephard’s story through to the end. Speaking to Polygon in June, BioWare creative director Mac Walters referred to the original Mass Effect trilogy as a “foundational background” for Andromeda, with “returning species and themes,” but the game would take time to explain these components to newer players, making Ryder’s adventure a good starting point for first-time players.
The story will still be affected by choice, as the dialogue wheel used throughout the trilogy remains. This time, however, instead of the paragon and renegade system gauging morality, there’s four classes of responses that shape the way others see you: casual, professional, emotional, and logical. During our preview of the game, we learned that often times you will be asked to choose between casual and professional, or emotional and logical, depending on the situation. While the different paths you can take through dialogue may not sound as explosive as “paragon” or “renegade,” the overall dialogue system really hasn’t changed much at all.
Although Andromeda may not be the start of a trilogy, creative director Mac Walters said BioWare expects to the game to kick off a arc for the series, according to an interview with Game Informer. While the broader vision for the series was described as “TBD,” Walters did emphasize that major concepts in the first game — like the Pathfinders — will likely carry over to future games and that it would not hurt for players to hang on to their saves after they finish Andromeda. He also added that Andromeda will have a “big, bold ending” with a decent amount of variation in how things play out.
Industry insider “Shinobi602” reported some finer, more concrete details on both the game’s story as well as changes to its mechanics in a post on the forum NeoGAF.