Mass Effect Andromeda: Combat, crafting, and more interrupts

Fast facts:

  • Mass Effect Andromeda release date: Spring 2017
  • Formats: PS4, PS4 Pro, Xbox One, PC
  • Developer: Bioware
  • Price: $59.99/£48.99

Update: December 6th - Combat, crafting, and a galaxy map

The Game Awards reveal didn't disappoint - we have a much better idea of how Mass Effect: Andromeda plays now than we did a week ago. The new trailer gave us a look at the galaxy map, dialogue, exploration, combat, and even an in-depth crafting system. However you feel about every game made since 2013 featuring crafting, it does make sense for new arrivals in Andromeda - not many big box stores around for resupplying, y'know.

Update: November 18th - In-game action: dated

The big news is that we'll be seeing the Mass Effect: Andromeda in-game premiere at The Game Awards on December 1st. Hopefully, we should get a sizeable chunk of gameplay, after awards host Geoff Keighley promised this year's show would focus on more substantial game demos.

Shortly after, we'll hear the game's theme song unveiled at the 2016 Video Game Music Odyssey event in Quebec, on December 9th, where Mass Effect Andromeda's composer will be revealed. EA need a big name to top Mass Effect 3's stunning score by ex-Pop Will Eat Itself star Clint Mansell, who composed the soundtrack for Darren Aronofsky's acclaimed movies Black Swan, Pi and The Wrestler.

We've had our first look at Mass Effect: Andromeda's new bad guys The Kett
via Game Informer. This new – ugly, horned and angular – species are designed to look distinct from previous villains The Reapers (they live galaxies apart), and to enable empathy with this new threat.

Most significantly, we've had time to absorb all the new Mass Effect: Andromeda info from N7 day, including updates on the plot, dynamic cover during combat (i.e. things blow up), a less rigid class system (so you can juggle tech, soldier and biotic skills), plus images and info on Mass Effect Andromeda's answer to the MAKO vehicle, the Nomad, which you'll use to explore the new, less 'linearly-sliced', planets. More controversially, it seems that there will be no companion deaths in Mass Effect: Andromeda – so no more epic choices between friends, like the Ashley vs Kaidan bombshell in the original Mass Effect. Let's hope BioWare are exploring new ways to test our moral boundaries.

Oh, and there's the small matter of the potential release date leak on Amazon – more below – and the, frankly ludicrous, choice of 10 Mass Effect: Andromeda special editions including a $270 remote control space car.

Update: November 7 - it's N7 Day! 

Mass Effect Andromeda seems like a pale blue dot in the distant galaxy of Spring 2017, but fear not: our first proper info drop has arrived, including a new trailer which goes some way to revealing the setting and details of Mass Effect Andromeda's story. You can watch it below, and we've also got all the new info about loyalty missions, story, setting and multiplayer, as well as a mix of official info and measured speculation about what could be on the way in Bioware's epic upcoming space opera. 

Mass Effect Andromeda N7 Day trailer reveals crucial hints about the story

We’ve already seen the game in action, and the first teaser trailer was shown way back at E3 2015, but the latest Mass Effect Andromeda trailer, released on N7 Day, tells us loads more about the setting and story. 

One line sums it up nicely: "We're the aliens here." It tells us surprising amount about the tone of Mass Effect Andromeda. You're an unknown intruder in a distant place, rather than a a burgeoning young race in a familiar galaxy. Instead of ascension, Mass Effect Andromeda is a story about survival at any cost, with little margin for error. 

You can watch the whole thing in its tantalising, cinematic glory above, and we'll have a full breakdown about what it all means soon, but in the meantime, here's the full synopsis: 

Mass Effect: Andromeda takes players to the Andromeda galaxy, far beyond the Milky Way. There, players will lead our fight for a new home in hostile territory as the Pathfinder - a leader of military-trained explorers. This is the story of humanity’s next chapter, and player choices throughout the game will ultimately determine our survival.

Chart Your Own Course in a Dangerous New Galaxy

Unravel the mysteries of the Andromeda galaxy as you discover rich, alien worlds in the search for humanity’s new home

Lead the First Humans in Andromeda on a Desperate Search for our New Home

In this new chapter of Mass Effect, meet and recruit all-new, interesting characters caught up in an epic space saga filled with mystery and galactic conflict

Fight with your Pathfinder Team In Battle Against Terrifying Enemies and Creatures

New additions like destructible environments, boosted jumps for added verticality, and all-new weapons and Biotics make combat more thrilling than ever

Build a Formidable Hero With Amazing Weapons, Powers and Tech

With a much more flexible skill and weapon progression tree, you can replicate your play style to make you unstoppable against new, powerful alien enemies

For 1 player or up to 4 in multiplayer mode

Mass Effect: Andromeda has legit crafting

As you explore the new-to-you worlds of the Andromeda galaxy, you'll find materials that can be used to create new and better items. You can harvest these resources with the Nomad buggy, and it looks like you can call down an orbital drop pod to retrieve anything else you need from the Tempest while you're planetside. There are separate armor slots for helmet, chest cover, boots, and arm protection, so you'll have plenty of flexibility for pursuing different bonuses and styles.

Mass Effect Andromeda's combat opens up with jetpacks and biotics

Even if you plan to play through Mass Effect: Andromeda as a dyed-in-the-wool soldier, never touching the tech or biotics skill trees, the jetpack will (literally) change your approach to battle. Forget about combat rolls - now you can boost out of the line of fire, line up the shot, then boost back behind cover. And if you do decide to invest in the other skill trees, you'll find even more ways to use aerial superiority to your advantage. That includes some sweet looking biotic-assisted air dashes.

Mass Effect Andromeda romance will definitely be a thing, and loyalty missions are back.

Crucially, all the shooty-running-killy stuff is only part of Mass Effect Andromeda’s gameplay. As before, everything you do is tempered by the relationships you have with your crew - whether it’s platonic brofistery or biologically-ambitious interspecies romance. Creative director Mac Walters has revealed that loyalty missions from Mass Effect 2 will return. This means that every member of your team has a specific, story-focussed mission you can take on to improve your relationship with them. It's a great way of getting to know characters better, offering a practical alternative to endless chatting in the hanger bay, but you won't be punished if you chose not to complete them. These missions are part of a suite of narrative distractions - which also include planetary exploration and solving the mysteries of the Ryder family - all of which point to Mass Effect Andromeda having the familiar, nourishing mix of firefights and friendship.

Elsewhere, we've seen glimpses of these relationships in the 4K demo - some cheerful, scene-setting radio chatter here, some unspoken longing there - but there’s every suggestion that romance and relationships will be part of the game. A leak way back in 2015 suggested there will be a total of seven new crew members, and the trailers we’ve seen so far hint at a diverse bunch drawn from established Mass Effect races such as Asari, Krogan and Salarian. It’s a complete guess, but I think the Asari we saw at the PlayStation meeting is likely to be Cora - the name means ‘maiden’, and she seems wild, tomboyish and slightly immature compared to the more refined Asari we’ve seen in previous games. No, we’re not talking about you, Morinth. Another leaked name, Drack, is likely to be Krogan. On a related note: please, please let us romance a Krogan this time. 

Mass Effect Andromeda’s Shepard is, erm... Ryder

Mass Effect has always been a character-driven story - note how I carefully avoided the term ‘human’ - about managing the fate of a central character. Andromeda will be no different. Instead of Commander Shepard, you’ll be playing as one of the Ryder siblings, human Pathfinders in a distant, unfamiliar galaxy, carrying the burden of finding new planets to colonise. The Ryder characters are a major deviation from previous Mass Effect games. As brother and sister, both characters canonically exist in the universe, irrespective of which one you choose - and I’ll talk more about the Ryder family below. We also know that Ryder’s equivalent of the Normandy will be called the Tempest, and that the Mako will return. 

Whereas previous Mass Effect games had you overcoming established prejudices and the ascension of the humans race as an intergalactic power, Andromeda offers a different, more fragile prospect. Of course, the legend of Shepard lives on in Mass Effect: Andromeda. As you’d expect from the woman/man who stepped forward to save the galaxy, Shepard is regarded with almost religious devotion. We don’t know exactly what form this will take, but expect numerous throwbacks fan-serving nods to the previous games. 

Mass Effect Andromeda release date has been pushed back from 2016 to Spring 2017

The Mass Effect Andromeda release date was originally going to be ‘holiday 2016’, but sadly it’s been pushed back to 2017. What was the reason? As Aaron Flynn explained, simply to make the best game possible. We could be closer to playing the game than we realise, since the Mass Effect Andromeda release date might have been leaked by Amazon. Dark Horse's The Art of Mass Effect Andromeda book is due to be released 'simultaneously with the game' on March 21st, claims the Amazon listing.

Mass Effect Andromeda gameplay looks recognisable but refined

BioWare general manager Aaron Flynn showed off some Mass Effect Andromeda gameplay at Sony’s PlayStation Meeting this September, with the game running at 4K on PS4 Pro. You can check out the footage in the video below – or take a look at some Mass Effect: Andromeda screenshots in 4K from PS4 Pro – but the short version is that it’s the same solid cover shooting established in earlier games, with some elegant refinements. Ryder uses a short, Mako-style rocket jump used for traversing gaps, which suggests more open levels and verticality - forgive me for using the ‘v’ word - not before seen in Mass Effect. There’s also an in-game scanner, perfect for reliving your finest planet-scanning moments from Mass Effect 2, which hints at an underlying theme of assessing worlds for their habitability. We also see a glimpse of the Remnant, the mysterious new alien race in Mass Effect Andromeda, who may hold the key to humanity’s future.

There’s also sense of physical depth not seen in previous Mass Effect games, which will be even more vivid thanks to HDR lighting on supporting platforms. Overall, it looks like a deeply handsome game.

While the Mako is coming back, vehicular combat is not - this is a good or bad thing, depending how long you spent jumping over Geth rockets in the first Mass Effect. We also know that co-operative multiplayer is coming back, but again, the details are scarce.

The Mass Effect Andromeda plot is a family affair

Remember the Mass Effect Andromeda trailer from forever ago? Specifically, the guy in the black N7 helmet? Well you don’t need to remember it - I’ve posted it below.

It’s likely that the man in the video is the father of both Ryder children. Moreover, Bioware creative director Mac Walters has confirmed that the most recent teaser trailer for N7 day was narrated by Daddy Ryder.

It’s less clear how this relates to the story, but BioWare has an illustrious history weaving family into its grandest narratives - think Liara and Benezia in Mass Effect, Samara and Morinth in Mass Effect 2, Bodahn and Sandal in Dragon Ag... okay, maybe not that one. It wouldn’t register on my surprise meter if the fate of Ryder’s mother became central to the Mass Effect Andromeda plot. Walters promised we’d find out more on N7 Day, but it's not clear yet exactly what role she'll play.  

Finally, we now know it takes place 600 years 'from where we stand.' The wording of this is crucial - it suggests it's 600 years of travel, into distant, unexplored space, covering the distance between the Milky Way and Andromeda, rather than just time. The craft in the video below looks like slightly like the Citadel and a Mass Relay - this could be exactly the means Ryder needs to travel such a huge distance. It's also a useful start for a series that has relied upon people playing previous games. For the first time ever, it won't matter if you've never played another Mass Effect.

Related Mass Effect Andromeda news

Mass Effect: Andromeda's new story trailer reminds you that you're the alien around here
Mass Effect: Andromeda retail listings reveal box art and 4-player co-op
Two gifs from the Mass Effect: Andromeda Initiative trailer have our minds racing
The Mass Effect Andromeda release date might have been leaked by Amazon
Mass Effect Andromeda gives us another look at the new ship, the Tempest
Mass Effect Andromeda's male/female heroes are brother and sister (and dad's around too)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt is GamesRadar's senior commissioning editor. His ideal game would be a turn-based beat 'em up set in Lordran, starring Professor Layton and Nico from Broken Sword. There would also be catapults and romance. Follow him @MGElliott for Darkstalkers gifs and pictures of breakfast food.
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