Watch this in-depth look at Mass Effect: Andromeda's combat and learn all about space-punching aliens

Combat has never been the Mass Effect series' strong suit. Oh sure, it's perfectly fine, not particularly bad in any way, but it usually takes a back seat to story and fostering relationships with your crew. But judging by a new Mass Effect: Andromeda (opens in new tab) gameplay trailer / dev diary, BioWare has really sank its teeth into the gunplay this time around.

It's quite a bit of info to take in, as evidenced by the fact that it takes 3 minutes and 40 seconds before our narrator declares, "Now that we've got the basics down…" So let's break it down a bit, shall we? Here's X things worth noting from the video:

This is the fastest and most fluid Mass Effect combat has ever been

Right away, we can see that this will be a much quicker, more reactive experience than in previous games. In the GIF above, our Pathfinder uses a jetpack to leap out of the way of a charging beast, then dashes several feet back while still in the air, uses her biotic power to charge forward, then dashes back again, all in the span of three seconds. Compare that to the chunkier, more cover-based combat of ME2 and ME3 and the difference is easy to see.

You can run, and you can hide

Part of what makes Andromeda's combat flow so much smoother is the freedom of movement granted by the jetpack. As you can see, it allows you to boost-jump high into the air, dash out of harm's way, and will even let you float mid-air for a moment or two so you can line up that perfect shot. The other big part of the equation is the removal of button-prompt cover. Instead of facing a wall and pressing a button to stick to it, your Pathfinder will move in and out automatically - lifting previous restrictions on what you could and couldn't do while in or out of cover.

Guns, guns, guns

Our narrator tells us there are four weapon types in Mass Effect: Andromeda: pistols, shotguns, sniper rifles, and assault rifles. But mix in the fact that there are projectile (ie. bullets-based) weapons, energy weapons, and plasma weapons, and suddenly that number balloons up to a dozen different weapons (assuming each type of weapon fits all three ammo types). There are no class restrictions anymore, so if you want to be a biotic-wielding sniper, you can do that as effectively as you can be a biotic-wielding shotgunner.

Swing the hammer

Melee attacks have existed in previous Mass Effect games, but nothing like this. Where before Shepard and crew had to make do with the butts of their rifles or a hard-light dagger, now you'll be able to wield proper weapons like an asari sword or a krogan hammer. And they look like they hurt.

Oh my god, so many skills

Look at all those options. Just look at them. This demo character has already invested in a dozen skills and that's just in one available tree. Customizing your Pathfinder is going to be an extensive experience.

 The Force is strong with this one

Skills and abilities look more powerful than ever, as we can see a Pathfinder grab hold of one unfortunate soul, carry them with their mind for a distance, and then hurl them at their comrades. That's just from the Biotic skill tree. The Soldier and Tech trees also look like they've been serious revamped, with more potent forms of old abilities and new ones mixed together.

Future videos promise to expand and explain Mass Effect: Andromeda's combat even further. For now, enjoy the gifs and prepare to arrive in the Andromeda system on March 21.

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Sam Prell

Sam is a former News Editor here at GamesRadar. His expert words have appeared on many of the web's well-known gaming sites, including Joystiq, Penny Arcade, Destructoid, and G4 Media, among others. Sam has a serious soft spot for MOBAs, MMOs, and emo music. Forever a farm boy, forever a '90s kid.