EA's press conference may not have revealed a ton of new info about Mass Effect: Andromeda, but it offered a brief glimpse of the return of the Mako. That's right, the bouncing, rubbery, ice skate with wheels is back. But don't groan just yet. BioWare has been doing some interesting work to make sure that the Mako is more universally liked this time around - and that involves getting a little help from a team that knows its stuff about racers.
Both Mac Walters (Creative Director on Mass Effect: Andromeda) and Aaron Flynn (general manager at BioWare) were very forthcoming that the Mako wasn't just awkward to drive, but that you couldn't do a lot of interesting stuff with it. "So that's all going to get fixed," Flynn tells me. "When we thought about bringing the Mako back, we said: 'We can't bring the Mako back as an iteration of the Mako. It has to be a high quality experience that compares well to any driving simulation by doing that.'"
So what do you do when you need to overhaul your vehicles, and you're part of a huge corporation with teams working on multiple different kinds of projects? You bring on the Need for Speed team to help out. "One really fortuitous thing is that, because so many other teams are on Frostbite now, the Need for Speed folks had done a couple of games on Frostbite at that point," Flynn explains. "They were more than happy to lend a hand and offer advice and guidance to our developers to make sure that the Mako, when we actually get it all done, drives and plays great. It doesn't feel like you have those many, many edge cases the Mako in [the first Mass Effect] had where you could do crazy stuff with it. So that won't be there, knock on wood."
Making the Mako control well, and making it take advantage of the newer open spaces all goes back to a single point: that the team wants to make the Mako actually fun to play. "I think we've approached pretty much everything with Mass Effect: Andromeda that we shouldn't have assumptions about the way we've done things in the past," Walters tells me. "Some things have worked very well, other things haven't, so we looked at the Mako, we said 'Is it fun?' That had to be the question we wanted to answer first. And then, 'is it serving the purpose of exploration that we wanted it to?' We put a lot of effort into it early on to sort of answer those questions."