"Going back to our roots" is something you tend to hear a lot from artists, no matter what sort of art they're producing. Included in that are game developers, who can also have a renaissance by looking back on earlier products. #BioWare creative director Mac Walters recently expressed a sentiment about the upcoming Mass Effect Andromeda that felt very similar to that "going back to our roots" mentality.
Speaking to GamesRadar, Walters had this to say of Andromeda:
"We really wanted to create an opportunity for the developers of this game to get back to that sort of blue-sky place where obviously we’re going to build on things that our fans love, and we’re going to make sure those carry forward, but also being able to re-envision them in a way."
But what exactly could he mean by a 'blue-sky place' and 're-envisioning' when it comes to Mass Effect Andromeda?
For Starters, No More Paragon/Renegade System
We've known for a while now that Andromeda would move away from the Paragon/Renegade system, but in the interview, Walters clarified a bit more on the matter. For starters, one of the reasons cited is because players tended to pick one choice or the other based solely on whether it was Paragon or Renegade.
In other words, players weren't making decisions based on what they thought was best, but rather based on what path they wanted to follow. And, uh, I can't really argue that point in the slightest. I made my first trek through the series about a year ago and lived by the mantra "#Renegade4Lyfe." Sometimes, I felt pretty bad about what I did and didn't necessarily like the outcome — I just did it because I wanted to be as Renegade as I could be.
Speaking of the new system, Walters said that it would move to an "agree/disagree" system that also allows you to choose from up to four tones when voicing your opinion. In his words, it's "less about 'Do I want to be good or bad,' and more about 'How do I want to express myself?'"
Again, I can't say this feels like a bad change. As the series moved on, #MassEffect felt more like an action game and less like an RPG. This new choice system is a step back to those RPG elements. Still, part of me is going to miss being able to flaunt my Renegade-ness and seeing just exactly what sorts of terrible results I could get (and trust me, they could be pretty terrible).
'Andromeda' Offers A New Chance To Experience The Thrill Of Discovery All Over Again
Of course, the decision-making system isn't the only thing being overhauled, and I have to admit I'm a bit more excited to see what sorts of aliens and planets we'll encounter. Walters references the sense of discovery that occurred in the first Mass Effect — specifically, the way players discovered how society functioned and what made the different races tick.
Again, I agree with him, but this time it's not something I had actively been thinking about ahead of time. I mean, I've been excited for new aliens, but I never really realized how exactly that might fit into the overall universe (no pun intended).
I remember the first time I encountered a Hanar versus the first time I encountered an Elcor. Each was so unique and comical in a way that I just sort of grew accustomed to in the later games. I'm really hoping we encounter some new races that provide more than just a bad guy to be angry at.
Maybe more so than the alien species, I can't wait to see what planets BioWare has come up with this time. Especially considering the game is said to be more open-world, it's hard not to over-hype myself. I loved finding new planets in each game because each game was able to utilize new technology (during development) that pushed planets to their most sci-fi.
Again, I don't want to get over-hyped here, but I can only imagine what it would be like if you crossed Mass Effect with the sort of "endless exploration" that many expected from #NoMansSky. Even if it's a specific set of planets, being able to explore alien landscapes at the same time as everyone else, dissecting the small details, and simply enjoying the view... It's something that continually draws me toward these sorts of games.
But There's A Lot More To Add Or Re-Envision
Of course, Mass Effect is so much more than aliens, planetary exploration, and punching people you don't like. Discovering the little things like characters' quirks — hello, drunk Tali — and how you interact with your different teammates provide some of the game's best moments.
Oh, and I seriously hope we get an Andromeda equivalent of the elevator conversations from the first game. BioWare, if you're reading this, make it happen — even if you must delay the game to do so.
Do you like the sound of making Andromeda a newer experience? Or do you want Mass Effect to stay 'Mass Effect'?