It's been four years since we thwarted the Reaper threat, drawing the Mass Effect trilogy to a close. Since then Dragon Age: Inquisition has come and gone, no doubt with new learnings for #MassEffectAndromeda. We've dived into the trailers before and the release date leak too, but we're building an up to date encyclopedia here on Now Loading in the run up to the launch of Mass Effect Andromeda.
So, without further ado, here's everything you need to know about BioWare's latest release!
Note: This article will be updated as more information becomes available.
Last Update: 9/1/2017
'Mass Effect Andromeda' Release Date
Mass Effect Andromeda is being released in the United States on March 21, 2017 and internationally on March 23, 2017 as officially announced in January.
Amazon accidentally jumped the gun with their listing for a Mass Effect: Andromeda art book, which is advertised for release on 21st March and as it turns out is launching alongside the game.
'Mass Effect Andromeda' News, Leaks & Rumors
There's been no shortage of Mass Effect news, leaks and rumors since EA and BioWare announced the development of another game. Whilst not all of the information has come directly from the Alliance News Network, several leaks have been proven true over time and rumors have most certainly come to fruition. As we draw closer to the reveal of Mass Effect Andromeda, more official news sources will either validate or destroy some of the additional information we've heard regarding this expansive space game.
Rumors and leaks have filled in the gaps regarding characters, story and gameplay features throughout this piece and will be updated once more concrete information arrives from the developers!
'Mass Effect Andromeda' Story
During the events of Mass Effect 2, a group of scientists and explorers set up the 'Andromeda Initiative.' Their goal was to leave the Milky Way behind and set up shop in the Andromeda galaxy.
Then, years later, you're awoken during a catastrophic event and taken on the mantle of 'Path Finder.' Your job? To lead the exploration of this unknown territory.
Here's an excerpt from the Reddit leak that gave us our first taste of Andromeda:
"You are a pathfinder, a combat trained but untested explorer leading an expedition into the Helius cluster [in the Andromeda galaxy] to establish a new home for humanity. As you explore this sprawling series of solar systems (over four times the size of Mass Effect 3), collecting resources and building colonies, you will encounter the savagery of untamed lands in the form of cut-throat outlaws and warring alien races."
- Mass Effect Andromeda & How It Ties Into The Mass Effect Trilogy
The journey to Andromeda begins in 2185, placing it around the time Mass Effect draws to a close with the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC. The events of Mass Effect 3 sparked by the Reaper invasion of the Milky Way occur a year later in 2186.
Since the expedition is a 600 year trip in cryo-sleep the crew did not experience the subsequent invasion and even more conveniently the ending decision made in Mass Effect 3.
Mass Effect Andromeda will tell its own story. It may not be the last we hear from Ryder or our last adventure in the Andromeda galaxy, but we're going to finish this fight.
"At the end of this, we want it to feel like a story has completed. Yes, for the universe, there's much more you could explore, and we want to tease that, but it feels like its own story. It's like, 'Great. I had my Ryder sibling becoming-a-hero story. What's next? Is it going to be Ryder? Is it going to be something else?'" - Mac Walters, Creative Director
Though we should certainly expect more, additional tweets from Mac suggest the team have big plans for Andromeda.
You can prepare yourself for the trip to Andromeda by checking out the Andromeda Initiative, which gives a little background on the trip and is steadily introducing a number of guides to help prepare for the trip—and some pre-order bonuses!
'Mass Effect Andromeda' Gameplay, Dialogue & Renegade Or Paragon Choices
- Mass Effect Andromeda uses the Frostbite Engine
“We’re pushing the boundaries of what Frostbite can do and what Mass Effect can do. The quality of the character animations is at an all-time high for us, and that’s great because it means expressiveness, emotion and a connection with the player.” - Mac Walters, Creative Director
Frostbite means something else for Mass Effect Andromeda: destructible terrain!
If you're using the engine that powers Battlefield, the one thing we expect is destructible cover, something a leak from US retailer Best Buy hinted at when putting one of their pre-order pages live that described aspects of its gameplay.
- Class selection has been removed in favour of an open skill tree
Rather than opting into a class and then picking upgrades, Andromeda relies on skill tree mechanics that enable you to select abilities throughout the game. This allows for more freedom in character building, though picking up skills that synergise with each other will unlock new titles.
- Mass Effect Andromeda is also getting a sense of verticality thanks to one of the biggest changes: the Jetpack
You'll be able to scale certain terrain and boost about maps a little more freely with the addition of the Jetpack in the new Mass Effect, which will be used for traversal in some cases or to gain a vantage point against enemies.
- Combat blends movement with cover shooter mechanics
The staple Mass Effect cover mechanics are being bolstered with a number of new abilities. There's still ample chest high walls to crouch behind, but you'll be able to create your own, or generate personal shields when moving across the battlefield.
- Mass Effect Andromeda is moving away from Paragon / Renegade choices
The staple Paragon / Renegade morality system is being overhauled for Andromeda, the goal is to make the idea of labelling yourself good or bad more nuanced.
“I think now we’re moving away from that. We’ve been looking for other ways to engage more of those shades of grey; less about it being obviously being right or wrong and more about giving people a sense of choice.” - Mac Walters, Creative Director
- Dialogue is based on how you want to react
Dialogue in Andromeda is based on the tone of how you want to respond: with your heart or head, professionally or casually.
These decisions will not affect a meter one way or another, rather they'll give you the decision of how to play as opposed to following a morality system.
'Interrupts' also make a return, but they're not tied to a morality system either. You can make a decision to shoot a hostage taker, but it will not be identified as a Paragon or Renegade decision.
- Scanning allows you to discover a little more about the environment
There's a scanning and analysis tool which will give players additional information regarding their surroundings—backstory elements will be included. In the gameplay reveal trailer at The Game Awards 2016 it was used to find evidence at a crime scene.
- There's crafting and equipment management
The gameplay reveal at The Game Awards 2016 briefly mentioned the crafting system and how it will be incorporated into Andromeda. It's been stated that it's not a necessity for players to engage with, but it features tons of cool customisable options that you'll want to explore! You can find or steal equipment upgrades in various environments throughout the game.
- Andromeda will be the biggest BioWare game ever
Considering the shift to new tech, we'd certainly hope so. Though rumors suggest that Andromeda will be four times the scope of Mass Effect 3, a BioWare developer recently elaborated on this a little further.
"This is the biggest we’ve ever gone, in terms of the number of pieces of content. There are combat-related encounters, puzzle-related encounters, narrative-related encounters, and a lot of things will happen that add more depth to the critical path." - Mike Gamble, Producer
It's also been noted that crew members have extensive amounts of dialogue to spew. For instance, the crew member with the lowest amount of dialogue in Andromeda has more than the one with the highest from Mass Effect 3.
Mass Effect Andromeda Vehicles & Ships
- Exploring Andromeda in style with the Tempest
The Tempest is the scout ship for the Human ark Hyperion and your base of operations when moving around Andromeda.
Your ship often acts as a hub for interacting with your crew members, deciding which mission to tackle next or a place to sit back and feed the fish (because we totally didn't forget). BioWare have also removed the need for loading screens on the ship, allowing you to move from the bridge to the captains quarters without loading or waiting an inconveniently long time in what must be the world's slowest elevator.
Their other goal was to make the ship feel more alive. Therefore, crew mates and squad members will move around the Tempest, but they still have jobs to do, so they'll tend to be around areas they work. This should make them feel like organic parts of the ship, rather than points of interest to visit along the way.
"They’ll be doing things and interacting with the ship, because it’s a small crew and everybody has a job. So they need to be looking like they’re active. They may be doing things that draw you toward them, or they may be calibrating.” - Jessica Hara Campbell, Space Lead
- The Mako's back, but has been given an overhaul - The Nomad
The Mako is back, but it's been redesigned from the clunky and unwieldy mobile turret it was in the original Mass Effect, to a powerful transport vessel. The weapon gun turret has been dropped and the driving has been fine tuned. Can't wait!
“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.” - Aaron Flynn, Studio Manager
To make sure they got the handling just right, the team brought on the Need for Speed developers to ensure the driving is as smooth as possible.
Mass Effect Andromeda Characters & Crew Members
There's not too much information about who will join you on your adventures throughout Andromeda at this time. But we've compiled a list about the crew members revealed thus far and will update it over time.
- So long Commander, hello Ryder
We may have waved goodbye to the Commander, but there's a new protagonist in Andromeda: Scott or Sarah Ryder, whose default appearance can be seen in the image above.
There will still be extensive customization options for people looking to spend more time in the character creator than in-game, and you can even customize your twin sibling and father!
Regardless of your decision to be a boy or a girl, your family are cannon and your brother or sister will be somewhere out there in the galaxy. I can't confidently say the same for your father, seen in the middle above, who you assume the mantle of pathfinder from.
Rather than already being a highly regarded hero, Ryder will make a name for themselves in the Andromeda galaxy.
Peebee is an Asari, though she came to the Andromeda galaxy on the Nexus, a structure somewhat similar to the Citadel.
She's pretty smart and very interested in alien technology. However she's not so good with people and has little regard for formalities. Peebee apparently tackles Ryder upon meeting him / her.
Peebee is described as a character with little interest in forming teams or involving herself in teamwork—she's working with the pathfinder to further her own goals.
Liam fulfils the role of human male with an incredibly common name (sorry Kaiden) on the Tempest. A former police officer who was in charge of security aboard the Hyperion, Liam is a fun-loving sort of guy.
We heard his voice before seeing his face in an Andromeda trailer, but he was eventually revealed on the Andromeda Initiative's website. Additionally Mac revealed a little more about his character in an interview:
“Liam is the youthful, enthusiastic, and in some cases, the idealistic follower that you get. While he takes his duties seriously, he tends to have a lighter tone. He may try to add levity to situations by being upbeat, he also wears his heart on his sleeve and gets fired up easily."
Both Liam and Peebee get a little time in the spotlight in the recent #PS4Pro footage revealed for Mass Effect Andromeda, which you can check out in the trailers section of the article below.
There's not too much information about Cora at the time of writing. The female human joins Liam as one of the pathfinder's first squad mates and, despite being in numerous trailers, her face has always been obscured by a helmet.
Cora's name was revealed by the voice actor for Scott Ryder in a discussion on Twitter.
Perhaps we'll find out more about Cora during the gameplay reveal on December 1st.
Drack is the team's Krogan squad mate. He was originally mentioned in the Reddit survey leak, with some details about his loyalty mission spilling out onto the interwebs!
When a Krogan colony ship has been stolen by one of the outlaw factions leaving the colonists stranded without resources to survive, your Krogan squad mate, Drack, is determined to strike out against them. If you take the mission and help him track down the outlaws’ hideout to return the ship to its rightful owners, Drack’s loyalty toward you and your squad will increase and Drack will unlock a brand new skill tree.
BioWare have stated that some of the leaked information is incorrect, so take this with a pinch of salt. However, Tom Taylor, the voice actor for Male Ryder, has confirmed the existence of Drack.
During the Andromeda gameplay reveal at the Game Awards 2016, we got a look at a new crew member, Vetra the series first female Turian.
Fans of the series are no strangers to Turians, what with Garus stealing hearts and the show during the trilogy. However, this is the first time we've ever seen a female Turian. No doubt we'll find a little more about her in the future.
- Salarian Pilot
Not a lot to add to this except, other than the fact that it has been confirmed that the pilot of the Tempest is a Salarian.
- Loyalty Missions return in Mass Effect Andromeda with a twist
If you enjoyed resolving the allegations of treason placed upon Tali or aiding Garrus in coming to terms with his time as Archangel, then you're in luck since the Mass Effect 2 staple loyalty missions will return for Andromeda.
Unlike in Mass Effect 2, however, you won't be punished for not doing a crew member's loyalty mission, which had a noticeable effect on your odds of survival during the 'Suicide Mission' in ME2.
“The big difference between this and ME2, where you did a loyalty mission and that all impacted the ending, is that they’re much more optional in this case. If you don’t want to engage with them, you don’t have to. If you want engage with them after the critical path is done, you can do that.” - Mac Walters, Creative Director
So Ryder probably isn't going to die at the end of Mass Effect Andromeda. Or... will they?
'Mass Effect Andromeda' Romance Options
BioWare are no strangers to pushing the boundaries when it comes to the game of love, but from a romantic standpoint, Andromeda could be their most progressive title yet.
Like past entries in the series, same-sex romances will be featured for those seeking to pursue them. It's been stated by the team that these will be expressed in a less ham-fisted way than some of the previous entries, instead focusing on a character's orientation as only a small part of who they are.
However, that's not the only change you can expect as certain crew members now want different things. Some desire physical intimacy, others emotional. Some relationships may happen early in the game, other characters will need more time to fall in love. During the writing process the team removed what they refer to as the 'hard line', that moment where certain characters can no longer be romanced.
Walters has confirmed that Ryder can engage in polygamous relationships, with some characters feeling betrayed by this, while others will be more open to it (pun intended). There will also be the opportunity to romance characters that are not crew members on the Tempest.
- More bromance options in Mass Effect Andromeda
Walters has stated the team want more platonic moments with crew members as well, opportunities to have 'bro' or 'friends' moments. Which may blossom into something more or remain as they are.
'Mass Effect Andromeda' Alien Races
Four arks were sent to Andromeda, these arks are council race specific—Human, Turian, Asari and Salarian—so you can expect to meet a variety of the races you've come to know and love from the series. Other fringe races may appear on the Nexus (a citadel-like structure) sent as part of the Andromeda initiative.
Joining them are two races confirmed for the Andromeda Galaxy, the Khet and the Remnant. The Khet are the primary antagonists, a war faring species showcased in the 2016 N7 Day trailer which you can view below.
There's not a lot of information about the Remnant, save that they guard a number of vaults that players will have the opportunity to explore. If you take a look at the E3 2016 trailer you'll see the Remnant, who appear to be some sort of machine race.
'Mass Effect Andromeda' Planets, Maps & Worlds
Considering that we have a spaceship, a ground vehicle and our objective is to find a new home in the Andromeda galaxy, you can rest assured that there will be a lot of new planets to explore, ranging from desert worlds to more luscious environments.
The maps are also going to be far larger, according to BioWare. No names have been confirmed for planets or maps as of yet, but with plenty of new forms of transportation at our disposal we assume there are plenty of varied places to visit!
'Mass Effect Andromeda' Multiplayer
After it's appearance in Mass Effect 3 and inclusion in Dragon Age: Inquisition, BioWare have confirmed Andromeda will have a multiplayer mode.
It's been noted that the core framework of the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer mode remains the same: a 'Horde' mode where you and your team mates fight off waves of increasingly more powerful enemies and occasionally clear certain objectives.
This feeds into the 'Strike Team Missions', which are a singleplayer component played out in 'Horde' mode which give individual rewards alongside the normal multiplayer ones.
However there are a number of improvements being brought in to make the experience more fluid:
- Less focus on defensive play
Locking down locations was a core part of the multiplayer in Mass Effect 3, which resulted in a very defensive gameplay experience. Andromeda will feature enemies that excel in frantic movement, ultimately forcing you out of cover, while others will require hunkering down.
“The first thing everyone will notice is how dynamic it is. Everything is more fluid, fast-paced, there’s a lot of action going on. The controls are also more responsive. All of that is on purpose; we really wanted to increase the dynamism and how accessible it is while retaining the depth and going more into layers.” - Fabrice Condominas, Producer
- Powers go on cooldown individually
This is a small change on paper that will make a big deal in deciding the outcome of multiplayer matches. Rather than having a global cooldown, all powers will have individual timers, thus allowing for more variety in skills used and more control for the player.
- Prestige is an option to definitely say yes to!
When you complete multiplayer matches you'll receive regular XP and prestige XP, the latter advances a style of play rather than an individual character—unlocking bonuses when you reach a certain level.
- Ties between multiplayer & Andromeda's campaign
As referenced above with Andromeda's 'Strike Team Missions', there's a connection between the single and multiplayer offerings. However, BioWare aren't keen to twist players' arms and force them to engage with the multiplayer like they did with Mass Effect 3. These are the developer's three main goals for Andromeda's multiplayer:
- Solo players shouldn't feel forced to engage in multiplayer.
- That mission funds obtained in multiplayer have "tendrils going out into the rest of the game."
- And that you as the player "will have possibilities to send teams to complete kind of side missions, or to do it yourself in multiplayer.”
There's a Mass Effect Andromeda Multiplayer Beta
You can sign up for the Mass Effect Andromeda Multiplayer Beta already, you'll need a few things to do so though.
- An EA Account
- Linked to a PSN, Xbox Live or Origin Account
If you're wondering why you'd need time, it's because you'll have to answer a number of questions about your gaming preferences, favourite games and spoken languages before finally confirming you wish to apply for the tech test.
'Mass Effect Andromeda' Box Art & Special Editions
If you're not picking up an exclusive SteelBook or the inevitable Collector's Edition, then your copy of Mass Effect Andromeda is likely to look something like this.
And here's the Origin editions cover:
- What's in the Mass Effect Andromeda Deluxe Edition?
There are currently no images of what you get in the Deluxe Edition of Mass Effect Andromeda, but there is an item listing for anyone placing pre-orders:
- Pathfinder casual outfit
- Scavenger armor
- Pathfinder elite weapon set
- Pet Pyjak (Monkey)
- Digital soundtrack
- Multiplayer deluxe launch pack ($5 value)
- What's in the Mass Effect Andromeda Super Deluxe Edition?
The Super Deluxe Edition includes everything in the Deluxe edition of the game, coupled with a 'Multiplayer Super Deluxe Booster Pack' providing one co-op premium pack every week for 20 weeks.
- What platforms is Mass Effect Andromeda coming to?
Mass Effect Andromeda has been confirmed for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. No other platforms have been announced at this time.
- Mass Effect Andromeda on Switch?
Right now there are no plans for Mass Effect Andromeda on the Switch, which might have been due to Mass Effect 3's poor performance on the Wii U. Regardless if you're a Nintendo fan, if there's demand the game may come to the console.
'Mass Effect Andromeda' Trailers
- Andromeda initiative trailer:
- Game Awards 2016 Gameplay Trailer:
- EA Play 2016 trailer:
- Official trailer:
- Join the Andromeda initiative:
What are you most excited for in Mass Effect Andromeda?
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