According to moderators at Reddit’s r/masseffect, an anonymous source with access to an early build of Mass Effect Andromeda – the forthcoming installment of Bioware’s famous space RPG series – contacted them and shared details of the early game’s gameplay features.
The moderators explained that the source wanted them to reveal the information for fear that it would be “dismissed as fake” if the source had posted it him or herself. The moderators then claimed they were not supplied with any materials from the game such as videos or photos, but insisted that their source “supplied proof” that they were indeed someone who had played an early version of the game.
One of the moderators shared the supposed gameplay details in a YouTube video. They include:
- The player can bring along two other squadmates into missions, like previous games.
- One squadmate is a human, a “petite, buxom, blonde woman,” and another is a Krogan.
- The player and squadmates have jetpacks, which are said to aid with exploring terrain.
- The omni-tool is much more functional in both exploration and combat. One example is using it to deploy a shield in a firefight.
- The weapons resemble those in the previous games, and so will be familiar to ME players.
- The quality of facial features and of character customization (including squadmate appearance) are a new focal point.
- Destructible cover and environments will be present thanks to the game’s use of the Frostbite 3 engine.
- The player’s ship is a completely new design and drastically different than the Normandy. One detail is there are balconies on the ship that allow one to see lower levels. On one of these lower levels is the Mako vehicle from Mass Effect 1.
- It was insinuated that the Mako’s exterior features such as armor-plating can be customized.
- The player’s armor, from helmets, gauntlets, etc. can be customized.
- The player in ME:A is referred to as “The Pathfinder” (The player’s ship has a space called “The Pathfinder’s Quarters”).
- As The Pathfinder, the player is an N7 operative looking for a new home for the human race in the Andromeda galaxy, but the humans are not the only race present.
- The player actually flies the ship from a first-person perspective when exploring, rather than setting a destination in the Galaxy Map from older ME titles.
- Individual planets have waypoints and markers to guide the player when orbiting a planet.
- The player can engage the FTL drive when exploring to rapidly approach their destination.
- The player can conduct “Strike Missions” from the ship. What these are is not explained in depth.
- The player’s ship has a meeting room where they can interact with squadmates and crew.
- One enemy the player fights are a bipedal race which was described as “a cross between vorcha and The Collectors.” Apparently these enemies dropped into combat from ships carrying the Cerberus insignia.
- One antagonist of the game is a human soldier with armor similar to the player’s, but without an N7 logo. There is a potential spoiler about this character in the video so I won’t share it here.
Remember, none of this has been supported with any evidence besides the r/masseffect moderators’ correspondence with this source, though they seem to be confident that they are who they say they are. In any event, even if these observations are true for the game as it exists now, who knows what will change by the time it releases in late 2016?
So how should we interpret these new details? Personally, I find many of them to be fresh and exciting, while others are quite perplexing. The enhancements to combat, space exploration, character appearance and customization are all welcome, if a bit expected. The way the player navigates space in first person in particular seems like a really cool addition, and backs up the cinematic trailer from last year’s E3. On the other hand, there are things like the new vorcha-Collector enemies dropping from Cerberus ships that make me go huh? Putting aside how awful that sounds for a minute, I think it’s possible that this could be a case of reusing textures from the old games for the purposes of testing the gameplay. Though I do think Cerberus can conceivably fit into ME:A’s narrative, I hope they are not a major antagonist since we killed enough faceless Cerberus soldiers in ME3 to be sick of them.
Overall, I think the story of The Pathfinder finding a new home for humanity and the rest of the Milky Way races has a lot of promise. Regardless of how you chose to finish ME3’s convoluted ending, ME:A offers a new take on the Mass Effect universe unencumbered by the blunder which ended Shepard’s trilogy. Still, I can imagine lots of ways Bioware can integrate your ME3 choices into ME:A, and I hope they do so without pretending like that game never happened. Cured the genophage? You should be seeing Krogan spread over Andromeda with alarming quickness. Brokered peace between the geth and quarians? We should see some quarians with geth uploaded into their suits helping them acclimate to Andromeda’s atmospheres. And we can only hope that characters in ME:A’s world at least know of Shepard and how consequential his or her existence was.
Mass Effect Andromeda will be released for Microsoft Windows, Xbox One and Playstation 4 in Q4 2016.