The lights are on
Our month of Mass Effect Andromeda coverage isn’t over yet, but we’re in the home stretch. We’ve covered a lot of ground on various topics, but during our time visiting BioWare and talking to the team, we learned some interesting information that doesn’t fit neatly into our bigger features.
Because Mass Effect fans are hungry for any new knowledge about BioWare’s next installment, we didn’t want to leave this info on the cutting-room floor. Instead, we’ve collected this loosely organized assortment of quotes and facts that might shed some additional light on the aspects of Andromeda you’re most curious about.
1. Ryder is intentionally more of a blank slate than Shepard at the beginning of Andromeda. “Shepard came on the scene, and it felt like they’d already accomplished a lot and they’d done a lot and they’d seen a lot – but I hadn’t,” says creative director Mac Walters. “That whole universe was new to me, and so there was a bit of a disconnect between me and my player character right from the start. And so, with this, I’d really like us to close that gap as much as we can without going full amnesia.”
2. Your companion Liam has a British accent.
3. You find clues about what happened to the other arks. For instance, as you locate asari escape pods, you learn more about what happened to them and their ark, and that thread is eventually resolved in a mission.
4. Some quests take place on the planet where you discover them, and others point you toward new locations. “It’s about a 90-10 split,” says Walters. “Once you’re on a world, you should feel like you can spend your time there and complete the level. The rest are either resolved from somewhere else or send you somewhere else.”
5. Despite the series’ long history, the move to new hardware and adopting the Frostbite engine means BioWare built all systems, tools, and assets from scratch for Andromeda.
6. All of the systems (though not necessarily all of the content) are currently implemented in the game. Now it’s just a matter of “balance and tweaking,” according to Walters.
7. Enemies of the same class have different abilities based on their race.
8. Not all of the races from the original trilogy appear in Andromeda, but they may show up in future installments. “We’ve designed the IP in such a way that they can all show up,” Walters says. “For hopefully obvious reasons, they’re not all going to show up in the first game.”
9. The points you earn by gaining experience are applied to more than just your powers. It’s the same currency you use for other kinds of progression, like improving the hover time on your jetpack and increasing the Nomad’s speed.
10. The blistering heat of Elaaden is only one kind of environmental hazard. “Another planet you might have ice, or radiation, or another kind of hazard,” says producer Mike Gamble. “We’re trying to mix it up, and how you survive them will be different depending on the planet. Some might require a different Nomad upgrade, others will take shelter, and so forth.”
11. For players worried the scope expansion will dilute the experience: “The key for us has been ensuring that the content is rich and up to BioWare quality standards,” Walters says. “Believe it or not, as massive as this is, we’ve actually continued to restrain the scope as much as possible so we can bring quality to each of these areas and make each one memorable. That’s a term I use a lot – I want these places to be memorable. I don’t want it to be like, the white planet, the blue planet – I want to remember the names of the locations and the characters I meet.”
12. Think the default Scott Ryder looks a bit like original Mass Effect project director Casey Hudson? It’s not intentional, but the team thinks it’s a funny “ghost in the machine” moment.
13. Don’t expect the events or characters of the original trilogy to shape the state of the world in Andromeda. “We didn’t want to invalidate anything that people had done in the past, and we wanted to make sure everyone feels like they can be onboard, whether or not they have played before,” Walters says.
14. Before assuming the role of Pathfinder, Ryder’s title is “recon specialist.”
15. As you leave the Ark for the first time, your dad wants you to rub a good-luck rock on the way out.
16. About 20,000 humans are still asleep on the Hyperion when Ryder wakes up at the beginning of the game.
17. During sequences that might have just been non-interactive cinematics before, players now have a degree of control – like steering a character falling through the sky, or examining objects in a shuttle as a conversation is going on.
18. “Armor is split into sub-categories, and you can mix and match pieces,” Gamble says. “Helmet, shoulders, chest, legs. You can have different pieces from different sets.”
19. On the graphical front, the CG trailers for the original trilogy are what the team uses as a reference for what it is trying to accomplish now in real-time.
20. You pick up additional Tempest crew members on your journey.
21. While the game isn’t zany, the tone is lighter compared to Mass Effect 3. “I think there’s a bit more humor,” says producer Fabrice Condominas. “I think everybody takes it a bit less seriously in the tone of the dialogue. The characters are different – they’re younger, and you feel that in the tone.”
22. You don’t have to start New Game+ after finishing the game. You can just keep exploring once the final mission is complete.
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