When it released in 2010, Mass Effect 2 made many big strides for the series. One of the most popular additions was the concept of loyalty missions. Each companion had one of these narrative-focused quests, and they allowed players to get more information about their allies’ backstories and motivations. Since the characters are such a draw for fans, the loyalty missions were a big hit – and after disappearing for Mass Effect 3, they are coming back in Mass Effect Andromeda.

“I loved the loyalty missions,” says creative director Mac Walters. “As a writer, one of the things I loved was the freedom to say ‘I know this character is coming along,’ so they can carry a lot of the narrative. That made my job easier, but it also made it more fun, because I could tell a more specific story in one of those missions.” That philosophy is carrying over to Mass Effect Andromeda, along with the spirit of experimentation that these missions have; the development team can use loyalty missions to play with some non-standard gameplay elements, and have some extra fun with the dialogue.

As entertaining as loyalty missions can be, they aren’t part of the critical path of Mass Effect Andromeda. The game has a wide array of side content that players can choose to pursue – including various exploration activities and a mystery surrounding the Ryder family – and the loyalty missions are just one piece in the larger whole. If you complete them, you are rewarded with a more complete knowledge of your squadmates, but you won’t be punished if you aren’t interested.

“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,” Walters says. “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.”

The return of loyalty missions is just one of many ways in which Mass Effect Andromeda is building on its legacy. However, the game also goes in new directions, especially with regard to skill points, morality, and exploration. We cover these elements in greater detail in this month's cover story, and you can learn more about them right now. Just click here to switch your print subscription to digital, or to create a new subscription to the digital edition, click here

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