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Mass Effect: Andromeda

Mission Briefing: Mass Effect Andromeda

We've assembled all of the available intel relating to the new Mass Effect.

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Mass Effect: Andromeda has been a mysterious game for quite some time now, but with N7 day last week, we're finally starting to see some concrete intel emerge about what the game will be like. The details are coming mainly through trailers and via the Andromeda Initiative website, which lets players sign up as if they are going on a journey to a new galaxy. Therefore, we've gathered all the information we can find, so fans of the series can find everything in one place.

What we know

Mass Effect: Andromeda will take place on Andromeda, a new galaxy, after a 600-year journey from the Milky Way. This means that no matter what, the game will be set after Shepard and his pals took on the Reapers. The Andromeda Initiative website confirms that the journey begins in 2185, the same year as Mass Effect 2, which all but rules out any chances of characters from the original trilogy making an appearance, but you never know what Bioware might pull. As of right now we don't know the reasoning behind the Andromeda Initiative, but the orientation briefing video says that members will be able to 'create a new future for all of humanity,' meaning that the initiative may have been started in response to the Reaper threat.

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In the game, humanity will be led by a Pathfinder, a knowledgeable individual of influence who will be capable of guiding the people in this new and unknown vastness of space. If the trailer is anything to go by, something will happen to the current Pathfinder and the protagonist will replace them, meaning you'll be assuming a role almost as crucial as that of Commander Shepard from the original trilogy. The Pathfinder at the beginning of the game is actually an elite N7 soldier, the same as Commander Shepard, and the protagonist's father, which we'll elaborate on later.

The human travellers will arrive in the Andromeda system aboard the Ark Hyperion, a vessel housing countless cryostasis chambers. There are three other Arks, each harbouring a different species, that will all be leaving the Milky Way at the same time. Those not aboard an Ark will be on the Nexus, the colossal Flagship of the Andromeda Initiative fleet. The Nexus has been designed to arrive well ahead of the other Ark ships so that the leaders might provide some coordination to settlers arriving in the new galaxy from the Milky Way. Right now, it's not certain how the player will arrive in Andromeda, but if the latest trailer is anything to go by we'll get a rude awakening on-board the Ark Hyperion.

Mass Effect: Andromeda
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In order to help you get around this vast new galaxy, you're going to need a method of transportation; the Mako, which you may know and love from the original Mass Effect, is making a return and will be bigger and better than ever. This drivable tank was clunky and hard to manoeuvre in the first game, despite being essential for planet exploration, and as a result was left out of Mass Effect 2 and 3. Bioware have made sure not to replicate this for Andromeda, bringing in the Need for Speed team to give them some pointers on improving the experience.

When not driving the new and improved Mako around, you'll play as either Scott or Sarah Ryder, a member of a family of three; two twin siblings and their father. Unlike the original trilogy, both Ryder twins will exist in the game at the same and will be crucial to the storyline, instead of having just one person and having them either male or female. Scott and Sarah might be placeholder names, and there's every chance that you'll be able to change the names a la Commander Shepard. The twins' father, Alec Ryder, is the Pathfinder for the Andromeda mission and the latest trailer for the game suggests that he might perish or get demoted early on, putting either Scott or Sarah at the helm.

Mass Effect: Andromeda

We also know a little about a couple of their companions. Liam and Peebee are two of the many crew-mates who will accompany you on your journey around the new galaxy in Mass Effect: Andromeda, and thanks to Gameinformer we know a little bit about the pair. Liam is a former police officer who arrived in Andromeda via the Hyperion, and helps with security. He's a youthful and idealistic follower who'll have Ryder's back through thick and thin, but wears his heart on his sleeve. Liam's hopeful about humanity's future thanks to his optimistic nature.

Peebee is an Asari adventurer who'll join the crew sometime after the game begins, having split off from Nexus soon after arriving in Andromeda to explore alone. She's a bubbly character compared to Liara from the original trilogy (who, if you remember, was very serious). She also comes across as very blunt or forward due to her spending much of her time alone, meaning she's not very familiar with formalities or social niceties. Despite being a lone wolf, she joins Ryder because she sees him/her as someone who can help her learn about the mysteries of this new galaxy.

One of the most popular features out of the original trilogy were the loyalty missions from Mass Effect 2, which helped flesh out the games characters and bring you ever closer to them. You may be pleased to know, then, that this loyalty system will be making its triumphant return in Andromeda, meaning you'll be able to get closer to the crew-mates aboard your ship. Also making a return is the ability to romance your companions. This means you'll be able to engage in a steamy, more intimate relationship with one or more members of your team.

Mass Effect: AndromedaMass Effect: Andromeda

Amongst all these returning features, there are also things that were staples in the previous games that are not going to be making a return. Most prominently you've got the paragon system, which was the old trilogy's way of being morally good, evil, or neutral. This doesn't mean your actions won't have consequences, it just means that players will have more choice instead of something being obviously right or wrong, as Bioware looks to add a bit more greyness to their new galaxy.

We'll be seeing a ton of new races in Andromeda, whose design will be drastically different to the races we're used to. So far we've only seen the Kett, and the intimidating looking race are set to be the main enemy our Milky Way allies will be fighting. Thanks to Gameinformer once again, we know that the Kett are different from the Milky Way species in that they are extremely jagged and rough-looking in their design, compared to the sleek, more humanoid races we already know in Mass Effect, and the reason for this was to help easily differentiate between the two.

Whilst the Kett might be the antagonistic race in Andromeda, we've also seen hints at something far more sinister, that might very well be a new overarching enemy. Colossal metallic organisms have been shown off for split seconds in the latest cinematic trailer that seem akin to the Reapers from the original trilogy. Our wild theory is that the Kett are trying to activate these monsters somehow using our Milky Way races, in a scenario that could very easily spell doom for all life in Andromeda.

Mass Effect: Andromeda

What we'd like to see

Even though we've given loads of information about the game here, there's still so much up in the air about what could be in the final release, and we've got a few ideas on what we'd like to see or what could be likely to appear.

The first thing we could be seeing in the game when it drops is base building in some form or another. One of the main things we'll not see in Andromeda is a hub world in the same vein as the Citadel from the original trilogy (unless the Nexus will act as such). This could be where base building comes in. You'd be able to build your own settlement that serves as a hub of some sort. We're not just plucking this idea out of thin air, either; the Andromeda Initiative orientation briefing video that you can see above talks about 'outpost establishment guidelines,' meaning its likely base-building will appear.

Something else we'd like to see in the game is some of the older races making a return. Three separate Arks isn't enough to house the many different races we know and love from the Mass Effect series, which is making us worry that some may be left out. It's a safe assumption that the four Citadel Council species from the original games will be the ones inhabiting the four Arks, meaning Asari, Turians, and Salarians will be in the game en-masse alongside humans. In trailers, however, we've also seen Krogans in Andromeda Initiative uniforms, meaning they'll be showing up some other way. This also gives hope for the other races, like the Drell or Quarians.

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What else?

On the technical side of things, there is quite a lot that we know already. We know that on console the game will be locked at 30fps, including on the PS4 Pro, but on PC you'll be able to access those silky smooth 60 frames-per-second, if your rig is powerful enough of course. It's going to be running on the Frostbite 3 engine which means, if Battlefield 1 and Mirror's Edge Catalyst are any indicator, Andromeda will be beautiful. Multiplayer is making a return, too, and console users are even getting a closed beta some time before release (more details on that here).

Players can sign up to the Andromeda Initiative now, taking the role of one of the many humans in-game who'll be traveling to the new galaxy, getting briefed on information in the coming months. This is a clever way for Bioware to give out information to the most dedicated of fans, and those who go through the whole process will be rewarded with an exclusive in-game helmet. You can check out and sign up to the Andromeda Initiative website by heading here.

If you're desperate to throw money at the game before it's released you can net yourself a few pre-order bonuses: The Deep Space Explorer Armour, a Multiplayer Booster pack, and a Nomad Skin. There are also two different deluxe editions, but we only think the first deluxe edition would be worth the money, as it gets you the digital soundtrack, a pet space monkey, and some new armours. The Super Deluxe edition just gives you some multiplayer bonuses on top of all the others. The standard edition is starting at £49.99, whilst the Deluxe and Super Deluxe editions are £54.99 and £69.99, respectively.

Mass Effect: Andromeda is still surrounded by mystery and there's plenty we don't know yet, despite the release of the game being less than six months away. There's doubtless going to be some new things announced via the Andromeda Initiative website in the run up to next spring, when it's set to release, but it'd be nice if we could go in knowing little about the new galaxy. It's supposed to be uncharted territory for humanity, after all. What would you like to see in Mass Effect: Andromeda when it finally drops? Let us know in the comments!

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REVIEW. Written by Mike Holmes

"There's enough of the series' DNA in there that fans will find this a worthwhile adventure."

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