It’s been delayed several times, but the latest iteration of Mass Effect is finally here. Well, almost.
Scheduled to launch on 21 March, it’s safe to say that there’s a heap of anticipation surrounding Mass Effect: Andromeda – and with good reason.
See, we’ve been hands-on with Andromeda and, while it’ll take a full review to get to grips with this mammoth title, we can confirm one thing now: it’s up there with the best of Mass Effect.
Want to know what’s worth getting excited about? Read on, space explorer.
1) YOU’LL JUMP WITH A JETPACK
Yes, it’s true: Mass Effect: Andromeda will include a new jump-jet mechanic.
This might not sound like something particularly special but, believe us, it adds a whole new dimension to both combat and exploration.
You’re able to jump, hover for brief periods and boost forward using the pack, which means you’ll find-all new forms of cover when you’re fighting alien foes, as you leap over crates, onto rocks and generally all over the place.
It also introduces novel ways to advance through planets as you look for ledges and vertical routes, where before it was all down on the ground.
Sure, a new cache of weapons available across all classes (divided into firearms, pistols, shotguns and rifles, as well as melee weapons) makes combat both accessible and addictive – but the novelty of being able to leap, bound and bounce is unparalleled.
2) It’s BioWare’s biggest game ever
See, thanks to the Frostbite engine on which it’s built, BioWare has been able to craft Andromeda into its biggest game ever. Exploration and the scale of space is very much at its centre, with more places and more people than ever before.
Playing as a Pathfinder, it’s your job to locate a new home for humanity, and that will entail a whole lot of interplanetary investigation – most of which will be at your discretion.
That said, there’s more to exploration than space, and Andromeda is no sandbox game: every planet and quest – whether main or side – has a clear impact and relevance to the story.
Still, with a huge combination of story planets, loyalty missions, a co-op multiplayer mode and more, Mass Effect 4 feels like a game that you might be playing for months – or longer.
3) Romance is making a return
While romance always had a role in Mass Effect, it was sometimes a little linear. Not so in Andromeda: relationships will be based on individual needs and sensitivies, not to mention a broad spectrum of sexualities.
Different characters will have different romantic options open to them, too, with various characters likely to appeal to different players – all of which adds to the sense of Andromeda being a broader, deeper experience than ever.
What’s more, hints from Andromeda‘s developers have suggested that the interaction system itself will be more diverse, with players able to choose their tone when flirting. Oh, and one trailer points towards more overt romance, with lip-locking action put front and centre.
While this might all sound a bit Sims-like, it actually means that Mass Effect: Andromeda is more likely than ever to pull you in emotionally and see you invested in the story like never before.
4) The story’s all new (but in the canon)
BioWare was always going to have a tricky time sewing a new story into the existing series of Mass Effect games, given that each of the original trilogy sequels built on decisions made in the previous titles.
Andromeda, instead, takes place between Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, following the fate of the Andromeda initiative – a cluster of humans herded onto arks in order to seek out a new home.
Playing as Scott or Sarah Ryder, Pathfinders with the Andromeda mission, you’ll discover and shape a whole new narrative as you roam the Helius Cluster.
And, while that means no more Commander Shepard, it does mean the possibility of a whole new arc of Mass Effect titles for you to direct with your dialogue decisions – not to mention a novel set of characters in which to invest your emotions.
5) You’ll drive the Nomad
Hop aboard and you’ll be able to explore and discover the expansive new worlds in Andromeda at a far greater pace than ever before – with the ability, at any stage, to hop out with your crew and scan the surroundings (and potentially unearth a side quest).
It’s equipped with thrusters for a much-needed boost as you hurtle through enemy encampments, while an all-wheel-drive mode is essential when cresting the steep, sandy slopes that will take you where your answers lie.
Oh, and it also looks really darn cool. You’ll even be able to switch up the paint jobs depending on the environment in which you’re piloting Mass Effect‘s new buggy.