ME3-ish Combat But No Old Friends In Next Mass Effect

I have no flupping idea what to expect from Mass Effect Not-4, aka Andromeda [official site], given all signs point to it being a clean break from the Shepard saga. But the reveal that combat will be similar to Mass Effect 3’s frantic shooty fare does start to make it a solid thing in my brain, rather than an entirely abstract concept with a few twinkly stars in it.

This comes from – I know, I know – Twitter chat from Chris Wynn, senior development director at Bioware. Given details for Andromeda are so thin on the ground, the team breaking cover in even this teeniest of ways is worth paying attention to. We now know, for instance, that despite a move to EA’s proprietary Frostbite engine, some of the old systems are being rebuilt rather than reinvented. And this means that:

ME3’s combat wasn’t bad, though I guess this confirmation is a minor poke in the eye for anyone hoping Mass Effect would do anything with the optional tactical combat mode seen in Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Also not terribly surprisingly is apparent confirmation that we won’t see any of Mass Effect’s cast return.

That’s not an outright no, of course. In a fantastical setting that’s already seen at least one resurrection, anything is possible should the writers wish it so. Wynn leaves this window open, in fact:

But given we’re already in a different part of space entirely, and potentially even a different time period, dredging up old faces is both going to require narrative gymnastics and risk baggage that new series of ME games could do without. It’s better to meet and bonk new people rather than moon at familiar folk whose stories have wrapped up.

There’s also this very strong suggestion that we’ll meet new types of alien:

And also the claim that voice actors haven’t been cast yet. Maybe there’ll be room for a little Jennifer Hale…

I’m definitely ready for another big, brash space adventure. All the hoo-hah around Mass Effect 3’s ending has almost faded from my brain, and I’m no longer concerned about story: I just want to shoot and flirt among the stars again. No prophecies or ancestor races though, please.

61 Comments

  1. Tuco says:

    Eh, can’t really say I would lose sleep over the chance to miss another iteration of the “fantastic” tactical combat seen in Inquisition.

    • Hitchslapped says:

      Inquisition’s tactical combat really was a mess. They even fucked up the camera controlls.

      • nrvsNRG says:

        It wasn’t the only thing that stopped me trying to finish, but with better combat I might have ignored the soul crushing boredom that the game induced. They should’ve scrapped party system entirely and focused on solo character I reckon.

  2. FurryLippedSquid says:

    God I loved Mass Effect 3.

    Controversial I know. But fuck the destination, the journey was epic.

    • newc0253 says:

      And yet it’s hard to love something that ends so very badly.

      I love the all the Mass Effect games, which includes 99% of 3.

      Endings don’t matter? Fuck that noise. They always matter. Otherwise you’re just a hamster in a wheel.

      • FurryLippedSquid says:

        I didn’t say endings don’t matter, just don’t judge anything by 1% of it’s whole.

        • shamann says:

          Adding to the controversy heap, I thought the third game was poor overall, and the final 1% had no bearing on that opinion. In fact, the ending didn’t bother me one bit.

          • dontnormally says:

            Considering that your opinions are the opposite of mine, you must surely be completely incorrect.

            (your opinion is a refreshing one)

          • Jimbot says:

            I thought most of 3 was poor too. The only section that I thought was exemplary was Tuchanka. Everything before and after was either mediocre or flat out bad. The ending was just icing on top of that bad. People usually point out the ending because they can easier express why they disliked it because its flaws are more apparent.

            As for the upcoming game, I have no confidence in Bioware’s ability to make entertaining games any more. Inquisition was just a horrible slog to play through. Had some fun character moments but it wasn’t enough to raise my opinion on 90% of the rest of the game.

          • Binho says:

            Agreed. I didn’t mind the ending to the third one, but as a whole it strayed far from what I enjoyed about the first one.

            The lack of exploration/explorable hubs was a biggie, but I especially hated the combat. I’m going to up the controversy and say that ME1 had the best combat! (My opinion, ofc!) Personally in ME1 the combat and cover system felt more fluid and flexible. Maybe the powers and RPG system could have used more balancing, but I felt you could take a more open ended approach to clearing areas…rather than just advancing at all costs through a maze of chest high walls.

            I HATED the infini-spawning-enemies-until-you-reach-an-arbitrary-point in ME3 with the fury of 1000 burning suns. I even turned down the difficulty to the second to lowest setting because I was enjoying the combat so little I just wanted to get through it. It wasn’t the dieing – it was the pure million enemy grind which mentally exhausted me.

            I might add that ME1 was my first third-person cover shooter so I had nothing to compare it to. I never played Gears of War or whatever. I wonder if people like ME2 and ME3 combat better because their shooter mechanics are more familiar to people who have played other third-person shooters?

            I disliked the ME2 combat as well. I can barely remember ME2 tbh. All I remember is how I hated the stupid Cerberus and Shepard the Six Million Dollar Wo/Man storyline. If anything that ruined the series for me. (I did like the ‘get the gang together’ missions though.)

            Is my membership of the internet revoked now? :)

          • LexW1 says:

            I felt like 3 was a curate’s egg, myself. Parts ranged from the amazing to the very weak. The ending was awful, which really didn’t help. Then the Citadel DLC kind of was tacky fan service yet also the best DLC ever.

            On the other hand, the multiplayer was some of the best, most intense, most engaging gaming I’ve ever gamed in 30-odd years of gaming. I’m mystified as to why Alec would want to move away from that sort of thing towards the mediocre mess that was DA:I’s tactical combat.

            ME series remains my favourite game series ever.

          • LexW1 says:

            @Binho – ME3 has very few infini-spawn points. Maybe a single handful in the entire game that I’m aware of. So that’s an odd complaint. Literally 98% of the game is free of them – I would imagine several places you think they are, in fact just have a lot of enemies.

            ME1’s cover works in a terrible way, and isn’t flexible or fluid, it’s sticky and unpredictable(compared to ME2/3). ME1 has plenty of “only one real way” stuff too (more than ME2 in actual story missions, I’d say). It’s also deeply unbalanced to the point of being fairly mindless to play if you’re good at it (or even good at optimizing).

            Whereas ME2/3 retain SOME areas/enemies that are pulse-raising and require actual tactics/skill not “lol spam abilities and hide” or “shoot with grotesquely op gun that either one-shots almost anything or never runs out of ammo/stops firing”, which ME1 featured. ME1 is only fun if you don’t like, understand the mechanics, or want to faceroll everything.

            As for your theory, I’m anecdotal evidence to the contrary. I dislike most modern cover-shooters and am less familiar with them than RPGs or trad shooters (which ME1 resembles more), but I loved ME2/3’s combat because it was good gameplay, esp. on the harder settings.

          • ansionnach says:

            Really disliked even the “fixed” ME3 ending but my contempt for the game is largely based on the fact that the rest of it isn’t very good. There’s almost zero challenge on Insanity, there’s not enough new since ME2 and a lot of the optional missions are filler where you’re dropped onto a small survival map and fight waves of enemies. It starts out very well, but fails to build on this after Mars (or maybe even Vancouver). The only inspired part of it is the Citadel DLC, which is effectively a long sorry note that you’ve got to pay for.

          • Geebs says:

            ME1’s combat was much better than either of the sequels. Guns were more varied, grenades were customisable, much less chest-high-wall trench warfare. Cover was less sticky. Sniper rifles had an actual point.

            Most importantly, no bullshit teleporting instakill enemies.

          • Binho says:

            @LexW1 – I disagree. There was at least one if not more locations in each ME3 mission where there were infinite-spawning enemies – or at least a grindy level of waves. Usually about mid-way or three quarters of the way through a level, sometimes instead of a boss. Usually the respawning was halted by some sort of trigger – killing a certain enemy, crossing a certain point, or capturing an objective. Sometimes it was timer based. It almost always occured in a bigger than normal room/corridor/open space full of chest high walls, just after passing a point of no return (often a chin high ledge).

            It’s interesting how experiences differ so much! I felt the cover was way more sticky in 2 and 3. I didn’t like how only certain things counted as cover. I often had trouble finding the right spot that the cover/jump walls button would work on.

            I also preferred the overheating mechanic in ME1. It was well justified in universe and I thought it worked well.

            The more traditional RPG level design in 1 vs the corridor shooter design in 2 and 3 was more to my liking. If I was losing an encounter I could often retreat and regroup. As someone else pointed out, you could also be more effective from longer ranges in 1.

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          Harlander says:

          Endings always carry disproportionate weight to me. I think there’s a psychological trend where the most recent thing carries the greatest weight.

    • Fredward says:

      Preach.

      To increase the shock factor and no doubt send some people into an apoplectic fit, I didn’t mind the ending. ‘Cept the deus-ex-starchild, but other than that it was okay. Also the idea of discarding the entire very, very good series or downgrading it because you didn’t like the last bit? Eh. That doesn’t work for me.

      Endings DO matter but they’re aren’t the sole crux on which the journey that took you there is defined.

      • FurryLippedSquid says:

        On reflection the child niggled, but at the time I was rapt.

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        phuzz says:

        I agree, I was more bummed out by the fact that there was no more Mass Effect for me to play than how they wrapped it up.

        • FurryLippedSquid says:

          Hmm. I’d never actually considered that as a reason for the ensuing mass hysteria…

          • LexW1 says:

            It’s not the reason – you could go straight on to MP and many people did (I know I did). The completely unsatisfying and “yeah all that shit was meaningless” nature of the default ending, before the upgrade, was genuinely shocking. Don’t misremember because you’ve since seen the upgraded version, which is way less bad.

      • guidom says:

        I too loved the ending. Very Neon-Genesis “WTF just happened” but a great climax none-the-less.

  3. Robert Post's Child says:

    Turns out it’s actually just a Pikmin knockoff where you play as Garrus.

  4. lglethal says:

    Stil havent played ME3, still waiting for the story DLC to drop in price. Since I’m still also waiting for the ME2 DLC to drop in price, 5 years after launch, I think I will be waiting a while longer.

    Call me a stubborn bastard if you will, but the fact that the Xbox and PS versions have had multiple sales over the last few years whilst the PC version has not had a single sale in that entire time, I personally have boycotted Bioware games ever since ME3. A real pity because I love ME1 and 2, and DA:O, (even boght some of the comics) but being treated like the leper cousin of the gaming world, has that effect on me for some reason…

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      phuzz says:

      Especially as ME2 has gone as low as £3-4 in sales, but it still costs about twenty quid to get all the story DLC.
      Dick move Bioware.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      After a massively long argument with EA Customer Service and about 3 months of not expecting anything to happen I suddenly got ALL the ME2 DLC for free added to my Origin account! When ME2 first came to Origin I refused to buy all the DLC coz I had already bought every bit for 360 version, but this goes to show that making your case to Support does pay off, even if they tell you there is nothing they can do and you are screwed (which they did, but later reversed their decision).

    • jamesgecko says:

      The only story DLC you need in ME3 is From Ashes (bundled in the Deluxe edition) and Citadel. It’s totally fine to give everything else a pass, especially since we’re never going to get a GOTY edition or a discount on DLC.

  5. liquidsoap89 says:

    As long as power combos make it in to ME4 I’ll be as excited as can be. ME3 had some of the most satisfying 3rd person shooter combat I’ve ever seen, comboing Liara’s and Shepard’s biotics together to blow everyone up was incredibly satisfying!

    And my understanding after ME3 was that a new series would exist far away from the first trilogy. The events still happened, but the new games wouldn’t be based on said events; at least that was my understanding. I think that’s a good idea too, get away from any of the burdens a story that big would cause and just start fresh.

  6. Auldman says:

    I was hoping the combat would not be like DAI, not that I dislike DAI just that it doesn’t suit ME. Out of the three Mass Effect games I enjoyed 3’s combat just a bit more than the others even if I prefer two overall so this is good news.

    I was kind of hoping for a small Liara cameo or Joker peeking around the corner but it’s fine with me if they just make a clean break and do a new story with new characters. My biggest worry is they won’t tie the story enough to the big maps which hurts DAI a bit in my opinion.

  7. James says:

    I’m looking forward to Andromeda. It seems they have learned from past mistakes and are handling this competently, giving it plenty of time. No shoehorning starchildren in at the last minute, but lots of considered design. Not yet on the hype train, but certainly booking my ticket.

    • Unclepauly says:

      Well, I’m just thinking about putting my shoes on to walk down and book the ticket for the hype train, you are farther along than I, as I need more info than what has been provided.

  8. GWOP says:

    I hope they keep the Vanguard Falcon Punch.

  9. Myrdinn says:

    I have a lot more expectations for this title then I had for DA:I, maybe it’s because I didn’t play ME3 (I was very annoyed with Shep, I might take femShep for a re-run though, I heard she’s pretty cool). On the other hand, I thought DA:I was really bad, like in really bad; mostly because of the horrible combat though. Since I don’t mind Mass Effect being an action game with RPG elements it will probably meet my expectations.

  10. Deviija says:

    Jennifer Hale in everything, please and thank.

  11. Henas says:

    Sad that from a company previously known for single player RPGs you’re more interested in the multiplayer for their next one.

    Frostbyte destruction plus biotic powers could be a real winner.

  12. Jason Moyer says:

    Please allow us to holster the goddamn weapons. In fact, patch it into ME3.

  13. Binho says:

    ME3 combat left me cold, personally. I hope they tone down the cheesy power fantasy bits and add more interesting exploration elements.

    I don’t want to be an American Old West type explorer either, murdering the local ‘primitive native life’ to claim their land and resources because I’m the superior ‘race’.

    • Unclepauly says:

      I don’t see anything wrong with that…

      Although being ‘murrican might have something to do with it.

      • Binho says:

        I didn’t either…

        Until I moved to ‘Murica and got a job in Cultural Resourcement Management. Having to work daily with Native Americans and having to learn about their history and european colonization has very much soured me to the Old West trope.

        Let’s just say when the Germans did something similar in the ’40’s they called it ‘lebensraum’

  14. Blackbird says:

    This will be made by the same money grab company (can’t recall their name )that gave us Dragon age Inquisition, so best staying well clear.

    • Blackbird says:

      Oh! and don’t believe any of the pre-order hype, it will be all lies.

  15. Risingson says:

    No one is going to mention how morally repugnant Shepard turns to be in ME3? This is what I really disliked about the game.

    And getting experience points for “I could not help to overhear your conversation”. /vomits

    • Asurmen says:

      Such as?

    • LexW1 says:

      What are you even talking about re: “morally repugnant”?

    • Unclepauly says:

      Ehhh, why would anyone being talking about Shep’s morality when this piece is about Nu-ME? We should be talking about stuff making it into the new game not ruminating on a story most went through long ago.

  16. lordfrikk says:

    Combat in a Mass Effect game, eh? I hope they include the story mode option again so I can be a wannabe badass who can enjoy punching people in the face in conversations.

  17. Frosty_2.0 says:

    Everyone I know who played ME3’s co-op (especially with all the new classes & abilities from the free DLCs/updates) had a great time. That was were the gameplay shone and highlighted each class’ abilities & combos.

    The SP campaign combat was alright – you really haven’t experienced the combat until you’ve fought off some tough waves & objectives in co-op.

    I remember fondly the rhythm of combat, for example on High difficulty: weaving in & out with the Asari Valkyrie’s biotic dodge, priming and comboing Brutes & Banshees alike, all the while SMG bursts in between, sliding back to a fleeting safe pocket in the knick of time.

    The combersomeness of the “Contextual” [cover|sprint|revive|interact].. One-button-for-everything design was made super obvious in co-op though, making it feel more tanky. And the crappy matchmaking.

    • Frosty_2.0 says:

      [sp]*cumbersomeness[/sp]

      Also, as ever, the fighting in the SP campaign is too linear to really make an impact. They have a command system & hotbar but there weren’t enough sandboxy/co-op like spaces or battles to be had.

  18. Kefren says:

    I played ME1 once, and couldn’t even complete the first mission. I’d been playing for an hour or so and was bored. I recently reinstalled it and will give it another go, see if I get further. I have ME2 as well, but since ME3 requires Origin I’m partly hoping I won’t get into the games, since I have no intention of adding more game clients to my PC and creating yet more accounts. Same reason my experience of the Dead Space worlds ended with DS1.

    • Unclepauly says:

      Laziness? Can’t see any other reason but honestly it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to create an account. It doesn’t have to load at windows startup either, you can make it manual.

      • Kefren says:

        Yes. Every single service that expects you to create an account, give them your email address, keep all the details, update them when they get hacked etc tells you it is only one more account. Funny how they end up with hundreds a year or two down the line.
        If I buy a game on Steam I shouldn’t have to create accounts elsewhere and install extra game clients. It’s one of my big annoyances with Steam that they never put their foot down on it. “Want to sell on Steam? The game has to run just with Steam”.

        • jamesgecko says:

          The same thing is true for every random website you have an account on, including this one. Use a password manager. It’s actually less hassle in the long run, especially if you’re currently reusing passwords across accounts.

  19. skyturnedred says:

    I hope they include better/more RPG elements this time around. I need inventory tetris in all my games.

    • bleeters says:

      I doubt it. Bioware have been jettisoning RPG mechanics from their games for a while now, and Mass Effect was never that big on them in the first place.

  20. zind says:

    I, uh, kind of thought the combat in ME3 was the worst of the lot. Except the power combos, those were nice. More of those. Also go back to ME1 weapon heat system maybe? Or MAYBE have weapons of both types! OPTIONS!

    • jamesgecko says:

      What made it the worst?

      Combat in ME1 was clunky and finicky; the cover system didn’t work very well. All the space magic was just physics-engine demos cum gameplay.

      Combat in ME2 was a whole new beast. Specifically, it didn’t feel like an afterthought anymore. It was much tighter; weapons felt like they had punch, guns felt different from each other, and I never accidentally jumped over a wall instead of standing up in the middle of combat.

      Also, the story tellers realized that they didn’t have an RPG on their hands so much as an old school adventure game, a la Monkey Island. A bunch of poorly-utilized cargo crate RPG systems were ditched in favor of an increased focus on storytelling and conversations, and the game was better for it. I don’t know, maybe you liked pausing in the middle of combat in ME1 to convert junk into omnigel because your inventory was full. I feel like combat was better in ME2 simply because that wasn’t even a thing that could happen anymore.

      Combat in ME3 felt like the combat in ME2 polished to a high sheen. It was more or less the same, it just felt better. Things had more punch, more snap. The weight system meant you had to specialize, but heading into battle as a Vanguard with nothing but a shortgun and biotic charge was really fun.

  21. Hart says:

    If I wanted a game with great combat, I’d buy an action game. Fact of the matter is, that if an rpg doesn’t have a good story, it’s a shite game. And Bioware hasn’t made an interesting story in years.

    I’m gonna be that guy: probably wasn’t going to buy another Bioware game anyways, but the Witcher 3 absolutely destroyed Bioware games for me forever.