No Classes, Better Choices In Mass Effect Andromeda

BioWare bopped up a new trailer for Mass Effect Andromeda [official site] yesterday to celebrate their ‘N7 Day’ annual celebration but, in all the excitement, the big sillies forgot to say much of anything about the game. Thankfully, GameStop’s magazine Game Informer managed to briefly catch their attention for a huge cover story getting into details like making character classes more freeform, doing away with binary ‘Paragon vs. Renegade’ morality, exploring planets, and sitting in a tree k-i-s-s-i-n-g. Whew! BioWare would’ve felt mighty foolish if they’d gone the whole day without mentioning any of that.

Game Informer’s website will be burping up information and features and videos for weeks, but handily one of those NeoGAF scamps has pulled out what they think are the important details. To me, the best bits are:

The old Mass Effect class system is gone. Instead, you can learn abilities from all the classes as you please. It will have a touch of specialisation, with bonuses if you invest enough in a particular direction. And yorp, because Story Reasons you will be able to respec and reinvest your skillpoints if you want to try something different.

Combat is still cover-based shooty, though you get a teensy jetpack this time.

Choices and morality are no longer a straight ‘Paragon’ or ‘Renegade’. BioWare want conversations and decisions to be more nuanced and expressive, but I’d settle for being able to disagree with characters without my spacelady unexpectedly shouting something spaceracist. Supposedly Andromeda will have four main tones of response: heart, head, professional, or casual. Sure, fine, even RPGs which don’t explicitly tone their dialogue tend to go along those four routes anyway.

Yes, of course you get to pootle around in a spaceship again. And, as we’ve known for yonks, you have a new spacecar. It’s not the old Mako but the new, zippier Nomad.

Exploring planets sounds fun and more like the first Mass Effect. You’ll find enemy bases, things to fight, puzzles, environmental hazards, and even some super-tough bits you may need to return later to beat.

It’ll have more potential relationships than any other BioWare. Glory be, it sounds like some of these won’t lead to ha-ha-hilariously awkward cinematic sex scenes. Supposedly BioWare want more pleasant, familiar moments like shooting bottles with Garrus in Mass Effect 3. Good. That was good. I want more of that. Please don’t invade my beautiful virgin eyes with your eerie mannequin sex again.

Multiplayer is back for more ME3-y fun. I quite liked that, so good. It sounds like the process to unlock things involves more guff, but hey ho.

Humanity wasn’t the only species to send an Ark of sleepy colonists to galaxies new. Andromeda will focus on humanity’s Ark. After 600 years drifting through space, it has ended up in the wrong place. Oh dear!

Oh, and you play someone named Scott or Sara (by default) Ryder. You get to be the ‘Pathfinder’, which is a wanky tech startup job title meaning you’re in charge. Please someone mod it to be Rock Star Pathfinder Ninja Prophet.

This is all assuming the NeoGAF scamp isn’t telling porkie pies or summarising incorrectly. Anyway, they noted plenty more if you want all the details. I tried to buy Game Informer digitally to check this all out myself but oh my stars their app is a mess.

From this site

34 Comments

  1. DORKSMAN says:

    Disappointed I’ll no longer be able to feel smugly superior about picking vanguard any more.

  2. jalf says:

    I feel weird about this game. It sounds like it’s going to be far more refined than the original trilogy and they’ve learned a lot of lessons. But at the same time, they kind of lost the hook that made me invested in the setting.

    “Humanity’s first tentative steps in big unknown galaxy” is like the most generic sci-fi setting there is, and that seems like throwing away much of what made the ME universe so compelling to me.

    Ah well, I guess we’ll see. I’m curious about the game, but so far, I’m not quite sold.

    • walrus1 says:

      To be quite honest the ending to ME3 caused me to lose interest in future ME games.

      But yeah I hear you this game seems like it lost the edge that made ME games so great. A large part of that was the fun of interacting with various other settled and quirky space civilizations. It really was their relationships that helped shape both the characters and backstory in ME 1-3 that made it so engaging. In this game, I think we will see less of these grand old alien civilizations and hence less characters and thus less compelling dialogue which will lead to a much more generic shooter.

      • mactier says:

        They have pretty much exposed their old setting and used it up. It would just be a sitcom or weekly crime series from now on. They have blown their load, on a galactic scale and transcendent level, and it turned out to be really lame and mediocre. Even different timelines wouldn’t remedy this.

        Also, travel between galaxies is almost never done. Except in some implicit, indifferent way and one that is not as relatable as the initial excitement that they seem to be aiming for – just like in the first Mass Effect.

    • Von Uber says:

      I liked not being the top dog for once; made a nice change.
      Mind you they couldn’t keep it up in the original trilogy, by the end no-one could do, say or invent anything without humans (cerebus) being behind it.

  3. kud13 says:

    The 4 “tones” gives me a glimmer of hope someone is FINALLY stealing Alpha Protocol’s design, the way Richard Cobbett’s been urging in his EG retrospective.

    Of course I’m refusing to be overly optimistic, because the chances of them messing up and coming up with a “we, the humans stumbled onto this evil empire and now we bring you FREEDOM!!!”-type plot are still high. But it’s something to keep an eye on.

    Who knows, maybe it’ll convince me to finally play the original…

    • Pravin Lal's Nuclear Arsenal says:

      Agreed on the dialogue system. I’ll still maintain that the Paragon/Renegade system was an improvement over its predecessors, which were just as binary but way overextended in trying to present options. By giving Shepard a specific role and mission and different ways to approach the problem, they solved the “Mother Theresa VS Hitlerzilla” conundrum: you’re a soldier and you WILL complete your mission, the question is how. Picking ideas from Alpha Protocol is a great way to deepen and expand the same system.

    • thetruegentleman says:

      It sounds more like Mass Effect is importing Dragon Age: Inquisition’s conversation system, because that used various symbols like a heart or a brain too.

      • Ignorant Texan says:

        That’s what I thought when I read that. Of all the problems I had with DA:I, probably the most minor, yet of largest annoyance, were the fucking Care Bear symbols to indicate the tone of a player’s response(s).

        • Loimographia says:

          I’m not entirely opposed to that, tbh, since sometimes when give a broad conversation option, the actual dialogue would be wildly different from what you were expecting. There would be times in Witcher 3, for example, where it would give a few word prompts that sounded mild/reasonable and then what Geralt actually said would wind uo being hugely dickish or mean and I’d just be left going ‘noooo I didn’t mean that!’ So I’m OK with tone queues so that you know not only the general statement but also the tone you want to convey.

          • Sandepande says:

            I dislike the conversations in TW3, partially because of this.

  4. walrus1 says:

    “BioWare is coy about multiple endings; “it’s a suprise”, “it’s different than the trilogy(.)”This line from the link at the end of the article makes me fairly nervous. Does this mean just like ME 1 and 2 we get one ending changed by our choices or do we get multiple endings a la Deus Ex which are unaffected by our choices throughout the game? Because I much preferred ME 1 and 2 one ending affected by our choices.

  5. Someoldguy says:

    Typical. You spend 600 years travelling 2.5 million light years at about warp 9.6 and nobody notices that you’re heading to the wrong place until it’s too late.

    • Rich says:

      The navigation computer probably got hit by an asteroid, along with the device responsible for waking the crew if the ship gets hit by an asteroid.

      • thetruegentleman says:

        Bah, this is Mass Effect: it’s Cerberus Operatives all the way down. TIM probably found a giant space map in the dead Reaper, found a big pocket of space labeled STAY THE FUCK AWAY, took a drag from his cigar, and pressed a button that sent a special quantum code telling the Ark to head straight there.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      “Siri. Plot a course for Alpha Centauri”

      “Sorry. I didn’t quite catch that”

      “Plot a course for Alpha Centauri”

      “Plotting course for Falafel Century”.

      “No. Alpha Centauri”

      “Plotting course for Papa Johns”

      “God damn it Siri. Plot…course..for..Al.Pha…Cen.Tau.Ri!”

      “Plot course for Alpha Cent Tory. Please pick the Alpha you like”

      “Fuck it. Crew, second star to the right and straight on til morning.”

    • sagredo1632 says:

      Tsk. It wouldn’t be very manly to ask for directions, now would it?

  6. Jay Load says:

    I’m really excited by this title; there aren’t enough developers tackling grand sci-fi adventures. I’m hoping for boatloads of Mass Effect 1’s ‘Sense of Wonder’ as you got to know the galaxy and the riches therein. I love that we’re getting a vehicle again for exploration, and exploring worlds will be meatier than we’ve yet seen. LEMME AT IT!

  7. w0bbl3r says:

    Would have taken a LOT to get me to buy this anyway. Stripping away classes and reducing the crew missions to just optional side quests that have no impact on anything is just more evidence they are turning the game further and further away from what made the series great.

    Since mass effect 3 being just an action game with poor story and silly characters (even the old characters were shit this time around), I have had little confidence that bioware still know how to make great story RPG’s like they used to. Mass effect 1 is one of my favourite RPG’s of all time, and I’m not usually a fan of them
    While ME2 was still great it moved away from many things that made the first game so good. They went even further with ME3, and this time it looks like it is just a very generic (but graphically nice looking) and boring cover shooter, that might (I stress MIGHT, as in probably not) have a bit of lite RPG elements if we are lucky.

    I was excited to see the Mako return. But the more I hear about the game, the more I feel they only brought it back in order to pull people in and make them ignore all of the crap they are doing, just to get to drive the Mako again

    • Sandepande says:

      The less it is like the game ME1 was the better (inconsequential looting, pointless leveling, horrid exploration). Plot-wise they may be simply keeping mum on many a thing.

      But I liked DA2, DAI, ME2 and ME3 so I have less chance to be disappointed…

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    subdog says:

    “No classes” always sounds nice in theory, but in practice it usually results in homogenous playstyles based on a handful of choices that are either mechanically optimal or supported by interesting content.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      To be fair that’s a problem that affects class based RPGs too.

      Too many games favour an optimised, specialist approach and punish any jack of all trade builds especially towards the end game.

      • Someoldguy says:

        It’s a really hard line to walk. Either the final skills are so good you really want to unlock one, or people complain that the final skills are a total waste of points and cherry picking mid tier skills from several groups are much better. It’s a problem that pen and paper RPGs that allow multiclassing have struggled with too.

  9. engion3 says:

    spaceracist made me lol

  10. Dinger says:

    No sexy time? But… chafing!

  11. bee says:

    ME1: Elevator simulator.
    ME2: A fun game with a good story and lovable characters.
    ME3: Like the third Matrix movie, we don’t speak of it and we pretend it didn’t exist.
    ME4: I hope there is a story in there somewhere.

    • Crocobutt says:

      Can’t agree more on this.
      ME2, I felt, had good pacing, great cast of characters, and mystery. The music was atmospheric as fuck, really enjoyed it.
      Fav squad: Garrus and Grunt. Because COOL ALIENS. Who move like an average 85kg person despite the bulk, but that’s besides the point.

  12. Comco says:

    Not sure ‘Pathfinder’ is a wanky startup name…Of course, you’re being facious, but you realise there’s actually a military specilisation called a Pathfinder, right?
    link to en.wikipedia.org

    “In military organizations, a pathfinder is a specialized soldier inserted or dropped into place in order to set up and operate drop zones, pickup zones, and helicopter landing sites for airborne operation, air resupply operations, or other air operations in support of the ground unit commander.”

    Sounds reasonably apt… :)

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