BioWare have been keeping a tight lid on Mass Effect: Andromeda's [official site] plot, but it seems some details have appeared in the form of a customer survey. Not the world's most reliable format, as these tend to be, "How would you feel about a game that featured a race of evil melons as the main antagonists?" before asking you about your mobile phone usage, but likely indicative of the direction in which the game is heading. So if you want all your news about the game to be carefully spoon-fed to you via the appropriate PR departments, look away now.
NeoGaf is the source of the information, where a naughty pickle has ignored the box he ticked promising not to share the contents of the survey and posted them for all to see. The key info is as follows:
"Mass Effect: Andromeda takes players to the Andromeda galaxy, far beyond the Milky Way, where players will lead the fight for a new home in hostile territory - where WE are the aliens - opposed by a deadly indigenous race bent on stopping us.
Experience the freedom to traverse and explore a planet-dense but seamless open-world galaxy, rich with discovery. Play as the leader of a squad of military-trained explorers in an intense third-person shooter, with deep progression and customization systems.
This is the story of humanity's next chapter, and player choices throughout the game will ultimately determine our survival in the Andromeda Galaxy."
It later asks about a "possible future version of Mass Effect".
"There is a major battle brewing, and it awaits you. It is unfolding across a galaxy of planets, with creatures and species entirely unknown. Draw your weapon, because the fight is bigger than you thought. It's not just for your own life, it's for all of humanity - the ultimate battle for a place we can all call home."
The nature of such surveys is they're primarily used to determine marketing, rather than game content. This is about seeing how people would respond to the fluff, whether such advertising copy would woo them into handing over their sixty bucks, so they can refine the tone of how they promote the game later on. The game isn't due out for at least another year, with the big official announcements likely to emerge at this Summer's E3, but with a game of this size you have to imagine they're a fair way committed to what they already have.
The "humanity is the aliens" plot was of course the premise behind the original Mass Effect trilogy, although this time out it seems to be a little earlier in the process, with humans having more recently shown up. It'd be nice to see BioWare perhaps explore the subject from another angle rather than the disturbingly ignorant one suggested in the copy above, perhaps looking more realistically at colonialism and human beings' propensity for assuming that wherever they lay their hats on top of other people's previously laid hats is their home. Rather than something as simplistic as a plucky race looking to make good while mean nasty local aliens want to steal their eyeballs. Small-pox infected body armour, anyone?
It's also noteworthy how explicitly the description doesn't mention "RPG". Obviously the previous trilogy shifted that tone quite dramatically from the first to the third, the emphasis landing squarely on action over stats, and this perhaps suggests even more of that. And what exactly will this seamless open world really offer - more than the ability to "mine" random planets, or drive sixteen feet across a patch of rock, hopefully. Who knows?! We're speculating on the thinnest of sources here.
So take it all with a pinch of your favourite seasoning, as this is far more likely written by the dollar-eyed advertising department, rather than anyone involved in actually making the game. But it's fun to wonder, eh? We'll be wondering for a good while longer, as the game's not due until Spring 2017, which means likely slippage to the Autumn. However, this is EA BioWare, so expect the first of 900,000 trailers to appear this Summer, followed by a spin-off mobile hat-making game, TV cartoon prequel series, and pre-order deals coming with actual spaceships.