Mass Effect: Andromeda
|Mass Effect: Andromeda|
Standard edition packaging for all territories
|Designer(s)||Ian S. Frazier|
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing, third-person shooter|
Mass Effect: Andromeda is an action role-playing video game developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows. The game was released worldwide in March 2017. It is the fourth entry overall in the Mass Effect series and the first since Mass Effect 3. The game begins within the Milky Way Galaxy during the 22nd century, where humanity is planning to populate new home worlds in the Andromeda Galaxy as part of a strategy called the Andromeda Initiative. The player assumes the role of either Scott or Sara Ryder, an inexperienced military recruit who joins the Initiative and wakes up in Andromeda following a 600-year journey.
Mass Effect: Andromeda has a lighter tone than previous installments in the series, with open world elements and an emphasis on exploration. Many of the series' traditional gameplay elements remain, while others have been modified, such as combat, which is less cover-based and more mobile.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is an action role-playing game in which the player takes control of either Scott or Sara Ryder from a third-person perspective. Both Ryders' appearances and first names can be determined by the player. The appearance of their father, Alec, is automatically adjusted based on how the Ryder twins look. Upon beating the game, a New Game+ is unlocked, which allows the player to restart the game with certain bonuses and switch to using the other Ryder, if interested. Players can also choose to continue playing with their existing character and complete unfinished missions.
Unlike previous installments in the Mass Effect series, where players begin each new game by choosing from six different character classes that each have their own unique set of skills, players instead have free reign to assign any skills that they want and build towards a specialty over the course of the game. For example, if the player chooses to invest solely in biotic skills, Ryder will unlock the Adept profile, which results in bonuses related to that play style. Experience points for spending on skills are earned by completing missions, and there is no cap on the number of points that can be earned. Points assigned to each skill can be constantly reallocated so that players can experiment with multiple gameplay approaches without having to restart their games and build up their skills from scratch again.
In Mass Effect: Andromeda, the player explores the Andromeda galaxy by selecting destinations from the inside of a ship called Tempest. By having Ryder stand on the ship's bridge, the player is able to overlook the stars using a galaxy map and seamlessly choose a navigation point. Over a dozen planets have hub worlds that connect the player to various quests that need to be completed, such as taking out hostile enemy bases or hideouts, scanning for objects with useful data, or completing loyalty missions for Ryder's squadmates. As quests are completed, the player earns "Andromeda Viability Points", which allow for certain upgrades, and planets increase their "Viability Levels", which allow for the building of outposts. Each planet has a boss that the player may not be able to defeat at first and may need to revisit later once Ryder has sufficiently leveled up.
Planets have open world elements and can be traversed using the Nomad, a six-wheeled, all-terrain vehicle. While driving the Nomad, the player has the ability to scan the planet's terrain for resources and then deploy mining drones to collect them. As new areas are explored, the player can find drop zones that serve as fast-travel points and allow for a loadout change. Some planets have environmental hazards that must be accounted for, such as the planet Elaaden, where Ryder must avoid the heat to prevent taking damage. Over the course of the game, the player can find blueprints and resources that are used for crafting weapons and armor. Some crafted weapons can be given customized names.
Similar to its predecessors, the player can interact with characters in Mass Effect: Andromeda using a radial command menu where the player's dialogue options depend on wheel direction. Around the wheel are four types of responses that shape each conversation: heart, head, professional, and casual. In general, conversations are based on agreeing or disagreeing with participants. During some conversations, the player is prompted with an "Impulse Action" that offers an additional choice to what is available on the dialogue wheel. For example, an on-screen prompt to "shoot" might appear and be momentarily selectable. By conversing with characters aboard Tempest, Ryder can develop friendships, and if desired, romantic relationships with specific characters over time. During both dialogue and quest sequences, the player is sometimes tasked with making moral decisions that do not have a clear good/bad distinction but are intended to be more nuanced, marking a departure from the Paragon/Renegade morality system of prior titles in the series.
Combat in Mass Effect: Andromeda takes place in real-time, and unlike previous installments in the series, pausing the game to aim or use skills from a menu is no longer a feature. During action sequences, the player has direct control of Ryder from an over-the-shoulder perspective, who can move around the battlefield in a variety of ways, including a side-to-side dash or vertical leap into the air using a jetpack. When the player approaches an object, Ryder will automatically take cover, providing the player with protection in battle. The game encourages players to keep moving during combat with large, open battlefields and enemies that attack from all angles, but also allows for both aggressive and defensive strategies.
Damage is dealt to enemies using gunfire, melee attacks, or specialized skills such as a flamethrower. At all times, three skills are available for use, along with a profile that provides play style bonuses. The player can rotate between up to four combinations of skills and profiles by setting up "favorite slots", which can be accessed on the fly. For example, one slot might have three biotic skills and the Adept profile while another has three combat skills and the Soldier profile. A single skill cannot be deployed continuously; rather, after a skill is used, there is a cool down period during which the skill is disabled but other skills can be used. Some weapons in the game have a finite magazine and require players to replenish ammunition after a certain number of shots, whereas other weapons operate on an overheating system where the player must wait for the weapon to cool down after a certain number of shots.
Characters and settingEdit
Mass Effect: Andromeda begins in 2185, between the events of the second and third games in the original trilogy. The four Citadel Council races are planning to populate new home worlds in the Andromeda Galaxy as part of a strategy called the Andromeda Initiative. Each race sends 20,000 citizens on a one-way, 600-year journey to Andromeda aboard their own transportation vessel, called an Ark, and selects a leader, known as a Pathfinder. Once the races arrive, they help build the Nexus, a huge space station that serves as a center of government and diplomacy, a living area, as well as a base of operations for the Pathfinders.
The protagonist of Mass Effect: Andromeda is, depending on player choice, either Scott or Sara Ryder (voiced by Tom Taylorson or Fryda Wolff, respectively). Both Ryder twins are inexperienced recruits who remain a part of the game's plot even if they are not selected as the main character. Their father, Alec Ryder (Clancy Brown), is humanity's Pathfinder, tasked with finding a new home for the species. Squadmates in the game include Alec's second-in-command, Cora Harper (Jules de Jongh), a biotic specialist with intensive commando training; Liam Kosta (Gary Carr), a security expert who specializes in crisis response; Peressalia "Peebee" B'Sayle (Christine Lakin), an asari gunslinger capable of biotic destabilization; Nakmor Drack (Stanley Townsend), a veteran krogan warrior of the Nakmor clan specializing in close combat; Vetra Nyx (Danielle Rayne), a female turian mercenary who excels in shielding and protection; and Jaal Ama Darav (Nyasha Hatendi), a resistance fighter of the newly-introduced angara race. Ryder's crewmates include Kallo Jath (Garett Ross), a salarian pilot; Lexi T'Perro (Natalie Dormer), an asari psychologist; and S.A.M., an artificial intelligence that can communicate with all members of the team via implants.
Ryder awakens in the Andromeda Galaxy in 2819, following a 634-year journey on the Ark Hyperion. After having a checkup performed on them by Dr. Lexi T'Perro, Ryder meets SAM, an AI that is in charge of the Hyperion. While the crew are getting ready to awaken Ryder's sibling, the Hyperion strikes a dark energy cloud, knocking out its power temporarily and interrupting Ryder's sibling's wake-up protocol. Ryder, along with Cora Harper, is called to the bridge where their father, Pathfinder Alec Ryder, is arguing with the captain of the Hyperion. Ryder discovers that the planet that they were sent to scout out, Habitat 7, is drastically different from what the long-range scans told them. Ryder gets ready to be deployed as they are part of the Pathfinder team, led by their father. While on the shuttle down to Habitat 7, Ryder gets acquainted with Liam Kosta, a former security officer. The Pathfinder shuttles are suddenly struck by lightning, and Ryder and Liam end up separated from the crew. As they attempt to explore Habitat 7, they come into contact with an unknown hostile alien race, as well as many strange alien structures. After performing a search and rescue for other crew members, Ryder and Liam eventually reunite with Cora, and fend off another alien attack. They later join Alec, who previously went ahead to scout out the monolith. They storm in an alien structure, hoping to be able to shut it down and cease the lightning storm. Ryder and Alec find a hologram inside the structure, which Alec interfaces with to shut down the monolith. A large blast blow the two off an elevated platform, smashing a hole in Ryder's helmet. Alec uses his helmet to save his child, sacrificing his own life in the process. Ryder is later brought back to the Hyperion and saved, and in the process, also merged with SAM. Ryder also learns that Alec, before his death, has made them the new Pathfinder in his place.
The Ark reaches the Nexus only to find it incomplete and no other Ark in sight. The crew find out from the leadership of the Andromeda Initiative that all of the worlds, including Habitat 7, were not viable for living, and the Initiative had been stranded in space for fourteen months, with dangers of supply shortage and civil uprising. As the Pathfinder, Ryder is tasked with finding a suitable world for the colonists of the Initiative, while also find out what happened to the other Arks. 
Mass Effect: Andromeda was developed by BioWare, the same company that also produced the original Mass Effect trilogy. It was directed by Mac Walters, who previously served as lead writer for the series. Casey Hudson, who directed the original trilogy, was promoted to the role of executive producer before leaving BioWare in 2014. The game required a team of over 200 developers and utilized all three of BioWare's studios: Austin, Edmonton, and Montreal. BioWare's general manager, Aaryn Flynn, noted that many of the developers working on the project were fans of the original trilogy who came to BioWare specifically to work on a Mass Effect game. While the first three Mass Effect games were developed almost entirely by BioWare Edmonton, Mass Effect: Andromeda was developed by BioWare Montreal who was given complete creative control. This was done in order to allow BioWare Edmonton to begin working on a new intellectual property. Nonetheless, both BioWare Edmonton and BioWare Austin still played a supportive role during development.
Early stages of development on Mass Effect: Andromeda began in 2012, following the release of Mass Effect 3. One of the first decisions that BioWare made was not to include Commander Shepard, the series' original protagonist, in the game. This strategy allowed them to make changes to some of the series' traditional gameplay elements, such as the old Paragon/Renegade morality system, which they felt was tied to Shepard and would not make sense without the character. Instead of preparing for another trilogy, the company tried to avoid locking themselves into a specific plan with regards to future installments in the franchise, which they felt gave them more creative freedom.
Although BioWare approached Mass Effect: Andromeda as a new beginning and wanted it to feel fresh and new, the company still borrowed elements from previous titles. For example, the ability to drive a vehicle was inspired by the Mako from Mass Effect and the concept of loyalty missions was taken directly from Mass Effect 2. The team also applied lessons that they learned from Mass Effect 3, which featured a controversial ending where some fans didn't feel as though their investment in the series' characters had paid off.
For the first time in the series, BioWare decided to include open world elements and place an emphasis on exploration. As a result, they also decided to lighten the game's tone compared to previous installments in the trilogy so that players could do side quests without feeling as though they were "letting the universe burn". Producer Mike Gamble felt that the game was BioWare's biggest yet in terms of content, but also noted that the company made an effort to make every planet and area memorable. To avoid the trap of making the player do side quests that felt tedious and insignificant–which was a common criticism of their previous title, Dragon Age: Inquisition–the company paid attention to what other games in the industry were doing, such as CD Projekt RED's The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
Move to FrostbiteEdit
Mass Effect: Andromeda was built using EA DICE's Frostbite 3 engine, which required that BioWare construct all systems, tools, and assets from scratch as the series was previously built on Epic Games' Unreal Engine. BioWare tried to push the boundaries of the software, particularly in the area of character animation, which Mac Walters felt was at an "all-time high". They would sometimes enlist the help of other Frostbite developers to assist them in using the engine. For example, to ensure that the game's driving mechanics handled well, BioWare invited the Need for Speed team to come onsite and offer advice and guidance.
As part of the move to Frostbite, BioWare decided to unite the combat systems of the single and multiplayer modes. In Mass Effect 3, the single-player mode used a system tailored to a slower, cover shooter approach while the multiplayer mode used a system tailored to a faster-paced approach. It was important to BioWare that, for all gameplay modes in Mass Effect: Andromeda, the player stay moving and have a strategy behind every action as opposed to remaining in one location for the entire duration of an encounter. To encourage players to play this way, BioWare built open combat layouts, which required the programming of complex artificial intelligence so that enemies could understand space and know how to flank the player from all angles.
The original score of Mass Effect: Andromeda was composed by John Paesano, who was previously best known for his work on The Maze Runner films and Daredevil television series. Scenes in the game that take place in nightclubs or other public venues were composed by Edmonton-based DJs and producers.
Marketing and releaseEdit
Mass Effect: Andromeda was announced on June 15, 2015 at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2015. The game was marketed with a wide variety of video content, including a teaser trailer featuring the voice of Jennifer Hale as Commander Shepard on November 7, 2015, a 4K demo for the PS4 Pro on July 9, 2016, a gameplay reveal at The Game Awards on December 1, 2016, and a cinematic trailer on January 26, 2017. The game was also promoted with a set of action figures by toy company Funko, which consisted of Peebee, Liam Kosta, Jaal, Sara Ryder, and Archon. One aspect of BioWare's marketing strategy was to avoid discussing certain plot points or making too many promises ahead of time, a plan which helped the company avoid disappointing players if they needed to cut content from the game.
Leading to the release of Mass Effect: Andromeda, BioWare set up a promotional website whereby players could participate in a mock training program for the Andromeda Initiative, which included listening to recruitment pitches, reading the history of the Mass Effect universe, or watching mission briefings. Briefings included an orientation video, an introduction to the Arks and Nexus, an overview of the Tempest and Nomad, and dossiers on the game's main crewmembers. As part of the program, BioWare also selected six fans to participate in an authentic astronaut training experience at the European Astronaut Centre. Originally, BioWare planned a beta that would allow players to help test the game's multiplayer mode prior to release, but it was eventually cancelled as the company felt that it was ultimately unnecessary.
Mass Effect: Andromeda was originally scheduled for release in late 2016, but the official release date was eventually moved to March 21, 2017 in North America and March 23 in Europe. Three different versions of the game were made available upon release. In addition to the standard version of the game, players can also purchase a Deluxe Edition, which includes "the Pathfinder Casual Outfit, the Scavenger Armor, the Pathfinder Elite Weapon Set, a pet Pyjak, a soundtrack download, and one instant Multiplayer Launch Pack." The third version of the game is the Super Deluxe Edition, which adds 20 Multiplayer Launch Packs. For a short time, players can also order two versions of a Collector's Edition, one of which included a model of the in-game vehicle Nomad, while the second version includes a remote control Nomad. However, both versions of the Collector's Edition do not include the game or any other in-game bonuses.
In the weeks leading up to the title's release, Mass Effect: Andromeda received criticism from many fans regarding the game's character, facial animations, and rendering; with many noting that during cut-scenes, characters looked robotic and overall poorly animated (ranging from their movements to models). BioWare staff responded to the issue, saying that there were no current plans to improve animations but implied that it was in the realm of possibility for future patches.
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Mass Effect: Andromeda received "generally favorable" reviews for the Xbox One and Windows verisons, and "mixed or average" reviews for the PlayStation 4 version, according to review aggregator Metacritic. The animations have been pointed out to be sub-par. The story of the game has been described by GameSpot as having problems that "stem more from delivery than from plot", with the vast majority of characters being described as dull. IGN also noted that the plot of Andromeda touched upon some of the same central concepts that were used in the original trilogy. The dialogue agency compared to the previous games has been described as only "superficially different". The combat has been described as an improvement in Mass Effect: Andromeda, though the crafting system has been said[according to whom?] to be tedious and made so in part due to the clumsy user interface. Some expressed disappointment in the LGBT romancing options.
|2016||Golden Joystick Awards 2016||Most Wanted Game||Won|||
|Global Game Awards 2016||Most Anticipated Game||Won|||
|The Game Awards 2016||Most Anticipated Game||Nominated|||
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